15 March 2023 | Tennis NSW

Having recently graduated from the Women Leaders in Tennis Program (WLIT), Mary Baker is committed to making change for youth players across the tennis NSW community.

Facilitated by Grand Slam Champion and Tennis NSW Women and Girls Lead, Casey Dellacqua, The Tennis Australia program aims to build the leadership knowledge, skills, and confidence of women leaders in their local tennis clubs through a range of online and face to face workshops.

The four-month program involves undertaking an Action Learning Project, where participants identify a key issue at their club and to problem-solve ways in which they can rectify the situation, ensuring you can channel their new-found knowledge into real-life practice.

Mary is currently the club president of North West Sydney Tennis and has been involved with the club for over 14-years. Despite already holding a senior position within her local tennis community, Mary was eager to jump at the opportunity to join the WLIT and further develop her mentoring and leadership skills.

“Tennis committees have traditionally been driven by men, and from my small exposure around the place, that seems to be true not just for our club previously, but many others,” Mary said.

“These sorts of courses are important because I don’t know that a lot of our female volunteers would have the confidence to step into the bigger positions, especially if they haven’t run a business or held a managerial position at a company before.”

When deciding on what to focus her WLIT Action Learning Project on, Mary chose to draw on her personal experience of falling out of love with tennis as a teenager, due to the sport being too individually orientated. Baker had noticed a similar pattern with teenage girls at North West Sydney Tennis and consequently became determined to find a way to keep teen girls in tennis, through focusing on creating a greater social space.

“The common similarity tends to be that social aspect … For me, there wasn’t a social space attached to tennis then and if you didn’t want to go on playing at a competitive level with all the strict commitments, there was no place where you could just join in when you felt like it.

“There wasn’t even a dedicated place at the club to congregate alongside girls and boys your own age if you wanted to just have some social interaction.

“Our clubhouse hasn’t been upgraded since the 1970s and it takes 100 of us squished in or more comfortably 50 to 60 people, but we have 1,000 members, so it really limits our ability to add a couple of table tennis boards or to create a social space for young people to hang out.

“I believe modern facilities will not only help us look more professional, but that it will give us the room to create these social spaces, that will hopefully give the girls an opportunity to make friends and get them to stick around so that we can get them into coaching and leadership positions.”

Congratulations Mary, the Tennis NSW community is extremely grateful for you passion and commitment to the sport.

Applications for the next WLIT program are now open. For more information and to apply click here or contact Gemma Eaton – Women and Girls Coordinator

[email protected]