History of Organized Tennis in the National Capital Region
The game of lawn tennis was still in its infancy when it was first played on the grounds of Rideau Hall in the late 1870s. With the formation of the Ottawa Lawn Club in 1881 (now known as the Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club), a base was laid for the development of organized tennis in the capital.
The Canadian Lawn Tennis Association was founded in 1890 and in 1894 the Canadian Championships were held at the Ottawa Club, which at that time was located on Cartier Square.
Ottawa players competed in a Montreal-based league from 1898 to 1902, and from 1903 to 1909 there was an inter-club league in the capital.
City Championships were inaugurated in 1910.
The game was played on grass until 1913, when the newly formed Rideau Lawn Tennis Club installed a number of clay courts.
After the First World War, there was a great increase in the number of clubs and it was then that the present overall organization had its beginning. The Ottawa District Lawn Tennis Association (ODLTA) was established in the summer of 1920. By the mid-1920s, it had some 40 member clubs.
In 1910, the Sir Percy Lake Trophy, emblematic of the men’s singles City Championship and the Dr. F. C. Hanna and Birks Trophies for the Men’s Doubles Championship were first awarded. In 1925, the first Women’s Singles Championship was contested for the P. D. Ross Trophy and the first Mixed Doubles Championship was held for the John Murphy Trophy. The following year, 1926, the Hon. Charles Murphy Trophy, emblematic of the City Women’s Doubles Championship was awarded, completing all the City Championship events for which competitions are still held.
Shortly after its formation, the ODLTA became affiliated with the Canadian Lawn Tennis Association and the Ontario Lawn Tennis Association until early in 1958, except for a brief period during the 1940s when it was affiliated with the Quebec association. In 1958 the ODLTA was granted “provincial” status by the national organization. Its name was changed to the National Capital Lawn Tennis Association in 1960 and the word “lawn” was dropped in 1979. The NCTA ceased to have “provincial” status in the fall of 1988.
In 1991, the NCTA became an autonomous region of the Ontario Tennis Association.
Tournament and League History
The ODLTA set up an inter-club league in 1922. It had three main sections designated A, B and C, until 1966, when the present four-division arrangement was adopted. In 2004, the now called Mixed League adopted a Box system to promote more competitive matches.
Intermediate championships (for players under the “A” level) were established in 1934. The present Masters’ competition, originally for men 40 and over, began in 1960 when a trophy was given in memory of Jean Rinfret, a colourful player who was fatally injured in a skiing accident.
The Canadian National Tennis Championships were held at the Rideau Tennis and Squash Club in 1977, at the Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club from 1978 to 1981, and again at the Rideau from 1982 to
1984. Currently the Rideau Sports Club has hosted the Ontario Open Championships.
For many years the Rideau Tennis Club was the home of the Canadian Open & Closed Junior Champion- ships. In 1949, the late E. C. Condon established a separate junior tournament, emblematic of the junior city championship. From 2002 to 2004, the Canadian Under 14 National Championships were held at the Ottawa Tennis and Lawn Bowling Club.