Bimal started in our Futures Tennis Program, at the age of 12. He immediately stood out for his intelligence and keen response to detailed instruction, as well as his pronounced athleticism. 'Bimo' clearly engaged with the ethos of perfectment that pervades the School, and took delight in the process of improvement. He spent the next five years training and playing with the NTS, including two summers in the Master-Class program, where he not only increased his skills but served as an example to all the students when it came to sportsmanship, quality of effort and love of learning. For the past two years, Bimo has also assisted in teaching our Introductory Programs, where his friendly demeanour and familiarity with the NTS approach have made him a valuable member of the teaching staff. He is an example of the pathway that begins with the sense of play, develops into love of learning, and blossoms into sharing that love through teaching. Now he is off to Queen's University, pursuing an honours degree in computing. He will be missed and always welcomed at the NTS!
In his own words: "Aside from the amazing coaching and training, and the exponential development of my technique, mechanics and fitness in tennis, the Noble Tennis School sold me on the beauty of the sport. When I enrolled in the beginner level program at the OAC, my first coach was none other than Tony Roth. Tony, with the help of the other coaches, brought me up and, four years later, I'd be the one coaching the same beginner's program where I started! Essentially, I came to the NTS with a racquet and an open-mind, and they gave me a passion for a sport I'll never give up, as well as a mentality that's changed my life and how I seek success."
Thomas Przybycien and the Noble Tennis School seemed to belong together from day one. Even as an U10 player, Thomas responded to the ethos of perfectment, and the high standards of dignified behaviour and quality of effort, with natural understanding and zeal. Over the years, he has become a truly elegant and highly skilled player. Frequent travel to Toronto and elsewhere for major competitions was not a regular thing for him, but nevertheless Thomas became a solid Provincial-level competitor, achieving a provincial ranking as high as #19 in the province, and winning the city-wide high school championships two years in a row, while finishing as high as #11 in the province-wide competition.
In 2012 Thomas began teaching with the School in the summer months, where his strong tennis skills and sincere desire to assist others, combined with his outstanding inter-personal and communicative abilities, made him a role model for the advanced and master-class students with whom he primarily worked.
Always a strong academic student, in the fall of 2013 Thomas began his post-secondary education at the University of Toronto, doing a double major in Immunology and Biochemistry. Not surprisingly, this summer he was selected to conduct a research project on multiple sclerosis in conjunction with Toronto General Hospital, and so the next chapter of his life is well underway. On his return visits to Ottawa, we invariably see Thomas at the club, hitting balls with his long-time lead coach Ben Etheve-Meek, and asking after all the kids he helped bring along. Needless to say, we are extremely proud of Thomas Przybycien!
In Thomas' Own Words: “Personal growth, with regard to tennis and one’s self. No statement better describes my experience with the Noble Tennis School. I believe that this bifurcated approach to our sport is what sets the NTS apart from other high performance academies. The NTS understands that maturing entails more than ranking points. Maturing requires an unfailing dedication of the student and the coach. It is only when this dedication is attained that personal growth and tournament success may proceed. Winning, merely because one hates losing, is not the goal. In fact, it is more beneficial to lose with dignity, knowing that you gave your unfailing effort, than to win badly. For me, this dedication was instilled through my lead coach Ben Etheve-Meek. Ben, along with Tony Roth and all the other staff, taught me that the NTS was more than just tennis. Fitness, training and tournament success were simply part of the maturing process. Growth, maturity, and ultimately humanization, as a function of dedication, are far more important. Therefore, with the help of the NTS I can proudly say that I have grown as an individual. More than developing as a player, the NTS cultivated qualities that will serve me in tennis and beyond—passion and dedication.”
Aneil Bhalla was amongst the first players to travel regularly from Ottawa to Kingston to receive instruction from Tony Roth. This commenced when Aneil was age 11, and the collaboration has continued since that time. Aneil has always been committed to both academic and athletic excellence, so it was no surprise that following his junior career, which saw him achieve provincial rankings as high as #5, he was invited to attend the University of Hartford on an NCAA scholarship.
Here he continued his steady progress as a player, and return trips to the NTS during breaks throughout the year helped him further refine his skills. The small boy with the great hands and solid backhand grew into a big-serving, net rushing player with a great variety of shots in his arsenal. While maintaining a 3.90 GPA, Aneil played primarily at the #1 singles and doubles positions throughout his NCAA career and was selected as a captain of the team in his junior year. As a player, he continually improved until, in his final year, he amassed a 9-5 singles record, which included winning 7 of his last 8 matches.
Aneil was a three-time selection to the America East Conference All-Academic Team, which recognized both classroom and on-court contribution. In addition, he was selected four times as an Intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete. In his final year, based on his on-court performance and singles record, he was selected to the America East All-Conference Singles Team. In his senior year, he was also awarded the S. Edward Weinswig Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award and the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center Excellence in Science Award, both awards given to one graduating student-athlete per year. This combination of athletic achievements and stellar academic results was the ideal way to conclude his varsity tennis career. Aneil is now pursuing studies in medical school.
