Dear North American Racquets Association Members,

I hope everyone is healthy, safe and managed to get together with family over the holidays. I know I speak for all as we bid ‘farewell’ to the year 2020 and look forward to a much better 2021; including much more Racquets.

At the time of our last correspondence, we promised to come back to you with an update on our tournament schedule for 2021. Regrettably at this juncture, we are still unable to confirm that any tournaments will be played for the remainder of this season. However, we will be monitoring the vaccination schedule carefully and would like to maintain flexibility when restrictions are eased. We recognize that protocols may vary across clubs in different states and will be taking that into consideration. The Canadian Amateur, scheduled for late January, has officially been cancelled and one should presume the other events will be too. Our hope is that we may be able to gather in the springtime for some fun both on and off the court at a venue to be decided.

The temporary closure of clubs, the severely reduced amount of play and the lack of tournaments has had a significant financial impact on our racquets’ professionals. At our recent NARA board meeting, individual financial contributions to each of our racquets’ professionals were approved which hopefully demonstrates how critically important they all are to the success of our game in North America. At this juncture I would personally like to thank the entire NARA membership for their ongoing support allowing the board to continue funding the game in ways we see as most impactful.

I recently received word from Bill Stephens of the eponymous Knott-Stephens tour that after 30 years of organizing this hugely successful event Bill has decided to retire. Following Jimmy Knott’s death in 1995, Bill, with the help of his wife Pauline, have been successfully running the KS tour. The tour will certainly continue to thrive, and Bill has left detailed notes for the next generation who will be planning future tours both in North America and when our North American based players travel to the UK. We all owe Bill and Pauline (and Jimmy) an enormous debt of gratitude for all their hard work to ensure the ongoing success of the KS tour. To me the KS tour epitomizes so much of what makes our game so great and this is best exemplified by the multiple lifelong transatlantic friendships that were conceived on these tours. At an appropriate time, next year, NARA looks forward to acknowledging Bill for all that he has done.

I wish I had more visibility into what the future holds but, in the meantime, I hope that activity levels will increase at respective clubs and that vaccination progress will allow travel and tournaments to occur before too long. In the meantime, our communications director Conor Medlow will be adding content to social media platforms and our NARA website. With that in mind if you have any photographs etc. that you wish to share, Conor’s email is conor@racquetclubchicago.org

In closing, I wanted to wish you and your families a Happy and Healthy 2021.

Play!

Jonathan Larken

President of NARA