Tennis is the best sport!

1We believe that tennis is the hardest sport to be good at, but also the most fun and rewarding! It takes many years to excel at tennis. Is there another sport that is more demanding in terms of learning: the techniques; the movement and physical requirements; match strategies, and the mental aspects of the game. Plus, there is the fact that you are trying to find a way to win on your own out there on court, without teammates helping you (unless you have a doubles partner!). Many believe the most challenging things we attempt in life can be the most rewarding and exhilarating, and learning and improving at tennis certainly challenges us!

Enrolling your child in coaching sessions, coming to an adult coaching session, practicing with friends and family, competing, and representing Heron in junior and adult teams, will hopefully lead to a lifetime of playing and loving the sport. Tennis is one of the best ways to make friends, to get fit and stay healthy (physically and mentally), and to learn more about yourself, which can be quite useful in other areas of your life too! Tennis can also help players, young and old alike, to learn about loyalty, teamwork, friendship, bravery, honesty, fair-play, thinking for yourself, self-discipline, self-motivation, independence, concentration, decision-making, respect, humility, overcoming adversity, handling joy and disappointment and courage. All of these characteristics are transferable to school and life, thus helping to make better students and people.

Being able to play tennis can be an entree to friendship circles at school and university (e.g. playing in school and university teams), and an entree to social circles in a person's working life. The stronger your playing level, the more this can apply.



A Background to Heron and Ace

4The Heron Tennis Centre was opened in 2004 and a vital part of the centre was having a coaching programme that provided high quality coaching for all ages and standards, including an academy for its best players, which led to the formation of Ace Tennis Coaching & Academy.

Heron and Ace have been designed to be unlike other tennis providers in Britain and we have modeled ourselves on clubs and coaching programmes you can typically find in Europe.

Research of successful coaching programmes in the likes of Germany* and Sweden*, combined with the extensive coaching and playing experience of our coaching team, have led to the coaching services that we provide. We aim to be friendly, welcoming to all, caring, relaxed, professional, affordable, and we aspire to provide a quality centre, coaching programme and academy.

We aim to create an environment and culture where adults want to meet, play, have coaching, get fitter, improve and socialise with friends. For juniors, we strive to have a youth club-like atmosphere where5 children can not only play and learn the game, but also hang out with friends. We look to introduce juniors to adults at the centre to practice together, which helps the young players mature on and off court. In terms of our best Ace Academy players, we try to be architects of a culture where aspiring players can foster a passion for the game, making them to want to practice and compete with friends so often that, coupled with the range of opportunities we uniquely provide, allows them to progress to play at the highest level. As they progress, the best players may use Heron as base for their training as seniors or Heron may simply be their “tennis home” where they have developed before moving away to a university tennis programme for example.

For further reading on the origins of our ethos, please click on the below articles:

*) ‘A Comparative Study of the Tennis Systems in Great Britain, the USA and Germany: Explaining the Lack of International Success in British Tennis’, by Steven Askey.

*) 'The Socialisation of Elite Tennis Players in Sweden: An Analysis of the Players' Backgrounds and Development’, by Rolf Carlson.


Our Coaching Programme in Detail

Junior After-School & Saturday Morning Squads

  • Term-long courses of sessions, aim to have a player: coach ratio of 6:1, Ace Academy sessions 4:1. They typically involve warm-ups (improving a player's agility, balance, co-ordination and movement), technical and tactical learning, plus fun games to conclude.
  • Fun, social and an excellent way to make friends. 
  • We use the LTA’s Mini Tennis framework as a guide and consider a player’s ability and not just their age when selecting the most suitable squad.
  • Players progress together within their squad meaning there is sometimes no need to change groups as they get older. Our coaches discuss the progress of players and whether they should move groups (due to their age or if they are rapidly improving) in each school holiday. If players are improving at a faster rate than others in their group, they may move squads. Please do be in touch with one of our coaches if you feel your child is in the wrong group or would like to discuss their progress. 
  • Players who are doing especially well in their squads (in terms of keenness, commitment, parental support, potential and ability) are invited to join Ace Academy squads. If you would like your child to join an academy squad and you have not already been contacted, please come and speak to Steve A or one of the coaching team.

Private Lessons

  • Provide one-on-one technical instruction where you can hone in on specific areas of development and normally see the fastest rate of improvement.
  • Help establish close player-coach relationships, which are especially important for Ace Academy players.
  • Weekly lessons, a series of lessons and periodical lessons can all be beneficial. Please discuss with us to see which is the most relevant to your child or you.

Adult Coaching Courses

  • Term-long courses of sessions, they typically involve warm-ups (improving a player's agility, balance, co-ordination and movement), technical and tactical learning, plus fun games to conclude.
  • With term long plans, adult courses are a comprehensive way to learn and improve.
  • Fun, social and an excellent way to meet new friends and playing partners.




