The OTA is now well into their four-year strategic planning cycle and I am proud to say the organization continues to strengthen its financial commitments to important programs, and to human resources and partnerships needed to lead the growth of tennis in Ontario and across Canada.
Financially, OTA is well positioned, having reached a $2M budget milestone this past fall when the 2015 budget was finalized by the board. Since 2011, the OTA's budget has increased an incredible 35% thanks to the hard work of OTA's Executive Director Jim Boyce and his staff. During this same period, government grant support has increased an astonishing 98%! None of that success would be possible without the strong support by OTA member clubs who recognize the leadership and benefits OTA brings to tennis in their community and across Ontario.
The year 2014 was another standout year for volunteerism in the province. Throughout the year the OTA provided over 40 recognition certificates to clubs and regions who honoured outstanding volunteers in communities across Ontario. As we've done for the past 12 years, we saved our highest recognitions for late October with the Distinguished Services Award dinner. The award for 2014 went to two deserving recipients: Julio DiCresce from Bolton Tennis Club and Renate Crizzle from Heron Park Tennis Club. Congratulations to both Julio and Renate for their high level of contributions over so many years.
On a larger scale, the OTA hosted the 9th annual Presidents' Day session during Rogers Cup on August 4th. Club executives from about 90 member clubs attended (200+ participants) and it is our way of recognizing the hard work of all member club board volunteers in the province. A continental breakfast was served, followed by remarks from incoming Tennis Canada CEO Kelly Murumets, and concluding with a short Q&A with special guest and up-and-coming player Brayden Schnur of Ontario. Most of the interview was captured and put up on the OTA's YouTube station, so take a look on our website if you haven't already done so.
The OTA participated this year for the first time in the 3rd annual Raonic Race-For-Kids fundraising event organized by Tennis Canada. Our team, the "OTA Future Stars", raised over $9,000 for the charity, with the total amount raised across 16 teams coming in at $130,000. Our celebrity team captain was ATP and Canadian Davis Cup tennis star Frank Dancevic, who gave every challenge great energy and enthusiasm. More information can be found at The Milos Raonic Foundation website.
Governance & Risk Management
The OTA continued to progress priorities from our governance and risk management plan. A small board committee worked with OTA staff in 2013/14 to develop a draft of a comprehensive Volunteer Policy including background check requirements for OTA employees, coaches, officials and volunteers. This initiative forms part of the OTA's overall Risk Management Plan that has been in place since 2009. The policy has been approved and includes details such as the role of the volunteer to the success of tennis in Ontario, volunteer rights and expectations, volunteer training and orientation and volunteer recognition. It also includes new requirements for conducting various levels of police background checks (PBCs) for OTA volunteers, employees and other paid positions such as coaches and officials. Background checks take affect Jan 1, 2015 and will be required for all officials and coaches and select volunteers. These and other policies can be found on the CLUBSTRONG resource centre.
Tennis Canada / OTA Partnership
The Provincial Tennis Association (PTA) Presidents meet regularly through the Council of Provinces (COP) and in 2014 we focused our efforts to continue building a stronger relationship with the provinces and Tennis Canada. For the first time, Tennis Canada met with all the provincial Presidents and their Executive Directors in Toronto in late October to focus discussion on how to best grow tennis participation in Canada. This was an historical first step simply because it was the acknowledgement by all involved that in order for us to succeed we must all have consensus and buy-in to the programs in which we invest. Everyone left the two-day meeting feeling that their ideas mattered and that the action steps identified will make a strong impact to growing tennis participation in Canada over the long term. More meetings of this kind will take place in 2015 including coverage of other important areas such as Marketing and High Performance. This is a new way of working together collaboratively with Tennis Canada and the provinces and I for one am extremely happy we are taking this direction.
OTA's Annual General Meeting
This year's AGM was held on Saturday, April 11 with a full house of attendees from over 48 member clubs. After the business of the AGM completed, we had guest speakers from Sterling Backcheck (Ron Modi) and Altruvest (Robert Harris) provide insight into police background checks and board governance. This was followed by some time on the courts for those who signed up, allowed us to demonstrate a number of the programs that get delivered to communities throughout the year. Thank you to all our supportive clubs for attending, voicing their opinions, networking with other members and enjoying the food and seminars.