2019 Grand Slam Coaches' Conference Speakers

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Simon Wheatley
As the LTA Performance Coach Education Manager for British tennis, Simon Wheatley is responsible for the development and management of the Level 4 and 5 High Performance qualifications and the continuous professional development program for the performance workforce across British Tennis. Simon was formerly the Coaching Resource Development Manager for the LTA where he was responsible for the development of coaching resources across participation and performance.
Jofre Porta
Jofre Porta
Throughout a remarkable coaching career, Jofre Porta discovered some of the world’s best players – including Carlos Moya, Rafael Nadal and Nuria Llagostera. Jofre is best known for his role coaching Moya from the Spaniard’s junior years, to his French Open victory in 1998 and subsequent rise to world No.1 in 1999.
Jelena Dokic
Jelena Dokic is an Australian tennis coach, commentator, writer and former player. Her highest ranking was world No. 4 in August 2002. She won WTA tour events on all surfaces during her career: hard, clay, grass and carpet. In the 1999 Wimbledon Championships the 16-year-old Dokic achieved one of the biggest upsets in tennis history, beating Martina Hingis 6-2, 6-0. This remains the only time the women's world No. 1 has ever lost to a qualifier at Wimbledon. Dokic would go on to reach the quarterfinals of that competition, only her second Grand Slam. Dokic rapidly ascended through the world rankings after her Wimbledon breakthrough, but her time in the world elite was beset by off-court struggles. Her relationship with her outspoken father and coach Damir, on whose advice she switched allegiance to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 2000, was the subject of much media speculation. She switched back to Australia in 2005, and would later accuse her father of physical and mental abuse in her 2017 autobiography. She made a serious return to tennis in 2008 and finished 2009 back in the world top 100, but thereafter struggled badly with form and injuries, and ceased playing professionally in 2014.
Frank Ponissi
As a player, Frank Ponissi played Jersey Flegg and Presidents Cup for Manly- Waringah (the Under 18s and Under 21s competition) and was captain-coach of several university teams in Sydney. He has since occupied varied and high- profile coaching roles in rugby, including with the Australian Rugby League Kangaroos, Manly Waringah Rugby League Club, French rugby union clubs Clermont Auvergne Defence Coach and Brive, the South African Springboks and Northampton English Premiership Rugby union club. He is now General Manager of Football at the Melbourne Storm, a role he has held since 2007.
Nicole Pratt
Nicole Pratt
Nicole played professionally for 19 years reaching a career high singles ranking of 36 and 18 in doubles. She was a member of the Fed Cup team for 10 years and competed in the Sydney 2000 and Athens 2004 Olympic Games. Nicole began working for Tennis Australia in 2008 coaching Casey Dellacqua to a career high singles ranking of 39 and 11 in doubles. Appointed the Head Coach of the AIS Women’s program in 2011-2014. In 2015 she was appointed the Head of Women’s Tennis for TA, during this year Nicole coached Daria Gavrilova to a career high ranking of 36. Nicole is a Tennis Australia High Performance Coach as well as serving on the WTA coaches’ committee.
Carl Maes
One of the world’s most experienced and respected coaches of female players, Carl Maes who holds a Master in Sport Science and Kinesiology, joined the Belgian Tennis Federation in 1992. He worked with ATP players Xavier Malisse and Kristof Vliegen when they were juniors but is best known for his role as coach to Kim Clijsters, former world No.1 in both singles and doubles. Carl first worked with Clijsters when she was 12 years old, and he coached her for more than 10 years in total throughout her career. As Belgium’s Fed Cup captain, he led the team to the 2006 final.
Craig O'Shannessy
Craig is an Australian tour coach and Director of the Brain Game – a sports science website specialising in video analysis of matches that teach dominant patterns of play. Recognised as a world leader in teaching tennis tactics, he is the strategy analyst for the ATP World Tour, WTA Tennis, the New York Times and Tennis Magazine. Craig has researched thousands of matches using his unique Dartfish match tagging software to unlock the secrets of our game and uncover specifics and percentages that really matter. He shares this knowledge through his website and also on court with players at all levels.
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Liz Peers
Elizabeth Peers is a former Australian professional tennis player, who also credits herself as a Coach, Mentor, Administrator and Volunteer. Along with her coaching experience of 30 years, during Elizabeth’s professional career she has competed 3 times at the Australian Open, and once at both Wimbledon and the US Open. Last year she was also inducted in to the TCAV Hall of Fame. Continuing with the passion for tennis, Elizabeth is the mother of professional tennis players John Peers and Sally Peers.
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Kane Dewhurst
Kane Dewhurst is the Director of Vida which currently operates tennis programs and playing opportunities from 15 clubs, venues & schools in Victoria, Australia. Through Vida Tennis and sister companies Vida Footy, Vida Fitness and Vida Mind, they see in excess of 6000 active participants per week. Kane started his coaching and business pathway after playing professionally for 6 years, became a Master Club Professional, a Talent Development Coach and coached multiple National title winners. But his real passion is growing people, to grow a business. The Vida network now has a team of more than 75 with a clear induction program, coach development pathway and team assistance program. These are some of the key drivers of sustainable growth.
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Professor Cliff Mallett
University of Queensland
Kody Thompson
CEO Lighting Sites
Tim Perkins
Senior Associate, Cut Through Coaching and Consulting
Machar Reid
Head of Innovation, Tennis Australia
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Emma Doyle
Speaker, Mentor and Coach
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 11:  on May 11, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Robert Cianflone - CA/Cricket Australia/Getty Images)
Darren Holder
Elite Coaching Manager, Cricket Australia
Associate Professor Shane Pill
Flinders University

