No limits: A love of tennis inspires Andrea Buckeridge
From grassroots to Grand Slams, volunteer to executive level, the growing number of women occupying off-court roles in tennis set an important benchmark in the sport.
Healthy, challenging, social and offering many opportunities for development, there are few pursuits that provide a more positive pathway for girls and young women as tennis.
And while many might consider the benefits in the context of a playing career, it resonates equally for the many women who are shaping the sport in a range of professions off the court.
From grassroots to Grand Slams, volunteers to executives, women are strongly represented in a range of important positions. And it’s perhaps unsurprising that as many vigorously pursue equality and further opportunity, they are most inspired by other women in the sport.
Andrea Buckeridge, the Head of Women and Girls at Tennis Australia, recalls how her love of tennis started at age eight as she watched her mother and sister enjoy the game at the club adjacent to the family home.
“This was the beginning of a lifelong love of sport,” says Buckeridge, who completed her coaching qualification while studying at university and worked part-time as a coach for more than 15 years.
As her career expanded, Buckeridge valued the many practical skills she’d developed in tennis. Those she’d learned in gaining her coaching qualification, for example, were transferable to a role as a secondary school physical education and science teacher.
Joining Tennis Australia as Women’s Tennis Manager more than 25 years ago, Buckeridge focused on advancing women’s tennis in participation, tournaments, including management of the Australia Fed Cup team and several tournament director roles.
Returning to the organisation after a maternity leave break, Buckeridge – who had also established the first Sport Science Advisory group – transitioned into coach education and coach development.
The Melburnian is now drawing on the passion developed in a lifetime of tennis experiences.
“The opportunity to move into the Head of Women and Girls role a few years ago allowed me to circle back to where I started,” she relates.
“In my current role I am driving the implementation of the Tennis Women and Girls strategy to achieve our vision of no limits for women and girls, on and off the court.
“Our focus is on increasing the participation of women leading and playing tennis and ensuring our tennis communities are places where women and girls have an equal voice and are welcoming, safe and inclusive for all.”
Buckeridge notes the many ways women can pursue rewarding roles in tennis.
“There are so many different opportunities to get involved in the sport, either as a volunteer or in paid roles – from playing, coaching, officiating to administration,” she explains.
“Tennis provides opportunities to step into leadership roles as a coach, official or (within the) local tennis community. Tennis is also leading the way in respect to gender equality both on and off the court.
“It’s a truly global sport. As a player, coach, official or administrator you can travel and work with people from across the world. In my various roles, I’ve had the opportunity to travel to Indonesia, Russia, UK, Netherlands, South Africa, Fiji, New Zealand and Japan.”
The full version of this article appears in the June-July edition of Australian Tennis Magazine.
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