NEW GLASGOW - Eric Knoester would love to see New Glasgow enjoy a tennis rebirth.
Knoester, who grew up on the West Side courts around the time tennis boom hit in the mid-70s, has made a career out of the sport.
Knoester now lives in Victoria, B.C. with his wife Donna and their daughters Hannah, 13, and Olivia, 11.
"The West Side was probably one of the strongest tennis clubs back then.
"There were probably 10 kids nationally ranked, and probably eight of them were in the top ten. 1973-75 was probably the big boom time," said Knoester, who is in charge of racquet sports - tennis and squash - at the Panorama Recreation Centre in Victoria.
The centre boasts two skating rinks, two squash courts, four tennis courts, a fitness and weight room and a swimming pool that is undergoing a $12 million upgrade.
Knoester is home visiting family this week, and spent some time at A.G. Baillie Elementary School, giving a free clinic to students at the school, where he hopes to pique the interest of some of those youngsters.
Those who run the tennis program at the West Side Community Centre also consulted with him on how to improve the tennis product in New Glasgow.
The community centre is looking at the possibility of totally revamping the courts as soon as they can raise the money.
In 2007, about 145 people were enrolled in summer programming at the centre, but the tennis facility itself has seen better days.
"If they can upgrade the facility, that would be a big part of it," said Knoester.
"That's where the challenge is. It takes a lot of work and a lot of energy."
Being a globetrotting tennis instructor is nothing new to Knoester; at one time an instructor with Peter Burwash International, he's taught in exotic locales such as Malaysia, Tokyo, Thailand, Hong Kong, the Phillippines, Guam, Palau and Austria.
Knoester also once taught the game at a Four Seasons resort in the Caribbean, where one of his pupils was morning talk show host Regis Philbin.
"Regis was just like he is on his show - he never turns off his persona," says Knoester. "When I met him a couple of years ago he was 74 years old and had lots of energy. The guy is amazing."
He also found means to donate 20 junior racquets to the tennis program, as well as some low-compression tennis balls that are easier to control for players who are just beginning to learn the sport.
One of the reasons he maintains an interest in tennis at west side New Glasgow is because it was there that he learned the sport that would take him all over the world.
"It's giving something back."
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