In 1972, Bindertwine Park in Kleinburg was a completely different world, rife with great picnicking grounds.
Joe Durnai remembers thinking that large expanse could accommodate two baseball diamonds, a soccer pitch and tennis courts.
It’s the latter that had him interested as he scouted the village for a new home.
Living close to the airport in Etobicoke was making him seek out a new residence in a quieter area, he recalled recently, driving memory lane while on the phone.
“I didn’t like the airplane noise,” Durnai said. “They said, ‘Come on up to Kleinburg’, and I jokingly said, ‘I’ll come up and take a look, but if it is a nice and quiet place I want some sort of sports outlet’.”
There he met Michael Bevan, president of the Kinsmen Club, and Frank Sidwell and from that moment on Bindertwine Park would get two courts, and later yet a third addition, thus the birth of Kleinburg Nashville Tennis Club.
However, catgut Kleinburg town council’s tongue.
“Basically we just wanted tennis courts, and some of us went ahead and were able to get some funds, talk the councillors into bringing two courts in there,” Durnai said. “Although they were pretty reluctant to do it, because it was a local park.
“Our population at the time was under 1,000 and people did not want a whole flood coming in on weekends. People were selfishly looking after their own little place.”
Sidwell, who retired from the game four years ago, also shares his memories.
There’s a slight brogue in his 86-year-old voice, as he grew up in Dunfries, Scotland. His wife, Dora, hails from Coventry, England. They hopped across the pond when they were in their 40s.
“It’s always been difficult getting people interested in tennis in Kleinburg, but they’re probably more interested now than when we started up,” he said. “We had a nucleus, mind you, to keep things playing but one year we’d have 50 members and the next year we’d have 100 members.”
Along with the help of other avid court denizens — nurse Carol Wilson and businessman Frank Detkovic — their technical consultant was a mechanical engineer, Gary Graham, who also picked up the racket often.
It’s that hard work as presidents that Dornai and Sidwell are being recognized for by the current regime, president Jane Hunter and pro coach Chris Kedrzycki.
Hunter named the June 18 club tournament in the two men’s honour.
Kedrzycki knows well what the men have done for tennis in Kleinburg, working with them for 20 years.
“The main function is a tribute to these two individuals, Joe and Frank,” Kedrzycki said. “Because of their perseverance and hard work we have this club in our village.”
For Sidwell, after four years of being off the court due to back problems and ailing eyesight, it’s the sporting thing to do.
“I’d like to feel that I’ve gotten recognition,” he said. “I was the president and main string of the club for 25 years before I gave up tennis.”
Dornai, serving up a modest response, said it was just something he had to do.