We keep reading how the tennis industry is 'aging out' and for the most part is dominated by a bunch of older male professionals.
So we set out to find young female tennis professionals who are really flourishing in our male-dominated industry. And we found them on the U.S. East Coast, West Coast, in England, and in Australia. We asked them a bunch of questions in order to learn how they got into teaching tennis, why they did it, and if they would do it again. We wanted to know their story.
"MANY OF THE CLUBS HERE ARE IN NEED OF FEMALE TENNIS COACHES"
Head Tennis Coach
London, United Kingdom
QUESTIONS FOR VIDI DEMIREVA
TCB: Demireva, where were you born (city, country)?
VD: I was born in Haskovo, Bulgaria.
TCB: How old were you when you started to play tennis and who introduced you?
VD: I was 4, my dad introduced me.
TCB: Did you play tennis in high school, college?
VD: Yes, but not as often as during my early years.
TCB: Was tennis your first choice of work after school? If not, please explain.
VD: No, it wasn't. I went to university straight after I finished my last year at school. I was studying psychology at the time and working as a freelance journalist. I didn't really have much time for sport back then as I was preoccupied with other things. The reason I chose to study something different was because I wanted to get extra qualification, in case it didn't work out with the sport.
TCB: When did you start teaching, tennis and why?
VD: I started coaching back in 2010. After graduating from university I had to make a decision what I wanted to do next. I chose to return to tennis because of my love for the sport because I wanted to do something positive and feel satisfied with my job.
TCB: Did you get certified as a tennis professional?
VD: If you mean my coaching qualification, yes.
TCB: Where and in what position did you work as a tennis professional?
VD: As a tennis coach in England.
TCB: Where do you work now, and what is your position?
VD: I work as a Head tennis coach for a multi-sports company in London, England.
TCB: Do you like your current position, and why?
VD: Yes, I do. I enjoy teaching people from different backgrounds and being part of their development and progress. I also enjoy organising and running competitions for our squad players.
TCB: What are the challenges you are facing today?
VD: There are many challenges, for instance: lack of recognition for your work, not enough opportunities to grow and develop further within the company, no equal pay, not enough support to expand your business, etc.
TCB: How difficult was it for you as a woman to have a career in male-dominated tennis? (Please elaborate, if you like)
VD: It didn't take me too long to find a job as a tennis coach. Maybe because many of the clubs here are in need of female tennis coaches. Partly because of the girls involved in the sport. Also, because it is known that women are more organised, more patient and cope better with little kids. And I believe it is vital to win the kids from the very beginning, to get them to love and enjoy the sport from young age. So this process hasn't been much difficult for me. However, this is just the beginning.
In my opinion, it gets much more challenging when you come to the point to develop your career further and expand your business. This is where, as a woman, you experience the real difficulty. For the majority of the sport companies, a male coach seems to be better candidate for promoting the business and gaining popularity than a female one.
TCB: How did your past income, and how does your current income compare to similarly experienced male tennis professionals?
VD: Unfortunately my income hasn't changed much throughout the years. Even after obtaining higher qualification and having more responsibilities there hasn't been a significant pay rise. In many companies, including my current one, such thing as equal pay does not exist. When it comes to promoting someone, a male tennis coach would be quite often the preferred choice.
TCB: What would you say to young women interested in tennis and undecided whether they want to make a career out of it?
VD: Tennis is a fantastic sport, very dynamic and sociable. As a female tennis coach I enjoy teaching everyone, but I'm also passionate about getting more girls involved in this sport. It is very satisfying to see them inspired, confident in their abilities and enjoying tennis throughout their life. I would love to see more female players and female coaches involved in the development of the sport. It is a sport for life to me and I have found it fulfilling both as a player and as a coach.
TCB: If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you choose the same career again?
VD: Absolutely. Tennis has given me so much and it's a great way to do something that brings you happiness and positive vibes.
TCB: Do you play or teach Pickleball? How do you like the sport?
VD: No, I've never played it. However, I've seen the sport and it seems like great fun. I know it's getting quite popular in the US. I think there are only three places in London where you can play pickleball. Hopefully there will be some more one day.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
VD: I play with Head Speed MP
TCB: Thank you, Vidi.