‘A highlight day’ is how Salmon Arm Tennis Club director Winston Pain enthusiastically describes April 10, when Canadian tennis legend Daniel Nestor returned to Salmon Arm.
“Nestor is the most decorated player in Canadian history, having won 91 professional tournaments in his illustrious career, including eight Grand Slams (Wimbledon, French Open, Australian and U.S. Open), as well as the gold medal at Sydney, Australia. He was also awarded the Order of Canada to recognize his outstanding contribution to Canada on the world stage,” Pain explained.
Nestor came to Salmon Arm in 2019 as part of the Askew Tennis Centre’s grand opening. Pain said he was delighted and impressed Saturday with the finished facility. When Nestor visited in 2019, the courts weren’t even paved.
“When he walked in, he just went oh my god; he was very impressed,” Pain said.
The 2022 visit came to be when Nestor’s friend and level 3 Canadian coach, Uros Budimac, called Pain, saying Nestor was coming through and would be willing to provide lessons and one-on-one time with local players.
Pain said no other club in the Interior took him up on the offer, but Salmon Arm was a different story.
“In seven hours we sold out. Our club, as usual, just blew it out of the water.”
Twenty-four local players signed up for the day, with one person from out-of-town taking a spot at the last minute when someone couldn’t make it.
Both Budimac and Nestor coached, with both playing six hours of tennis that day. Pain said the time was packed with both instruction and match play, and the locals were able to experience being on the court with the legendary Nestor.
Pain said Budimac is a world-class coach, one of Canada’s top-eight coaches. He and Daniel are good friends, originally from Serbia.
“Everyone got their fix,” Pain said of the local players.
He said Nestor is an easy-going and really funny guy.
“He loved Salmon Arm. I said we’re looking for a pro. He said, send my wife a video,” laughed Pain, adding that Nestor wouldn’t give him her email. Pain explained that Nestor has two daughters and his family lives in Toronto, so they aren’t planning a move.
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