In 1992, I decided to take a winter off work and ski in Whistler. It was an epic season. I skied almost every day but it was during my first summer that I became convinced that Whistler would be my new home. I joined the Whistler Valley Tennis Club on the shores of Nita Lake and met my future wife. We played a lot of tennis together and even won a few tournaments. I volunteered to help out on the board that managed the facility and eventually became the club president.
Unfortunately, we lost that great community club when the Nita Lake Lodge was approved for development, but fortunately, the new Whistler Racket Club had just opened. We kept the Whistler Valley Tennis Club, a non-profit organization, active because we knew that the WRC was a temporary facility and that the owners of the property would make an application for new development. We wanted to make sure that it included a viable multipurpose tennis centre.
In 2004, the property owners, the Holborn Group, began the process. Whistler's mayor at the time, Ken Melamed, invited representatives of Whistler's tennis players to a seat at the table. I was a member of the team. The process took three years and in the end, we negotiated a good deal, a twelve-court indoor/outdoor tennis centre that had space for other activities, such as squash, gym, pool, lounge, and restaurant/bar. The Holborn Group did not move forward with the development due to the financial crisis in 2008.
Three years ago a new non-profit, the Whistler Tennis Association, was formed to take up the baton from the Whistler Valley Tennis Club. I was elected to the board to advocate, once again, for an indoor/outdoor racket club. Pickleball was now on the scene in a big way. I served two terms as president and I am now back at my role as an advocate.
My lifelong career began as a television news cameraman. I then became a television news producer. I was based in England and had the privilege to cover many of the major international news stories for many years. When I decided to live in Whistler, I went back to my role as a cameraman and shot documentaries for the BBC. I am now happily retired. My only involvement with the news is the odd letter to the editor.
Ben joined the WTA in March 2019 and was appointed President at the AGM in November 2020. In addition to being a part of the Whistler tennis community for many years, Ben is also a member of Jericho Tennis Club in Vancouver where he has served in the past on various committees. Ben is married with two kids and resides part-time in Whistler. His son Ryan (16) is a competitive junior and is often seen on the court at the Whistler Racket Club. Professionally, Ben spent 22 years in the capital markets business as an Equity Research Analyst at Raymond James Ltd., a global investment bank. In the fall of 2020, he retired from the firm to pursue opportunities as a corporate director. He currently sits on the Advisory Board of Norland Limited and on the Board of Directors for Toromont Limited.
I am very passionate about tennis. The details and nuances of the game of tennis keep me forever captivated. I competed in USTA tennis in Northern California. In 2012, I moved to Whistler where I gained the best coaching I have ever had. In 2016, I worked with Kirk Paterson and Lynda Harmish to create the Whistler Tennis Association; I have held executive positions ever since. I also offer a strong corporate background. I worked in the computer field in California and Ontario and previously for several industrial fortune 500 companies. In Whistler, I am on several boards and committees. It is a great place to live. Certainly, tennis has been a big part of my life in Whistler.
Whistler resident since 1975 Participated in the first Whistler Valley Tennis Society in 1978. In 1992 when Bjorn Borg teamed up with Christian Dogimont and ParkGeorgia Developments Whistler was ensured a world-class tennis facility. We are now at risk of losing this tourist-generating opportunity. Tennis has been an important part of our community for more than 100 years.
Whistler has been my permanent residence since 1984. For many winters before making the move I spent as much time here as I could skiing on the slopes.
I love living here and I participate in many outdoor activities. I feel privileged to enjoy all that Whistler has to offer. In 1984, my first summer here, I joined the Whistler Valley Tennis Club which was located on Nita Lake. Joining the club helped me to meet the local residents and to begin to feel like a member of the community. In fact, most of my friends today, including my husband, I met at the WVTC and through the sport of tennis. I became a WVTC board member and helped to organize many social and competitive events at the Nita Lake courts. Over the years I have organized both mixed doubles and ladies doubles weekly round robins at the WRC.
In 2018 I joined the Whistler Tennis Association Board because I truly believe that the indoor/outdoor tennis centre is an integral part of our community. A vibrant tennis club and the sport of tennis is a positive asset to the social, physical and mental health of our community.
At age six I was introduced to tennis by my mother, an avid and accomplished player. Tennis has been a vital part of my life ever since. I have lived in Whistler since 1996 and have been playing at the Whistler Racket Club since moving to Whistler. Prior to moving to Whistler, I lived on the North Shore where I played at the West Vancouver Tennis Club for over twenty years. I served as a director of the West Vancouver Tennis Club for several years. While playing tournaments and league matches, I have played at many of Greater Vancouver’s tennis clubs.
Tennis in Whistler is at a crucial juncture as re-development of the current site is imminent. During this process, the WTA will play an important role in advocating for tennis in Whistler. I look forward to contributing to the ongoing success of tennis in Whistler.
Since moving to Whistler, I have been involved in several organizations. I was a director of AWARE for many years. I have been a director of the Alpine Club of Canada-Whistler Section for over ten years. I was a member of the RMOW’s Forest and Wildlands Advisory Committee for several years.
My wife and I have been coming to Whistler as tourists for 20 years and in 2017 emigrated here from the UK. I have played racquet sports my whole life and have travelled extensively, consequently, I have played tennis and squash at many clubs in many countries and recognize how important a club community is, especially to new arrivals. Inevitably you meet like-minded individuals who share the same love for the sport and the beer that follows!
With that in mind, when I moved here, I immediately visited both the tennis club and the squash facilities at Meadow Park. Having played squash doubles in the UK singles proved too much for tired knees so I concentrated on tennis. Although the tennis club at the time was lacking a true club feeling (no bar!) I met a number of kindred spirits and ended up running the popular Wednesday night tennis programme. Since then the club has gone through a rebirth thanks to the efforts of Jamie Grant and his team.
I joined the Whistler Tennis Association at the most exciting of times. With the imminent development of Northlands, the promise of a new racquets facility finally looks like becoming a reality.
There is much work to be done to ensure that a facility commensurate with our world-class resort of Whistler is built. I look forward to working with all stakeholders to ensure this is done.
Robert is a resident of Burnaby and a lawyer with the City of Vancouver.
Robert and his family temporarily relocated to Whistler in 2011 due to a home renovation and they have been a part of the Whistler tennis community ever since. Every July and August since 2011 the LeBlanc family has returned to Whistler where they have played, volunteered, and worked at the Whistler tennis club in its different incarnations. His older daughter, Heloise, has been a summer coach with the club’s junior program since 2017. Robert feels strongly about the viability of a world class tennis facility in Whistler in service of the local community, the sea to sky corridor, and travelers in search of a diverse recreational experience.
Robert graduated from UBC Law in 2005 and was called to the British Columbia bar in 2006. He spent the first 4 years of his practice as a criminal defense lawyer and in 2010 moved to the City of Vancouver as litigation counsel where he has remained since. He is responsible for the enforcement of all City by-laws, including those relating to Zoning and Building matters. During his time as a lawyer Robert has appeared frequently before City Council and at all levels of court in British Columbia.
Robert was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, and has lived in every province from British Columbia to Ontario. He moved to Vancouver in 1997 with his wife after the completion of his undergraduate studies in Canadian History at the University of Western Ontario. Prior to attending Law school in 2003, Robert spent many years conducting historical research for civil claims relating to attendance at residential schools. He has lived in Burnaby since 2008 with his wife and two daughters.