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CHAIRMANS REPORT FOR YEAR ENDING 2019.

CHAIRMANS REPORT FOR YEAR ENDING 2019.

Ladies, gentlemen and guests so we come to the end of another year and a year that we can rightly look back on with pride as we accomplished a number of our goals. These I hasten to add are just micro steps towards the macro situation that we wish to achieve. There were a number of highlights including improving our position in our development programmes, especially the Vosloorus project.

Turning to the highlights, a party of nine players went to Prague to play in the CQS cup in June. We played against Ireland, the United States and hosts, Czech Republic and came back victorious gaining our first IC trophy since 2008. Those who played were Jean Hubert, Danie Botha, Miles Foxcroft, Debbie den Hartog, Sonja Botha, Tamzon du Plessis, Barbara Rose-Innes and myself with Carol Hubert and Alta Botha as our invaluable supporters. Prague is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, and I may say one of the cheapest on SA Rands. We were royally entertained during our time there by Czech IC.  After Prague we travelled to Budapest to play against Hungary and again we were feted by the Hungarian IC. The Grand Slam tennis club there was in a magnificent setting in a park-land situation but the experience of the Hungarian players on clay was a distinct advantage.

In July I attended the AGM of the IC in London and once again it was stressed that the majority of members world-wide are aged over 60 and therefore we are top heavy. It was stressed that we need to actively look at trying to boost the 35-45 age group of members so as to ensure the continued growth of the movement.

In October we hosted the African qualifying leg of the Rod Laver World Wide junior challenge. This is a competition for under 16 boys and girls with the winners of the five continents plus the host country meeting in the final which this year will be staged in California. I mentioned last year in my report that one of my aims as chairman was to work closer with Tennis SA. The reason being that we are both working for the good of the game and although in different spheres, there are times when are paths cross and by working together, we will be stronger. I am very pleased to report that Tennis SA granted us monies to assist with the running of the event and we invited a Tennis SA Development team to take part. I can also report that for the first time Ethiopia sent a team. Botswana, a late replacement for Zimbabwe and our own SA IC team made up the four teams. This event has traditionally been a stronghold for our own IC team and I am delighted to say that we again qualified to represent the African continent in this years finals. Ethiopia was beaten in the final match but had they had the opportunity to arrive a lot earlier and adjust to the Highveld conditions, I am sure the final would have been a lot closer. The SA Development team was chosen from their Growthpoint Development hubs around Gauteng and had they been able to include players from outside that area I am sure they would have been stronger. Having said that the quality of the players that represented them showed that the program they have in place is moving forward and  their players, with extra tournament experience, will soon be making great strides in the game.

During the tournament we staged a clinic for children chosen from the four Townships around Johannesburg and included a Play and Stay section as well as more advanced coaching. It was great to see some of our SA IC team members assist with the coaching at that clinic. We managed to get Nandos to supply lunch for all the children in the clinic.

I wish to thank Tennis SA for their financial contribution and support for the tournament and it was the first of what I hope will be many steps that will see both parties  working together for the good of tennis in the country. I also thank Terrey Schweitzer for the professional way that she trained and managed the SA IC team and wish them all the very best for California later this year.

Turning to our two development programs I can report that a lot of progress has been made at Vosloorus. After a year of looking and watching to see how the program had been run, I made a number of changes that I believe in looking back, have been very beneficial. The two main changes were the introduction of a mother of one of the girls to assist Michael Lelosa, the main coach. Kagiso Thabalala is a physical education teacher at a private girls school in Johannesburg as well as being a South African net ball player. She has been invaluable in bringing her administration skills to the daily running as well as assisting in the off court training of the players.

I also found that of the 80 children who attend the program, only four or six had ever had the experience of playing in tournaments. During the past year Gauteng East Tennis Association junior committee, headed by Desire Wilson, staged five one day events. For the last three they included a Play and Stay section and this gave us an ideal opportunity to introduce more players to tournament conditions as a stepping stone before they reached the standard needed to enter the TSA sanctioned tournaments. In all we entered 34 children into these tournaments of which 24 experienced tournament play for the first time. To show the popularity and growth of his type of event, they had over 150 children taking part each time with a high of 206 on one occasion. This is proving to be a tremendously successful innovation for young players and long may they continue to hold these events. I will add that our boys won the one tournament with two girls finishing third in another.

We were also been able to take the children to other academies for either additional training or to play friendly matches. Both these exercises are important in the overall training of the kids.

Sadly the courts and facilities at Vosloorus are in a very poor condition. I have had initial discussions with Ekhuhleni Municipality to see what assistance they can render to bring the facilities more compatible for playing and coaching. I fear it will be a long journey.

Kenton on Sea continues to thrive and in addition to the local coaching the players have been going for additional coaching at Port Alfred as well as having played in local tournaments. Distance and travel proves difficult for them to take part in more tournaments. Despite her work load with organizing this years legends event Leonie Grondel continues to drive this programme with enthusiasm and I sincerely thank her for her commitment.

Both Johannesburg and Cape Town held successful social days on 1 December. Cape Town excelled themselves as they were able to invite the Cape continent of Davis Cup players, Lloyd Harris, Raven Klaasen and Jeff Coetzee to be their guests. The letters of thanks from players at both functions is testimony to interest and enthusiasm that members have for the club and these social occasions.

During the year we produced regular newsletters which, hopefully, kept you all up to date with the activities of the club. Some were of bumper proportions especially the December issue, but they went a long way to show that as a club we had a very active year. Communication is a vital tool in any organization and it is through regular newsletters and updates onto our web page that we can market and advertise ourselves both at home and abroad.

I am pleased to say that during the year I spent quite some time updating and revamping our IC web page. I have been able to add stories on a regular basis together with pictures and from messages received from overseas, our site is the most active of all the IC web pages. I urge members to visit the web page to see the activities that take place.

I was honoured to receive an invitation to attend the AGM of Tennis SA as an observer and this is another step towards closer co-operation between us. I would like to sincerely thank Gavin Crookes and Richard Glover for their time in discussing matters of mutual interest between us and assure them that I will continue to strive towards a firmer platform being built between us which I believe will strengthen both parties in the long run.

I place on record my thanks and admiration for the work that our President Lorna Krog has done in Cape Town for the club. Her enthusiasm knows no bounds and the strength of the club in that area is built on her. It is always a pleasure to be able to host a breakfast for her and her committee when June and I visit Cape Town each year. It is a small thank you but one that is necessary.

Looking back on the year I believe that we have made progress in a number of areas but I do not delude myself in thinking that we have reached our full potential. I give the undertaking that I, along with my committee and in co-operation with other parties, will continue move forward with projects that will benefit tennis in South Africa as well as furthering the aims and objects of the International Club. Like the roads in Gauteng there will be pot holes along the way but these can be overcome. We are mindful of the times we live in but our object is to improve the lives of all people through tennis.

I thank my committee for their invaluable support, commitment and energies throughout the year and I am delighted to say that they offered themselves for re election for the coming year.

I look forward to a full year and in particular to our own IC international event in Sun City in May. Eight teams will compete for the inaugural legends trophy and we will also be honoring the legends of South African tennis at a special function during the week. It is hoped that when other countries see what we have set out to achieve that they in turn, will want to continue with the theme and hold their own event in the future and also honor their legends.

Ladies and gentlemen thank you.

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