Raphael Leong


I have been part of the Toronto tennis community for nearly half a century.  I grew up as a junior at Bellbury while competing in the OTA and eventually at a collegiate international level.  Even though my competitive playing days are long behind me,  I have a passion in wanting to make tennis accessible to everyone.  That vision includes bringing a sustainable world class playing surface back to our community to be enjoyed by everyone.  To see the joy from those who play tennis is a reward worth more than any trophy I have every won.  Thank you for continuing to play season after season and for supporting the volunteers who help keep this tennis club vibrant and full of good spirits.  

I will leave you with this poem “ode to tennis” by Seannelson     

It is a game played on many surfaces and in many more nations,
in rising and setting sunlight and at night under electric lights

Sometimes, it is a game of 1 on 1 sometimes of 2 on 2, and always within the athlete:
emotion against restraint, instinct against training, weary misery against pride in prowess,
cramps and blisters against the will to glory

It’s the bounce of the ball and the roar of the crowd, rubber in your hand and rubber in your legs;
the racquet never stops but flows through the ball and you’re running again… there’s no time to stall

The ball will return with spin or with burn, and you’ll learn the swing must begin
before the ball is in sight, if you want your strings to strike strong and guide right.

And though your opponent’s fierce like a tiger and clever like a crow,
if you meet him feint for fang and blow for blow, sooner or later you’ll place the ball
where he just can’t go

It’s not a game for rich or poor: for every athlete, there’s an open door.
At first, it’s far tougher than one might expect:
the ball’s elusive and hard to direct

But with time, sweat, and heart,
it becomes an art:
not just a tussle
of meanness, size and muscle,
but an athletic game
of smarts and speed
in which brutal power can come
from an arm like a reed…
and victory comes
(as often as not)
not from training, fitness, or skill

but from perserverance, fire, and will

It’s a game played
for letters, for pride, and or health;
It’s an art plied
for fame and ridiculous wealth.
But few champions play
for nation or pay,
and win or lose
they don’t go away;
They play for the thrill
and they play for the joy,
just like any girl or boy

It’s a sport for all in love with life,
those who seek a thrill
or a friendly fight,
for those who know victory
in defeat begins,
and within themselves
seek champions