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Down the Line Tennis academy hoodies available now!

In stock now are our new Dunlop hoodies (academy logo on the back) and available in junior and adult sizes
Junior hoodie £27.00
Adult hoodie £32.50

Speak to Rowan or Nicky to order or email us at

August Newsletter 

Welcome to our August newsletter - keeping you informed on everything going on at Down the Line Tennis Academy all in one place

Tournament series - Adults & Juniors

We will be running a series of tournaments starting September for Red, orange and yellow ball juniors plus an Adult tournament series on Wednesdays and Saturdays. 

Please put dates in your diary and enjoy some fun but competitive tennis. 

If you have children who are committed to their lessons then don’t miss this opportunity on your doorstep to encourage them to compete. Tennis is a game and we want them to enjoy playing regardless of the win or loss at the end.

It couldn’t be easier to enter, just scan the QR code and choose your dates. Just £10 per tournament to enter. 

New In... Tecnifibre racquets!

In addition to our comprehensive range of Dunlop racquets, balls, bags and K-Swiss shoes the pro shop now stocks Tecnifibre racquets as well. World #1’s Iga Swiatek and Daniil Medvedev both use Tecnifibre and we have their racquets and more in stock including junior racquets!

Welcoming Ian Watson to the team…

From 1st August we welcome a new coach to the team. Ian Watson is a LTA Registered Professional coach and has held head coach positions, roles for the LTA and developed many players over the years including the current #319 ATP player Billy Harris. 

As a player Ian reached 3 National finals as a junior and played junior Wimbledon and Wimbledon Qualifying. More recently Ian reached the last 16 in the Worlds Over 35s Championships.  

Ian will be taking adult and junior coaching groups as well as individual lessons.

For Ian’s full bio and contact details please go to

Summer tennis camps…

There is still time to book your child into a tennis camp. There is now also the option of booking individual sessions. Single sessions can’t be booked on ClubSpark so please email us directly for this. 

For details on all camps please go to

September schedule…

Next week the Youth Tennis September courses will be available to book and you’ll receive an email about this. In general the schedule is remaining the same with some additional Sunday classes.


During the last week of term the courts were closed for maintenance and a full wet clean. This got rid of marks on the court made by wearing the wrong footwear.

The University requires that when playing on the indoor courts tennis specific shoes must be worn and they may ask players not wearing tennis shoes to vacate to the outdoor courts. Plus please remember injuries can so easily happen without the lateral support of a tennis shoe due to the constant demands of changing direction in our sport.

If would like to look at the pro shops’s range of great K-Swiss shoes at great prices then please call/text  07843 581883 to let us know when you want to come down to ensure we’re open.

No food/drink

Please only bring water onto court. The University asks that no coffees, cans of drink or food are brought into the centre. Thank you!

Lost property 

Quite a lot of water bottles and clothing gets left on the courts. Just so you know we keep it in the tennis centre as have a lost property box there but if the cleaners find it then there is also a lost property box at reception.

The Layers of Development.

If only I knew what I know now 20 years ago! Over the last 30+ years I have had a finite role to play in the development of 10’s of high level performance players (juniors and adults), that said I have only taken a few players from the start of their journey to them competing in professional events. One of the main things I have learnt over the span of my coaching career is development must be specific to the player in front of you. I remember doing my “LTA Pro Course” in ’94 and there were several buzz acronyms, a couple of which have stayed with me, the first is SMART:






This acronym is still totally current and relevant when developing junior players. For example when working with a 8/9 year do you work on the open stance backhand just because you see it used on the tour to great effect. There are several things to consider:

Has the young player already a solid grasp of the inline linear stroke?

Is the player physically capable yet?

Will the shot improve or confuse the player?

Will it help the player build confidence?

Is it a realistic addition at this age?

Is the timing right?

