|Joanne Hill – Tennis BC|
Moving to a new place can be challenging—it can also be exciting! Even the most mundane things like grabbing a coffee take on a whole new level of adventure when you are in a new place. Recently, Rachel Gould made the move to BC from Alberta, to her new home on Vancouver Island. Originally from Toronto, Rachel has seen lots of the country in her previous role for Tennis Canada, and also as a coach, a course-facilitator, and player. But as so often happens when travelling for work or to play sport, it’s just the hotel and the facility that you see—it’s not often that you get a real feel for the places you visit—so for Rachel, when the opportunity to get to know her new province firsthand came, she jumped in with both feet!

Even though this was a work trip, it was one with a slightly different flavour than in the past.  Not only did it give her time to get to know the people in the places she was visiting, she also got to kick off a new Tennis Canada initiative along the way. Rogers First Set is the latest coaching initiative/curriculum being launched by Tennis Canada in conjunction with Tennis BC, and while a poster campaign and news stories are a great way to get the word out, there’s nothing like the personal touch to get people to engage. With that in mind, before she had even unpacked in her new home, Rachel set out on a Grand Tour of the province of BC!

As a course facilitator, Rachel had already planned to run an Instructors’ Course in the Kootenays—and from there, the opportunity to take First Set on the road went from an idea to a reality. For 14 days, Rachel was on the road for Tennis BC, sharing her tennis wisdom, showing clubs how they can integrate First Set, and building connections with clubs, players, and coaches as she went.

She started her adventure in Kimberley, home of the Kimberley Indoor Sports

 Centre Society, where she spent six days. With a population of around seven-and-a-half thousand people, it’s not a big place, but it is central. The event drew coaches from as far away as Fernie. Rachel ran an Instructors’ course, getting a good feel for the sporting spirit of the community in Kimberley and the surrounding areas. Of the six coaches taking the Instructors’ course, many were experienced coaches from other disciplines who brought a wealth of knowledge along with them—everyone had something to give.

Next, Rachel moved on to Nelson Tennis Club, where she met Matt Martin, head pro at the club with arguably the best mountain views anywhere. As far as a community that pulls together, it’s hard to beat this one. Nelson TC has four tennis courts and three pickleball courts to serve their active community, but perhaps the most unique feature of the club is the two-story club house literally built by the members that takes every advantage of the panoramic mountain views! This is a tennis community who enjoy every bit of good weather that comes their way and who have a wonderful place to relax after a match.

From there, it was on to the City of Kelowna where Rachel visited Lakeview Heights Tennis Club, and the Okanagan Mission Tennis Club, meeting Lakeview Heights’ Head Pro, Val Eren, and Uri Yarkoni from OMC (who had organized a Play Day with a local school). The First Set Play Day, at OMC, with coaches from the Kelowna region acting as team coaches, had over 40 kids in attendance. It was a huge success!

While in Kelowna, Rachel connected with Tennis BC Regional Coordinator, Joachim Nierfeld. Joachim also stopped by Marshall Fields in Vernon where Rachel ran two sessions with Graeme Cooper during his programs as an introduction to the First Set curriculum. Graeme and Rachel discussed the First Set pathway, including key concepts and how to integrate it. Graeme, always keen to innovate, signed up to run a First Set session during June’s Tennis Month in Canada. Graeme noted that he liked the new structure of First Set—if you read the Insider each month, you already know how passionate Graeme is about tennis and finding ways to deliver programs!
After that, it was off to Salmon Arm to run an introduction to First Set, in an

 on-court session. Salmon Arm has a keen team of community leaders. After Salmon Arm, Rachel headed to Kamloops to run another First Set workshop with the coaching team from the Kamloops Tennis Centre. From Kamloops, it was back to the Lower Mainland, to run a First Set workshop in Abbotsford with coaches from Great West Fitness and Tennis Club. In attendance were coaches from Great West and two community leads from the Chilliwack Tennis Society, Mark and Patti.  

It all sounds like a bit of whirlwind, but Rachel took it all in stride, saying that she sees an exciting future for tennis in BC. She noted that it was “Cool to see the enthusiasm everywhere she went,” adding that, “every community has a unique situation, and each takes a slightly different approach—we are just scratching the surface of the potential for tennis in BC!

June is Tennis Month in Canada!

Tennis Canada in partnership with Rogers, is rolling out Rogers First Set in June (and we got a preview here in BC)! First Set is a new national participation program comprised of four program pillars: Try, Learn, Play, and Compete.  First Set is designed to introduce new players to tennis and to retain athletes in the sport by creating a fun and welcoming environment for everyone!

To find out more about Tennis Canada’s First Set Initiative, please visit the website here.

Tennis BC would like to thank the many coaches who took part and made Rachel’s Grand Tour such a success.