Tennis has its first ever full-time Development Officer, 23 year old Lauren Barker.
‘It’s been my dream to work in sport,’ says Lauren. ‘I’m not someone who could sit behind a desk and love getting outside.’
Lauren first picked up a tennis racket when she was four years-old and moved to the island when she was 14, representing her school and Guernsey in various inter-insulars at both junior and senior level. She attended her first Island Games in Bermuda in 2013 and gained various coaching qualifications when at University in Loughborough.
‘I knew I wanted to work in tennis and I love working with children and young people. My first year working as Development Officer is going to be more about raising the profile of tennis,’ says Lauren.
‘I was quite shocked to find out that so many children in Guernsey have never held a tennis racket. I want every child to have had some exposure to tennis and I want people to know more about the game and the enjoyment you can get from playing.
‘It’s a real step forward for tennis to have its first full-time development officer and as well as delivering sessions in schools I’m looking forward to getting around to the three clubs on the island and supporting them and the other coaches.
‘I want tennis to be fun and I don’t want children to be scared or intimidated by it. Tennis can be a real team sport,’ she says.
Lauren is also keen to promote both the physical and mental sides of the sport.
‘Tennis can help with fitness, physical development, coordination, agility, everything you need but I’ve also had some amazing mental benefits from playing.
‘It teaches you a lot, such as how to lose, how to take responsibility; you are in control and you have to be able to control your emotions on court.’
Lauren is aiming to provide a bridge between the sessions she delivers in schools and attending a club outside of school.
‘The first step is to make tennis accessible to all. There is a bit of a stereotype that it is elitist and expensive and I want to create more opportunities for less privileged families to play.’
Lauren already runs £1 ‘pay and play’ sessions and is hoping to help boost the number of junior players joining the ranks. And who knows, maybe helping develop the next Heather Watson!
Gerald Hough, Chair of the Guernsey Lawn Tennis Association has welcomed Lauren’s appointment.
‘I have played tennis since an early age and consider it to be a wonderful game that can be enjoyed throughout one’s life. We have been taking tennis to schools for a number of years now and I believe Lauren's new role as our dedicated development officer will greatly assist in encouraging children to experience this fantastic sport.’
You can contact Lauren via email firstname.lastname@example.org