Now don’t get me wrong I’m not saying you can’t teach some 8/9 year olds open stance backhands but it certainly wouldn’t be my go to. Timing of development is key and something I firmly believe is that all players have their own journey hence what we teach one young player may have no relevance to another. The second acronym which has stayed with me is KISS:





Basically how I interpreted this was to teach the basics first and only when players are fully ready add another layer to the development of any part of their game. I for one haven’t got it right all the time with every player I have worked with but now more than ever I focus on simplicity and foundations that can be layered and built upon to develop a player with not just a serve, forehand, backhand and volleys but a toolkit with numerous different forehands to deal with the infinite different incoming balls a player will receive in any given match.

The game development of any player is always work in progress, and as much as we may hear there is never a complete and perfect player. There are always things that can be worked on and developed.

Not watching is sometimes better than watching!

As we all know as players, parents and coaches tournaments are an environment of heightened tension/anxiety for all. 

Everybody has expectations which rarely match and this can lead to disappointment and un-necessary conversations within a players inner circle. 

As a Father/Coach I have been trialling a different approach whereby I don’t watch my daughter’s matches. “why would you do that?” I hear you say. Well for the following reasons:

  1. A player can feel a parents nervous tension which can be transferred
  2. If the parent doesn’t watch, the player focuses totally on the task 
  3. The player plays totally for themselves rather for themselves and their parents (split focus never a good thing)
  4. The player becomes more independent and looks to their inner resolve rather than external support.
  5. Post match analysis is so much better. The parent hasn’t watched, so the player has to articulate all the information

As parents we tend to do more of the post match analysis not knowing any of the subtle nuances that have gone on within the players mind. With the above scenario the analysis is totally player led and we get to listen which actually is such a better learning method as the player has been empowered.

I’m not saying this is something I will do permanently but certainly use off and on during the course of my daughter’s journeys.

Anyway just thought I would throw this one out there for some of you to give it a go! 

The Benefits of a Diverse Approach to Coaching.

There are lots of conversations about 70% of points being won in shots 1-4 but without doing technical work, which give shots repeatability and resilience, we limit the success in a player’s execution of specific patterns of play. Imagine a young player with a poor serve due to technical issues; they are unable to work simple patterns without first having an effective stroke which in most cases comes from a high degree of technical proficiency. To develop the skills required  takes a considerable amount of time and repetition with lots of  guidance and feedback from a coach.

If a coach is training/coaching high level young players it’s great to work with more of a games based approach and indeed focusing on shots 1-4, but this isn’t to say a coach will never do a purely technical session isolating specific needs of a player in order to further develop their ability to execute a game plan. 

Every player has bespoke needs and there is no exact formula to maximise a player’s potential and learning. Personally I like to coach using aspects of many different philosophies. Its very easy to get wrapped up in a specific methodology and then miss valuable learning opportunities which coaches from different backgrounds and tennis cultures are advocating.

Having a diverse approach to coaching will help players find what works for them and ultimately take greater ownership of what they do.

The balance of volume and quality!

In a high performance programme both quality and volume are accepted requirements but there is a tipping point at which volume may become mindless, counter productive and in some cases damaging.

How do we define quality training?

I would say quality training is: purposeful and deliberate - a player knows what the intention and theme of a session is and then is structured and delivered to challenge the player

Good intensity and Energy - This is brought by player and coach and can quite often be linked to culture (this could be a geographical culture or culture of the coach/academy and player(s)) specific, measurable and relatable -  This is a coaches understanding of the player’s game and the ability to communicate. a player needs to understand the process and what it will achieve.

How do we avoid mindless volume?

Training in high player to coach ratio sessions should not be the norm. Occasionally is fine  but in general this is used for volume and hitting with peer group.

Hence work in focus groups of 2-4 players.

Structured and progressive lesson planning by coach/academy with clear effective delivery of information.

We must also schedule in rest and recovery including days off, sometimes those extra couple of hours on court on a day off can do more harm. Fatigue can lead to frustration which can lead to lower confidence which may effect performance.

Finally training cultures of the coach and player(s) need to align and only at this point will real quality work happen.

Under the Microscope!

