Ninja League

Hello, my name is Michael and I am running the table tennis league, which we decided to call the Ninja League, with the support of my club, Hylands, where I am a Tennis Leader.

We have just completed our first event of the Ninja League and this was a great success and everyone seemed to enjoy it. It is fantastic that something discussed over a game of table tennis can turn into a full scale event like this has done. We are also lucky to have access to four table tennis tables in the Albany’s Sports Hall and this makes a big difference.

The competition format consisted of a round robin phase followed by a knock out with winners progressing to the semi finals and their opponents competing in the Plate event.

I am delighted to announce that we now have our first ever rankings for the Ninja league with Giorgio on top as our first shogun and with Nikyta, Luke G, Luke E and Joshua as our 4 masters. Next in the rankings we have Michael M, Evie, Isaac, Jack and myself as knights with Harry, Tyrese, and Abigail completing the rest of the field.

I will be back soon with details of our next event. So watch this space.


Going Places

Going Places


My name’s Jack. I am 14 and I play tennis at Hylands and this is something you may know but here is something you may not know; I'm going on an expedition to Cambodia and Laos in two year’s time, 2015.

The main reason why this expedition has me so engaged is the fact that it's not something you can "just do", it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity. This expedition will be over a period of 28 days over two countries, Cambodia and Laos, and I will be there with a group of 17 students ranging from 15 to 16 years old.

During my month long time there, we will be trekking though either the Cambodian or Laos jungle to arrive at a remote village in the heart of either Cambodia or Laos with a view to start a project which will be anything beneficial for local people there and this could involve: building toilets, wells, vegetable patches or maybe even canopies.
The main reason why this is so important to me is because from my understanding some of their living conditions seem unfair and I want to help. For example, the majority of people have to walk miles just for water whereby over here we take it for granted.

If you'd like to find out more or perhaps sponsor me then have a look at my website (link provided below) many thanks for reading my Blog and also thank you to Hylands club for allowing me this exposure.




Celebrating our fantastic juniors and our outstanding leaders.

On Monday 16 September, we celebrated six of our juniors receiving their Jack Petchey Foundation Achievement Award at the Queen’s Theatre. Almost 2,000 schools, colleges and youth organisations throughout London and Essex run the scheme, which contributes millions of pounds each year. The scheme is a reward and recognition initiative which enables schools and youth organisations to celebrate the achievements of their young people as well as receive additional funding.

There are many different ways to nominate and select award winners. We use a system that works within our club structure and our young people are at the heart of decision making as they are the ones who nominate their peers.

Our community club has positively benefited from the generosity and inspiration of the Jack Petchey Foundation not just with the provision of resources for all pupils to use, but via the ongoing development of individual children and young people.

We support the JPF’s vision of a world where young people have high aspirations; the opportunity to develop their potential; the chance to be architects of their own future; to play a full part in society and to be valued and recognised for the positive things they achieve.

We congratulate our winners Abigail, Emily, Isaac, Michael B, Michael W and Nickyta. It was also a proud moment for our Glynis Youngs who received a much deserved Leader Award for her excellent work organising the Awards Presentation Evening for the last three years.

You can find more images from the night in My Pics: Life at Hylands 2013.


Our Learn and Play Tennis Programme

I hope that you will find that at Hylands there is so much more to us than just joining a tennis club. And now that we have moved to the Albany School with 6 new floodlit courts, 2 Multi Use Games Areas (MUGA) and the use of the sports hall, the Hylands experience seems to just keep on growing.

From the age of 3 to our Red level players, we can offer indoor facilities where our children can develop their skills in balance, co ordination and tracking and timing. By learning these aspects without the additional challenges of the wind, rain and cold, their game soon develops.

When they are ready and have mastered serving and rallying we challenge them further on the outside courts and MUGAs. Here we develop their speed, strength and tactics and introduce them to other sports if they wish.

After all, why develop the skill of moving to a tennis ball with quick, graceful but dynamic speed and not try it out on other sports? A quick pass in basket ball or a counter attack in Futsal for instance. These sports, plus many more can be enjoyed when you become a member of Hylands.

We won't just look for a tennis player but for a young person who has the aptitude and desire to develop and broaden their horizons in many different ways.

We look at how we can help their mental and emotional development through sport and leadership. We help our young members to take on responsibility and find independence.

