We keep reading how the tennis industry is 'aging out' and for the most part is dominated by a bunch of older male pros.
So we set out to find young female tennis professionals who are really flourishing in our male-dominated industry. Samantha Nickels hails from Canada and works in the UK. We asked her a bunch of questions in order to learn how she got into teaching tennis, why she did it, and if she would do it again.
I Can't Imagine Doing Anything Else
Questions for Samantha Nickel
TCB: Where were you born (city, country)?
SN: I was born in Toronto, Canada
TCB: How old were you when you started to play tennis and who introduced you?
SN: My dad introduced me to tennis when I was 12 years old after I received rackets for Christmas. I loved it and decided to focus on tennis 100%.
TCB: Did you play tennis in high school, college?
SN: I played tournaments during high school and then for my university team in Toronto.
TCB: Was tennis your first choice of work after school? If not, please explain.
SN: Yes, I continued coaching throughout university and knew that’s what I wanted to do when I finished. I’ve always loved teaching and knew that’s what I wanted to do when I was young. It’s a dream for me to be able to be around my passion everyday.. extremely rewarding.
TCB: When did you start teaching, tennis and why?
SN: I started teaching tennis when I was 14 at my club. My coach needed a hip replacement and wouldn’t be able to coach for a while, so he asked me to cover for him while he recovered. I knew straight away that coaching was for me.
TCB: What teaching certifications did you get?
SN: When I was 15 I got my Tennis Canada Instructors certification in Vancouver where I was living at the time. I was the youngest qualified tennis coach in the province.
I am also a qualified Level 3 coach through the Lawn Tennis Association here in London with full accreditation.
TCB: When and why did you move to London?
SN: I moved to London in September 2017 as my family had moved over a few years earlier. I could see that South West London was a prime tennis location and I would be able to pursue my coaching career even further. I started coaching in SW London just a week after arriving.
TCB: What is Courtfit, LLC?
SN: CourtFIT introduces a new way to communicate tennis to children of all ages, improves a player’s game within weeks and can inject new life into tennis players that may have been struggling to keep excited about this great sport. Fitness is at the heart of the company, which makes us such a unique company!
TCB: Do you like working at Courtfit, and why?
SN: I love working with CourtFIT! We are a small tight knit group, with coaches from all over the world. We all bring something different to the court and each offer something unique!
TCB: What are the challenges you are facing today?
SN: I cannot say that I am facing too many challenges as a coach today. However, it hasn’t always been like this. Up until about 6 months ago I was struggling for opportunities to grow and develop further for the company that I was working for. There was not a lot of recognition for the work I was doing, and although that’s not the reason I’m in this business, I sometimes felt under appreciated and disposable.
TCB: How difficult was it for you as a woman to have a career in male-dominated tennis? (Please elaborate, if you like)
SN: Luckily I didn’t have a problem finding a job in the tennis world! There is a huge demand for female coaches, and I found that with my background in competing and coaching from an early age gave me the edge to find a job right away.
TCB: What would you say to young women interested in tennis and undecided whether they want to make a career out of it?
SN: I would tell them to give it a go, even if they decide to go down a different road in the end. Tennis and coaching can open up endless opportunities for everyone. It is a challenging career where women will face many obstacles, but it is also extremely enjoyable and rewarding.
TCB: If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you choose the same career again?
SN: Absolutely! Being a teacher has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember. Since I can combine it with my passion, I can’t imagine doing anything else.
TCB: Do you play or teach Pickleball? How do you like the sport?
SN: No but I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun!
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
SN: Head Instinct MP
TCB: Thank you, Samantha Nickel.