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Simnett wins provincial award; hopes to expand ADTA in 2011

The Airdrie and District Tennis Association’s inaugural year has wound up with a provincial honour for its president.

The Airdrie and District Tennis Association’s inaugural year has wound up with a provincial honour for its president.

Chris Simnett was named Tennis Alberta’s Volunteer of the Year at a gala event called Raise The Rackets For Kids hosted by the Calgary Winter Club, Nov. 25.

“It’s kind of humbling, as I don’t do this because I want to win awards – I didn’t expect this award at all,” Simnett said. “But it is kind of nice to be recognized.”

The 39-year-old president of the ADTA, which was officially incorporated in January, moved to the city in 2006. With the organization, he has offered tennis lessons to people of all ages and began a community tennis league.

“I don’t think I did anything that anyone else wouldn’t have done. I was given this opportunity, this mandate, from the Building Tennis Communities’ Strategy between Tennis Alberta and Tennis Canada – and they said ‘do the best you can.’ And that’s what I did,” said Simnett.

“I was amazed at how people in Airdrie took to it. Tennis has always been kind of a niche, fringe sport in North America, Canada especially, so it’s neat to see it grow. It’s a great sport and it’s a good sport to train for other sports. It’s a great way to build hand-eye coordination, as well as endurance and speed.”

His next step is to keep tennis growing in the Airdrie area by expanding the ADTA onto indoor courts. The City has already refurbished the East Lake outdoor courts, added new ones at Chinook Winds, and is looking at adding nets to the indoor soccer facility at Genesis Place.

“You could fit one court on each field,” Simnett said. “We just have to figure out the logistics of getting the nets on the courts without drilling into the floor; there’s a few different ways we’re looking at. It might only be a couple hours a week to start, but it would be something.”

Simnett’s ultimate goal is to have an ADTA-specific facility with indoor courts and plenty of room for future expansion.

“We’re hoping to get an indoor facility in Airdrie, but that’s a few million dollars. It’s a very long-term goal, but we’re hoping to start working towards that soon,” he said. “Right now, it’s all grassroots, so I’m happy even if I expose 100 people and one person falls in love with it. If 25 kids fall in love with tennis and one of them becomes a provincially-ranked junior player or gets a college scholarship – that’s a bonus.”

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