Marsha White loved ping pong and badminton as a teenager in Tacoma. Today, she’s all about tennis and is the recipient of a major honour from Tennis BC.
The organization, in its excellence awards banquet at the Shaughnessy Golf and Country Club in Vancouver, presented White, a 70-year-old mother of three, with a Contribution to Community Tennis Award.
White, who received an embossed glass trophy, founded the Vernon Tennis Association (VTA) in 2008. She was a board member first, then vice-president and is now in her fifth year as president of the thriving club. Membership has grown from 60 to 113 with 26 juniors.
A former elementary school teacher in Washington State, White moved to Abbotsford in 1994 and had a natural reason to try tennis.
“We lived across from the tennis bubble so I could play all year round and I improved quickly through leagues and good instruction,” said White, who has four grandchildren with her husband Roy, a retired pastor and choir member.
“I never played tennis until after I was 50 and I love it. I play a lot of doubles. We play for 45 minutes and then switch to play another team so you play with different people all the time.”
The VTA is affordable and offers numerous programs for players of all levels, some through parks and recreation.
“We have a morning women’s league with 20 players in a ladder so you have to get a spare if you can’t play. That goes from April through October. We started that in 2009.”
There are a bunch of spaces in leagues for the average player or a 3.0 which is an above average player. The stronger players compete twice a week under the lights. White helped jumpstart a men’s program five years ago and those numbers are also rising, with 16 players involved.
Thanks to White, who applied for a grant through the Funtastic Sports Society, the association has a storage shed, lights on all four courts, a ball machine and materials for a hitting backboard.
She also expanded the quality of the juniors program (ages six to 13) by acquiring a certified instructor the last two years, with VTA volunteers lending assistance. White also organized four drop-in rental times through parks and rec with monitors for each session.
White walked the 2017 Winter Carnival Parade route handing out tennis balls and brochures promoting the 55+ B.C. Games which are in Vernon this September. She was the media liaison for city and regional personnel regarding the bid process for the Games.
“She is one of a kind and the tennis community in Vernon certainly would not be what it is without Marsha’s dedication to the sport over the last eight years,” said Jackie Labun of the VTA.
White is close to her twin sister, Georgia, a resident of Boise, Idaho.
“I was first born but it wasn’t until years later that we found out we were actually identical twins. She and I battled it out for the table tennis championship in high school.”