Our 2023 Q3 Coach of the Quarter is Alison Taylor! We visited Alison on court and discussed her inspiration to become a tennis coach, challenges she has faced as a female coach and much more! Enjoy!
QUESTION: How long have you been coaching tennis, and what initially drew you to the sport?
ANSWER: More years than I like to admit! I’ve been coaching for 35 years. Growing up in St. Catharines, Ontario we lived close to a thriving tennis club, my older brothers and my good friends all played. I always liked the competitive, physical, mental, and social side of tennis … and still do!
"I’m continually trying to update my knowledge; I attend as many tennis workshops and conferences as possible."
QUESTION: Who or what was your biggest inspiration in becoming a tennis coach?
ANSWER: My first tennis coach, Dutchy Doeer suggested that I teach at a Peter Burwash summer camp and my coaching journey started at PBI’s Manitou Wabing in Parry Sound, Ontario. My husband Roger has inspired me to make coaching my career and has supported my development as a coach.
QUESTION: How has your coaching style evolved over the years?
ANSWER: My tennis coaching has evolved from a heavy focus on technical skills to a more holistic and indivdualised approach. I have embraced the rapidly changing technical skills, fostered a strong coach, player and parent relationship emphasising mental and emotional development. I have always aimed to create an environment that enables players to love the game and for them to reach their full potential on and off the court. Enjoying the tennis journey is key.
QUESTION: What do you believe are the key qualities that make a successful tennis player?
ANSWER: Successful tennis players must be coachable, have passion, discipline, resilience, sportsmanship, self belief and professionalism. More specifically to tennis they must have biomechanically efficient technique, good footwork, power, mental strength, and a love of the game.
QUESTION: Can you share one of your proudest moments as a coach?
ANSWER: During Wimbledon I was watching former students Hannah Klugman and Arthur Fery playing at Wimbledon. It’s nice to have played an instrumental part in their tennis journeys. I feel a sense of pride watching any of the players who I coach play for their country and for Surrey Tennis!
"I believe in making the players tactically aware so they can learn to play game and are able to problem solve."
QUESTION: Being a female coach, have you faced any particular challenges and how have you overcome them?
ANSWER: Tennis coaching is still a male dominated profession with only 23% of the coaching workforce are women with fewer women being head pros and performance coaches. In the past I think there were limited opportunities but believe more senior roles in venues and in performance are opening up. I believe you must develop resilience and demonstrate your expertise with consistently good results to get the top jobs in tennis. It’s important to stay motivated and enthusiastic and champion women. It is crucial to have male allies and to connect with other female coaches that can provide support and guidance.
QUESTION: How do you keep your training techniques updated, especially with the rapid evolution of sports science?
ANSWER: I’m continually trying to update my knowledge; I attend as many tennis workshops and conferences as possible. Recently I have enjoyed a performance course delivered by Louis Cayer, a serving workshop with Sergio Gomez and a tennis analytics course by gotta tennis. I attend many high-level junior and pro level events to keep up to date. I’m a big believer in how data helps tennis players win matches and encourage parents to chart matches for their children. I’m also taking a mentoring course and a female leadership course.
QUESTION: How have your experiences as a player influenced your approach to coaching?
ANSWER: I very much enjoy competing personally and try to make the players I coach perform on the match court and design their tennis practice around this philosophy.
I believe in making the players tactically aware so they can learn to play the game and are able to problem solve.
QUESTION: As you are being recognised with this award what advice would you give to new coaches starting their career in tennis?
ANSWER: Work at a venue that has a positive coaching environment that fosters growth and enjoyment. Collaborate with other coaches and look for a tennis mentor to help guide you through your journey. Remember there are always challenges but stay positive and patient, honestly it can be the most rewarding of professions, always put your player/client first. Keep developing as a coach and of course get involved with the Surrey Tennis family. I love my job and can’t imagine giving it up, with dedication and enthusiasm undoubtedly it will lead to a successful and fulfilling career as I have experienced.
By Surrey Tennis
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