We take our children to squads, we watch

We take our children to 1-2-1 lessons, we watch

We take our children to tournaments, we watch

On top of all this one or more coaches may watch

When I was a junior there were nowhere near as many parents watching squads, lessons and tournaments, in fact many of us made our own way to tournaments via public transport. Obviously there are pro’s and cons to both scenarios but the anxiety of being judged was far less in my day which allowed for a greater freedom of expression and creativity. I look back at on court behaviour 30+ years ago and to be honest it was worst than today but was this a bad thing? We had so many characters that developed into highly successful independent adults who have had and are having incredibly varied and fulfilling careers. 

The thing is are we wanting to develop independent, problem solving autonomous adults or young people who continuously look for approval and to be given the answers to life’s many questions?

Something to try:

Drop your young player off at a squad, a 1-2-1 lesson or a tournament and leave them. This will empower them giving them the responsibility for their own actions. To begin with this may be difficult for both the player and parent but over time will greatly increase a players confidence and ability to look after themselves and make decisions independently.

Questions at pick up:

Did you enjoy yourself?

What did you learn?

What were you proud of?

You don’t need to ask, “did you win/lose?” a player will volunteer that information, also if that’s the first question asked it sends out a very clear message that this is the single most important point!

When we (parents) watch we tend to talk to a young player post a session or match about what we saw, when surely we should be listening to the players experience and how it was for them. 

Just a few thoughts while sitting on my hotel bed as Ava goes off to play her first round at Bolton. 


I am so proud of everything we have achieved at York St John University Sports Park over the last 5 years. Our long term vision was always to have an indoor tennis facility which was accessible to all and after a lot of meetings, discussions, proposals, business plans etc we finally have our amazing centre. Believe you me, persuading a national governing body and a university to invest over £1 million in your dream is no mean feat. 

A massive thank you has to go to York St John University and Rob Hickey Chief Operating Officer for seeing, believing and supporting our vision and the LTA (Paul Sheard, Paul Bennet and countless others) for their “Transforming British Tennis Together” scheme which gave us a vehicle to base our project on.

This project is a success for everyone, York St John University, The LTA, Down The Line Tennis Academy, the community but most of all for Tennis as now we truly have a 365 days a year accessible venue in York for everyone to enjoy the sport I have loved since being a young boy.


2020 our story so far........

2020 was always destined to be a game changer of a year for DTL Tennis with planning permission granted for a 3 court indoor tennis facility with all stake holders agreed on all aspects of the build. 
On 23rd March a national lockdown was announced by the government due to the rapid spread of a novel virus called “Corona” and DTL Tennis was closed along with all other non-essential business. This also meant that there would a delay on the build. As with everyone else in the UK this meant very uncertain times for us. 
8 weeks later, after a glorious spring with no rain and seemingly great tennis weather, lockdown restrictions were eased and we were allowed to start coaching again under strict guidelines, which we were happy to adhere to as me and the coaching team were just happy to be back on court.
By the beginning of June we got the exciting news that construction would start mid June and would not be effected by any COVID 19 restrictions so a completion date was set for the end of November 2020. We felt this was very ambitious but as my birthday is on St Andrews Day felt it was fate!
Coaching over the summer months was very busy albeit very different as schools were closed so daytime was much busier and evenings quieter, TBH this was a real treat for us coaches as it allowed us the luxury of working closer to a 9-5 working day.
Slowly the country opened up and various restrictions were eased unfortunately this led to a rise in COVID infections and the rate of transmissions. On November 5th we we asked to lockdown again for 4 weeks to slow down the virus spread and to ease the burden on our amazing NHS. 

This time lockdown didn’t seem so daunting as we’d been here before and of course the big incentive that when we come out of lockdown on 5th December we would be able to launch a new chapter as the indoors would be finished.........

Ideas to help motivate!

Shadow tennis is such a great thing to do when we aren't able to get on a tennis court. Really focus on your technique and using the correct footwork, stances and dynamic balance. There are also some S&C videos and are just designed to give you ideas, you can add to them and be creative. Keep checking back as we'll be adding more soon. 

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