Niagara Academy of Tennis- The Next Generation
Dr. Sivakumar Annamalai- NAT’s New President
Since the doors opened in 1997 by founder Lezlie Murch, Niagara Academy of Tennis (NAT) has been a popular choice for tennis enthusiasts around the globe. It has offered a unique alliance of academics and athletics and has provided the Niagara Region with a multitude of tennis programs, from grassroots to high performance. Grown from the ground up by a team of experienced and passionate professionals, Niagara Academy of Tennis has flourished into a place of friendship, commitment and excellence.
The legacy that has been created has most definitely been a team effort, and one that is worthy of nurturing, continuing and growing to the next level. In the words of Lezlie Murch, “the time has come for NAT to receive new energy, new inspiration, and new life!”
And on that note, it is with immense positive energy and much excitement that Lezlie and the entire NAT family, announce the official ‘passing of the torch’ and welcome NAT’s new leader, Dr. Sivakumar Annamalai!
Much like Lezlie and the majority of NAT staff, Siva was drawn to the institution by his strong passion for tennis, which was first realized through his own children, Ray and Rhea both of whom have been NAT students since 2016.
Prior to life at NAT, Siva created a diverse and prosperous life for himself and his family in Tiruchi India and spent quite a number of years as an ENT Surgeon in the UK. Although Siva lived a very comfortable life in both locations, and also demonstrated his multifaceted approach to bettering not only himself, but also others, he still held a burning desire to advance his career in the multicultural land of Canada! In 2008, he found an exciting opportunity in Sydney Nova Scotia, and soon after, his family settled as landed immigrants.
While being wholeheartedly dedicated to his healthcare profession, Siva simultaneously demonstrated his passion and commitment to aiding in the development of healthy and independent young adults.
His passion for aiding in institution development was inspired in 1984 by Siva’s father, when he opened the doors of the Cauvery College for Women. This institution originated with only 40 students and has since grown to become a multi campus institution hosting over 5,300 students. Its focus is to not only develop the technical skills of its students, but to also nurture professional competency, self confidence, managerial abilities and entrepreneurial development.
Within the next few years, his children Ray and Rhea became more seriously involved in tennis, and the Sivakumar family quickly realized that opportunities to progress in the sport while simultaneously gaining a valuable education on the same campus, did not exist in Nova Scotia nor anywhere else in Canada. Through a fellow tennis friend, the Sivakumar family became aware of NAT, and soon after arrived in the quaint town of Vineland Ontario for the very first time!
Siva and his children wanted to understand every facet of NAT in order to determine whether it would be the institution to advance their children’s tennis, and just as importantly provide them with a quality education and nurture them to become respectful, kind and strong independent thinkers. Within only a couple of weeks, NAT began to feel like home due to its ‘family like’ environment, and after exploring other academies in the US and Canada, NAT evidently became the best and only option for the Sivakumars.
Two years after enrolling Ray and Rhea at NAT, Siva was presented with yet another business opportunity! Lezlie Murch acknowledged that although her time since founding NAT had been both rewarding and a place to which she will always feel connected, it was time for fresh life and a fresh perspective. It was time for someone with new ideas, new visions and new energy. It was time for a new leader! Murch didn’t spend much time searching before the perfect candidate became increasingly obvious, and in early August, the keys changed hands.
While Lezlie is excited to enter an “official’ retirement where she will continue her volunteer work with Rotary, spend more time vacationing with her husband Bob, and enjoy more moments with friends and family, Siva has already implemented some fresh ideas for NAT and looks forward to seeing the entire vision through, step by step, year after year.
Siva is extremely grateful for the opportunity Lezlie has provided and gives many thanks for the strong foundation which has been developed over the years. Siva has most recently made reference to NAT being in “growth mode,” with the hiring of new office staff, new coaches, new teachers and a new principal. He also referenced the entire team as consisting of top-notch professionals, with the same goal in mind…to grow Niagara Academy of Tennis!
Siva’s vision also involves expanding NAT’s horizons by recruiting talented student athletes from additional countries, with its most recent students recruited from India, Latvia, Turkey, Bolivia and France.
His long-term plan is to acquire an additional NAT site, and to offer state of the art facilities for both on court training and in classroom studies. These are only a couple of the many fresh ideas included in Siva’s overall vision, but as with all successful institutions, it takes patience, passion, persistence, and positive energy to make every vision a successful reality.
In a mere two months, it has become obvious that Lezlie Murch’s wish for a legacy continued is well on its way to coming true!