One of the things that is very striking about my tennis club is the number of children who attend group coaching sessions but never play in a competition or even an AEGON Match and this is even more acute amongst the girls. My daughter is in her final season of orange tennis and entering competitions has been a very different process than it was for my son. There are times when I get frustrated and feel our competitions are not necessary set up to encourage girls to compete. These are my suggestions which could help:
1) Always, always, always give a medal or trophy for 1st and 2nd in a competition.
2) Always run a girls draw if you can, so if you have 5 girls and 7boys run two draws for boys and girls. 1st in each draw, 2nd in each draw etc could still off play against each other for an additional challenge.
3) If you can’t run a separate draw ensure that the top girl also gets a medal. Even if there is only one girl in the competition if she wins a match, she is the top girl and should be rewarded.
4) If there are only a small number of girls in the competition, ensure they play against each other. If there is a series of boxes why not make one an all girl box.
5) If this is not possible have a separate round robin alongside the main competition. Give leaderboard points for these small round robins, so even for three girls in a grade 5, the top girl should get 75points etc. This would require an LTA rule change that the minimum number for a competition was not 5 in this circumstance.
6) Discourage red ball competitions with outside red balls. Watching children try and hit the hardest over head serve possible in such a short space is very disconcerting and can put less physical players from fear. I’m sure you will have your own ideas too.
I’d be fascinated to know what they were.