Robin Jamieson is inspiring a new generation of tennis players in North Otago. He chats to Kayla Hodge about his passion for the sport.
Q Tell me about how you became involved in tennis, Robin.
I first got involved with tennis when I was 11. I got a racquet for Christmas that year and started hitting the ball against the beat board at my local primary school, teaching myself how to play from there. It was hard to beat the wall — the ball kept coming back!
Q So then how did you become involved in North Otago Tennis?
I joined the North Otago Tennis committee, I think, around 2001. I was there as a representative from the Southern sub-association. I’ve held various roles over the years, from club captain, committee member, senior representative team selector, vice-president, president, and now junior representative.
Q Any career highlights?
Representing North Otago, winning our closed champs a few times and winning the Otago and North Otago open doubles titles.
Q More recently, you’ve been heavily involved with the junior side of North Otago Tennis. How did that come about?
I really just started being involved last season with the juniors as my daughter, Connie, decided she would like to give it a try. I thought if I was going to be there I may as well help out, and enjoyed seeing the kids of all ages and abilities just getting out on court, and having some fun as an individual and with their friends.
Q How has the junior side changed throughout the years?
The juniors have changed a lot, as has tennis in general. North Otago organises all the competitions for juniors and seniors and the numbers have fluctuated for both through the years.
I am encouraged by the current numbers of around 100 juniors, an improvement on recent years, and the programmes we have put in place to bring players through from our Hot Shots programmes run by our coach, Steve Dries, in Oamaru, and our parents organising and delivering Hot Shots Community Play in Omarama and Twizel. A big thank you to all the volunteers who help out. Oamaru’s Hot Shot players then progress to our junior match play competition on a Wednesday, then hopefully through to the senior competition on a Thursday night.
Q You’ve taken coaching courses to help the junior players. What led you to do that?
I do it because I enjoy the game of tennis and think it is a game that anyone, from any stage of life and ability, from young to old, can play and have some fun. Really, I would like to pass on some of the skills I have learnt over the years to help them with their game.The previous courses I have taken are court refereeing, a community coaching course, coaching assistant course and I have just signed up for a junior development coach course, with Tennis New Zealand. I’m still waiting to hear back but if I am accepted, it will be over four blocks, being about 18 days of training, across six months. Once this is done I will be qualified to deliver Tennis Hot Shots, Cardio Tennis and Tennis Express. The course is recognised by the International Tennis Federation.
Q Why is being involved in the junior side of the sport important?
I think it is important to be involved because we can help children of all ages and abilities to play sport and the benefits that go with that . We can help with the physical enjoyment of playing, the social skills, and development that goes with it as well. We can also teach them what a good sport looks like as well.
Q What has been your proudest moment so far?
Probably just being able to help with people of all ages from juniors, adults and masters getting out on court with one another and having some fun — that is the best part of sport.
Q Why would you recommend people get involved in tennis?
I think tennis is a great sport to get involved in as anyone can play and have fun. It doesn’t matter how old you are, and what shape you are in, it only takes two people to hit the ball backwards and forwards to each other. New Zealand is fortunate to have such a large amount of courts around the country so it is not hard to grab racquet and ring your mate to go out for a hit.
Q What would you like to see for the future of North Otago Tennis?
Just continue trying to grow as a sport, which is always hard for any club. But by doing this it’s keeping those people in the community having fun out on court playing the game of tennis.