Honouring the memory of a local woman who had a passion for tennis, the ninth annual Thelma Smith Memorial Tournament runs Sept. 15th at the Red Deer Tennis Club.
The tournament will be held with the same format as previous years, which was started in memory of Thelma Smith, who passed away in June of 2009.
“It’s an all-day event,” said Mary Gardiner, a long-time member of the Club. “We play a team format, where people are assigned to various teams.”
Last year, about 40 people took part. “All eight courts are full all day long. And then we always end with a potluck supper.”
Smith was a dedicated supporter of the Red Deer Tennis Club, and it was decided an annual tennis tourney was a fitting way to honour her many years of involvement as a fan and a player. “She played in every tournament, and she was always an inspiration.”
Ultimately, the tourney is also a wonderful time for members young and old to get together, play some tennis and just catch up with each other. There is also a time set apart to honour the ones who the particular tournament is in honour of in a given year.
“This year, the two people we are honouring are Linda Slaymaker and Teuvo Kouhia,” said Gardiner.
Both committed members of the Red Deer Tennis Club, Slaymaker passed away in 2013 and Kouhia passed away in 2015.
“Linda was a very gracious lady. She was also incredibly fit; she did mountain climbing and running as well.”
Slaymaker also worked at Red Deer College and was posthumously honoured there this past year.
“Two of her sons are also going to be playing in this tournament,” said Gardiner. “All the families are invited, and they do a little talk about their family member (who we are honouring) and then we also have a memorial wall where their pictures go.”
Gardiner also described Kouhia as one of the backbone members of the Club.
“He built the deck at the Clubhouse with another fellow, and he made our beautiful sign that is at the door of our Clubhouse as well.”
Meanwhile, players at the Tournament are of all levels from advanced to intermediate to beginner. And one need not be a Club member to take part in the tournament, she said.
For more information, contact the Club at 403-346-7567 or Mary Gardiner at 403-347-7561.
The Red Deer Tennis Club is a non-profit organization of volunteers dedicated to promoting tennis and sportsmanship in a club setting.
Membership is consistently over 200 adults and juniors, from beginners to provincially ranked players. The Club operates as a year-round club with staff and coaches.
The facilities include eight outdoor hard courts, six with lights, four indoor hard courts, and a clubhouse. It’s located next to the Recreation Centre and across the street from the SERVUS Arena. This year marks the 118th year for the tennis club in Red Deer.
For Gardiner, there is nothing like hitting the courts. “I think that for 40 years now I’ve been a continuous member of the Club,” she said with a chuckle. “I guess I’m competitive, plus it keeps me moving. I love the camaraderie we have, and the inclusion that we try to foster in our Club. Anyone can play and they are welcome,” she said.
“I also love that we remember those people who have been with us, who have been a real help in building the Club,” she said.
Gardiner said that in all her travels playing tennis across the country, she always asks local clubs if they hold a similar memorial event in their communities.
“We are the only club that I know of that does this very unique event.”
Check out www.reddeertennis.com for more information.