Real Tennis

Investing in Professionals (IiP)

Overview

Both the apprentice prospectus and the professional prospectus are now available for download following a significant amount of work from the professionals, the Club Chairmen, and the numerous committees involved in the IiP initiative.

Over 45 volunteers have been involved in producing the programme, which is now run by the Operational Continuous Improvement Panel (OCIP). Sport Structures have provided a vital partnership throughout the process and continue to work closely on a day to day basis.

The programme has been advertised and a number of candidates have been interviewed. Middlesex University and Wellington College have agreed to take successful candidates, which is a very exciting development.

The professionals have started the process of accreditation based on their training and achievements to date. So far five senior professionals have completed their new log book and been accredited via prior learning to Level 2.

The T&RA are the major stakeholders, supported by the IRTPA. There has been a remarkable fund raising effort by the Funding Panel (led by Carl Snitcher), establishing the Real Champions Club, persuading other stakeholders (the Dedanists' Foundation, the Dedanists' Society and the LTRA) to contribute, as well as many clubs via a court levy contribution. A remarkable effort to focus so many on a common cause.

Special thanks to the programme facilitator, John Whiting, for his extraordinarily patient and productive effort.

Objective

'Attract, Recruit, Train and Retain'

In simple terms, IiP is intended to recruit additional trainee professionals into to the game, and to upskill existing professionals by offering access to court-related skills together with education in business skills. Participants acquire accredited status by assessment, leading to remuneration that is linked to achievement. Our purpose is to enhance professionalism in the game - our tag line is ‘Attract, Recruit, Train and Retain’.

What will be delivered?

The programme offers new trainees and existing young professionals a highly professional educational environment in order to develop a meaningful career in Real Tennis. In tandem with court training and court-related skills, the programme offers learning and training in the business skills relevant to becoming an accredited Real Tennis professional or to manage a sports facility.

Who we want to attract?

Emphasising the inclusive objectives of IiP, all new trainees are encouraged to join the programme as apprentices. Access to the programme can be made through a number of entry paths depending on the age and training already undertaken by the individual trainee.

Existing professionals are also encouraged to join the programme to in-fill any skills they require and to achieve IiP accreditation.

Who will be running the programme?

From the outset, operation of the programme will be delivered through the partnership of Sport Structures and the T&RA, supervised by a panel selected from the Tennis community, which will be coordinated by the T&RA Chairman.

The headline tasks are identified with the following individuals, supported by a great number of professionals and other Club representatives too numerous to list here:

Training, Assessment & Accreditation

  • Ross Szabo (Sport Structures)
  • Chris Bray
  • James Coley

Programme Administration

  • Chris Davies (T&RA)

Recruitment, Selection & Retention

  • Steve Brewerton
  • Josh Smith

Host Club Liaison

  • David Watson
  • Simon Mansfield
  • Rob Fahey

Mentoring

  • Josh Farrall
  • Paul Weaver

Funding

  • Carl Snitcher
  • Johnny Saunders

Financial Compliance

  • John McVittie

What has been organised so far?

Most of the effort has been in the design and production of the programme, including a detailed training manual, careful selection of the appropriate business skills training course(s), designing a selection camp for new recruits, a logbook for the trainees, the IiP website, and advertising material for the official launch and recruitment drive.

Conversations are continuing with possible host Clubs where training will be provided, to ensure their needs are met according to the individual Club environment, objectives and financial structure. We expect there will be at least four Clubs participating in the initiative by September 2021.

When does the Programme start?

Recruitment ran through the final months of 2020 with Jack Josephs joining MURTC in April 2021. Two further apprentices, Alex Machin (Wellington) and Jim Ludekens (Cambridge) joined the scheme in August and September 2021 respectively, with plans to recruit a fourth shortly, the scheme has now well and truly started.

Where the money is coming from?

The IiP programme will be delivered at a cost to the Tennis Community of approximately £100,000 p.a. net of Government funding support, which currently includes a sign-on bonus effective until September 2021. The T&RA has agreed to underwrite 75% of the salaries of the trainees and will be bearing about 50% of the total costs. The Real Champions Club is also a major sponsor. The costs are also supported by The Dedanists’ Foundation and The Dedanists’ Society, by the Ladies Association and a voluntary court levy.

As far as is possible, our aim is to make the IiP programme cost-neutral to the participating Clubs. This is no mean feat - there is no such thing as ‘over-funding’!

Sustainability

The IiP programme will be sustainable and scaled to meet the emerging market requirement. The T&RA has pledged to support the first three years of the programme at the current level of generous funding. In the longer term the intention is to migrate to a demand-driven model, although the T&RA would still intend to provide financial support.

This is not a short term programme and one which is expected to evolve with time. Its early success is due to the inclusivity of the programme and its initial development. This approach will need to be nurtured moving forward.

Progress

The three apprentices all attended a Development tournament at the Royal Tennis Court, Hampton Court. All returned to their clubs invigorated with new ideas for their future.

Cambridge has been delighted with Jim Ludeken’s progress and most importantly his attitude towards his work. The weekend at RTC inspired Jim. He came back to us with some strong views on how he wants to train and what technical changes he wants to make.

Jim commented: "I've had lots of coaching and practice time which is key for me to improve. The verity of tasks makes the job fun."

Alex Machin at Wellington

Please enjoy the video of Alex and what his has accomplished in such a short time at the club- Alex has grown from strength to strength and has become a valued member of the team in a very short month- keep up the good work Alex Machin- IIP apprentice 2021

Alex Machin at Wellington

How to find out more about the Programme

The official IiP materials and literature is now available and the new IiP website has been launched, to complement the process.

Download the guides below.