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Island Tennis

Is it possible that I’ve been genetically engineered for tennis? My folks met on a tennis court, and I discovered the joy of hitting objects with a tennis racket before I started grade school. My self-instruction in the early years included two abandoned prehistoric rackets moldering in the garage and a convenient surplus of rock aggregate. It wasn’t long before Mom and Dad realized that the time was right to introduce me to the game the racket was designed for.

In 1961, we made the trek from California to resume tenancy at our woebegone cottage at the head of “millionaire’s row.” I worried that my fledgling tennis game would languish in this remote setting, but after more than half-a-century I’d like to pay homage to some of the many venues and players that have affirmed the River as a first rate place to play the game.

My introduction to island tennis began on the two clay courts at the Thousand Islands Club. I joined a contingent of players, including Sandy Morrissett,Trey Vars, Sandy McNally, Bob Peach, John Russell, Edie Small and myself who gathered there and played regularly. John Russell and I branched out to the courts at T.I. Park where we developed a longstanding rivalry with Don Estabrook and Jack Parry. The weekly results were soon forgotten when the Sherbet laced with a hint of Vodka (for taste) kicked off the refreshment wrap-up to each event.

I realized there was something unique about traveling by boat to island courts and particularly those in secluded locations like the Danforth court on Jolly Island, and the courts on Halfway and Temagami Islands, in Chippewa Bay. The Grenadier Island CC put in courts in 1975 and I became a part of their program beginning then and continuing to the present. I also taught lessons at Jolly and more recently at the Pal’s court on Lancaster Island. It’s a long list of the courts I’ve played on including Holcomb’s court on Wellesley, Textor’s court on Fairyland, the Totem Point court on Tar, and a brief outing on the court without fences at Ina Island.

There are literally dozens of private courts on islands like Oak, Scow, Round, Niagara and Murray where I have not played. Certainly it would be a challenge to see how many island courts I could visit for a round of tennis in one season.

I could propose an outing on several of the courts I have yet to play. Or perhaps I should leave that to some inspired member of the younger set!

By Tad Clark

Tad Clark, a fourth-generation, summer resident, has been a tennis coach for over 35 years. His growing interest in freelance writing includes commentaries for the “TI Sun”, a published  history of Comfort Island: Comfort Island: One Family’s Generational Journey, which was reviewed in “TI Life” in November, 2015.  Tad has also written several articles for “TI Life” – including the importance of Boat Shoes!   When not in the Thousand Islands Tad and his wife live in Asheville, NC.

Posted in: Places, People, Sports
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Bill Adams
Comment by: Bill Adams
Left at: 8:05 PM Thursday, September 15, 2016
Tad, enjoyed your article. I visited with the Koontz's and worked at the TI club a few of my college years. Worked at opening the courts both those years and had some fun matches with Peter Kucher, you and others. Great memories! Bill
Tad Clark
Comment by: Tad Clark
Left at: 8:49 AM Friday, September 16, 2016
Hi Bill, I remember you like it was yesterday. Been a long time. Do you still communicate with Cary? I assume his parents passed away some time ago. I hope life has treated you well. Tad
Averell Manes
Comment by: Averell Manes
Left at: 3:48 PM Friday, September 16, 2016
Interesting piece! My guess is that there are as many defunct tennis courts on islands as there are still-viable ones. My grandmother's island, Manzanita had a court, as did Wyanoke. It is incredible to me that there are and were so many island courts! What a luxury. Wouldn't it be fun to play on them all at least once.
Bill Adams
Comment by: Bill Adams
Left at: 11:31 AM Sunday, September 18, 2016
Still in touch with Cary. He is in Perth, Ontario May through November and I'm sure he would love to hear from you. Pass on your email and I will make sure he gets it. My wife Sandy and I live on the River(Morristown) in the summer and Ohio and Florida during the winter. Life is good!
Tad Clark
Comment by: Tad Clark
Left at: 5:06 PM Wednesday, September 21, 2016
He's my email, Bill. Shoot me an email. It would be fun to reconnect. I see Jane regularly during the summer.