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Sunday, 03 May 2009

Dear friends,

Cromarty Tennis Club interests me still, because I spent many full happy days there when the tennis season was only three months because of clay courts.

At Dalhousie in Halifax they played until the end of October, but mostly on asphalt.

Some people may remember me if their name is Florian, or Abbass, Nichols or MacDonald (as in Hughey).

In the second world war, a British Colonel Dobbie kept the tennis club alive by supplying free labour from the Joliette regiment guys interned in Victoria Park

We had Johnny MacCready in the Air Force , famed for the Apps - Drillon - MacCready line of the Toronto Maple Leafs, and many other athletes in the service stationed in Cape Breton.

In 1950, Wendell Coldwell of Sydney Mines was my favourite victim in winning the Senior Cape Breton Championship, as well as the Junior in the same year.

At Dalhousie, I played First Singles for three years, 1950 to 1952

At McGill I played Second Singles 1953, 1954 to John Smith Chapman's number one. He died early, a magnificent Squash pro and tennis professional, with a beautiful backhand and service.

Wendell had played for McGill and knew all the Davis Cup competitors, when he came back to Cape Breton to get farm dirt on his boots and practice law. His eyesight failed and the last time I saw him in 1977 he wasn't playing.

Wendell was a very precise competitor and analyst, and could find a flaw in every player, that could be used to turn the tide in a match. I wonder if he even watches Wimbledon on TV now.

I would be pleased if one of your executive were especially interested to keep touch with me over the internet, in order to let the rest of the world know there is more to Cape Breton than tourism.

Coincidentally, I am writing a book about tennis and especially tennis instruction methods.

Cape Breton will benefit enormously from having even one indoor court.

It can be the basis for year round organization to participate in international competition.

It can be the headquarters for computerized instruction (maybe just with a few tips on daily exercises) and a connection with the new federal emphasis on physical activity for physical fitness.

Federal grants may become more available in the coming year, once a responsible group displays interest in developing excellence in any physical fitness program.

The more imaginative the program for the people in one of Canada's remote historically important areas, namely Cape Breton, the more likely one can visualize a sizable grant.

Yours truly
Ernest Semple


Sun, 31 May 2009

Here's a comment on practice. I'll send one now and probably others while the tennis season runs.

Homes in Cape Breton have few ceilings over eight feet. That means you can't practice your service swing at your own leisure any time of day unless you live in a stately old home in Louisbourg or Glace Bay.

As soon as the weather permits a youngster should get outside and practice the service swing. The best one to practice is the figure eight, like an Indian club juggler going through a horizontal shoulder rotation of at least 90 degrees. You can even practice it left handed or right handed, because it depends on momentum.

The other arm can swing to balance the right or left arm movement, imagining you are tossing up a ball to meet the racquet at the top of the swing. The closer to zero ball movement at the top of the racquet swing, the better.

As soon as the courts are available you can try all the different serves with the same timing, and simply try to put the ball in court. Power develops naturally as you think of where you want the ball to land. The motion is essentially the same for all service types, flat, slice, topspin, American twist. The follow through determines which one you chose to accommodate the ball toss.

You can say these notes are in memory of Wendyll Coldwell, an honoured competitor who is gone now according to the information given by Pat Johnston. A lot of kids learned tennis from him. I think one of them was Jerry Nickerson, with whom I once played as a tournament partner.

Attached is a story about a Canadian player who is quite spectacular this year at the French Open. Nova Scotian hockey players needn't get all the publicity, Cape Bretoners with indoor tennis and basketball facilities can equal the best of other Canadians, and maybe of other countries too. Think of Andy Murray practicing in those cold Scottish highlands.

Good cheer to you all,

Ernest Semple


Sat, 19 July 2014


Excellent poster.

Ernest Semple Cape Breton Mens; Singles Champion 1950.(age 18). (defeating great friend Wendell Coldwell in the final).

He didn't like the American twist high bouncing serves.

Wendell played for McGill taking his Law degree.

I played second singles (Major Letter) for Mcgill two years while taking last two years of Engineering Physics.1953-1955.
My doubles partners for intercollegiate were Mike Carpenter, and Donald J. Johnston, or so he bragged. Mike Carpenter was Quebec Provincial champ for several years later. Don chickened out of tennis and went into politics. He had a smooth service motion.

At Dalhousie I played first singles for three years defeating Kenny Reardon , A great athletic favourite for Black And Gold. Gerry Regan broadcast some of our matches and a memorable doubles in Truro when Reg Cluny had to climb the fence to return lobs from the Piers Brothers.
Photographs with Gabby Regan with microphone, in the judges chair, have been preserved carefully. (8x10 actually).

In 1969 Wendell at Cromarty, schooled me with his flaws analysis of all the important players in the Cape Breton Open. He regretted he couldn't play because of failing eyesight.

Who stole the 1950 trophy that should have been in the new clubhouse?

Tennis is the greatest sport for building character and self reliance.

It was a family sport for me at Cromarty Tennis Club.

Ernie. .