The University of Stirling tennis development programme has been expanded after securing vital funding from The Stirling Fund.
Tennis has been a cornerstone of sport on campus for several years, especially at a high level. However, with the introduction of new Beginner Tennis and Cardio Tennis sessions, students have new avenues to explore and develop their tennis game, especially for those picking up a racquet for the first time.
First piloted at the end of 2022, Beginner Tennis sessions, as part of the Just Play offering for students at the sports centre, proved a popular opportunity for those who were keen to try tennis for the first time. The funding, used to supply new racquets and training equipment, made sessions more accessible for students to attend.
Tennis Development Officer, Graeme Matheson, demonstrates forehand technique during a Beginner Tennis session.
Similarly, Cardio Tennis sessions were able to be rolled out early this year thanks to the funding. Blurring the line between tennis and a fitness class, Cardio Tennis is uniquely placed to offer a blend of tennis experience and a pulse-raising workout. With a fun, high-energy atmosphere, participant feedback has been hugely positive, with the added benefit of raising awareness of both the sport and the development programme on campus.
With the support of The Stirling Fund and the popularity of the sessions to date, University of Stirling Sport is looking to extend its offering of tennis-specific activities into the next academic year.
Classes and sport sessions haven’t been the only things to benefit. Growth has also been seen in the number of students engaging with development opportunities: formalising the entry of students into a workforce development programme has been a key success this year for Tennis Development Officer Graeme Matheson. With ten students actively engaged in formal coaching qualifications and further upskilling through other workshops and courses, the future is looking very bright for student-led tennis coaching and recreational sessions.
Reflecting on the progress within his role so far, Matheson said: “Tennis has always been a huge part of my experience working at the University of Stirling. This secondment has specifically given me the opportunity to work closely with students who are interested in developing their employability skills through tennis. We want to support all players at the level of their choosing get the most out of their tennis and ensure that we can support their development off-court as well as on it.
“We are grateful to have the support of The Stirling Fund to enable us to enhance the tennis offer for our students. For me, the major success of this project has been seeing students, several of which are undertaking formal coaching qualifications with us, delivering sessions for the wider student population.
“The development of the workforce would not have been possible without the university’s key partnership with the LTA. As one of the few Tier-3 funded universities in the UK, the University of Stirling continues to play a significant role in developing all strands of tennis development on a local and national level.”
The tennis development programme is one of several sport development programmes that runs as part of University of Stirling Sport. From health and wellbeing to performance and recreational sport, the facility offers something for everyone on campus and beyond.
The Stirling Fund is supported by generous donations from Stirling alumni and others keen to contribute to supporting Stirling’s student community. Since the creation of the fund, it has supported a plethora of activities in areas such as student employment, foreign travel and equipment for student-led clubs and societies.