Meet the women blazing a trail to the Tennis N.L. Hall of Fame
Their list of achievements is longer than a tennis racket, both on and off the court
They've won provincial and national titles, medals at the Canada Games, and worked at the highest levels of professional tennis. They've earned scholarships to American universities, travelled the world with a racket, and rubbed elbows with greats like Serena Williams, Eugenie Bouchard and Billie Jean King.
But if you don't play the sport, you might not know their names, or their stories.
Now these four exceptional women are hoping to raise the sport's profile in the province with their induction into the Tennis Newfoundland and Labrador Hall of Fame. Melissa Pine, Jennifer Bishop, Heather MacLean and Daria O'Reilly were inducted at an event this summer. By shining a spotlight on the trail blazed by the women, dubbed the "fearsome foursome" by the event's organizers, Tennis N.L. hopes to show a path that today's young players can follow.
"Billie Jean King is one of my role models, and she always says, 'if you can see it, you can be it,'" said Melissa Pine, a vice-president of the Women's Tennis Association.
"The ability to travel the world, the ability to earn an education, the ability to build a career in sport business, all of these things are out there. And so it's important to be able to share that so people know."
Jennifer Bishop knows how true that is. As chair of Tennis Canada's board of directors, and a member of the prestigious Davis Cup Committee, she works with players at the very top of the sport and at the development level.
"We really need to champion these success stories, so that everybody knows about it," said Bishop. "We shouldn't be just learning about it within the tennis community. The fact that we have people having such tremendous success on the global stage really needs to be made known in this province."
The women all agree that a key ingredient in their success was the tennis facilities where they learned the sport — facilities that are now in desperate need of repair, especially with St. John's set to host the Canada Games in 2025. Watch the video above to learn how the "fearsome foursome" changed the game, and how the next generation of players in this province could do it again.