"One of the most unique aspects of the Noble Tennis School is their approach to helping students achieve their goals and reach their full potential. The Noble Tennis School places a strong emphasis on cultivating the qualities which are essential not only to becoming high-performance athletes, but those which are fundamental to the growth of the individual. By instilling and nurturing these attributes in players, progress and results no longer become something that is forced by external influences, but rather a natural consequence of the development process. By the Noble Tennis School making personal athletic goals and achievements a means to an end rather than the end itself, process-orientation rather than results-orientation occurs, "athlete burnout" is avoided, and enthusiasm is found in day to day commitments."
Jason harks back to the days when the School was located in Kingston, Ontario. His story is all about the rule of quality over quantity.
Living in Trenton, where there are no courts, meant driving nearly 2 hours each day for his training. He came to Kingston 2-3 times per week and, working strictly with Tony Roth and Ben Etheve-Meek, and playing plenty of tournaments, this talented and famously calm young man achieved a ranking inside the top 10 in Canada and earned a full scholarship with the University of Utah, a top 50 NCAA Division 1 team.
Maria was identified as a young player with professional potential in Germany. Arriving with her family in Canada, they were initially disheartened with what they found, to such an extent that Maria actually quit tennis at one point. Having attended a regional training camp in Kingston with Tony Roth and Ben Etheve-Meek, Maria’s father said, almost with tears of joy, ‘I have not seen training like this since Germany.’ When the School came to Ottawa Maria joined its ‘Master-Class’ program, and went on to win the U18 Provincials and finish 6th at the Nationals. She was eagerly sought out by NCAA schools, and justified the hopes of her team in Louisville, Kentucky, when she became the first freshman to win a major regional competition (Spartan Cup). She subsequently attended school in Fresno, California, where, in 2007-8, she achieved a top 30 ranking (college-wide), won the ‘super-nationals’ doubles title and went to the NCAA national championships.
In her own words: “Having come from Europe, where the training was outstanding, I was disappointed when I saw the level of coaching in Canada, until I met Tony Roth. He re-ignited my love for tennis. He started working with me back at step one. There were tough times, but all I would have to do is look to my right and there was Tony, encouraging me and never giving up on me. This always kept me going, and always made me want to achieve the next level of tennis. Also, being part of the Noble Tennis School gave me the opportunity to train with some of the best players in Ontario. On the side at these practices you would always have a coach behind you, feeding you more and more knowledge, teaching you all about discipline and hard work. I came back day after day to Master-Class, knowing that I would walk away a better and smarter player. Now, having been at University and having been involved in an extremely competitive environment there, when I’m home I come back to the Noble Tennis School. This is where I can become the best I can be; on court with the number one coach in the nation, Tony Roth!”
Update (March 2013): At the conclusion of her NCAA career, Maria went on to become Assistant Varsity coach at Fresno Pacific, and then Head Coach at Texas Pan American University. This, in turn, led to working as a full-time professional with the Noble Tennis School! Presently, Maria is working part-time at the School was pursuing her long-time goal of working in law enforcement. She has recently been accepted into the RCMP, and so will soon begin a new chapter in her career! We will miss her at the NTS, but naturally support her decision completely and will follow and support her in all her future endeavours.
Matt Sherman is a talented athlete who says he was “going nowhere” when the School arrived in Ottawa. He always says his path of success began after a little incident during the first week of training in the School: during a practice session he threw his racquet against the back tarp in rage. From two courts away, Tony Roth called his name, and, gazing at him with great intensity and wagging his finger, said, “no, not here.”
Matt never threw his racquet again, and this was the beginning of a new ethos of dignity, enjoyment and hard work that has led him to a scholarship at the University of Dayton, Ohio, where his high level of play and noble attributes have led him to be the first junior ever to be named team captain.
Through his Varsity years, Matt began teaching with the NTS in the spring and summer months, mainly with the Advanced and Master-Class Programs. His keen intelligence and natural affinity with the humanistic principles of the NTS (which he loved to discuss in ever-more depth and detail with NTS teachers), combined with his joy in the progress of others, made him a natural for this work, and he became a role model for many students in the School.
Matt was clear, from a pretty young age, that whatever he did with his life, he wanted to be actively helping others. It made sense, therefore, that following the completion of his under-grad in the US, in 2010 he began a Masters of Social Work at the University of Windsor, and later added an additional course in Dispute Resolution. Equipped with this training, In 2012 Matt began a new phase of his life as a front-line social worker in Toronto with the Children's Aid Society. Then, in 2014, he decided to branch off further and is now studying Law at Bond University in Australia, with the intention to focus on Family Law.
It was partly as a result of Matt's enthusiasm for the teaching of Tony Roth & Ben Etheve-Meek, which he first experienced at a Regional Camp in Kingston and subsequently reported to his grandfather, owner of the Ottawa Athletic Club, that the NTS ended up at the OAC and Tony became his Lead Coach. They worked together for many years, including lots of early morning practices when all the other courts were empty. Today, on his return visits to Ottawa, they always make sure to get together. Matt is keen to hear of the evolution of the School and its players, and we are forever proud of this fine person who exemplifies so much of what the School is all about.