August 6-21, 2022
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by: Bill Potrecz, BP Sports Niagara

Canada Games Hall of Honour Inductee Stacey Allaster celebrated in her hometown of Niagara

Stacey Allaster’s rise to prominence as the top female tennis executive in the world is almost too unrealistic to comprehend.

The 59-year-old former Welland resident has gone from playing and learning the game at the Welland Tennis Club to compiling an impressive and lengthy resume in the sport.

“Anything is possible,” Allaster said Friday night at the Niagara Falls Convention Centre where she was inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour on the eve of the Niagara 2022 Canada Summer Games. “It’s humbling.

“At times, I still pinch myself because the story is a little kid, in a little town, in a little country with limited tennis talent, no connection to Canadian sport, goes on to run Tennis Canada and the National Bank Open. Then goes on to run the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association), the No. 1 professional sport for women founded by Billy Jean King, and now today is running professional tennis in the United States and is now the first female director tournament director in 140 years of the U.S. Open.

“You would say that didn’t happen. That’s crazy. It just proves you inherit luck, you create luck and anything is possible.”

Allaster was born in Windsor but moved to Welland with her family at age 12 and attended Notre Dame.

“Everything in my life has come from the sport of tennis. It’s serendipitous that I’m being inducted into the Hall of Fame where it all started at the Welland Tennis Club with a pro (Dutchy Doerr) who believed in me and changed my life.”

Allaster’s love of tennis continued at the University of Western Ontario where she received a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Physical Education from the University followed by a Master of Business Administration from the Richard Ivey School of Business in 2000.

In 2006, she became the Vice President of Sales and Marketing and Tournament Director of the Rogers Cup and was also appointed to be the President of the Women's Tennis Association, a newly created role in the organization.  In July 2009, Allaster was promoted to be the chairman and CEO of the WTA Tour. While serving as CEO, the WTA secured one billion dollars in diversified contracted revenues. Allaster also oversaw the partnership of an international media agreement.

She tried to retire in 2015 but six months later was running the U.S. Open.

“I thought I would take a year off and go down an entirely different path, do some consulting, some board work, and a charity that gave underserved kids the opportunity to play sport, but the USTA (United States Tennis Association) came knocking and asked how I would like to run the U.S. Open.

“Sitting at the Welland Tennis Club watching the U.S. Open and they are going to come ask me to oversee the U.S. Open? It was a hard one to say no to.”

Allaster participated in the 1989 Canada Summer Games in Saskatoon as a tennis manager with Team Ontario.

“I love our country and I love Canadian sport, so it is an incredible honour to be inducted into the Canada Games Hall of Honour,” Allaster said. “When I think about the great champions of sport and of Canada who are in the Hall of Honour, it is truly humbling. The 1989 Canada Games experience is one of the most memorable in my entire sports career. It is extra special to be receiving this award while the Canada Games are being staged in Niagara where my whole tennis career started.

“When I led Team Ontario into Saskatoon I remember just being in awe and having no idea what it was going to be like. I thought to myself then this is what it must be like at an Olympic Games. I can confirm the Canada Games experience I had was very much like an Olympic Games.”

Allaster, who splits her time between St. Petersburg, Fla. and New York City, feels the Games will leave a lasting impact in Niagara.

“These next two weeks are going to change kids' lives for decades and I’m exhibit A. I’m incredibly inspired by the opportunity that these games will provide the Niagara Peninsula — provide more access, more programming, upgraded facilities, new facilities so that kids in this region of the country will have the opportunities I did.”

The class of 2022 features Canadian athletes Brian McKeever and Steve Nash, builders Tom Quinn and the late Don Goodwin, and Niagara Falls boxer and Games alumni Michael Strange, who participated at the 1987 Canada Winter Games in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia.  

“It’s just amazing when you think about the power of sport and what you go through as you’re competing,” Strange said. “The ups and downs, the losses, the big wins, not making a team, getting cut. The mental and physical strain on your body. It really prepares you for other things in life beside sport.

“The power of sport has just been amazing and I really do owe it to the Canada Games.” 

Established in 2007, the Hall of Honour recognizes exceptional Canada Games alumni and individuals who have sparked greatness by distinguishing themselves during the Canada Games and beyond, while contributing to the growth of the Canada Games movement.

Meridian Credit Union
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