From a very young age, we feel we can help with these important lifelong skills with tasks as simple as getting children to take responsibility of remembering their racket and water bottle. Ok, we all know who will be reminding them all the time, but we feel it is important to take responsibility right from the start, to find their strengths and build on them.

We want all our members to understand the rules of tennis and sport, to learn respect, fairness and face the difficult challenges of winning and losing with good grace.

In time we see them grow from children to accomplished young people who are training to compete and who want to become our tennis leaders. We see them develop their confidence by setting higher goals and we show them how they can contribute so much to our club.

We give our Tennis Leaders the building blocks and they build in so many different ways.
They volunteer, they help to coach, they set up leagues, they bring their love and experience of other sports to the club, they write blogs, take photos and they help out and organise social events. Our young Tennis Leaders have so many great ideas and through their input and energy the future looks very exciting.

Hylands is a rarity and with your support we are confident we can offer every member so much more than just a tennis club.

Tina Waldon


An Interview with Matt

An Interview with Matt

What is your sport background and what motivates you in life?

I am 17 and looking to get to Uni. I have always been fairly sporty from a young age because my brother used to do a lot of sport. It also has to do a lot with my parents in getting involved with a lot of sport especially in junior school where I had Tina for my tennis and you could turn up after school and try mini tennis, which was useful because both my parents were at work and did not have to pick me until later in the day. So initially I did that just for that reason. As I grew up I did more sports for example cricket. I seem quite talented at most sport and quite fortunate that way. As I grew up I did more tennis and cricket but lately it has been mainly tennis because cricket is more time consuming. What motivate me in life? I rather not be stuck in a rut and do the same things over and over. I’d rather progress through different stages and do different things. When you see someone doing the same job without chance to do something different...I’d rather start from the bottom and work my way up than just be stuck in one place. I’d probably say that I was quite lazy until age 14 and then I realised that you need to do well in exams if you want to do well in life and I thought if I want to go to Uni I need to do more and it worked because my results have picked up a lot since then.

Do you think that taking an active interest in sport helped you to aspire and achieve more than if you were not involved as an active participant?
When I was young there was not a focus on being the best. You are almost not aware that you need to improve but you need to improve to make yourself better and you may enjoy it. I think a coach for young people is an authoritative figure. It is someone you can look at like you look at your mum and dad as an authoritative figure in your household and that can set you up for life. If you are not used to have someone there telling you what to do then you may not be fit or disciplined in school. I used to do Judo for example and you used to pay full respect to the sensei. You had to bow, you had to say please and thank you. That sort of thing.

Can you tell me in which way you are involved in the club and the joint venture with the Albany?
At Hylands I am a Senior Tennis Leader which involves a lot of stuff for example I assist with coaching on Thursdays at the Albany which involve two hours a week helping young children to get better. I was the under 18 Boys captain which involved organising matches and the team and I played in the team which was quite important to me as it gave me some opportunity to get some organisational skills. With the joint venture there have been a lot of consultation and to see it all happening has been very exciting.

What is your perception of tennis?
I think the traditional perception is that it is quite middle class but my individual perception is that at Hylands it’s available to anyone. Anyone can play it, it’s not exclusive, it’s not segregational and in this area there are many tennis club and it’s easy to join one so it is pretty popular.

What gets you excited and causes you concern about tennis?
The fact that it is as much a social event as it is getting an advantage over someone else, not in a bad way but as a chance of improving your own skills. Concern? In my school and age group it is less and less attractive to be part of an organised sport. There is a perception that if you are part of an organised sport you need to spend hours and hours every week doing the same thing over and over again but in truth there is also the social aspect as well as improving yourself.

Why do you think this perception exist in your age group?
I think it has to do with the fact that it is seen as quite cool if you do well but don’t have to try too hard while if you are outgoing and willing to do something you are perceived as outside the norm so it would be difficult to get on well between these two groups. We have two sets of people those who do sport and those who do not. I am quite lucky that the School where I go to is so sport orientated but there is such a clear distinction and you can tell there are two sets of people those who do sport and those who don’t.

Why did you decide to join Hylands?
Like I said before I first played mini tennis with Tina at my infants school like an after school activity. I must have joined Hylands soon after because I must have enjoyed it.  In 2006 I also tried another local club which was very traditional and found it very different especially in the way Hylands was very people orientated. In the other club parents dropped the kids and left but at Hylands parents stay to watch their kids. The other thing about Hylands is that it is much friendlier and the focus is not just about competing and winning.

