Today we chat with Tennis for free coach, Yasmin Palejwala who; prior to attending University in Exeter and coaching at our Heavitree Park site, spent time supporting our Lichfield site.
Firstly, Yasmin tell us how you got into Tennis?
My parents encouraged my brother and I to start having lessons at the local club when I was 6 years old. The coaches provided such a welcoming and friendly atmosphere - I enjoyed being there so much that I am still a member there now, and play there regularly when I return home from university.
What made you decide to become a coach?
When I was 14, I started helping out my coach with some of the younger children during their core sessions. Following this, I was able to go on a Tennis Leaders course, put on by our head coach. I enjoyed it so much that I continued to pursue coaching over the years, to now having my Level 3 qualification and being able to lead programs like this.
What do you most enjoy about coaching tennis?
I love being a part of helping someone achieve something they never thought they would be able to do. Facilitating development as tennis players, and as people, is an incredibly rewarding thing to do, especially with younger players. Interacting with different people means I'm always learning too, and when the sun is shining, there's nowhere I'd rather be working!
Tell us a little bit about your community?
I moved to Exeter in 2017 for university, and Heavitree Park Tennis has allowed me to connect to the residents in Exeter, as well as the students. Our Tennis For Free community has a mix of ages, abilities and backgrounds. The program allows families to all be active together, whilst meeting others interested in doing the same thing. It has also helped people to make new friends, and meet up and play outside of sessions.
How did you become involved in Tennis for free?
I started working for Tennis for Free when it launched in Beacon Park, Lichfield. I was excited to find out that there was a similar set-up here in Heavitree that I could get involved with. I attended a few sessions here and met the existing coaches, and soon became a part of the team here too.
What do you like most about the program?
It makes tennis accessible for everyone. For those people who may not necessarily feel able to join a club, the program provides them with the right provisions and atmosphere to inspire confidence to have a go.
Describe a typical Tennis for free session?
The courts are split into adults/competent players and children, split into age groups.
The children's courts are based around games and fun drills that incorporate the fundamentals of the game in an interactive and engaging way.
The adults session is split into two halves. The first hour is where any guidance or teaching will be delivered in amongst games and drills that keep everyone hitting and working together. The second hour is based around doubles matchplay.
If you could describe what Tennis for free do in one sentence what would it be?
Tennis for free removes barriers and allows anybody to get involved with tennis. It also creates an atmosphere that welcomes all ages and abilities.
Finally, for someone wanting to get involved how do they get in touch?
More information is available on our website heavitreetennis.co.uk or our facebook page 'Heavitree Park Tennis.'