The good folks at the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Centre (SITC) were looking for a way to raise the profile of their late winter/early spring tournament.
Convincing one of the greatest all-time players in Canadian tennis history to make the trek to Sudbury certainly might do the trick.
Olympic gold medal winner Daniel Nestor will join the festivities on April 27th and 28th as the local venue plays host to the 2nd Annual Northern Ontario Tennis Classic, lending his efforts to help promote the sport in a variety of manners during the course of his short stay in this region.
"I guess you could point the finger at me on this one," noted tournament organizer Neil Lind. "I was sitting at home one night, thinking of ways to try and jack up the tournament this year, and I had seen his (Nestor's) induction into the Canadian Tennis Hall of Fame and was wondering if there might be an opportunity for us to see if he was interested in coming to Sudbury."
Touching base with key tennis contacts, Lind was as surprised as anyone to receive a phone reply directly from Nestor himself, within hours of reaching out. Understandably, this was not a project the SITC could tackle on their own.
"They (the SITC) made a wonderful business case as to why we should partner up and do this," explained National Bank Financial Sudbury portfolio manager Albert Corradini. "They (NBF) loved the idea, but the timing of it was not ideal for the Bank. In the end, they jumped on board."
In fact, both National Bank and Eacom Timber Corporation have stepped up to help make this dream a reality, all while acknowledging that a long-term approach was needed to understand the potential payoff to sponsors, down the road.
"Sometimes you do things not necessarily for the immediate financial benefit, but moreso because of the profile, the sense of community, and those things," said Corradini. "I believe in volunteerism."
"I don't think you're ever going to get to a point where somebody is going to convince me that doing something like this for a community like Sudbury is the wrong thing to do." That, not surprisingly, is outstanding news for SITC board president Cliff Richardson, who is less than two years into his mandate to help grow the local club.
"This is absolutely huge in trying to garner some attention," he said. "We think it's going to be a pretty big draw, and not just for tennis players, but even fans of the sport and casual onlookers. The name will resonate with some people, and hopefully that brings in some people to the facility to see what we're all about."
In terms of specific opportunities for local residents, Nestor will not only be playing in a pair of exhibition quasi pro-am events on Sunday (April 28th), but will also be availing himself to a fundraising auction for local folks wishing to get in on the action.
He will also be attending the tournament banquet on the Saturday night at the Clarion Hotel, with tickets available to the public (non-tournament entries) for $50/person. Anyone interested in simply stopping by the club on Sunday to observe some of the action is asked to make a donation of $10, simply to help cover some ancillary expenses.
"This shows that we are gaining traction," noted Richardson. "It's really good for the club."
For more information, please call the Sudbury Indoor Tennis Centre at (705) 688-1414.