The vision of Vida Tennis and Altona Tennis Club is to “create life opportunities through the sport of tennis”. There are many different pathways to achieve each player’s chosen goal, and this blog will explain each of these pathways and help guide players through each step of their tennis journey.
Vida Tennis and the Altona Tennis Club are official deliverers of the Tennis Australia Hot Shots program. The Hot Shots program is designed for each child to learn to play the game, enjoy themselves and make new friends. Much of the program is ‘game-based’, meaning children are allowed to experiment and learn through play whilst developing fundamental movement skills, which are essential for the enjoyment of all sport and exercise activities. There are four stages to the Hot Shots program: Head Start (typically ages 3-5), red stage (ages 5-8), orange stage (ages 8-10) and green stage (ages 9+). The Vida Journey program is a certificate-based program which rewards children based on their progress on a set of key criteria. This program will be covered in detail in a future blog. Altona Tennis Club offers lessons at all four stages as well as Hot Shots Matchplay to allow kids to experience competition tennis for the first time.
Once children complete the Vida Journey program, they are at the stage where they can participate in association based junior competitions. For Altona Tennis Club players, this is the Western Region Tennis Association competition, with matches being held on both a Saturday and Sunday morning. In addition to this competition, some players may also choose to compete in Junior Development Series tournaments. These tournaments are designed to give players their first experience of tournament tennis, and are split into 9&U, 11&U and 13&U age groups. Players at this stage of the program will generally do a squad session a week (green ball or yellow ball), with some players also choosing to complete a private or semi-private lesson a week on top of this. JDS players will do the JDS squad on a Monday or Wednesday night instead of the traditional squad.
Once players gain experience in entry-level competitions and tournaments, there are many other opportunities available to players. High performing junior players compete in Junior Tournaments (JTs) that offer Australian Ranking points. These tournaments are sectioned into Bronze, Silver and Gold tournaments which are of increasing difficulty, as well as the National and State Championships which fit under the Platinum level. JT players may also compete in Associations Junior League (formerly known as Tennis Victoria Junior Pennant), which is a weekly age-based competition where teams compete against the best players from other metropolitan regions. Players who compete in these competitions are eligible to participate in our JT squads, held on Wednesday (Bronze level) and Thursday (Silver + Gold level).
As players approach their late teens, high-performing players may progress higher level tournaments and competitions. Australian Money Tournaments (AMTs) are semi-professional events that offer prize-money and Australian Ranking points, and are again sectioned into Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum levels. ITF Junior tournaments are also available for those aged 18&U, with the pinnacle of these tournaments being the Junior Grand Slams held every year. Tennis Vic Pennant is an open inter-club competition that ranges in ability from Grades 1 to 10 (with the lower grades offering a higher standard of competition). Many Vida players over the years have also had success on the professional tour. The professional circuit consists of ITF World Tennis Tour tournaments, the Challenger circuit (men only) and finally the ATP and WTA Tours. Many Vida players have also completed their tertiary education in the USA whilst competing on the College circuit.
There are many opportunities to get involved in tennis besides being a player. Countless Vida players have made the transition into coaching on a casual, part-time or full-time basis. Those interested in making tennis coaching a career are encouraged to study a sports related course at university (e.g. sport and exercise science, sport management/administration, sport coaching) as well as consider completing coaching courses with Tennis Australia. Vida players have also often undertaken under roles at the Australian Open, such as being a ball kid, line judge or statistician.
If you have any questions as to where you or your child stands in regards to the pathway, please contact our club coach Mark Peel.