What do you think a coach should be at a club?
Primarily it should be the chance to improve whether that be mental or physical. The coaches are the link between the players and the management at the club. The club can look at the numbers and figures but if they do not know what the parents and children think of the club they cannot do anything with the money they have. You cannot just throw money at a problem and expect it to work. So it is the coaches job to report back on what the club needs.

In that case how would you use the coaches skills within a club?
Well, looking at Hylands for example you play tennis and know it inside out. I do not know if it is the same at other tennis clubs but if the managers are keen on the sport and they are not there just for the profit then there will be a keen interest from them to improve the club and the quality of the players. I also think that it works well when you grow the coaching team inside like we do with the tennis leader programme and help them with the level 1. I also think they should be part of the management committee.

How would you go about measuring coaches’ performance in a development club?
I cannot think of any other way but measuring participation that means numbers. If people start leaving there is a problem.

If you were co-ordinating the tennis leader programme, how would you develop it further? What else can the club do to make it attractive?
I think it makes sense to give different responsibilities according to age. If you are 17 you don’t want to be treated like when you were 13. This may sound a bit odd but I do believe in a tier system. I do believe that the more experienced tennis leaders should help the younger ones. Not sure what else you could do once they are 18 or older. I use the term tier to distinguish levels. I would call Tina a coach for example but I would not call myself a coach. I like the way we are now using terms like Tennis Leader and Senior Tennis Leader. It gives younger people something to aspire to.
Social Capital is very important at Hylands. Can you give me some examples of where you see evidence of this at our club?
My dad likes photography and he helps at the Awards ceremony. David Waldon helps with the graphics, he designs the literature and sponsors the WWJ event. You help out a lot in many different ways. You’ve got the tennis leaders with different skills and ideas we have different ideas we can add.

How would you describe a traditional tennis club?
It would be very serious, have a dress code and expect to fit in with the norms and values of the club. It’s almost like a status symbol, a social status.

How is it different from Hylands?
We have no dress code. It is easy to join and not expensive. There is no playing test. You can turn up and have a go. Membership seems to be linked to friendship here. I also think the fact that at Hylands there is no single ethnicity or single class is beneficial. I cannot see Hylands becoming cliquey as it has always been open to all.
If Hylands is so easy to join what do you think are barriers to take up tennis?
Price is important. If  parents cannot afford the game the child will miss on the experience. By providing the equipment and unlimited access to the courts Hylands helps quite a lot. If parents do not know the sport and only know about football their children may miss out. Sometimes the scoring of matches makes it difficult for those families who have too much to do and are not time rich. Also, as I said before some people just do not want to do sport. They either do not like running or do not want to get sweaty or having to get changed. It seems like quite a lot of effort to them.
How can we sustain participation in the 14 – 25 age range?
This is one of the most important periods of your life. I think that if you have friends who do the same sport as you do you are more likely to carry on. The tennis leader scheme in the way is run at Hylands is almost an encouragement to stay on. It gives you an increased sense of responsibility. You can show you are enthusiastic and want to help. It is an opportunity to give something back rather than just doing a couple of hours every Saturday morning.
How do you keep up to date with tennis at Hylands?
We have regular emails and newsletters and tennis leaders also receive additional communication which is quick, easy and convenient. We can also contact the club and receive quick replies.

Are you surprised that despite the success of the Olympics and Andy Murray numbers are not going up as much as expected?
I am not sure how these numbers are collected but I am surprised. I also know the LTA has a website where you can put your postcode and it will come up with places where you can play and many parks are free. I suppose that cost remains the greatest factor so Schools like the Albany and clubs like Hylands linking together is a god thing. Also media attention regarding tennis is not as high as football for example and that would help.

Do you think that talent matters or is the idea about talent overrated?
That’s a tricky one. I don’t know how to put these into words properly but I suppose starting early and working hard at it is important to become good at something. I don’t want to sound big headed but I have done a lot of sport and I found that if you enjoy what you do, you want to be good at it so you spend more time practicing. That worked for me.

Is there anything you want to add?
Tennis is something I have done since early age. It is part of me. Something I do. I also think that as we talked about participation, I think that success breeds success. When you see Andy Murray winning the Olympics tennis event and Wimbledon is a good thing and it may inspire even those who do not usually follow the game to take it up.

Foot note
Shortly after this interview, Matt received his A level results with two A grades in Economics and Geography and a B grade in Politics. Matt will be reading Economics and Geography at Loughborough University with effect from this September 2013.

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