Jono's Return: The Tennis NZ Coach & Club HUI
Let's focus on the growth and sustainability of our beloved sport
Jono Spring · 15 May 2022
As a tennis coaching professional, there were particular occasions when I got really excited… and that is when it came time for a local regional or national tennis conference.
I know a lot of you out there may have a very puzzled look on your faces right now… I know, I know, why would someone be so excited about a conference?
Let me explain.
Firstly, it was an opportunity for me to catch up with friends and colleagues, while also giving me the chance to meet new people who were there for all the same reasons that I was. Over the years I have made many good friends in the New Zealand tennis community, and that has come to serve me particularly well, especially over the latter years.
Secondly, I would always learn something new or different. No matter how much I thought that I knew about how tennis worked, both on and off the court, I would always leave these conferences having learned many new and completely different takeaways that I would integrate into my professional life back home. Some of those new insights have continued to provide material for me until this day, even in a totally different career… for as I have told many a student, what happens in tennis often happens in life!
Lastly, it was all about the connections. At no other time would I be able to connect with all the different regions and associations, all at one place and time. Often, you could achieve the equivalent of two years of experimental work in one conversation with a club coach or secretary from another region. For example, if they had trialled a programme or an initiative that you hadn’t tried yet, then you ultimately had all the answers about how it could work for you, right at your fingertips. Not only that, but what I discovered is that these people were only too happy to stay in touch with you after the conference as well. I honestly feel like there are so many people out there in the tennis community around the county, that I can call on if I ever need anything tennis or even non- tennis related. That is perhaps one of the most valuable things that I gained from any regional or national conference that I’ve attended.
Coming back to the Coach & Club HUI that is being run by Tennis NZ in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch during June this year, let me clarify what exactly will be achieved from attending one of these.
Namely presentations and workshops that cover such topics as discovering whether your club is “meeting the needs of the community” understanding the process of “creating a positive customer journey and thriving tennis community.” While in a more practical and on-court environment, coaches will be able to engage in the topic of unearthing and providing for the development of future tennis coaches in a seminar called “coaches don’t grow on trees” and then finish with some participation in “adult social formats.”
Essentially each of the topic areas are centred around the growth and sustainability of our beloved sport, while creating and maximising the opportunities for both participation and enjoyment. All too often tennis clubs and the people involved have unintentionally made themselves difficult to access and unapproachable to newcomers. Look trust me, most of the time we are completely unaware that we are doing it, and we are all guilty of it. Whether it’s the physical premises itself, or the questions that we confront them with when they are eventually brave enough to approach one of us, or even whether it’s the type of tennis that we offer them… or lack thereof… typically there’s always something that’s not quite right.
We can all do things better, we aren’t perfect. If we were, our clubs would be overflowing, and we would have far too many players to cater for. I don’t think anyone out there could honestly put up their hands and say that is the case. But yes, some of us out there are doing a little better than others, and here is the perfect opportunity to shoulder tap, converse and discover what it is about fellow clubs, associations and regions that make them as successful as they are. Tennis is a fickle sport mind you, and based on my own experience, you must always look to improve on what you do and how you provide it in order to stay ahead of the game.
I did this by attending these, or similar, conferences. Here I am, suggesting that you all try doing the same.
If you haven’t already registered, then perhaps you should. Trust me, use this as an opportunity to grow yourselves and your club, and learn how to provide an even better service and product for your fellow and future members.
Even better still, drag along your club coach, as well as anyone who is interested in how tennis can be ‘done better’ for us all. They don’t necessarily have to be committee members, it can be anyone from the club.
Lastly team, before I go… just a little shout out from me to my absolute idol, Marcus Daniell, for making himself available to do a ‘club visit’ for the winning club in the draw of those who register for the HUI. This is a man who gives tirelessly to the sport, and to make himself available for this is simply a true reflection of the remarkable man that he has become. I have known Marcus since he was a young boy, and still keep in contact with him to this day. I couldn’t be more proud of what he has both done, and represented for the sport… as well as a general human being.
Any club would be simply lucky to have this walking legend attend their club for a visit. If this wasn’t motivation enough, I don’t know what is.
Hopefully I will see you all there team, and if so, don’t be shy to come and say hello!
Jono is a Manawatu based (former) coach, player and administrator who has been involved in tennis for over 35 years and held nearly every role you can think of in our game. Over the next couple of months Jono will be sharing his perspective, and those of people in the tennis community across New Zealand on why working together and striving to modernize the way we deliver tennis is so important. He contributes popular articles for the Manawatu Standard and Stuff on tennis, known as Jono’s Serve…keeping with the theme, his new series of articles are now called Jono's Return!