WARRNAMBOOL Indoor Tennis Centre has won a state award recognising its work developing tennis players in the region.
Tennis Victoria officials presented the Mortlake Road centre with the Hot Shots coaching excellence award at its annual dinner at the MCG this week.
The award recognises the commitment of centre manager Rob Urquhart and the 10 other coaches in delivering the Hot Shots development program.
The program is for juniors aged three to 13 and uses different coloured balls — red, orange and green, which have varying compressions — as they develop.
Urquhart received the award from former world number one Margaret Court, a winner of 19 grand slam titles and the most successful female tennis player in history.
He said the centre had to meet other criteria to win the award, such has having close ties with schools in the area.
“It’s just great to get some recognition for the work the staff do down here. We pride ourselves on providing a quality program,” Urquhart said.
“Our strong numbers indicate tennis is pretty popular and we’re offering a quality program. The staff are well trained and the kids enjoy coming along to play.”
Urquhart said Hot Shots, an initiative which had been running in Warrnambool for almost a decade, had been “groundbreaking”.
“Quite often coaches taught kids with a full-size racquet on a full-size court with yellow high-bouncing balls,” he said.
“Now these modified programs have enabled children to get into the sport. They enjoy it much better because the skills are a lot more achieveable.
“It allowed them to learn correct technique. If they do that, they enjoy the game more and stay in the game longer.”
Warrnambool Indoor Tennis Centre was a beaten finalist for the category last year, making the latest success the more satisfying.
Urquhart said winning the award would not be possible without the other coaches at the centre.
“I’d have to say it’s less about me. My name is on the trophy but it’s about all of the staff,” he said.
“We have 11 coaches who work here, including myself, and they are a huge part of delivering the Hot Shots program.”