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Internet Interview - Kate Leeming

Name

Kate Leeming

Title

Deputy head, real tennis pro

Company

Royal Melbourne Tennis Club

 

Location:

Melbourne

A brief explanation of your company and where it sits in the corporate landscape:

The RMTC is the busiest two-court real tennis club in the world. There are 53 active courts (around 10,000 players) around the world – 34 in the UK, 10 in the US, six in Australia and three in France. Real tennis (also known as court tennis in the US and Jeu de Paume in France) – which is the oldest racquet sport, the game from which all racquet sports have evolved – is undergoing a revival. There are plans for at least a further 20 clubs to be built in Australia, the UK, US and Holland at last count. Although there are only six courts/five clubs in Australia (all in the SE corner) we have produced many of the world's leading players, including the current world champion, Rob Fahey from Hobart, who is arguably the best player in history.

Job last held in Perth and when you left it:

With a Bachelor of Physical Education degree, I moved on to work as a secondary teacher before travelling to the UK and Europe. I discovered the game while working at The Harbour Club in London and progressed fairly quickly as a player and after two years, became a professional in 1996. I wanted very much to move to Perth, but there are no courts and therefore no job opportunities at present. It seemed a waste to give the game up when I had reached a ranking of number four in the world.

What is your current role:

As a player, I train and compete at all the major grand slam tournaments. As a club professional, my job is a unique blend of specific skills – assisting in managing the club, coaching, making equipment – the balls have to be made by hand, racquets have to be manually strung, booking courts, organising and officiating in tournaments, creating a club atmosphere. A big part of the job is in sales, selling the game to everyone. The ability of the club professional is central to the success of any real tennis club.

What other roles do you play in your industry or local business community:

We aim to recruit members of all ages. Everyone from eight to 80 can play this game to some degree. The very accurate handicapping system accounts for all levels. Junior development is very important.

Explain how you got this job:

With there being less than 100 real tennis professionals (only four women) in the world, we all tend to know each other. I was approached three years ago when working in England by the RMTC, but wasn't ready to move, although I always intended to live in Australia. When my husband (Arnaud is a French RT Pro) and I were ready we were fortunate that a position opened up in Melbourne and I was offered a job.

How much commuting do you do:

I mostly cycle to work here in Melbourne.

Does your job involve travel, if so how much, where to and to what purpose:

I travel, where possible, to interstate and overseas tournaments, eg The British Open, Professional singles, French Open, US Open etc.

How well did your work in Perth equip you for your current job: My degree was useful mainly in the coaching side of my job. The rest was learned as a training professional in the UK.

Can you see yourself returning to Perth, if so how long and under what circumstances:

Obviously we would love to return to WA if the opportunity arises. It would be an exciting challenge to start a club up from scratch in Perth. I am very confident it would be a success in such a sport-orientated environment. I think there is a very good chance of this happening. Simon Withers, who has recently returned to Perth having become passionate about the game since he was introduced to it in London, is currently researching the possibilities of building a club and is looking for a site. He is also forming the WA Real Tennis Association with a nucleus of players who also believe that having a real tennis club in Perth would complete their idea of paradise.

What is your email address:  katearnod@ozemail.com.au

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