When Gary Winter visited Powell River for the first time earlier this year, he enjoyed the natural surroundings and outdoor activities, but what impressed him most was the tennis facility.
“I was blown away that a place the size of Powell River has two indoor tennis courts,” he said.
Winter takes on the role of Powell River Tennis Centre director of tennis and head pro this September, and he comes with a notable background in the sport.
For the past nine years he was head tennis pro at the Waterloo Tennis Club in Waterloo, Ontario. Before that he spent 13 years as director of tennis and head tennis pro at the Fairmont Chateau Whistler resort.
“We’re very fortunate to have a coach with Gary’s experience coming to Powell River,” said tennis centre president Igor Skobkarev.
In addition to coaching programs, Winter will be teaching introductory tennis lessons during gym classes at Powell River schools in the fall, something he was previously involved with and is excited to get back to.
“I used to work for Tennis BC and was instrumental in starting up the schools program in the 1980s, so it’s nice to get back to that,” said Winter.
Tennis has a long history in Powell River. The first public courts were built in Townsite in 1929, and the Powell River Tennis and Pickleball clubs still actively play there throughout the year. Winter said the sport could use a boost among younger players in the community.
“I know hockey, soccer and gymnastics are big in Powell River and tennis was kind of a going concern a few years ago, and there’s maybe not a lot of participation right now, but it seems there’s an opportunity to get a lot of kids involved,” he said.
Canadians achieving acclaim on the world stage certainly helps raise the game’s profile, he added.
“It’s really big right now with players like Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard; there’s a lot of interest,” said Winter.
Originally from BC, Winter is moving from Ontario with his partner Rosemary Erb, and her daughter Olivia. The trio explored the community earlier this year, including a kayaking excursion in Okeover Arm, and are looking forward to skiing at Mount Washington.
Winter said he is enthusiastic to get back to his roots in BC and also as a coach, he added.
“I’ve coached at a high level,” he said. “I’ve coached the University of Waterloo varsity team, kids who have gone on to tennis scholarships in the states, but I really enjoy building the game from the roots and the ground up. I’m really looking forward to doing that in Powell River.”
Fall lessons begin on Tuesday, September 4. For more information, go to prtennis.ca.