Good morning Lynton Joseph, its great to have you here today! Could you please introduce yourself and your tennis history to our audience?
Hi Mark, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you. On a personal level, tennis was something I first started in 1977 and have been involved in ever since. The AATC – Australasian Academy of Tennis Coaches was founded in 2010 (www.aatc.tennis).
Since inception we have trained over 1850 coaches globally, we are based in 8 countries and we are endorsed by the ESTESS Athletic University. We have 35 partners and affiliates and we have achieved all this without any funding or support. We are extremely proud of our current standing and what we offer in the industry.
Perfect, thanks very much Lynton! Firstly, how has COVID-19 been affecting you and your day to day life and running AATC?
COVID-19 is now a way of life. Sure, we had overseas courses cancelled, local courses impacted, but that’s life. We have used this time to invest in AATC. We already had an online learning platform, and within 3 days of lockdown, we were the first body to launch an online Level One Coaches Certification Course with the option to complete the Face to Face component when it was safe to do so.
As CEO of AATC, I personally phoned 912 of our current and past members across the globe to check in and touch base during lockdown. And what a great experience that was as I learnt so much about our AATC Coaches, what their struggles were, what their focus was and what their goals are.
We also worked on solidifying a few of our projects and offerings. Our Global Tennis Awards have been delayed and we have extended the application process for the event later this year in Melbourne. We worked alongside the PTCA In Australia and Europe, re wrote our courses at the Level 0, 1 and 2 levels. We have nearly completed our revamped High Performance Level 3 course of which details will be released shortly. I guess you can say, any affect COVID-19 had on AATC was only positive.
Congratulations on AATC’s 10 year anniversary! What celebrations did you have planned and has this pandemic changed these plans?
We turned 10 prior to the pandemic, but we always wanted to keep it low key, yet still respect, reflect and appreciate the journey we have been on. Our 10 year anniversary video can be found on our You tube channel which we think sums up the company www.youtube.com/c/aatctennis
When we reflect, everything is put into perspective. The trust put into us from our coaches who have completed the courses, head coaches who have sent their assistants to us to the board who do an amazing job behind the scenes to ensure AATC is a Quality Coach Educator.
It is important to understand what you stand for, and live and breathe that. We are on this earth for such a short time, so we must live our life with all our values and beliefs intact. Tennis is a sport that was invented in the 12th Century by the French, so why should anyone try to own the sport. We are just custodians and as our motto says, ‘opening the doors to tennis’ which translates to providing opportunity. There can never be any barriers, only opportunity and this is what we are most proud of.
One of the reasons of this interview is to announce the partnership between SportsProsConnect and AATC formerly… What does this partnership mean for the AATC coaches and opportunities in the future?
Over the past year and a bit, we have seen SportsProsConnect grow and most importantly connect with the industry in a unique way. You have done an exceptional job Mark. Our partnership is all about connecting people, fostering relationships and providing support. I think during our first conversation last year we could see the synergy that has culminated in where we are today. You should be very proud of what you have achieved Mark and we are very proud to be one of your partners.
There are several coaching organisations out there such as yourselves. How do you feel AATC stands out from the crowd and what do you do to maintain that reputation?
We are likened to the Koi Fish of Japan. We don’t succumb to outside pressures. Like the Koi Fish, we swim against the stream and we know our coaches are coaches who have the ability to think outside the box and make decisions for themselves with the intention of benefiting the industry. I imagine if you raise a child correctly, you would want them to make their own decisions and not be told what they should do.
We pride ourselves in the fact that we have not only lasted 10 years, but have established ourselves as one of the leaders in providing ‘Quality’ Coach Education. For us it certainly isn’t a numbers game. Attaining our certification is worth something. Something coaches strive for. And being endorsed by the ESTESS Athletic University, a line has truly been drawn in the sand in terms of quality. We are a premium provider of Coach Education.
As mentioned earlier, ringing each and every member, shows that we are a human company. We do care about our coaches, we do want to be a part of their journey, and we want them to know we are only an email, or a phone call away. We also scheduled 29 zoom sessions to connect with our global base, for no other reason than to connect and touch base during this lockdown.
Our courses are cost effective and the most practical going around. The AATC courses and programs are delivered by experienced business operators / coaches actively working in the field. Our membership provides incredible value for money when you measure it up against the others. AATC facilitators are made up of Grand Slam players, ATP, WTA and High Performance Coaches. We are very selective about our team, but we believe we have always set the bar high.
We currently recognise all other certifications and qualifications acquired elsewhere for anyone looking to come across and be a part of our growing family. But like the Koi fish, we hope these coaches are problem solvers and able to think for themselves. Coaches are in a position of privilege.
We also have a well-established internship program whereby our partners offer domestic employment opportunities to name a few of our extra-curricular offerings.
Finally, as changes are being made and tennis is beginning to start up again, how do you think the pandemic has affected tennis and what will it look like in the future?
This pandemic has shown that there are more important things in life. Yes, the coach’s livelihood has been affected, and despite being role models, we have been introduced to the real heroes. Professional sport has ceased, we survived, our coaching has ceased, but we are surviving, being able to hit a ball over the net is currently no more, yet we find things to do. We need to really appreciate this situation we are in. Recognise that the Health Care workers, the Essential services, the person working at the supermarket, the postal workers, our enforcement agencies and the like are the real heroes.
From a Coach Educator perspective, AATC has shown leadership off the court whilst others have been complacent. We have been creative in lockdown and we have stood up and led during this pandemic. We have upskilled ourselves and worked with our coaches.
Tennis is a privilege, as is teaching. It is not a right. This pandemic should at the very minimum have people asking the ‘what’ and the ‘why we do things’ questions. If you took tennis away from me, then I would find something else to do. Is it wishful thinking to ask all this negativity we are presented with in our industry is followed up with solutions? I mean, as tennis coaches, aren’t we meant to problem solve every day?
Forget tennis if you can’t learn to be compassionate, patient, understanding and resilient. AATC is a part of the solution and I for one, want to meet and listen to every coach out there that has a story to tell. Yours in Tennis
Thank you very much for taking the time to chat with me today Lynton. Please feel free to reach out to Lynton about AATC or any of the topics mentioned in this interview. His email address is email@example.com and the AATC website address is https://www.aatc.tennis/
Likewise if you would like to be interviewed in this format on a topic of your choice, please dont forget to contact Mark Wylam via Whatsapp on +353867922188 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Wylam (Owner Sportsprosconnect.com)