In 1986, Ron Richards approached a local young tennis pro, Howie Jackson, and offered him the vacant club pro position. Howie became the Capilano Tennis Club’s tennis professional and has served the club in that capacity for the last 24 years, bringing a broad knowledge of the sport of tennis and a healthy attitude, which has fostered camaraderie and a spirit of inclusion among the members. Howie’s grass roots, game-based junior program has provided excellent, reasonably priced coaching to countless local juniors and has been a cornerstone in the club’s community profile.
“A core group of members playing during the eighties were dubbed Ray’s Rockets”.
A core group of members playing during the eighties were dubbed “Ray’s Rockets”. Ray and Asta Lawry, May Birrell, Jim Cox, Eunice Girdler, Frank Gartner, John Fowle, Brendan Rowell, Hamish Jackson, Rudy Derton, Joan Kroll and others played during this social time. The club had many tournament participants and champions as well during this era. George Smith, Pat Dowling, George Lea, Lance Stiles, Glenn Richards, and for one summer, a very young and aspiring future talent, Grant Connell.
Midway through the summer of 1986, the club hosted a 60th anniversary party in honor of Capilano Tennis Club’s history. Many former members attended, as well as local political figures. Over a hundred people gathered on the sun deck as tea was served during an exibition tennis match featuring club pro Howie Jackson, Glenn Richards, his brother Trevor, and Ray Lawry’s son, Alan. With no warning, the deck suddenly collapsed, sending spectators and tea cups flying. Order was restored and the party continued on a somewhat tilted, but temporarily stable deck.
The clubhouse of that era was a double wide Britco trailer with a low wooden sun deck built out at the front. The trailer was installed in the early seventies, and by the nineties it was already showing its age. Despite many coats of paint, and numerous repairs and rebuilds, “the portable” as it was called, gradually became a refuge for wildlife of the surrounding forest. Ants, termites, wasps, racoons, birds – all lived happily in and under the old clubhouse at some point. There was also “Dave”, the neighbouring vet’s cat, who adopted us and visited daily for many summers.
The Club presidency rotated during this era among Glen Acton, Bill Nordmark, and Rudy Derton. It was also during this era that a skilled competitive member, Doug Cairns, passed away suddenly. He is remembered in our Doug Cairns Memorial Doubles tournament organized each year by Quentin Brown, a successful annual tournament which includes teams from other clubs as well.
“The bulldozers began to level the old clubhouse, and excavated for the new foundation.”
A decade of summers passed and in 2003, club president Liz Maclaren began inquiring about costs for installing a new Britco portable on site to replace our crumbling home. This led to a building committee being formed which included Dave Scott, Sharon Moxon, and Rudy Derton. The original plan was to repair or replace the existing trailer with another similar structure, but in the fall of 2005, Rudy Derton approached the Club executive with detailed plans for a new two storey permanent clubhouse.
The club had only a small fund available, so in addition to designing and planning this visionary concept, Rudy also donated a significant amount of personal funds – enough to make the dream a reality. The Executive applied for a building permit from the district in 2006. After a difficult year of extensive political negotiation, a permit was granted in April 2007. The bulldozers began to level the old clubhouse, and excavated for the new foundation. As the summer of 2007 progressed, the framing of the new clubhouse quickly took shape as keen members lounged on the “grassy knoll” at the far northeast corner of the property. Throughout this summer of “camping out”, the quality tennis continued and thrived, despite the lack of washrooms and running water.
During the winter of 2007-8, the interior of the clubhouse was completed. During this time, Frank Gartner, who had served the club faithfully as treasurer for 20 years, passed away. Frank was an active member who was key in developing tennis growth for seniors and played an important role in developing North Vancouver’s first public indoor tennis facility, the Grant Connell Tennis Centre.
April 2008 marked the grand opening of the new clubhouse, with a large celebration attended by the mayor. The creation of the beautiful Capilano Gardens began at this time, with Rudy and Trudy Derton, through many plant purchases and garden donations, creating our showpiece. The Jim Cox Memorial Garden was also established at this time to honor a founding member and great player of a former era. Horticultural designer and member Christine Rainer has recently added her deft touch, donating many hours of planning and planting. A gardening committee was formed to maintain the gardens in their beauty.
“The Capilano Tennis Club has a rich history of competitive interclub league teams.”
During the several years required to recreate the Capilano Tennis Club, Sharon Moxon provided clear and determined stewardship of the process. Her dedication to the club and its future deserves a special mention. David Scott provided the level voice of reason and committed, efficient action during the many wrangles in the political jungle.
The Capilano Tennis Club has a rich history of competitive interclub league teams, many times emerging as various league champions, but always being remembered by opponents as fair and competitive in our efforts. The Club has an excellent playing reputation city wide, and with 7 current interclub teams, is well represented as a summer club.
The history of the current era of the Capilano Tennis Club would not be complete without recognition of the continuing contributions of Rudy Derton. From countless maintenance projects large and small on the old clubhouse over the years, to filling and painting the tennis courts, to planting and pruning bushes and trees old and new, to auditing club financial statements and taking many turns as either Club President or Groundskeeper, Rudy has provided all of us with a solid template for voluntary action. His personal financial contribution, which effectively funded our new clubhouse and led to Capilano’s new era is a true landmark in our club’s history.
“The Capilano Tennis Club is a rare phenomenon that transcends the passing of time.”
Recently, other members have stepped up and contributed. Brian Becher donated a ping pong table; Kenji Tomagame has donated a BBQ and pool table . Garrett Sandwell has worked hard on many maintenance projects including signage and rebuilding a large part of the signature club fence. Wolfgang Sollors painted our aluminum court fence bright and shiny. Ray Sotto took the lead in organizing a club website which enhances our community profile going forward and Duane O’Kane created the Club Logo. Previous president Heather Fleming brought her wealth of experience in group process and non profit organizations, providing improved structure to the club executive. The legacy of volunteer effort continues.
The Capilano Tennis Club is a rare phenomenon that transcends the passing of time. The Club has always been entirely about the sport of tennis and the members who play it. Throughout the club’s history, and to this day, the club has remained inclusive, friendly and informal. We remain a model to the community, an oasis of good will and camaraderie that players genuinely feel and gravitate to. Though the passing of the years has brought many external changes to playing styles and equipment, the essential positive spirit of our membership drives the future of this club. The Capilano Tennis Club has always been, and continues to be, a very special place to play tennis.