Brisbane, Australia, 8 March 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Nicole Kriz has hit the ground running as Director at the National Tennis Academy in Brisbane.

In her new role, Kriz is responsible for overseeing the program at the academy, which is the pinnacle in Tennis Australia’s talent development pathway for promising elite athletes aged between 16 and 23.

“I’m absolutely loving it,” said Kriz, who is the first woman to lead the academy. “We have a world-class team and environment here, so where else would you want to be?”

Kriz, who relocated from Sydney in January for the position, described her appointment as “a privilege and great responsibility”.

“The 16 to 23 age space is a crucial period for adolescents,” she explained. “It’s a very exciting time for their development on and off court, from both a personal and professional point of view.

“I really want to make a difference for the athletes and their families, with their experiences throughout the pathway, and work with our team to create a great environment for them.”

Kriz is determined to implement many of the key lessons she has learnt throughout a life-long involvement in tennis.

“It takes a village at the end of the day,” she said, noting the importance of a collaborative approach.

“It’s important to bring everybody on board, whether that’s the parents, private coach or whoever the greatest supporters are for the athlete. If we aren’t including them in that journey, it’s going to break down for the athlete.”

She also recognises “athletes are individuals, and all need different things”.

Kriz, a former professional player who achieved a career-high doubles ranking of No.104 in 2007, discovered her passion for coaching at a young age.

“When I was injured at 14, I started coaching and absolutely loved it,” she explained.

“To be able to see the impact that our sport can have on someone is an absolute privilege. Whether that was a kinder kid coming in for their first experience of tennis and then seeing them six years later being the junior tennis captain, or an adult, who we know are so busy, choosing to spend a bit of money on themselves to have a lesson and seeing what they got out of it.

“Being able to create that environment is something that I really loved from a young age and allowing athletes to get the best out of themselves, both personally and professionally, was absolutely a huge thrill.

“That’s probably why I wasn’t the greatest tennis player, because I care too much about other people and wanted to see other people do well.”

At age 27, Kriz made a full-time transition into coaching. She spent six years working at Newington College in New South Wales, before joining the Tennis Australia coaching team in 2016.

She worked closely with several of Australia’s top female athletes during this time, including Destanee Aiava and Priscilla Hon, was an inaugural member of the National Tennis Academy’s coaching team when it opened in Brisbane in 2020 and has spent the past year as the National Lead in Tours, Camps, College and Wellbeing.

A qualified high-performance coach, Kriz is now studying her honours in psychology at the University of New England.

“I’m finishing my thesis this year somehow. I don’t know how I’ll fit it all in, but that’s the plan,” Kriz said.

“The reason why I originally started studying psychology and getting into the wellbeing space, and why I’m a huge advocate for it is, because we know how vulnerable adolescents are at this period of their development.

“It’s a crucial period for them as people. Let alone without the stresses they start to experience going from a domestic to an international playing schedule. We can anticipate this, so a lot of the wellbeing side of it is preventative. If we’re not looking to proactively work on the wellbeing and the person, then we know the challenges they’re going to face.”

As Kriz settles into her new leadership role, this year’s International Women’s Day serves as a reminder of the ever-improving opportunities for women in the sport.

“I’ve stood on the shoulders of giants, there’s a few incredible women that have come before me,” Kriz noted.

“I’ve benefitted from women pulling me up and saying ‘let’s do this and let’s do it together’.

“Nicole Pratt, with her vision and her passion for women’s tennis, is the reason why I joined Tennis Australia. I was absolutely sold on where she wanted to take the game.”

Kriz also named colleagues Anna Livingston (former Head of People and Culture), Belinda Colaneri (Performance Coach Development Manager) and Andrea Buckeridge (Head of Women and Girls) as major inspirations and supporters throughout her coaching career.

“I can only say amazing things about Tennis Australia and my journey. I’ve had so much support,” she said.

“Now I have a huge responsibility to give back and create pathways for women like I’ve benefitted from, personally and professionally.

“There’s a whole bunch of young female coaches and staff that we need to continue develop and remove any limitations, if they do exist, for them. But I think our organisation does a great job of creating those pathways and supporting them.”

Kriz lists the President’s Women in Tennis Scholarships and launch of Coach Connect as positive initiatives which have further created “a sense of belonging” for female coaches across the country.

“The opportunities for females are definitely there,” Kriz said. “As a sport, it’s not necessarily an easy pathway because of the travel that comes with it at an elite level. But I think we’re doing a much better job of recognising and understanding those challenges.”

Find your way to play: Visit to get out on court and have some fun!