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Dr. Brendan SueSee
University of Southern Queensland
Dr Christina Curry
Director of Secondary Education, Western Sydney University
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Dr. Mitchell Hewitt
Education Project Manager, Tennis Australia
Matt Smith
LTA Coach Engagement Manager
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Bill Riddle
Director of Tennis, Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club
Helen Rice
Helen Rice Tennis School
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Vicky Lee
Director, Slamin Tennis & Fitness
Adam Wharf
Head of Performance Tennis, inspire2coach


Jay Deacon

Jay Deacon is part of the Coach Development QLD team, serving as the current Coach Development Coordinator. A longstanding Tennis Australia Club Professional and USPTA Pro 2 Professional, Jay is also a Tennis Australia Hot Shots Mentor, Cardio Tennis Mentor, Teach Ambassador, Learning Facilitator, Lecturer at University of Queensland.

Fun Fact: Jay is godson of Harry Hopman!

Chris Bates

In his role as Talent Director and in extensive roles as a teacher (a qualification he added to his repertoire back in Australia), mentor and coach, Chris’s drive to educate and inform is what sets him apart in this industry. Passionate and caring, Chris started Study & Play USA to offer students a service that would prepare and guide them for their journey to the US as well as support them with their college and sporting careers. Having trained and competed at an elite level as a sportsperson both in Australia and in the United States, Chris’s knowledge and opinion of college sports scholarships in the USA is well respected. Chris and his wife Alexia commenced Study & Play USA in 2004 and since then has been educating and informing thousands of Australians about how to advantage themselves of the Study & Play opportunity.

Matt Limpus

Matt is a Tennis Australia Club Professional and also holds a certificate in IV Training and Assessment. He has had 15 years coaching experience with Lifetime Tennis and other current venues include, Nudgee College Boondall, St. Michael’s Ashgrove, St. Joseph’s Nundah and St. Kieran’s Brighton. For the last 8 years Matt has been a Coach Developer with Tennis Australia.

Frank Calabria

Frank is the Director of Rising Star Tennis Academy and has been a coaching professional for more than 20 years in NSW and the ACT region. He assists Tennis Australia, schools and the ACT community in helping to nurture and develop upcoming ANZ Tennis Hot Shots providers, assist in developing awareness of ANZ Tennis Hot Shots in the community and also assists in contributing to how Tennis Australia help evolve the ANZ Tennis Hot Shots National Programs and initiatives into the future. Frank presented at the 2016 Grand Slam Coaches conference ANZ Tennis Hot Shots Masterclass.

Ignacio Crescini

Ignacio has been a first division player in Argentina since 1998 as well as being in the coaching environment since 2005 where he received his Certificate of Grade 1 from Argentina and the ITF. After arriving in Australia, Ignacio has been a Senior Assistant Coach at South Eastern Tennis Academy and Head Coach of Nottinghill Pinewood Tennis Club running the junior tennis program with many players achieving their first ranking points. He is now the Head Coach of MCC Glen Iris Tennis Club under the Director of Vida Tennis Kane Dewhurst. In this position he’s helped in developing the high performance squads at the club and an internal talent ID with many players inside the Super10s and also in the National program.

