The Tennis Foundation hosts its first student conference next month and organisers hope it will pave the way for a bigger event in the future.
The inaugural event, entitled “Sports Science in Tennis – From Theory to Practice” will take place at Loughborough University on April 23, followed by the Student Tennis Pathways Conference on April 24, which are free events specifically aimed at students interested in a career in tennis.
In recent years the Tennis Foundation has focused on universities in a bid to increase participation and opportunities for students and is now it is attempting the bridge the gap between university sport and the world of work.
Since 2009, the Tennis Foundation has part-funded university tennis co-ordinators at 27 universities across the UK. The two-year role, which is jointly funded by the Tennis Foundation and the university, is for students who take on the role alongside a part-time postgraduate degree. Designed to increase tennis participation across the spectrum, it is seen as a first step on the career ladder for those interested in a career in tennis.
There are also student tennis ambassadors in 60 universities across the UK, who are appointed and trained by the Tennis Foundation and LTA and receive a £500 bursary from the Tennis Foundation. These ambassadors are volunteer undergraduate students who and are tasked with organising and promoting tennis activities, such as freshers events and taster sessions.
The conference is primarily targeted at the university tennis co-ordinators, student ambassadors, team captains, student coaches and sports science students interested in tennis. Featuring presentations from leading national and international experts from British tennis, the conference will give students a taste of career options and pathways in the sport.
“We have been doing a lot of work this year with universities and our university tennis co-ordinators and student ambassadors,” says Katie Evans, Education Administrator at the Tennis Foundation. “The event is designed to give those students a bit more support and to really show that university isn’t the end of it and to create a follow-on opportunity for them and make sure they know about employability and their careers in the future.
“We want to pass that knowledge down through leaders in the industry and show where they have come from, as well as showing students what the opportunities are for them and how they can be proactive about getting involved.”
Attendees will hear about sport science is used by professional players as well as presentations on sports psychology, conditioning and performance analysis by experts in the field.
The conference, which will take place at the Dan Maskell Tennis Centre in Loughborough, will also offer attendees the opportunity to network with other students across the 70 universities that work with the Tennis Foundation.
“Our conference this year is kind of on a trial basis, just targeted at our university students,” says Evans. “This year it is only available to a small audience and we are really trying to make sure we have got the right content in there but next year we are hoping to open it up to a wider audience based on the feedback we get this year.
“It is hard to gauge where we are going to be in terms of numbers for the first year, but hopefully we will be in a better position next year to offer it to a wider audience and get a lot more people there.”