When your tennis programme is one of only four LTA International High Performance centres in the UK, you can probably count yourselves as elite. But Team Bath Tennis have kept their programmes open to all, encompassing high performance athletes, members of the public and students all at their exceptional facilities in Bath.
We spoke with Tom Ellis, Head of Club Coaching at Team Bath Tennis to find out how such a high performance centre operates on such a wide scale.
‘We teach approximately 800 children each week on our Team Bath Tennis Club Programme. We have an Academy Programme catering for approximately 50 children/young adults and a University of Bath Tennis club with over 300 active members.’
‘We’ve got a great team of experienced and qualified coaches who deliver our fun and inclusive club programme, which spans over three terms per year (aligned with school terms) and holiday camps. We run classes for all ages; from toddlers (3-year olds), tots (4 and 5-year olds) and under-10s, to teenage and adult tennis, 6 days per week. If you cannot make the times offered at the University or love your tennis at the University so much you want to do additional sessions, we offer something for everybody at our outreach venues: Saltford Tennis Club, Monkton Prep School and Wellow Valley Tennis.’
‘We’ve found that the best way to publicise our events has been to offer taster sessions within schools. Allowing the children to get some experience of the sport, be it playing at school or at our centre or watching the high standard of tennis at our venue, it really helps to drive participation.’
‘My tip for other clubs out there is that Schools are the key. If you can get a good relationship with local schools they will feed your programme with players for a long time.’
The club’s ambition to integrate schools within their widespread plans has lead to what Tom sees to be the club’s biggest success with the LTA (the UK’s tennis governing body) now taking their practise as standard.
‘We started our Team Bath Tennis Fun Day three years ago and this is now taken as best practise by the LTA. We visit up to 30 primary schools before the Easter holidays for 30 minute free sessions and invite the children back into our venue for a further free 2 hour session. Players experience tennis within our centre for the first time and are provided with a follow on offer to sign up for our coaching programme at The University of Bath or at one of our outreach venues.’
Founded in 2007, the club’s forward approach to the sport is clear, but Tom understands the need for continual improvement, something that he sees as their future.
‘Our sport is competing against multi sports providers who deliver cheap sports within schools. We must try and match that by being more active within the community and offer more schools tennis to a wider range of children throughout the surrounding area.’
A huge thanks to Tom for taking the time to speak to us and provide his hugely interesting views on the way forward for Tennis.