Girls in tennis: These girls can

girls tennis

As the father of a son and a daughter I am acutely aware of the different challenges facing boys and girls in tennis. Before my daughter started playing tennis,I must admit I did not give it much thought. Instead in blissful ignorance, i thought tennis was a great game as it was something that both boys and girls played and it would be ideal for me as both children could play the sport.

As a Headteacher I used the formation of the WTA as a school assembly and even used the theme when I had been asked to present a whole school assembly as part of a Headteacher selection process in a different school. I thought the story of Billie Jean King was inspiring as was today’s outcome that  the men’s and women’s Wimbledon champions receive equal prize money.

Yet as my daughter competes in Orange tournaments I am noticing the small number of girls that are playing the game, which reduces  further in each age category and in turn the small number of women who are paid coaches at tennis clubs, (fortunately my daughter does have the opportunity to work with one).

The campaign, ‘this girl can’ has had a considerable impact in raising the issues of women in sport and on Saturday women will finally compete in the Boat Race alongside their male counter parts. As a Headteacher I was very supportive of the female PE teachers in my school who reached out especially to girls in year 10 and year 11 to provide sporting opportunities which they enjoyed in core PE lessons rather than seek to avoid.

There is no doubt that governing bodies must act to ensure that their sport is girl friendly. In the case of tennis it is the LTA. In the following blogs I’d like to consider some actions which could be taken to make competitions, AEGON team tennis and rankings more encouraging towards girls to keep them in the sport. So that these girls can and continue to do so.

However I am also interested in what do you do to encourage your daughter’s tennis?
Do you look for a female coach as a role model? Does she attend a girl’s tennis squad? Do you encourage her to hit with other girls? Do you look for a girl’s tournament in mini tennis? Do you not enter mixed tournaments or mixed matchplay?

We all know that many girls drop out of sport and we will have our own way of trying to ensure that our daughter’s don’t do that. I wonder what idea you have?

Blog 2 in this series looks at how competition organisers can encourage girls to compete more: Girls in tennis competitions

Blog 3 in the series considers how we can make team tennis more attractive to girls: Girls in team tennis

Good luck!

I am a tennis parent, educationalist and author. My guide for tennis parents is written and I’m now looking for a publisher. Please follow me on on twitter @tennisdaduk.

2 thoughts on “Girls in tennis: These girls can

  1. John Burns

    Stumbled across your blog via twitter hence the late reply to this article.

    Like you I have a son and a daughter who play tennis. My daughter competes way more than my son – tennis is her sport, football his. Sounds like my kids are a little bit older than yours but I recognise the dwindling numbers as age categories increase. Myself and a fellow parent decided to try to improve the situation in the north east of Scotland where we live. We started running matchplay events for girls rated 10.2 – 9.1, i.e. girls who aren’t competing very much if at all. We proactively contacted every club in the local area and asked for names of girls who attended coaching and we contacted them directly to invite them to the first event. Our first event in September 2014 saw 27 girls compete – some for the very first time. Our latest event was a doubles event last Saturday which saw 42 girls aged 11 – 15 take part. https://www.facebook.com/North-East-Scotland-Tennis-145820258931101/timeline/ We’ve had somewhere in the region of 55 girls involved at at least 1 of our events and we’re now struggling to cope with the numbers interested in taking part!

    Over the years I’ve heard so many coaches and sports professionals say that teenage girls don’t do sport, or that they drop sport in their teens. We don’t agree with that – it’s far too easy to accept that as a fact and by doing so we are letting down the sport and the girls!

    Reply

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