Student: Dermott Duggan
Dermott Duggan enrolled in the NTS Mighty Mites Program at the age of 7. He immediately came to the attention of the teachers for his overall energy and athleticism, and his obvious enjoyment of games and competition. He possessed a keen tactical sensibility and a “go for it!” attitude that he has never lost.
Before long Dermott was working with Tony Roth as his Lead Coach, and he rapidly became one of the top U10 players in the Province. This momentum continued through U12 and U14, as Dermott increased his training and competition and became a Top 20 competitor. His tennis activity during these years was tempered by his commitment to competitive baseball in the spring and summer, a multi-sport development that transferred to his tennis game, especially his excellent serve and overhead smash. Dermott’s baseball team won the Provincial Championships, with Dermott pitching the last out.
As he entered High School, Dermott made a year-round commitment to tennis. He enrolled in a sport study school and joined the NTS Master-Class Program, training 15-20 hours per week and competing regularly. Unfortunately, over the next two years he experienced a series of physical injuries. After many starts and stops, the condition was diagnosed and a systematic physical program, combined with careful adjustments to his tennis training and competition, brought him gradually back to full speed. During this time, Dermott displayed exemplary levels of perseverance, optimism and discipline, continually learning and improving despite the many setbacks and delays.
Once he was really able to train and play full-time, Dermott immediately began to make his mark, competing successfully on a Provincial level and clearly headed for the National and ITF stage. This progression was again interrupted, this time by the Covid-19 Pandemic and the closure of the Ottawa Athletic Club in 2020, which rendered the NTS homeless during the fall and winter. In typical fashion, Dermott and his committed family showed flexibility and resourcefulness, managing to keep him on court, continuing his physical training, and even taking lessons with Tony Roth in the month of November on outdoor courts!
Today Dermott is a formidable tennis player, a certified Instructor, and an inspiration to his younger sister Bronwyn, following in his footsteps as a competitive player. He is an example of the NTS spirit, a person whose behaviour and effort are constantly of a noble calibre. It has been a great pleasure watching Dermott “Digger” Duggan grow from a playful 7 year-old into the mature, but still playful young man he has become. In September of 2021 he will start a new chapter as he attends Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario.
In Dermott’s own words: "NTS has helped me tremendously in my growth as both a player and person. Over my years training at the school, I've learned so much and had lots of fun along the way. Thank you so much to all the coaches that have helped me at NTS, you guys are great!"
Student: Corina Spasojevic
Corina joined the School at the age of 6, a fun-loving, stubborn, athletic kid who loved to hit the tennis ball. She engaged in our individual Master-Class Program from age 8. This meant more hours of training than other kids, especially private instruction with lead coach Ben Etheve-Meek. The focus was on long-term mastery - the vision of a player with a complete set of skills. Corina and her parents exhibited the necessary perseverance and trust to pursue these goals. She got with the program and stayed with the program.
Corina first qualified for the Nationals when she was U12. She remained a national top 10 player throughout her junior career, frequently finishing top 5 at National Championships in singles, and bringing home three National doubles titles. In U14 she was part of a Tennis Canada team, touring to Europe, where she added another doubles title to her collection. Her strong serve, comfort near the net and team spirit made Corina an exceptional doubles player throughout her junior career.
By the time she reached U16, Corina’s gamestyle was coming together, with an emphasis on tenacity, variety, and an amazing backhand. She was ready to enter the international arena. Bolstered by Provincial singles titles in both U16 and U18, together with continuing strong results at Nationals, the focus turned to ITF competition. In less than two years she won 4 ITF doubles titles, and reached as far as the finals in singles events up to the G3 level. She achieved a combined ranking as high as #230 in the world. Recognizing her professional potential, Corina was invited by Tennis Canada to play in the Roger’s Cup Pre-Qualifying event in Toronto in 2019.
In light of her strong results, diverse skills and friendly personality, it is not surprising that Corina was recruited by many NCAA schools. She signed with the University of South Carolina, an NCAA Division 1 school with a national ranking as high as #5 in the nation. The coaching staff has experience training WTA players, and, while earning a degree in international business, Corina is setting her sights on four more years of training and play, perhaps followed by the pro tour.
Corina says the key ingredients in her success have been “Time” – sticking with it over many years, “Parents” – completely committed and doing whatever was needed, and “Coaches” – working within the NTS system, the long-range vision, and the expert teaching staff.
Student: Gena Huang
In 2012 Tony Roth received an email from the Head Pro at the Kingston Tennis Club, concerning a 9-year old kid named Gena Huang. The pro noted her exceptional eagerness and dedication, and her goal to “reach a national level and start a path leading to a career in the states.” An assessment was arranged in Ottawa, which confirmed Gena’s strong focus, keen intelligence and physical ability, together with the full commitment of her parents. Eight years later, Gena has achieved all her junior tennis goals.
With no indoor tennis courts in Kingston, Gena began commuting the 200 kilometres to Ottawa almost every weekend. During the week she practiced in a gym, using a ball machine and a mini-net. The goal was to accomplish flawless technical fundamentals and movement patterns, following precise instructions from the coaching staff. Countless video clips were sent back and forth to ensure everything was correct. Gena engaged with great patience and attention to detail, and her parents embraced the long-term vision and steady progression of the NTS approach.
Before long, Gena was rising rapidly in the provincial rankings. Summers were spent full-time in Ottawa. During the school year, weekends were divided between training and competition. Gena played with varsity students and adults in Kingston through the spring and fall, the gymnasium training was replaced with physical preparation, and extra days in Ottawa were arranged at every opportunity.
