While the sport’s rising stars continue their quest for silverware and ranking points at J1 Roehampton, the players on show have also had the benefit of a highly-informative and much-valued education class.
The session, jointly run by the ITF, WTA and ATP, re-ignites the in-person education opportunities for elite players on the player pathway, covering topics such as mental health, dealing with stress and pressure, internet safety and guarding against abuse.
Emphasis was very much placed on the person behind the player, making sure they have the off-court support and knowledge to enjoy the sport they love and have the best possible career within the game.
Such sessions are the product of key tennis stakeholders and their alignment, ensuring collaboration as an individual progresses along the pathway, especially during that key transition from a junior to a professional.
The class featured keynote addresses and interactive presentations from Kathy Martin, Senior Director of Mental Health and Wellness at the WTA and Gary Bye, Safeguarding Manager at the ITF.
There was then an engaging question-and-answer section with Canada’s Gabriela Dabrowski, who currently holds a doubles ranking of No. 6 in the world, and former player Nicole Pratt of Australia.
“Tennis players are people first,” Martin said. “Attention to health, including mental health, is vitally important to help them manage the challenges of being a teenager and an elite junior player.
“Building resilience through use of strategies that facilitate mental health will enhance human and personal development, help players reach their goals and assist in improving on-court performance.
“The education session during J1 Roehampton was a great way to introduce this important topic to the players, their parents and coaches and to provide some practical strategies they can immediately include in their training routines.”
Bye concurred, saying: “Education sessions are vital as players are the most important people in our game.
“Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility, and it is vital that young players know their rights as athletes, so they enjoy tennis protected from all forms of harassment and abuse.
“That is why classes like these are so important in ensuring safe and inclusive tennis at all levels of a player's career.”
Going forward, the ITF, WTA and ATP plan to host further sessions of this nature.