Q How important is the Junior Challenge competition to the IC Family?
A It is the International Club's premier tennis event for juniors, split into regional qualifying in odd years and the worldwide finals in even years. It has been running now for 10 years and it consistently attracts many of the top junior players in the world. It is very important to us. There are no junior members of any IC Club in the world and this event requires close liaison between ICs and their respective tennis federations. It provides valuable international team competition for aspiring juniors; and the social events and cultural experiences that are an integral part of the event help make the Junior Challenge unique.
Q. What does it mean for the players to compete at Wimbledon in the worldwide finals this year?
A. The opportunity for the competitors to play on the grass courts at Wimbledon this week is truly remarkable and shows how far the Junior Challenge has come in the last decade. It is a real privilege for the IC to be allowed to play our event here and represents a once-in-a-lifetime experience for everyone involved. We are particularly grateful to the committee of The All England Lawn Tennis Club, but also to the members of the club and all the staff, especially the ground staff who maintain such excellent courts. For the juniors it will be a dream come true.
Q Can you tell us something about the role of the IC Council?
A The International Club has more than 4,000 members from 40 countries spread across five continents. The Council has representatives from all the regions of the world, and coordinates the collective activities and relationships of those 40 countries and their members. We have many aims but I suppose the most central is that we want to be recognised within the broader international tennis community as the family of clubs most closely associated with the promotion of sportsmanship and fair play. That permeates everything we do.
Q What sort of investment does the International Club put into good cause activity and the game of tennis generally?
A The foundations of the International Club are a wonderful and strong network of volunteers. The majority of these volunteers have actually represented their country in international team competition. There are many examples of ICs giving something back to the game of tennis. For example, during the Junior Challenge a tennis clinic is being run by Dan Bloxham, the Head Coach at The AELTC, and Barry Cowan a former professional player and currently a TV commentator for Sky Sports. It’s not only an opportunity for the IC to introduce children from less privileged backgrounds to tennis, but also provides a wonderful opportunity for competitors at the Junior Challenge to appreciate how much they are already getting out of the game.
Q The evolution of the IC: are there plans to extend to further countries?
A We are always looking to expand to new countries. But it is important that we add clubs from new countries that are representative of their best tennis players, that they have the support of their national Federations, and that, above all, they are going to be true to the aspirations and ideals of sportsmanship of the International Club. We want new international clubs that will last for at least another 90 years - which is how long the International Club has been in existence. The latest two additions to our family have been the International Clubs of Chile and Slovenia. Both are thriving.
Q The IC CQS Jean Borotra Sportsmanship Award: who was the award last presented to and what does it represent?
A This year the winner of our award is Steffi Graf, and we hope to present her the award some time in September. Last year the IC CQS Jean Borotra Sportsmanship Award was presented to Roger Federer, who is an honorary member of the IC of Switzerland. Every year, International Clubs are asked to nominate candidates for the award and I am pleased to say that all our winners have been members of their international clubs, although that isn't a criterion. It is a distinguished list, and since 1998 has been awarded to Mats Wilander, Gustavo Kuerton, Kim Clijsters, Pat Rafter, Maria Bueno, Todd Martin, Chris Evert and Stefan Edberg.
Q. Peter, tell us something about yourself, what drove you to become Chairman of the IC Council?
A. Ha! I was driven by others to become Chairman having been the Secretary of the Council for many years. I was a good player rather than an outstanding one, having competed mostly at university level, so for me the election to Chairman was a great, and surprising, honour. Most of our members were or are outstanding players and many played in and some have won Grand Slams - just look at the record of our Honorary President, Frank Sedgman. So it is truly humbling to have been elected the Chairman of this august club.