After spending the past four and a half years achieving Team Bath Tennis’ ambitions of establishing a clear performance pathway from toddler tennis to the Team Bath Academy, Head of Club Coaching Matt Smith will begin a travelling adventure in the New Year to take stock ready for his next challenge.
Since his arrival in August 2012, Matt has also helped triple the number of Team Bath users regularly booking coaching sessions – from 310 to over 1,000 – and, with support from other members of the tennis team, helped establish the International High Performance Centre at the STV as one inclusive to players of all ages and abilities.
And the foundation he has helped laid, Matt believes, means the tennis programme at the University of Bath is in a position where it can continue to strengthen year by year.
“We’re now bridging the gap between participation and performance better than ever before,” he said. “We’re now getting around five children each year from the club programme through to the academy playing at regional, national and onto international level.
“The beauty of our programme is that we span all ages and abilities. That’s coupled with the programme’s fantastic coaching team – probably one of the best in the country – so it’s a brilliant environment for children to start the game, develop the game and perform the game.”
Recent successes associated with the Team Bath MCTA programme include Kiwi player Marcus Daniell who reached the third round of the US Open, Anna Smith play her part in defeating world number one mixed-doubles seeds Ivan Dodig and Sania Mirza at Wimbledon, and Jocelyn Rae join Smith in competing at ‘People’s Sunday’ at Wimbledon.
Despite these extraordinary achievements for the academy, Matt doesn’t think 2016’s successes were merely a blip and predicts similar targets in the near future.
“The academy’s vision from now is Grand Slam success – our ambitions going forward are at the international level,” he said.
“We have a brand new under-14 coach, Dan Fella, who has been supported by the LTA. Dan has been brought in specifically to help the route from our club programme into the academy and this will again help strengthen our academy ambitions,” Matt continued.
“There will now be a big focus on bringing under-14 year old players from the club level through into our academy.”
“I will take away memories of Team Bath as a fantastic high-performing multi-sport environment. For example, being able to have lunch next to an Olympian, going down to the gym and being out-lifted by a national squad athlete – it’s the fact that here you have a high class environment which spans across a number of sports which makes it such an inspiring environment.
“I will also take extremely fond memories away of the parents and children who have supported the programme from the very beginning and of course of the team of coaches who have driven the programme from the ground, along with the whole team of Team Bath staff – from senior managers to duty staff – who have helped throughout the years.”
To get involved in Team Bath’s exciting tennis programme going forward, see our Tennis page for more information.
Photos courtesy of facebook.com/JJBImages.