Douglas College instructor wins prestigious literary award

When Douglas College Sport Science instructor Rob Lake attended the British Society of Sports

History annual conference more than a decade ago, he had no idea that one day he would be standing in the place of the keynote speaker.

The researcher and author, whose book, A Social History of Tennis in Britain, was published less than a year ago, will be attending the conference next September as the winner and keynote speaker of the society’s 2015 Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for best sports history book.

Each year, the British Society of Sports History awards the Lord Aberdare Literary Prize for the best book on the topic of sport in Britain or for the best book on sports history written by a British author.

“The first time I went to this conference, I remember hearing about the award and watching the keynote speaker and thinking ‘you know, that would be amazing,’” says Lake, who holds a PhD in Sport Science from London’s Brunel University. “I never thought 12 years later I would be up there myself.

“I told my wife it’s really a dream come true.”

In the 300-page book, published by Routledge Research in Sports History, Lake delves into the history of tennis – rife with racism, elitism and gender conflict – and how it shaped British society in modern times. 

According to the society’s panel of judges, the research offers fresh detail on the sport of tennis and pioneering work that will become standard text for scholars.
The book has also been shortlisted for the North American Society of Sports History book award.

“When I started this book, it was something I really wanted to do. I wanted to leave a legacy, to some extent, and if it gets picked up and is liked by people, that’s a bonus,” Lake says.

Lake plans to continue his work on the subject of tennis and is already looking ahead to an equivalent book in the North American context. The researcher has also connected with Tennis Canada to discuss a number of projects that will focus on tennis and youth.

“I’m really pleased with Douglas College, which is obviously trying to develop a research culture and it’s nice to contribute to that,” Lake says.

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