Sharon Pollack always watched her son and daughter compete, supporting them as they went from club to club playing junior tennis tournaments in Manitoba. Hart and Lisa Pollack are honouring their mom’s dedication with the establishment of the Sharon Pollack Travel Bursary.
The bursary is in place to off-set costs for Tennis Manitoba’s Florida Junior Tour. Shawn Sophasath, Stefan Barre and coach Jared Connell took part in the inaugural Florida Junior Tour (December 3-16, 2015), playing five two-day tournaments and training with players from Saskatchewan.
“Both of my parents were always believers in that there is only so much competition locally (for junior tennis players),” said Hart Pollack. “I was so fortunate that they were able to bring me outside (of Winnipeg) to California to get good competition there, and throughout Canada travelling for tournaments and throughout the U.S. as well.”
Hart played college tennis at Jacksonville University in Florida. His grandparents (Sharon’s parents) introduced him to the sport at about age four at their place in Palm Springs, California. Hart played many tournaments in California as a junior.
“My parents ended up sacrificing some of their vacation time because they had to take me to all the tournaments as a teenager,” Hart said. “As a teenager there’s such great competition there. We travelled to San Diego every year to play a tournament and there was a local tournament in Palm Springs as well we played every year.”
Hart would go annually with his family to Palm Springs around the Christmas holidays, and tennis was often a focal point of their trips.
“It turned into a family passion,” said Hart, a former Tennis Manitoba president who is now on Tennis Canada’s board of directors as chair of the finance & audit committee.
Sharon, an elementary school teacher, was a Tennis Manitoba board member. She enjoyed watching Hart and Lisa compete on the court.
“She didn’t miss a match,” Hart said.
Sharon Pollack passed away February 29, 2012 after battling breast cancer for 14 and a half years. Through it all, she fought tirelessly for others stricken by cancer. Sharon volunteered in the library for CancerCare Manitoba (CCMB) researchers before becoming the first coordinator of the Guardian Angel Caring Room and managing the Look Good Feel Better program in a region that spanned from Saskatchewan to Thunder Bay.
“She started in volunteering, and then part-time (work) and then full-time work,” Hart said of his mom’s advocate work. “It was really impressive what she did.”
Sharon was honoured in 2010 with her Applauding Values pin, a CCMB staff recognition award. The next year she received the Award of Distinction at the Guardian Angel Benefit for Women’s Cancer.
“It used to be everybody knew my dad (Rocky Pollack, a Provincial Court of Manitoba Judge) and then it turned out to be everybody knew my mom,” said Hart. “We’d go on planes and people would stop her to talk to her. She impacted so many people’s lives. It was pretty amazing.”
In August of 2012, Hart and Lisa organized the Sharon Pollack Memorial Tennis Marathon, with all proceeds going to the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation to support cancer research and patient support services. The event, held at Kildonan Tennis Club, included a mini-tournament and hitting-for-prizes competitions. Tennis coach Robert Kennedy was on court to assist beginners and young kids.
Then, in July of 2013, Hart and Lisa organized the Sharon Pollack Classic Tennis & Fashion Show, benefiting cancer research and patient support services through the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation. Held at Winnipeg Lawn Tennis Club, the event was part of the inaugural CIBC Wood Gundy Women’s Challenger professional tournament.
Now, with the establishment of the Sharon Pollack Travel Bursary for aspiring junior players in Manitoba, Hart and Lisa continue to honour their mom’s legacy and give back to the tennis community.
“We were fortunate that our parents traveled extensively for tennis with us and I think it’s therefore fitting to have a bursary in my mom’s name dedicated to assist others with the same,” said Hart.