Created in 2003, the BNP Paribas National Tennis Academy is a programme designed by Tennis Ireland to bring the top Irish players to one central location. The programme began with seven players in Westwood in Leopardstown before being moved to Dublin City University (DCU) under the watchful eye of Technical Director Garry Cahill.
The initial squad that took part in the programme included players such as Mark Bowtell, Niall Fitzgerald and John Morrissey – all who have progressed and have each performed at the highest international level.
DCU was selected as the base for the programme in July 2005 as athletes can really improve their skill set at the international standard facilities that our found at the Glasnevin campus. By 2007 the Academy saw an increase in players to what has now become a 50 member squad of both full and part time athletes.
Players can avail of 10 multi-surface all weather courts at the National Tennis Centre that was specifically built in DCU. This allows players to train for international events on a similar surface to the one they will then be competing on. Also at the disposal of the players is the Sports Gymnasium where off the court training such as body conditioning, cardio and ice baths allow athletes to perform at their optimum level. Full-time squad players rack up between 24-30 hours of training a week while part time members train between 6-9 hours
Each programme is tailored to best suit the individual player – with international competitions included so they come up against the best both Europe and the world have to offer.
This hard work, dedication and support has brought huge success recently as Ireland made history in winning all three age groups in the Tri-Nations tournament a few weeks ago.
The under 12’s girls Ali McClean and Olivia Moriotti had to dig deep to win a championship tie-break which sealed victory in their age group. Ammar Elamin and Conor Gannon didn’t look in doubt as the pair never dropped a set on their way to help bring the U12’s title home.
It was edge of your seat action in the under 14’s as going into the final round of the doubles vs Scotland, Ireland needed to either win the boys or girls matches, or, bring one of the matches to a third set – as in the event of a tie, the winner is decided on sets won. With both matches going in Scotland’s favour, the Irish pair of Sofia Derivan and Georgina Drummy dug deep to claim the second set and get the all important point for the girls. Ronan Sweeney and Daniel Vlas put in some solid singles performances the day before.
It was more straight forward for the U18’s as their strong start on the opening day saw them win six of their singles matches. Their captain Stephen Nugent who has worked with them through their junior years expressed his pride and delight for them.
Tennis Ireland sees the ongoing relationship with BNP Paribas and their sponsorship of the national academy as a huge contributor to both the recent and on-going success of tennis in Ireland.
The Irish Team:
Under 12’s Under 14’s Under 18’s
Ali McClean Sofia Derivan Laura Deegan
Olivia Mariotti Georgia Drummy Julie Byrne
Conor Gannon Daniel Vlas Osgar O’Hoisin
Ammar Elamin Ronan Sweeney Sam Bothwell