School's In As GB Tennis Academy Opens In Stirling


| Tennis Scotland

Junior players at GB National Tennis Academy in Stirling walking together.

The GB National Tennis Academy based at Stirling University has opened its doors to the next generation of British tennis stars.

The ground-breaking academy is one of two set up by the LTA and eight of the country’s most promising talents are part of the first-year intake.

Tennis Scotland will operate the GB National Tennis Academy at Stirling University, where some of the best young players in Great Britain will develop their tennis skills as part of their daily curriculum of education.

The Academy will develop individually tailored programmes for the players, dealing with all aspects of their game to prepare them for a potential future in professional tennis. Their education is integrated into their curriculum via Academy partner Dollar Academy and will also include a substantial foreign training and competition programme. Strength and conditioning, nutrition, sports medicine, sports psychology and welfare support will also be built in to their schedule.

Pupils in Scotland will be based at the renowned Dollar Academy and will receive expert tennis tuition by a world-class coaching team led by Academy Head Coach, Leo Azevedo, who worked with former world No.1 Juan Carlos Ferrero and spent eight years as an Academy and head coach at the United States Tennis Association, supporting the development of a string of WTA and ATP top 100 players, including four world No.1 junior players. His team will include former GB Davis Cup player and current Fed Cup Coach Colin Fleming and Esteban Carril, the LTA’s performance advisor to the Academy and a former coach to Johanna Konta.

The addition of a young Scot, Rankin, is significant as Tennis Scotland begins a new four-year plan to provide a legacy for the unprecedented success of the Murray family. Azevedo stressed the selection of the eight players to Stirling was based on a rigorous selection criteria focussed on their future potential – and believes commitment to their studies and their sport will be a key ingredient to future success.

“Bringing the best young players together creates a winning environment,” said the Brazilian, who worked with the USTA Academy. “They push each other, they motivate each other and, importantly, they create a culture for others to aspire to in the future. We also have the benefit of additional training opportunities with a host of other sparring partners at Stirling where both the National Player Programme is housed and also the university tennis scholarship players.

“I am excited to be part of this programme and so should the players who have been selected. To have the opportunity to hone your sporting potential alongside a great education and full programme of support is something not many young people are fortunate enough to be able to do.

“An education is extremely important because not everyone can become Andy Murray or Johanna Konta. My commitment to these players is to provide the best platform to succeed but only they can provide the effort and commitment necessary to make it as a professional tennis player.

“Equally, they have to make sure they find a balance between studying for their exams and dedicate to their training programme. We have an obligation to their parents to strike that balance and the team have already spent many hours with the Rector and teachers at Dollar Academy to give these young players the best possible opportunity to thrive: as tennis players and as young adults.”

Blane Dodds, Tennis Scotland Chief Executive: “Now that we have a world-class coaching team in place and our first intake of pupils, the excitement around the GB National Tennis Academy at Stirling University is really starting to build. It has been a long time in the making but it is important that we have the correct infrastructure, programme and culture in place to give these young players the best chance in life and in their careers. We are all determined to create the right culture that will create not only world class tennis players but also create rounded and capable individuals.

“I am grateful to the LTA, Dollar Academy, the sportscotland Institute of Sport, and the University of Stirling for their efforts in making this possible and we look forward to unlocking the huge potential of these young players and the academy pathway. A lot of research and planning has gone in to this project from the outset and we were delighted that the Tennis Scotland submission was selected from a high calibre list of centres across Great Britain. It is so important to have a world class programme in Scotland as part of our delivery of the Murray Legacy.

“I thank the parents for placing their trust in us and we will work tirelessly to provide the best experience and results possible for our academy players. Collectively, we are at the vanguard of something hugely exciting for tennis in Scotland and across Great Britain. Leo has already said he wants to make our academy one of the best in the world as a starting point and I have no doubt he will take that commitment to Stirling every day and inspire his team and the young players to reach their full potential.”

Ian Munro, Rector of Dollar Academy: “It has been very exciting to welcome the National Tennis Academy players to Dollar for the start of this academic year. Throughout their time with us, they will be supported by our boarding house parents and teaching staff in order to realise their full potential both on and off the court. We have designed bespoke, flexible timetables to work around training and coaching schedules. As with all of our boarders, players will also have access to additional tutoring out with the school day to ensure they receive the same exceptional teaching as every other Dollar pupil.”

GB National Tennis Academy at Stirling University
Class of 2019:

Matthew Rankin (Edinburgh)
Henry Jefferson (Surrey)
Sam Reeve (Cheshire)
Hannah Read (Hertfordshire)
Hephzibah Oluwadare (Hertfordshire)
Millie Skelton (Yorkshire)
Ella McDonald (Lancashire)
Talia Neilson-Gatenby (Leicestershire)

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