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An ace way to serve up success

The Age

Saturday February 12, 2011

KRISTIE KELLAHAN

The next Lleyton Hewitts or Samantha Stosurs could be working on their serves and volleys right now, putting in the grunt work and gruelling preparation needed to be future tennis champions.There's a good chance these teenage proteges are students at MY Tennis School, an innovative Victorian academy launched in 2005 at Box Hill Senior Secondary College, as a joint venture with Tennis Victoria.The school has a program that aims for excellence in academic and sporting development.Students are enrolled from years 5-12. Study is combined with intensive sport training and individual skills development during school hours as students develop a knowledge and understanding of tennis. Academic results are monitored and must be kept at a satisfactory level.The program includes sports psychology, fitness, physiotherapy, restringing, mentoring and bio-mechanical analysis.Elizabeth Peers is the director of tennis at MY Tennis School. After a successful career as a professional who played at Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open, she retired from the tour and started her own coaching business."I did this for 20 years, including consulting to Tennis Australia, the Australian Institute of Sport and Tennis Victoria as coach-manager of interstate and international tours," Peers says. "I was also a Victorian state selector and national women's selector for more than 10 years."Seven years at Tennis Victoria as player development manager led to her becoming part of a team that saw the need to create the first tennis school to integrate the sport and education."Many students and parents were finding their school was inflexible with the students' training and competition commitments, leading to an increase in absenteeism," Peers says. "Our school not only understands but we also educate the students on time management and communication with their teachers, so they do not miss any of the school work."She says the school's approach brought success for students, with wins in many state championships. Players have also competed at national level and gained scholarships to colleges in the US.The school's relatively small size - there are 65 students enrolled this year - allows for greater attention to individual needs. To support students who are absent due to tournaments, the school provides an online curriculum. Students learn not only how to use technology for their education but also to apply it to their tennis skills.A progressive indigenous program, co-founded by Evonne Goolagong Cawley and Roger Cawley offers positions at the school to talented indigenous youths. This year, a cadetship program, in association with Tennis Australia, is designed to develop additional careers in tennis for students, whether as a player, linesman, umpire, coach, sports physiotherapist, sports psychologist or event manager.Fiona Cowan is the assistant campus director at the school. She joined the school in 2005 when Box Hill Senior Secondary College extended its tennis and academic program to cover years 5-9."This was my first teaching job after completing my diploma of education at Monash University and I found myself immediately involved in the development of the school and its curriculum," Cowan says. "I was first drawn to MYTS due to its unique approach towards integrating sport and academics."Having played juniors tennis myself for many years and being a committee member of my local club helped this position jump out at me when I was looking for a job."After completing a diploma of education and an honours degree in archaeology and ancient history, Cowan had wanted to get some teaching experience before going on to an educational position at a museum or historical organisation, or working at a school that offered history-based subjects.However, her experience at MY Tennis School changed her plans."The positive atmosphere and enthusiasm, in the staff as well as students, that has been created by this program is definitely one of the main reasons that I have chosen to stay on at this school."For more education jobs, see mycareer.com.au/edu.GAME, SET AND MONEY€“World men's No. 1-ranked player, Rafael Nadal, career earnings to date (as at January 23, 2011): $37,475,012. €“Victoria's first specialist sports school, Maribyrnong College, offers programs in Australian football, athletics, basketball, cricket, golf, netball, soccer, swimming, tennis and volleyball.€“Careers at sports schools include jobs for coaches, fitness professionals, performance analysts, physiotherapists, sports psychologists and dietitians, as well as teachers.

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