It’s unusual that a community the size of Southampton (est. pop. 3,000) would come to be such a hub for tennis. Credit for that growth goes to generations of members who share a love of the game and community spirit. That devotion began with Irwin “Fawcett” Warder.
Fawc Warder was a local resident who first learned to play at the age of 14. He won many tennis titles starting in the 1920s, and by the ‘40s and ‘50s, he was teaching local kids how to play, free of charge on the town’s only pair of rough, weedy tennis courts.
By the mid 1950s, Fawc convinced friends and local merchants to help finance his plan to revitalize tennis in Southampton. A wave of enthusiasm swept through the town. Volunteers raised the money, the town council endorsed the plan, and before long, crews were busy rehabilitating the original courts and erecting the practice wall. The Southampton Tennis Club was formed in 1956 complete with memberships, lessons and tournament competition.
As the club grew, so did the achievements of the junior members. Many of the juniors consistently excelled at tournaments throughout the province. Fawc and his wife Ruth along with eager parent-volunteers regularly escorted the junior members to tournaments in Toronto and London, Ontario and beyond. The excellence of the junior program was realized when Anne Ofield won the Girls Under 12 Canadian Singles Championship in 1965.
Word soon spread about the impressive junior tennis program in Southampton under the stewardship of Fawc Warder. As a result, more local residents and tourists from Ontario and even the United States were drawn to Ontario’s “tennis town”. The increased interest led to expansion. In 1961, five more courts were built on Lake Street, and the clubhouse was added five years later. This new location became the hub of all STC activity. By the mid-70s, six additional courts were added at a third location and fittingly christened the Warder courts. Eventually two more courts were added to this location, bringing the total number of hard-courts to 15 across three sites.
When Fawc retired in 1984, management of the club passed to John Stevens, a long-time member and active volunteer. Under John’s leadership, the Southampton Tennis Club continued to grow and thrive. Carrying that legacy into the 21st century, the club’s management is now overseen by the volunteer Board of Directors dedicated to maintaining our fundamental roots – tennis for everyone in a fun, community-based environment.
Summer after summer, the club gained momentum because of the members’ shared commitment to sport as a valuable learning ground for young people to experience physical activity and competition in an environment of fair play and personal achievement. Although tennis has evolved over the decades, we’re very proud to say the club’s founding principles endure today.