Coaching Week: Recognising our inspirational leaders
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National Coaching Week is back for its second year, which means it’s time to pay tribute to our dedicated coaches who are driving participation and performance rates.
To celebrate, we’re highlighting three inspirational coaches who’ve been shortlisted for ‘Coach of the Year’ in this year’s LTA Tennis Awards. The award recognises coaches working in clubs, communities, performance centres and disability networks, who have made a significant impact to our sport, helping to open tennis up to players of different ages, abilities and backgrounds.
Now, we are delighted to showcase our three finalists and their stories…
Sam Salt, Graves Health & Sports Centre – North Coach of the Year
An inspirational leader, Sam has grown the coaching programme to include more than 600 weekly participants, with an extra 127 in the last year, and produced some of the top players in the country in respective age categories.
He has also increased the regularly competing junior number from seven to 42 in the last 12 months and achieved great success at this level. He coaches three players in the top 10 on the UK National Leaderboard, including number one, and three top 20 GB ranked players.
Sam developed the Centre programme to be one of the largest in north England. He works tirelessly to help his players and attends competitions and coaches sessions on his days off work; he's also brought four players through the coaching programme to become coaches at the Centre themselves. He has an outstanding work ethic and displays passion and enthusiasm in each session he coaches.
Luke House, Shooters Hill Lawn Tennis Club – London & South East Coach of the Year
Luke has earned a reputation as a top-class coach at all levels. He delivers coaching to 349 tots, red, orange, green and junior yellow players, plus adult intermediate and ladies’ groups, as well as junior performance groups.
He has had a very positive impact on the quality of tennis throughout the club, which, thanks to his efforts, now has 13 adult and 10 junior teams – an increase of five adult teams and three junior teams since 2017.
Many parents have commented that their children have grown in confidence through tennis and developed friendships across a diverse group of children brought about by his unique style of delivery. His coaching is inclusive of every child and he helps with our club Nature Valley Big Tennis Weekends by running all age/ability sessions, including a wheelchair session.
Luke qualified as an LTA Coach Education tutor in 2016, and two years later, he played a significant role in establishing the Kent Tennis Coaches Network. He encourages juniors to do LTA Leader courses too, and in 2018, 12 qualified.
Alan Russell, Dunfermline Tennis Club – Scotland Coach of the Year
Often referred to as the benchmark for coaching in the area, Alan has single-handedly introduced tennis programmes to seven high school clusters and more than 50 primary schools within Dunfermline and West Fife. He has organised teacher CPD to ensure sustainability and has introduced hundreds of pupils to the sport of tennis.
On the court, Alan delivers very tailored and specific programmes for every member and devotes time to each participant. He has worked with several promising young talents, as well as supporting them through injury.
During 2018 Alan worked in partnership with Active Schools and Blairhall Primary School, a socio-economically deprived school, that had a participation rate of 14 per cent. Thanks to Alan’s initiative, the rate has increased to 60 per cent with every pupil now taking part in tennis each week.
A main strength that Alan has is his ability to work with Young People and inspire their passion to coach others. In particular, he upskilled more than 100 young people at Queen Anne High School to deliver tennis.
The winner of the 'Coach of the Year' award will be announced at the official LTA Tennis Awards ceremony at The Championships, Wimbledon, on 2 July.
The LTA's tennis coaching qualifications pathway provides a guided route towards a coaching career. To get started, book yourself onto a course online today.