Pay-on-the-day Junior And Adult Sessions

  • Throughout the week, in the daytime and evenings, these sessions tend to be less formal and more social. Sessions for complete beginners, "rusty players", intermediate and advanced club players.
  • Usually involve coaching of the basics of the game followed by singles, doubles and fun games. 
  • Ideal way to begin to learn the game and meet new friends and playing partners.

Shared Lessons in Small Groups of 2-6 people

  • Can be arranged as and when suits you, your friends or family members.
  • Particularly popular with small groups of adults who want to play together when they are available.

Other Parts of the Programme

  • Paid Hits: for Ace Academy players who need to practice what they have been learning in coaching sessions whilst playing against a higher standard of hitter. 
  • Mental Training: for Ace Academy players, our coaches incorporate subtle as well as structured mental training into their lessons. If additional mental training sessions are required, we can recommend sports psychologists.
  • Competition Planning: we keep players informed of competitions held via slips emails and our Facebook page. More information about competitions held at heron and in the south-west are posted on our notice board. For Ace Academy players who would like help structuring a schedule to best fit their aspirations, please ask their individual coach.
  • Personal Fitness Plans: for our Ace Academy players, plans designed by their individual coach and gym instructor, to be carried out within coaching sessions and in player’s own time, often in conjunction with their gym instructors.
  • Video Coaching: filming coaching and matches are sometimes used by our coaches to aid the player’s and coach’s analysis of the player’s technique, movement, psychology and tactics. 
  • Tournament Trips: from time to time our coaches travel with academy players to tournaments around Cornwall, the UK and Germany to provide analysis and support.
  • Serving & Wall Practice (at Heron, at school or on a wall at home): ideal for grooving shots, cementing techniques they are learning and for improving footwork and balance.
  • Practices with Others: good option for enjoying your tennis in a social environment and at the same time getting to practice what you have been learning. It also helps younger pupils think for themselves and be creative on court. It is also where players really start to love the game! Can be with friends, visiting players or family members, or our coaching team can introduce you to other players who are of a suitable standard for you to play with.
  • Mentoring: we try to take our leading academy players “under our wing” to coach, mentor, inspire and provide direction on their tennis journey.




Our Coaching Values and Philosophies

We try hard to influence the lives of our pupils in a positive way by providing a happy, personable and quality coaching environment that people (juniors and adults alike) want to be a part of, and where friendships and a lifelong love for the game are fostered. We take pride in producing good people as well as good tennis players, and we are proud of the players we have helped nurture so far. 

  • To coach players so they develop all-round games: players can then choose the style they want to play, have a varied game style to fall back on if need be (e.g. if losing in a match and need to change they way they play), plus developing all-round games can increase the player's enjoyment of tennis throughout their life and it can make them play better doubles as well as singles. 
  • Coaching sessions versus practice sessions: coaching sessions are for learning (technique, tactics, strategy, movement and physical attributes, right mentality and thinking), whereas paid hits, practices with other players and practices on the wall are times for players to think for themselves, be creative and ingrain what have been learning.
  • Junior vs. adult success: if developing an all-round game, players should expect greater success later on in their junior tennis journey/ early in their adult tennis journey as there are so many things to perfect. 
  • LTA rankings and ratings: best not to over-focus or place an over-emphasis on these as can hinder player development. Players must compete and win sufficiently to enable them to gain entry to events as the get older e.g. Nationals, Grade 2s and 3s, etc. • Academics: vital to continue and strive to achieve at school due to the cross-over of skills e.g. self discipline, using your brain on court! Plus, players need academics for careers if not successful pro careers. 
  • "Trust us": we have huge collective experience of competing and coaching, the LTA system and how players in other countries have developed. Plus, we have a track record of coaching hundreds of recreational players, club team players, university scholars, county champions, national champions and world-ranked professional players.
  • A sensible and realistic approach to player development: by using our coaches' collective playing and coaching experience, we know how best to avoid players "falling out of love with the game" and unhappy family relationships. We have designed what we believe is a sensible and realistic approach to helping aspiring players fulfill their potential.
  • Parents treatment of their child after wins and losses: we advise parents not to go overboard if they win or lose, and instead to reward effort and behaviour whilst penalising a lack of effort and bad behaviour. • Children playing too much tennis and too many different activities: beware of your children doing too much, which can lead to burn out, falling out of love with tennis, and them switching their minds off in coaching sessions.
  • Players involved in different coaching programmes: "too many cooks spoil the broth!". When players are young (up to age of 11-13 typically), beware of players having too many coaches from different programmes. It can lead to confusion for the player, upset personal player-coach relationships, and to jealousy/ teasing/ resentment from other players.
  •  A young player's mind is crucial for success and happiness, both in their tennis careers and in their life: we try to help parents avoid overly pressuring, spoiling, and structuring their child's tennis and lives. 
  • Instilling Heron and Ace's values: we try to instill our values of self-discipline, responsibility, thinking for yourself, bravery, honesty (with oneself and others), respect, loyalty, a love for the game, friendships, intelligence and a try your hardest work ethic.