Peter Otto has been the head pro at Kildonan Tennis Club for about 17 years and the head tennis pro at Winnipeg Winter Club for 11 years. He’s coached such top players as Sean Bailey, Emily Fridrik, Erika Fridrik, Alex Lesiuk, Saul Shrom, Igal Mostkov, and Clarissa Chen. He currently coaches Reece Carter, who placed 13-16 in girls’ U12 singles at the Junior Orange Bowl International in Florida in December.
“With the juniors, how I’m measuring the success of my coaching is how many players I can get to the college level, and if they can go beyond that it’s great,” said Otto.
Otto, who worked about six years as the technical director for Tennis Manitoba, has coached at four Canada Games, four Western Canada Games and numerous junior national tournaments. He got his start in coaching as a junior.
“My first teaching job was at Winnipeg Lawn (Tennis Club) when I was 18,” Otto said. “Me and Bill Serbin – we were the co-pros there.”
Otto then taught at Kildonan Tennis Club for a year or two before starting work at the Winnipeg Free Press in the circulation department. After a number of years at the Free Press, he returned to coaching tennis.
Otto was nine years old when he took up the sport at the Four Seasons tennis club next to River East Arena.
“My dad was good friends with Ray Daumler’s dad, Fred Daumler, and of course there’s the Daumler dynasty (Ray is a three-time Manitoba Open singles champion),” Otto said. “Through that association that’s how I started to play. The Four Seasons was close to where we all lived and Ray played there so I decided to take up some lessons there.”
Otto, who went to Carlton College in Minnesota on a tennis scholarship, competed in three national juniors, about three Canada Games, and about three Western Canada Games. His Manitoba teams finished fourth at the 1985 Canada Games and second at the 1987 Western Canada Games. At the ’87 Westerns in Winnipeg, Otto partnered with Neil Blanca to win silver in boys’ doubles.
At the Western Canadian senior championships, Otto has won three doubles titles and lost two finals with Geoff Kirbyson.
Otto is also a provincial mixed high school badminton champion, earning the honour in Grade 10. The River East Collegiate grad was a finalist in boys’ singles at the provincial high school badminton championships in Grade 11 and Grade 12.
“I had to play guys like (Olympian) Jamie Dawson in provincials for the final – that was tough,” said Otto, who was a setter for his high school volleyball team.