Our Director of Tennis, Sarah Thomas, talks about the life of a tennis player at Millfield Prep School and how her coaching team help the children have the best experience of tennis.
At Millfield Prep, our ultimate aim is to help pupils with a passion for tennis to be the very best they can be, whilst having lots of fun along the way!
Any child who is keen to try tennis has the opportunity to play at least three times a week all year round, whatever their age or ability, and can join our tennis squads and clubs. Our players range from beginners in the Reception class of Pre-Prep all the way up to National-level players, with our successful alumni having progressed onto the professional stage and gained Tennis Scholarships for top universities.
“Playing Tennis at Millfield Prep School was a wonderful experience that I will always be grateful for”, says Millfield Upper Sixth student Annabelle, who has been awarded a Tennis Scholarship at the University of North Florida and is currently ranked 19th Nationally at U18 level. “I loved the welcoming team environment, whilst the exceptional coaching and facilities allowed me to accelerate my development and also open up many future opportunities for me.”
We endeavour to instil nine attributes into our Millfield Prep Tennis players, which will help them transition successfully to adulthood: Teamwork, emotional skills, time management, problem solving, goal setting, communication, decision making, leadership and social skills.
“It is amazing, the coaches are brilliant, and I have improved so much this year. The coaches work us really hard and we all love it - it is just so much fun!” says current pupil Jamie, a Mini Green Squad and Somerset County player.
The School’s world-class sports facilities allow the children to train rain or shine all year round. With seven outdoor courts, three of which are floodlit, and one court which is covered with an all-weather bubble, our team of six LTA-approved coaches can deliver tennis lessons and squads throughout the year. During the summer term, players also use our 12 AstroTurf courts, and the top players have access to three indoor courts at Millfield Senior for their training.
Players are provided with an abundance of competitive experiences, should they wish to compete, and we host fixtures and tournaments throughout the year at Millfield Prep. Our pupils also enter local, county and national club and school competitions, including the Premier Division of National Club League, Year 7 and 8 National Schools Competitions and the Road To Wimbledon. We also run training camps, including an annual trip to Portugal which is a real highlight of the sporting calendar, and nominate players for County-level training.
“Millfield Prep has a wonderful atmosphere that I’ve never experienced before”, says former pupil Frankie, who is currently ranked 21st Nationally at U16-level. “The coaches and players are so welcoming, and the on-site facilities are amazing. I was really lucky to have been able to take part in the programme and it really benefitted my move to Millfield Senior and improved my tennis massively.”
We consider it of vital importance that the children’s training does not interfere with their academic studies. At Millfield Prep, we encourage all players to engage in the multi-sport programme to complement their tennis training and help them become well-rounded pupils. There are many opportunities to play tennis throughout the school week and our top players have individualised programmes tailored to their specific needs and academic and co-curricular commitments. Tennis sessions take place before school, at lunchtimes and after school, so that training does not coincide with other sports, academic lessons and activities. Promising players can also book an individual or group tennis lesson in their timetabled PE session and County-level players are also allowed to train in their Design Technology lesson. If a tennis player has a busy and strenuous weekend of competition, there is the option to miss their timetabled PE session in order to catch up with their academic work. We are very mindful of the importance of balancing academic and sporting load and will always support players and liaise with academic tutors to achieve the best possible balance for the children.
“I’ve always loved tennis, but I never found the right environment to thrive until I came to Millfield Prep”, says former pupil Emily, who is currently studying Sports Science and English at Loughborough University. “I was at Millfield Prep for just under two years, but they were the best years of my life so far. In that small period of time, I made friends for life and won the IAPS Tennis National Finals in singles and doubles for two consecutive years and then went onto compete nationally and was Tennis Captain at the Senior School. I also represented Millfield at hockey, netball and squash throughout my time at school, whilst pursuing my tennis and academics. I feel very lucky indeed to have had the whole Millfield experience.”
To ensure that our players can be strong, flexible and in great physical condition, we provide Athletic Development sessions twice a week, in addition to their training. These sessions also help with injury prevention, and our brilliant Millfield Physiotherapy team are also available to keep our players in top condition.
Current Year 2 Mini Red player Harry says, “I love playing tennis and my coaches are awesome. They teach me my top spin shots and how to do great serves. Me and my friends love tennis at school, it is so much fun!”
Interested in Tennis at Millfield Prep School? Why not come along to our next Open Day to meet our coaches, explore our facilities and boarding houses. Book your place here.