Tom George

Prior to accepting a role at Tennis Australia as National Academy Manager – WA, Tom had an exceptional junior tennis career as a 4 time National Champion, #1 ranked junior in Australia and A.I.S Scholarship holder. He joined the Auburn University Men’s tennis team in 2003 and led the Tigers to be a top 10 NCAA ranked program. Tom also played number 1 for Australia at the World University Games during that time. He graduated with a BSBA in Economics in 2006 and went on to be admitted to the Queensland Supreme Court as a lawyer after completing his Juris Doctorate law degree. Tom has captained junior Australian Teams and managed numerous International tours with some of the countries best athletes. Tom is passionate about the Wellbeing Program at Tennis Australia and believes that Wellbeing is everyone’s responsibility. At Tennis Australia the aim is to produce ‘Happy and emotionally healthy players, with a love of Tennis, who embrace the opportunities and thrive on the challenges – on and off court.’

Danielle Gescheit

Danielle is a Sport Science and Athlete Development Analyst at Tennis Australia. Her role includes managing the National Academy athlete management system as well as undertaking internal and external research. Part of her research portfolio includes reviewing the junior and professional tennis structure worldwide in partnership with the International Tennis Federation. Danielle is also the the Australian Fed Cup team manager. She is currently undertaking her PhD at Tennis Australia and Australian Catholic University with her research topic exploring the relationship of training loads, musculoskeletal function and shoulder injuries in elite, youth tennis players.

David Hodge

David Hodge is an organisational leader and career coach. He is the Director of Athletes Agency International, which specialises in driving a personalised U.S. College recruitment process for families worldwide. The certified agency focuses on education, features over 400 years of combined experience on staff and currently boasts a 100% success rate. As a Head National Tennis Coach for Tennis Australia, David oversaw player development in Queensland for 5 years. His coaching career including stops at Stanford University and the University of Colorado, the professional and ITF junior circuit as well as numerous high schools, academies and clubs.

David has served as Australia’s World University Games Coach and has presented, coached and contributed to publications all over the world. He earned a Bachelor of Science and was an All-American at Baylor University and has Club Professional and High Performance coaching qualifications with Tennis Australia and the United States Professional Tennis Association. As a professional player, David competed in the Australian Open and won numerous professional titles but his passions now lie in creating opportunities for others. He enjoys philanthropic pursuits and has been heavily involved in numerous charitable projects.


Matt Limpus

Matt is a Tennis Australia Club Professional and also holds a certificate in IV Training and Assessment. He has had 15 years coaching experience with Lifetime Tennis and other current venues include, Nudgee College Boondall, St. Michael’s Ashgrove, St. Joseph’s Nundah and St. Kieran’s Brighton. For the last 8 years Matt has been a Coach Developer with Tennis Australia.

Matt Smith

Matt Smith is an LTA British Tennis Level 5 Master Club Coach, LTA Tutor and former British Coach of the Year, with over 16 years of coaching and leadership experience. Currently Matt is in the position of LTA Coach Engagement Manager as part of the British Tennis Coach Development team, leading on coach learning and development. Prior to joining the LTA, Matt developed his own, award winning, tennis business at a rural 3 court club and went on to become the Head Coach at an International High Performance Centre (University of Bath), receiving an Hons degree in Tennis Management. Here he grew the tennis programme into the largest in the UK, with specialist expertise in 10&U player development, programming, sales and customer service – working as a coaching business consultant for developing tennis centres for the LTA.

In 2017 he embarked on a unique, once-in-a-lifetime, adventure delivering tennis to primary schools and orphanages to over 100 communities across 28 countries as part of a sponsored international Charity project named the ‘Mini Tennis World Tour’. With the project continuing today, it has given over 10,000 children access to tennis across the world.

Marc Sophoulis

Marc is currently holding the position as Head Coach at Melbourne International Tennis School (MITS) along with other roles such as Head Coach of Maribyrnong Sports Academy Tennis Program, Tennis Australia Coach Developer – Club Pro Coaching Course (VIC & SA), Richmond Football Club – VFL Assistant Coach/Director of Coaching and Tennis Correspondent at SEN Radio Melbourne. He holds qualifications in the Tennis Australia High Performance Course (Level 3), certificates in Sports Coaching and Training and Assessing and other notable accreditations such as GPTCA Level B Coach, USPTA Professional Coach and Level 2 AFL Coach.


Alistair Murphy

A Physical Performance Coach and the Academy Manager for Tennis Australia, Adelaide. Alistair has recently completed his PhD in exercise science, specialising in high performance youth development and competition preparation for tennis. Alistair is currently responsible for the design and delivery of the physical performance program of the National Academy in Adelaide. The program is designed to specifically tailor long-term athletic development for over 45 junior tennis players, ranging from 8 years through to 18 years, club level through to International juniors within the National Academy.


