Tennis Scotland at Stirling and Loughborough University have today been named as the UK’s two National Academies for tennis, a major milestone in the development of the Lawn Tennis Association’s ten-year Performance Strategy for British Tennis.
The National Academies will play a crucial role in the implementation of a new seamless player pathway, which sits at the heart of the new Performance Strategy, led by Performance Director Simon Timson, and aims to make Britain one of the most respected nations in the world for tennis player development.
Chief Executive of Tennis Scotland, Blane Dodds, commented:
“This is tremendous news, for the partners involved in the bid and for both Scottish and British Tennis. Scotland has enjoyed unprecedented levels of success in tennis with Andy and Jamie Murray, Gordon Reid and Colin Fleming. Players win Championships but systems enable players to win consistently. We look forward to working with Britain’s highest potential young tennis players, we want to work with the best and we believe we have the right experience, to recruit a world-class coaching and support team as shown with our formidable track record. Winning the National Academy helps us to enhance the world class sporting system in Scotland, and play a pivotal role in creating a pathway for champions that nurtures Britain’s highest potential players toward emulating Andy and Jamie’s successes.”
The new player pathway provides a clear route from mini-red to major tournament success to support high potential junior players from the age of seven, playing the sport locally, into the top 100. It’s specifically designed to enable the best British players to regularly train and compete with one another at every stage of their development.
The pathway starts with affordable, high-quality local training for the youngest children and ends with a Pro-Scholarship Programme for only for those players with greatest potential selected between the ages of 16 to 24 who are capable of reaching the world’s top 100 and beyond. In between, players will pass through first a Regional Player Development Centre and then a National Academy.
The National Academies – due to open in September 2019 – Loughborough University and Tennis Scotland will set new, world-class standards for the holistic development of high-potential British players in transformative, full-time, residential, training environments. These programmes will nurture 14 to 18-year-olds (and sometimes younger) as people, players and performers. Players who demonstrate the greatest future potential in the sport will be selected and supported with world-class coaching, science, medicine, and welfare expertise, whilst also being provided an excellent mainstream education up to at least GCSE-level.
In addition, the LTA has today named 11 new Regional Player Development Centres (RPDCs) across the UK. The RPDCs will provide quality support to high potential junior players aged between 10 and 14, and the right coaching and athletic development for those aiming to progress to a National Academy. Tennis Scotland is delighted that they will also be home to one of the Regional Development Centres which will work within network sites at Stirling, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
LTA’s Chief Executive Scott Lloyd said: “With an emphasis on creating a seamless player pathway for talent development, this new Performance Strategy marks a step-change in the LTA’s approach to developing a pipeline of future tennis champions. It’s fantastic to see the new player pathway start to become a reality with the confirmation of the National Academies, supported by our new Regional Player Development Centres.
“The success of British players in recent years has given British Tennis a huge boost. Our priority now is building on this success, and we recognise that in the past we haven’t always been consistent enough in our approach to player development. The new performance strategy has been designed to help create future British tennis champions, who we hope will continue to inspire others to play, watch and enjoy the sport for generations to come.
“I am also delighted that we will be able to tap into the extensive and diverse experience from Jamie, Sam and Tim and thank them for being generous enough to give back to the sport they have devoted so much of their lives to. They will play a critical role in strategically supporting the LTA’s Performance Team.”
Colin Fleming, National Coach, Tennis Scotland added:
“We are delighted that we will be hosting a National Academy in Scotland and welcoming top juniors from across Great Britain to Stirling. This will provide a complete player pathway from mini-red to major tournament success for the first time. The National Academy will be the focal point of all the work Tennis Scotland is doing across all age groups from local to regional training. We look forward to putting our huge passion and energy alongside our track record for developing players into the National Academy and to working in partnership with the LTA to play our part in delivering the long-term strategy to make GB one of the most respected nations in the world for player development.
To support the new Performance Strategy for tennis in Britain, the LTA has formed its first-ever Performance Advisory Group comprising of Jamie Delgado - coach to Andy Murray and former professional player; Sam Smith broadcaster and former British No.1 and Tim Henman, a former four-time Wimbledon semifinalist and world No.4, who will support the LTA in continually reviewing and evolving the performance strategy. This panel of experts will play a critical role in helping the LTA understand the perspective of aspiring players and better enable the Performance team to plan and deliver programmes that will allow talented players to fulfil their potential.
The entire player pathway will be underpinned by investment in a specialist coaching workforce for every age and stage of the pathway and a clear player development philosophy, as well as a focus on players’ physical and emotional wellbeing.
Cathy Gallagher, Director of Sport University of Stirling:
“Being awarded the National Academy is fantastic news. Sport is intrinsically intertwined within the fabric of the University of Stirling. We are Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, we have a proven record of success at the high levels of performance sport, we host the Scottish National Tennis Centre and have worked in partnership with Tennis Scotland since 1991. The National Academy in Stirling will unlock our potential to consistently produce tennis players for Scotland and Great Britain. Integrating the training of Britain’s brightest young players with our scholarship students presents benefits for everyone. We look forward to the exciting times ahead.”
Judith Graham, Director of Sport, Beaconhurst School:
“We are delighted to have secured the National Academy. Beaconhurst School looks forward to welcoming and supporting some of the best young players in Britain. Beaconhurst has an excellent record of academic and sporting success. Providing opportunities to follow a dual career pathway of a student athlete is a proven and enriching experience. Placing education at the heart of this journey is an important part of developing young people as rounded individuals who can thrive and succeed in society. The National Academy promises to provide an outstanding level of duty of care which safeguards the future of the youngsters involved.”
Mike Whittingham, Director of Performance, sportscotland Institute of Sport:
“This year we have a lot to celebrate in Scotland. 2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of a national high-performance institute in Scotland and 10 years since the Scottish Institute of Sport merged with sportscotland. Scotland produced its best ever away Games at the 2018 Commonwealth Games on the Gold Coast. This is hugely important to Scotland, to tennis and for tennis in Scotland. Scotland has enjoyed unprecedented levels of success in tennis with Andy and Jamie Murray, Jamie Baker, Gordon Reid and Colin Fleming. These are examples of what we can do and how we can work with the LTA. Athletes win medals but systems win them consistently. We believe we are putting together the right people, with the right athletes, on the right programme, in the right environment. We look forward to working with talented young tennis players, we want to work with the best and we believe we have the right experience the right expertise and the right understanding as shown with our formidable track record. Winning the National Academy helps us to enhance the world class sporting system in Scotland, for the benefit of tennis in Scotland and the UK.”
LTA’s Performance Director Simon Timson said: “The single biggest challenge in developing a pipeline of future tennis champions in the UK is the lack of transformative, full-time, residential, pro-style training environments for our brightest talent in their teenage years.
“That’s why I am delighted to announce Tennis Scotland at Stirling and Loughborough University as the homes of Great Britain’s first National Academies. They will be at the heart of our new player pathway for aspiring future champions. National Academies will offer our highest potential 18 and under players the opportunity to train together in a vibrant environment, with world-class facilities and the best coaches, science, medicine and welfare expertise, nurturing a new wave of talent and future British champions.
“It’s our ambition to provide world-class support to players, coaches and parents and ensure they all have a seamless experience through the new performance pathway. Together with our new Regional Player Development Centres, our new National Academies will help us meet our objective of making GB one of the most respected tennis nations in the world for player development.”