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Tennis Wales lead the way in apprentices.

Tennis Wales has become the first sports governing body in Wales to introduce coaching apprentices.

There are currently three apprentices – in Cardiff, Penarth and Swansea, with an aim of having ten per year in the next three years.

The programme is part of the Welsh Government Apprenticeship Scheme, and it allows learners between 16-18 and 19-24 years to be employed for 30 hours a week, the majority of which are spent working in the coaching environment. There is also time for completing required qualifications, such as in Coaching Tennis and in Employment Awareness.

The scheme allows young people to gain valuable mentoring through working with tennis experts, as well as gain exposure to different coaching environments.

Tom Bellingham, 17, is an apprentice at Penarth’s Vale Tennis Academy and is expected to be part of the Tennis Wales Young Coaches Programme once his apprentice scheme finishes. The apprenticeship has allowed him to turn his dreams of becoming a full-time professional tennis coach into reality.

“The apprenticeship have given me a platform to start my career in tennis coaching” said Tom. “It has been great to work with such high quality coaches and mentors. They have guided me in the right direction and really helped my development”.

Peter Drew, chief executive of Tennis Wales, said: “Tennis Wales is very proud to be the first sport in Wales to implement a coach apprenticeship scheme. Our 2020 Vision Plan identified that one of the most important issues for transforming Welsh tennis was to create an innovative and highly skilled coaching workforce who have been professionally trained specifically to make a professional career out of tennis.

“We have recognised that for our coaching workforce to be really successful in getting more people playing tennis, as well as helping them to develop their tennis skills, requires a very broad spectrum of professional skills and expertise. This includes things such as how to run a small business, marketing and promotion, working successfully with schools, and working successfully with other community partners.

“Our coach apprenticeship programme is helping our best young coaches to effectively develop these important career skills which will enable them to become successful career tennis coaches and to use those skills to help to transform Welsh tennis by getting more people playing tennis and developing young champions.”

Information on all aspects of tennis in Wales is available from Tennis Wales at 029 20 463335 or www.lta.org.uk/in-your-area/Wales/ and for regular updates follow Tennis Wales on Twitter @tenniswales