Chris Mahony

Chris has been working for Tennis Australia for 12 years. For the past 6 years, he has been Manager of the National Academy in Brisbane and prior to that, he was the National Coach in Melbourne. In addition to overseeing the staff in those National Academies, Chris coached many successful Australian players during their formative years such as Sally Peers, Kim Birrell, Ellen Perez, Zoe Hives, Isabelle Wallace, Kaylah McPhee, Andrew Whittington, Dayne Kelly, and Sean Berman. His experiences with several of those players forms the basis of his presentation today.

Prior to working for TA, Chris was the Head Coach of the University of Tennessee Men’s program. During his 7 years there, Tennessee was one of the most successful programs in the NCAA peaking at #2 in the national rankings after making the NCAA Team Final in 2001. As a player, Chris achieved ATP rankings in both singles & doubles peaking at #325, was a 2-time NCAA All-American peaking at #12 in singles & #1 in doubles, and was runner-up at junior Nationals in both the 18&U and 14&U age groups.


Alison Scott

Alison Scott is the Head Coach & Manager at the Thorneside Community Tennis Association, the National & QLD State Coach for players with an intellectual disability (PWID), Head Coach of the Australian ID Team since 2015, Tennis Australia Cardio Tennis Ambassador and a Wheelchair Tennis Development Coach.  With over a 22 years’ experience, Alison has expansive industry knowledge in coaching, player/program development and facility management.  In 2018 Alison was selected to attend the ASC “Women Leaders in Sport” workshop, the Tennis Australia Industry Leaders Workshop as well as presenting at several Tennis Australia coach and professional development workshops and courses.


Helen Rice

Helen is the owner/manager of the Helen Rice Tennis School (HRTS) established in SA in 1979. She is the head coach at Denman and Netherby Tennis Clubs in Adelaide, South Australia and the HRTS also coaches at O’Halloran Hill Tennis Club and at other various schools. Helen is a Tennis Australia Club Professional and has been coaching for over 39 years. Some of her most notable points include Newcombe Medal Winner 2017 for Club Coach Excellence, Board member of the Fed Cup Foundation, a presenter at both the TA Grand Slam Conference and Grand Slam Master Class Workshop and a mentor for TA ANZ Hot Shots and Cardio Tennis.


Gary Stickler

With many years of coaching experience, Gary has worked with Australian champions and world ranked players such as Pat Rafter, Jason Kubler and John Millman to name a few. He is a level 3 Coach and has presented at coaching conferences and workshops in Australia, Japan and Korea.

Georgina Vernon

Georgina Vernon is a current PhD candidate with Victoria University and a Performance Analyst at the Tennis Australia Brisbane National Academy where she assists coaches with the filming and coding of matches and training to help with athlete feedback.

Prior to starting with Tennis Australia, Gina spent 2 seasons as a Sport Science Intern at the Gold Coast Suns AFL Club while completing her Bachelor of Exercise Science and Honours at Griffith University. Her passion for sport science led her to start her PhD in 2016 with a focus on skill acquisition and specifically to investigate the factors that influence a tennis player’s ability to anticipate the serve. Gina aims to submit her thesis in 2019.


Peter Le Noury

Peter completed his undergraduate degree in Sport and Exercise Science at Victoria University. Throughout this degree, Peter gained valuable experience working with world leading professors in skill acquisition, and was employed by the Australian Institute of Sport AFL Academy, Cricket Australia and Tennis Australia. Further developing his knowledge of skill acquisition and factors leading to skill expertise, Peter was awarded an academic scholarship to complete an Honours degree focusing on the influence of working memory capacity on decision making skills in sport. Peter completed this degree with distinction and was offered a further academic scholarship to complete his PhD with Victoria University in conjunction with Tennis Australia. He is currently undergoing his PhD in enhancing perceptual cognitive skill in tennis using virtual reality technology. Peter has also developed valuable experience from his own participation in sport, representing Victoria in volleyball and athletics, as well as playing at state level in football, basketball and tennis. Peter also spent 5 months at the German Sports University where he studied sport psychology and underwent full time triathlon training with world leading athletes and coaches. Peter has been coaching tennis for 10 years and enjoys getting the most out of players both on and off the tennis court.


To view previous Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference speaker bio’s, follow the below links:

2018 Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference speakers

2017 Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference speakers

2016 Grand Slam Coaches’ Conference speakers