Evolution, not a revolution

Our philosophy and methods are based on the accrued experiences of being former high-level players ourselves, and the knowledge and experience gained over twenty five years of successfully coaching and travelling to tournaments at national and international level.

We have continually evolved, fine-tuned, and refined ourselves to the point where we believe we now have sound foundations in place to take the right player(s) all the way to the Grand Slams. Most importantly we have the momentum, motivation, determination and belief required to do what is necessary to achieve this objective.

We are not simply hoping for success; we have planned carefully, worked very hard and prepared the ground for it. Step-by-step.

No short cuts

Just as we do with our players, the academy itself has chosen to take the long and difficult route of patiently laying down rock solid foundations. This means that our model does not rely on hype, self-promotion or enticing existing proven talents from other coaches or academies.

We have taken the time to develop players ourselves from under the age of 10. We have created a world-class (and proven to be prolific) system of producing national and international junior champions from scratch. Our results speak for themselves, and we are certain that our track record of developing "home-grown" players would compare extremely well with any other academy in the world - including those that consider themselves to be the best in the world.

At the same time, we also have great experience of taking older players through to ITF/ATP/WTA world rankings level from being below regional/national standard when starting to train with us.

Right time, right people

It is important to remember that coaches and academies are also on a journey, and that the magic happens when the right players and coaches come together at the right time.

Having taken the time to lay down strong foundations for producing top “home-grown” juniors, we believe we are now primed and ready to take our players all the way through to the Grand Slams.

This is the proposition offered by Tennis Avenue at this point in time, awaiting the right players (some of whom may already be with us) and more importantly the right parents to get onboard.

Who makes an ideal TA player?

With our years of experience, we now have a very clear profile of the type of player we can maximise the potential of - and who would get the best out of us. While we aim to be as inclusive as possible, those hoping to be selected for our elite programs are required to meet a very high bar.

Who makes an ideal TA parent?

Without exception, we have delivered the best outcomes for parents who have shown absolute faith in us and trusted us to make all the important decisions for their child. Our elite programs are not suitable for players with parent-coaches or those with parents who intend to pick and choose only portions of our program (or indeed advice).

In short, we are perfect for parents who are self-aware that they do not have the required expertise themselves. Our role is to bring the expertise while giving the same care and attention to their child as the parents themselves would give, were they able to.

The basis of a successful player-TA-parent partnership

With elite players, our best work is done when we can set out the vision and invest our energies into a long-term plan. This means that the values of reciprocal trust, commitment and loyalty are extremely important components of achieving a successful partnership.

Where we stand apart

Success is always a moving target that varies from player to player.

We have so far had three students complete our Tennis & Education program. One is now on a full US tennis scholarship, while the other two were accepted into Oxford and Cambridge Universties.

We are not aware of any other tennis academy in the world that can match our remarkable and proven ability to deliver such world class outcomes as a "Plan B" for their players.

We are invested in the child, NOT just the player. This means that our absolute mission is for each child to have an outstanding outcome. If tennis success becomes unlikely, we will immediately channel more focus towards an alternative version of success with equal value.

Tennis Avenue School, proposed to launch in late 2019, will be an on-site registered Independent School closely modelled on our highly successful Tennis & Education program. It will enable us to replicate its successes on a much wider scale.

For us excellence does not begin and end on the tennis court; it is woven into our culture.

Why we are independent of the LTA

To avoid any misconception, we are not "against" the LTA. We recognise the tough task they face, very often in no-win situations. They have some excellent staff who are doing their best for British Tennis under difficult conditions.

That said, Tennis Avenue Academy has always remained independent of the LTA for a single reason: to insulate ourselves (with our long-term methods) and our players from the constant change and upheaval prescribed by every new blueprint or initiative.

The new LTA Player Pathway is not a concept dissimilar to the system that prevailed in the late 80s and early 90s when a place at the elite LTA School at Bisham Abbey was considered the holy grail for the very best juniors to aspire to. The TA Director of Tennis in fact attended the LTA School between 1987-1989.

Patrice Hagelauer arrived from France in 1999 and decided it would be better to try and replicate the French system of having local clubs at the forefront of developing junior talent. He then helped establish four Regional Academies for the very best juniors, as the consensus swung against children having to move too far away from home.

Some years later in October 2006 under Roger Draper, a year before the National Training Centre opened, the LTA published their new Blueprint for British Tennis, which included this line (page 7):
"LTA National Training will be decentralised in order to provide more direct support at club level, putting our resources to work where they will do most good."

At the same time a "sophisticated Talent ID system", borrowed from Belgium and driven by Steven Martens, was introduced to harvest players into Regional and National training programs and squads.

In 2014 Bob Brett arrived with the idea that the LTA should play a supporting and mentoring role to successful coaches and programs, rather than play the central role in developing players. It was an idea that our academy could have worked with had he not departed within a matter of months.

Interim Performance Director Peter Keen devised a new Blueprint in 2016 to scrap the Talent ID system (introduced by the previous Blueprint) and return to having Regional Centres.

In 2019 current Performance Director Simon Timson extended the idea to introduce two new National Academies at the top of a structure that also contains Regional Player Development Centres and Local Player Development Centres - marking a return to the hierarchical philosophy and centralised control over top players that was seen in the 80s and 90s. Players are to be shepherded through the system of County, Regional and National (NAGP) training - with ALL players expected to follow an identical Pathway (that is yet to prove itself).

The LTA system appears to have come a full circle over three decades, and there is no knowing in which direction it will head next. Our players have only one small precious window of opportunity to try and make it in tennis and we prefer not to subject them to such an ever-changing system.

The LTA Player Pathway might indeed end up working very well for certain players, but there will no doubt be many others for whom it will not work so well. We believe that many British juniors desperately need a strong, viable and most importantly stable alternative - and we are here to provide it.

Remaining independent of the LTA also means that we can fully develop into an international academy that has the best foreign talent training with the best British talent.

Feeling lost?

If any coach, academy or system suggests that there are "right" or "wrong" ways to develop tennis champions then they would be doing so out of ignorance or dishonesty. History has already proven that there is no definitive way to do it. Indeed the evidence is that the best players usually forged their own unique path:

  • Roger Federer was largely given freedom to make important decisions by his parents, and was looked after by the Swiss Federation as a junior;
  • Rafael Nadal followed a personalised, structured and disciplined program and never left his original tight-knit coaching set-up;
  • Venus & Serena Williams owe their success largely to a strong father who had a plan, and bought in coaching expertise to fit the plan;
  • Andy Murray transitioned from junior to pro tennis by training at a private academy in Spain.

What we have set out on these pages therefore is an outline of the "TA Way", which we offer as one of many potential paths to success.