Jane Kravchenko Bedard, Peter’s wife and oft-times partner, was among those paying tribute. She talked about being smitten at first sight at a tournament in 1990. Peter was a superb tennis player in many ways and Jane credited being a lefty with some of it, but being a strategist was the greater part. “As a thinking man, he had an edge when physical abilities were equal.”
Jane recounts Peter’s doubles philosophy in this way : Always keep your partner in the point. Keep him out of harm’s way and give him the opportunity to contribute to the best of his abilities.
It was a philosophy that made him a very desirable partner …. and a very successful one. During five years at York University (1991-1996), achieving an MBA along with doctoral studies focusing on organizational structure, behavior and development, Peter was part of three gold-medal teams and two silver-medal teams. He won gold in doubles three times, with three different partners. He was an OUAA All-Star three times, the first player to achieve that distinction.
Jane says Peter always brought out the best in his partners, without adding pressure on them. “He brought a balance of competitive drive and fun …. an ideal combination. And his passion for the game was infectious with younger players, making Peter an effective mentor.”
The Hall of Fame recognition began with sport and academics, but focused just as much on the years beyond. Asked to recount a special memory, Jane said that every day of their 25 year marriage has been special. “It’s rare that you can look forward to seeing the same person every single day.” She goes on to say, “Peter’s best quality is that he always puts family first : he shows up when you want him to, but also when you need him to. I love that he can be both the smartest and the goofiest guy in a room; one minute he’ll be having a heady conversation with a client; the next, an absurd dialogue with the cats.”
Putting family first often involves playing tennis together. The Bedards are the poster image for tennis as a family game and a game for life. In the Niagara Tennis League this fall, one of the six teams featured four Bedards among its eight players : Peter, Jane, Tanner and Cole. [Satchel is away at the University of British Columbia; otherwise it would have been five.] Peter said “This is what tennis has been for my whole life : every team since I was a child …. me and my brothers and my parents, then Jane and now our kids. It’s the best!” Among those family highlights would have to be four – yes, four! – USTA Senior Father-Son Championships for Bob and Peter.
Twenty years ago, Peter founded his company People First. They help good leaders become better leaders, and they model teamwork, respect, transparency and integrity. They help entrepreneurial companies execute their best strategy to support growth and adapt to change. Jane has watched her husband work behind the curtain through all the years – encouraging, advising, coaching – helping everyone achieve their goals. It sure felt good to see him brought into the spotlight for an evening of appreciation and admiration.
We’re extremely fortunate to have Peter and Jane and their family here as part of our Niagara Tennis Community. Their example and their enthusiasm bring positive energy to every encounter, whether on court or in discussion.
Peter’s strength lies in developing healthy, successful relationships …. on the court, at home and at work with People First. As Niagara Tennis searches for the best way to move forward, Peter’s words resonate : “Always keep your partner in the point.” Sounds like good advice to me.