Racquetman to receive President’s Award

Being selected as a 2012 Presidents Award recipient by Tennis BC “is really special.”

Wins and rankings are always nice and the mentoring he does to give back to the game, but being selected as a 2012 Presidents Award recipient by Tennis BC “is really special.”

“I didn’t know anything about this — I was absolutely shocked,” Parksville’s most decorated tennis player, Gordon Verge, 78, said when The NEWS caught up with him. “Never in my wildest dreams did I expect something like this,” he said, modest as always. “Someone must have nominated me. I’ll probably never know who it was, but it’s really nice.”

Verge, aka Racquetman, is coming off another stellar season which saw him ranked No. 1 in B.C. in Mens 75 singles and No. 3 in doubles.

Earlier this year Verge made his eighth straight trip oversees representing Canada at the World Tennis Championships — this last one in Croatia. It was also the fourth straight year Tennis Canada selected him to be team captain.

Verge, who is on the mend from knee surgery and itching to get back out on the court, only got wind of the award two weeks ago.

“I’m getting a bit antsy — I haven’t played for four weeks. I want to get back on the court, but slowly. I’m going to to have to miss the fist tournament Feb. 15 in Richmond,” he groused good-naturedly.

In the meantime, he did get a good tennis fix as he was front and centre at the recent Davis Cup action in Vancouver.

According to Carey Summerfelt, manager of recognition and stewardship for the provincial government’s viaSport, the annual President’s Awards, now in its 19th year, “promotes and celebrate the spirit of volunteerism by giving member organizations an opportunity to acknowledge and thank an individual who has demonstrated outstanding dedication and commitment to their organization.”

A certified tennis instructor since 1995, Gordon has also been a high school tennis coach for 15 years while coaching and mentoring junior players through his involvement at area clubs. Born in 1934, Gord’s mother taught him how to play tennis in the streets of his hometown Sydney, N.S., because kids weren’t allowed at the club until age 10. As he grew older, Gordon showed enough promise the adults wanted to play him. He would play in a few junior national championships, winning Nova Scotia’s provincial championships in 1950. At 20 he became an optician, and after adding a marriage and two sons to his career, Verge didn’t have the time for tennis anymore and in 1965 he hung up his racquet.

It wasn’t until after his kids moved out, and he retired and relocated to Vancouver Island from Thunder Bay in the mid-90s that he started thinking about playing tennis again.

“I went and watched a junior tournament I read about in the newspaper, and came home and told my wife I was going out to buy a new tennis racquet and not use my old wooden one from back in the 50s and 60s,” he’s quoted in a Tennis Canada article. “And the only three words she said to me were ‘it’s about time.’

Fast forward to today, and Racquetman is still going strong.

“Never,” Verge answered quickly when asked if the game ever gets tired. “I’m looking forward to getting the kids back out at Ballenas (secondary school) — we’ve got the wheels in motion now, plus I’m still enjoying playing competitive tennis.”

Contacted in Vancouver, Summerfelt said “Tennis B.C. is thrilled to be honouring Gordon with Sport BC’s President’s award, for his tremendous dedication to growing and promoting the game of tennis.

“He is an inspiration to the tennis community,” she said, adding “Gord represents the tennis world with class, displaying professionalism and enthusiasm in everything he does. It is a great pleasure to acknowledge Gord with this prestigious award.”

A big evening to be sure, the awards are being held at River Rock Show Theatre March 7 in conjunction with the BC Athlete of the Year Awards.