Below is a piece written by Conor Twomey, Head Coach of Bishopstown Tennis Club about their Tennis Academy following a very successful year on the junior circuit. 

Overall Bishopstown has had a very successful year, not only in Juniors but in Seniors and in Veterans. Recently, Cork Blog asked me would i be interested in mentioning a few words in relation to our coaching set up as we have had such a thriving year. To fully understand our coaching set up i have to take you back in time to thoroughly appreciate what we have achieved.
     I'm in my car and i'm driving home. It's eight o'clock in the evening and i've just had my interview to become the head coach of Bishopstown Tennis Club. I'm feeling confident about how things went but not overly certain, but i believe i've laid out a good plan of where i would like the club to be in three to five years time. The following day, the call comes through, i've got the job as head coach of Bishopstown Tennis Club. The first thing to do is to assess where we are at as a club, primarily the Junior side. Over the next few weeks i begin to realise that i am up the creek without a paddle and a boat that's beginning to fall apart, and the crocadiles are baying for me. We have 1 mini tennis net, 3 soccer balls (punctured) and a couple of furry tennis balls that resemble candy floss from the circus. Numbers are just over a hundred, performance players are thin on the ground, if any. Three of our best Juniors have had to leave the club as there is not a high enough standard for them to play with.
    
There were plenty of negatives so i had to look for the positives and it was only when i started looking that i realised there were plenty of beneficial aspects to the club. We had a fantastic new chairman, Robert Murphy, and we had some brilliant people involved in the Junior side. Straight away i knew from my experience in sport at any level, you need to have a great team with you so i began assembling a team. The first priority was to increase the numbers attending coaching and the best way to do this was to start making it fun again, the best person i knew to do this was Conor Clarke. In my opinion he is the Raffal Nadal of fun and personifies and is the template of what everything a coach should aspire to be. Fia O'Farrell also came on board as a Junior co-ordinator and tennis assistant and between the three of us with the support of our Junior committee and chairman, we spent a bit of money, bought some new equipment, pumped up the music, blew up the inflatable targets and started having fun with the kids. Within the year our numbers had increased by a third. Stage one complete.
   
We're in the car and we're driving home. It's 3 o'clock in the afternoon. We've just been hammered by Bandon in an U10 friendly. To say the atmosphere in the car is tense would be an understatement. Silence is deafening, followed by loud thumps on the dash board by both myself and Conor Clarke. We swear that day, that this will never, ever happen again.
    Year 2 - due to the increasing numbers attending coaching, we are able to expand our coaching staff  . The first quality i look for in a coach is passion, passion for the game, passion for coaching but most of all someone who truly cares. In steps Cian Blake. Here was a guy with very little experience at coaching and also very young, but  has played and helped coach his brother  jaimy to a high level and shown a hunger and a drive to succeed. They are exactly the qualities we are looking for to take us to the next level. It is at this point  myself, Conor Clarke, Cian Blake  reinvent Bishopstown Juniors to become Bishopstown Junior Tennis Academy.
   
Over the next two years we set up Academy coaching where each of our coaches, coach the Academy on a voluntary basis throughout the year. It is in these extra sessions that we begin to develop and nurture the fine young tennis athlethes that we have now. Their results are a testament to the hard work that people have put in but most of all a reflection of what outstanding players they are. We are often congragulated and praised on what a great job we've done, but i don't think we've done a great job, we've just done our job. That's what we're paid to do. To me, the real hard work is the work put in by the players and the fantastic volunteers we have in our club. People like Denise McCarthy, Paula Milanne, Michelle Johnston, Caroline Moloney, Robert Murphy, Sandra Lane, Mary foyle , Catherine quinn , mary mountjoy , in fact the list is endless.
   
We're in the car and we're driving home. It's four o'clock in the afternoon and the last tournament of the year (Ballinlough) has just finished. We've just won the boys U9's, runner up girls U10's, winner boys U10's, winner and runner up girls U11's and winner girls U13's. There is a silence in the car, but not the silence that was experienced two years ago on the way home from Bandon. This silence reflects a feeling of those summer evenings where you're sitting down, relaxed, watching the sun set with not a care in the world. Absolute bliss.

Im in my car ,just pulling in to work , and right now there is coaching six days a week with six coaches and a waiting list for coaching. A fully equipped shed  that would be the match of any academy anywhere in the world, and each player has a strong identity with their club and I would hope proud members of Bishopstown Junior Tennis Academy. Where we go from here is down to the energy and drive of everyone pulling together to achieve one goal, which is to be recognised as one of the best clubs in Ireland.As i speak our coaches travel every weekend to different squads all over munster to enhance their skills and become better coaches which in turn will produce better players which is our only goal . This is a great sport with some great people. Ask not what your club can do for you but what you can do for you're club, and anything can be achieved.

Conor Twomey

Head coach Bishopstown tennis club