Athlete Development Programme


In recent years the Tennis NZ high performance strategy has experienced a significant re-shaping in line with the overarching strategic framework that will guide our sport through to 2022 and beyond. The purpose of the high performance strategy is to provide all of our stakeholders clarity around the changes that have taken place and the resultant implications for all of our stakeholders.

View the Athlete Development Pathway

The Athlete Development Criteria describes objective standards for players considering professional careers that are interested in being part of the Tennis NZ High Performance programme.

View the Athlete Development Criteria

Our Objectives

  • New Zealand players are winning on the international stage
  • A transparent and effective performance pathway supports the development of athletes
  • The national competition structure is fit for purpose
  • Increased quality and number of performance coaches available to our athletes
  • Winning individual and team performances at both senior and junior level internationally

Strategic Goals

  • Tennis NZ Performance system delivering minimum four world-class training environments throughout New Zealand as a part of a structured, collaborative and systemic build in performance.
  • New Zealand qualifies a minimum of one junior representative team for World Finals.
  • Performance coaches throughout New Zealand are aligned with and impacted upon by Tennis NZ’s coach development pathway as evidenced by 90 + % attendance and interaction from this cohort in the recently created Performance Coach Support Programme and/or the Game-Changer coach development workshop series.
  • Minimum 4 athletes 15 + years of age achieving Gold standard criteria year on year.
  • The performance tournament structure aligns with athlete development requirements and includes competitive experiences from age group National events through to ITF world tennis tour pro events.

The athlete development criteria (please refer to the Appendix of the Athlete Development Pathway document) describes objective standards for players considering professional careers that are interested in being part of the Tennis NZ High Performance programme. Tennis NZ believes that a combination of a clear understanding as to the standards evidenced by the criteria, in addition to individual athletes representing strong personal qualities (respect, commitment, grit) will increase the chances of New Zealand being successful on the world stage (ATP/WTA top 100).

Tennis NZ will financially support these athletes based on the rigorous standards described above. The shift that has taken place here in recent years to re-commit to domestic daily training environments as a priority is one that we fully intend to continue to prioritise in the current strategy.

Long Term Athlete Development (L.T.A.D.)

L.T.A.D. is a process that takes into consideration the maturity of a child and offers a more strategic approach to a child’s development.

By following the seven different factors described in the Athlete Development Pathway document HERE (refer to section 1.0), this gives a better chance to maximise the potential and enjoyment for each player.

The health and well-being of all children is the central tenet of L.T.A.D.

Tennis Playing Stages

A player in the beginner stage is someone of any age who is having their first tennis experiences and learning the basic technical and tactical aspects of tennis, learning the rules of tennis and developing positive attitudes towards competition. It is at this stage where players are most likely to fall in love with tennis if they are supported and develop the basic skills. Around 60% of all tennis players in New Zealand fit into this stage.

Who are typical Beginner players?
Players of any age learning technical, tactical, physical and mental fundamentals of tennis. Beginner children aged 4 - 12 are likely to be participating in a Tennis Hot Shots programme and beginner teens and adults will likely be taking part in Tennis Xpress or a similar introductory tennis programme.

This stage represents a broad range of players with a reasonable level of skill who can regularly execute all aspects of playing tennis. Enjoyment and competition are the key drivers for these players, but at the same time performance, challenge and improvement are often key motivators. During this stage, these aspirations across a wide age range need to be catered for through the offering of more in depth and advanced coaching and fun ‘have a go’ type programmes. Around 40% of all tennis players fit into this stage.

Who are typical development players?
Players of any age who have developed relevant technical, tactical, physical and mental skills to compete in tennis to some level. This is a broad group that ranges from progressing through a Tennis Hot Shots Coaching programme, to business house and interclub players, and through to Regional Age Group representatives.

This stage can begin from a young age and involves those athletes who have the ability to play tennis to a high level and are likely to be moving towards national representative tennis and players who are competing in international tennis competitions. It is at this stage that many performance players will become part of talent identification programmes designed to lead to High Performance tennis, and be competing on international tours as a full time professional athlete. Less than 1% of all players fit into this stage.

Who are typical performance players?
Players of any age who have an advanced level of technical, tactical, physical and mental tennis skills. Performance players aged 18 and under are typically competing in National Age Group Championships and Junior ITF tournaments. Those over 18 may be competing in the US College system, or playing tournament circuits in Europe and other destinations, or may be gaining experience competing at the entry level on the pro circuit (Futures). Performance players may also be representing their region/country in inter-region or inter-national events.

At this stage athletes are able to translate their training and technical skills into competing at a world-class level and achieving excellence in tennis. Less than 1% of all players fit into this stage.

Who are typical high performance players?
High performance athletes have mental and physical maturity required to compete at the highest level of tennis. They exhibit the highest levels of technical, tactical, physical and mental tennis skills. High Performance athletes spend the majority of their career competing on professional tennis circuits overseas (Futures, WTA or ATP Tournaments). These athletes may also represent New Zealand playing in Davis Cup or Fed Cup.