Job title Tennis Development Manager
Employer Everyone Active
What does being a Tennis Development Manager involve?
As the Tennis Development Manager at Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis & Wellness Centre in Sunderland, which is operated by Everyone Active in partnership with Sunderland City Council, I am in charge of anything to do with tennis at the club. This involves organising coaching sessions and making sure both our mass participation classes and exclusive invitational training sessions are programmed and staffed effectively.
Events are also a big part of my role, as we hold a number of tournaments on a regular basis. For example, we hold the National Championships at our centre and I am in charge of coordinating the day and ensuring everything runs smoothly. I am also the Director for the European Championship event which keeps me extremely busy as I have to arrange all the logistics of the attendees, including umpires, players, physios etc and their flights, food and hotels.
What do you love about your job?
It is amazing to have a job which allows me to be involved with the sport I love. Every day it provides me with new and exciting opportunities and I am always getting the chance to experience new things and learn more. One day I might be liaising with managers from another country for the latest event and another I might be working with up and coming junior teams, coaching them and even just restringing their rackets. Whatever I am doing it keeps me busy and is always fun and interesting.
What are the biggest challenges in your job?
The challenge for us in particular is promoting tennis as a mass participation sport in the Sunderland area, as it is somewhat of a deprived city. We do a lot of outreach in primary schools to help try and break barriers and get kids involved and interested in the sport. The issue we face is being able to make tennis accessible to those children who enjoy playing and want to learn and develop. Unfortunately, this can prove difficult as families do not always have the money or provisions for this. Similarly, there is a David Lloyd centre one mile away from us, so in such a small city, this can provide a level of competition for us when trying to recruit new members.
Is it easy to make a career in tennis?
There are many opportunities for young people to build a career in tennis, whether or not they do so as a player. Unlike a lot of sports, it is possible to work long hour weeks, fitting in a number of clients throughout the day and getting involved in a variety of activities such as coaching, restringing rackets, being a hitting partner or even organising events.
“Communication and organisation are essential to becoming a great tennis coach. As good a player as you may be, it is important to build a rapport with your clients and make them feel comfortable in your company.”
What experience do you have?
I have played tennis since I can remember and in my own career playing reached a pretty high level, playing nationally and to county standard. When I left school, I wanted to see if I could make more of a career out of it and I went to a club in Darlington to coach, before moving to Silksworth Tennis Centre in Sunderland. After spending six-seven months coaching there I was then appointed assistant manager, whereby I was in charge of looking after tennis coaching courses and squads. In 1992 I was then made a full-time development manager and have been doing that job ever since. I know so many people in the industry and it has been a pleasure to work alongside them, growing as a professional.
Is loving a tennis a prerequisite for the job?
I would say that it is really important to have played tennis yourself to a high standard if you are looking to get into the industry. This really helps you to understand how things work and how to get the best out of your clients, as well as ensuring you are respected and they trust in the service you are providing.
What skills do you think are required to make a good tennis coach?
Communication and organisation are essential to becoming a great tennis coach. As good a player as you may be, it is important to build a rapport with your clients and make them feel comfortable in your company. Organisation is important as you can have multiple lessons or tasks in a day, and without being able to time manage effectively, it is hard to provide the level of service that your clients are paying for.
What are you looking for when it comes to recruiting? What makes people stand out?
Level of experience is extremely important for me when looking to hire someone. I want to know what you have done, where you have been and what impact you have made. We take real pride in recruiting people who we know have been successful and are keen to learn more and develop their skillsets.
“Through playing and entering competitions, you not only make more of a name for yourself on the circuit, but it also gives you the chance to visit other centres and come across other players and coaches and see what they are doing.”
Of course, any prospective coaches should have the relevant qualifications. There are so many courses for people to go on nowadays to learn and develop and if you have your licence, first aid, safe guarding CPD qualifications and a high player rating you are likely to stand out amongst others.
If you had one bit of advice for people looking to enter the industry, what would it be?
I would say that prospective coaches should not stop playing tennis as by keeping in the game, you are always up to date on the latest trends and styles. Through playing and entering competitions, you not only make more of a name for yourself on the circuit, but it also gives you the chance to visit other centres and come across other players and coaches and see what they are doing. By understanding what works well for them you can bring back valuable insights to your centre and your plans. This really helps you not to get stuck in a rut and continually develop.
What was the best advice you were given?
To be prepared at all times, remaining reliable, organised and professional. If you can do all of these things, you will gain the respect of others and be successful. It is as simple as that!