In 2018 a milestone was reached as Gena qualified for the U16 National Championships, winning four matches on her way to a solid Top 16 finish (tied for 13th). In the same year, Gena finished 2nd in the top tier of the All-Ontario High School Championships (OFSAA). These accomplishments, together with stellar academic results, confirmed her as an NCAA prospect. One year later she signed with Middlebury College, a prestigious liberal arts school, ranked top 3 in the nation for Division III tennis.
We are immensely proud of Gena. In addition to the challenge of coming from Kingston, she has faced setbacks related to her health, including a year virtually lost to Mono, but nothing has dampened her enthusiasm. She is living proof of the NTS understanding that the quality and character of the person is by far the most important thing. Her on-court conduct is exemplary at all times, and her attentiveness as a student is unmatched. Both she and her parents exhibited great respect for the teachers, expressed as a willingness to follow the expert guidance. With these ingredients in place, success was guaranteed.
In Gena’s Own Words: “Along with the most dedicated coaching staff, I think what is most unique about the NTS, unlike any other tennis school, is the emphasis on growth not only as a tennis player, but also as a person. Always bringing a determined spirit every time you step on the court and always striving for perfection in the big and small things, both on and off the court, are two of many lessons I have learned from the past 8 years, and are virtues that I aspire to uphold throughout my college career and beyond. I am very grateful for my experiences here with Tony and all the NTS coaches, and I would not be the same person or player without their guidance.”
Student: Thomas Pryzybcien
In his own words: "Personal growth, with regard to tennis and one’s self. No statement better describes my experience with the Noble Tennis School. It is this dual approach to our sport that 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. My dedication was instilled through my lead coach Ben Etheve-Meek. Ben, with Tony Roth and all the other teaching 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."
Thomas' Tennis Achievements:
-OTA ranking as high as #18
-Provincial championships and national selection tournament competitor
-Two-time back-to-back Ottawa high school division A champion
-Finished #11 at OFSAA in 2012 and 2013.
-NTS Outstanding conduct, effort and achievement Award 2013.
Highlights since high school:
-3 years of research experience at both Toronto General Hospital and SickKids.
-Research published in Clinical Cancer Research
-Trek for Teens Foundation, research and development executive (a youth homelessness awareness charity)
-Graduated from University of Toronto, Honours B.Sc. with High Distinction (2017)
-First year MD student at Wayne State University School of Medicine (class of 2022)
Student: Matthew Sherman
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 led him to be the first junior ever to be named team captain.
While completing his degree, Matt spent several summers working in the School, where he was much loved by the students. He later undertook a law degree in Australia, and is now a married man, and a practicing lawyer.
Student: Aneil Bhalla
Aneil Bhalla was one of the first players to travel from Ottawa to Kingston for lessons with Tony Roth. This commenced when Aneil was age 11. Later Tony and the School came to Ottawa and the collaboration continued throughout Aneil's junior career, during which he achieved rankings as high as #5 in the province.
Following from his athletic achievements, along with excellent academic results, Aneil achieved his goal of a Division 1 NCAA Scholarship at the University of Hartford. Here he continued his steady progress as a player, along with training with Tony during school breaks. The small boy with great hands and a 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 Captain of the team in his junior year. 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 recognizes both classroom and on-court contributions. In addition, he was selected four times as an intercollegiate Tennis Association Scholar-Athlete. In his final year, he was selected to the America East All-Conference Singles Team, and was awarded the S. Edward Weinswig Outstanding Scholar-Athlete Award and the Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center Excellence in Science Award.
In his own words: "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 School places a strong emphasis on cultivating the qualities which are essential not only to becoming a high performance athlete, 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 an end in itself, process-orientation rather than results-orientation occurs, athlete burn-out is avoided, and enthusiasm is found in day-to-day commitments."
Update (2018): Dr. Aneil Bhalla, MD is a PGY-2 Resident Physician at Yale University's Yale-Waterbury Internal Medicine Residency Program, Yale New Haven Medical Center. Dr. Bhalla obtained his medical education from the Keith B. Taylor Global Scholars Program at Northumbria University/St. George’s University, a program which emphasizes enhancing global health through providing medical care to underdeveloped regions of the world. Originally from Ottawa, Canada, Dr. Bhalla completed his clinical training in New York City, primarily at New York University Langone Hospital-Brooklyn.
Since starting his residency in June 2017, Dr. Bhalla has been selected to the Yale University Resident and Fellow Senate, the Yale University Graduate Medical Education Committee, the Yale New Haven Hospital Wellness Committee, and the Yale New Haven Hospital Young Physician Leadership Curriculum. Through involvement in these committees, Dr. Bhalla aspires to promote the Senate’s core values of service to others, a collaborative culture, and a supportive learning climate, both within and outside of the Yale Medical Community.
Student: Maria Klokotzky
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. She then attended school in Fresno, California, where, in 2007-8, she won the ‘super-nationals’ doubles title and went on to the NCAA national championships. Maria is now a police officer, but she still works with Tony and Ben when she returns to Ottawa for holidays.
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!”
Student: Jason Smits
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 indoor courts, meant driving two hours per 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 lots of tournaments, this talented and famously calm young man achieved a ranking inside the top 10 in Canada and a full scholarship with the University of Utah, a top 50 NCAA Division 1 team.