One of Tennis Canada’s major initiatives is prioritizing safe sport. The organization encourages coaches across the country become Tennis Professional Association (TPA) members in an effort to safeguard the sport. It’s just one step Tennis Canada believes can help foster an environment where playing tennis is safe for all participants, at all levels of competition.
Someone who understands the benefits of TPA membership better than most is the former CEO of the Ontario Racquet Club (ORC), Jeff McCarrol.
“When the TPA was founded in 2004, Canada’s loose-knit band of tennis professionals finally had a place to come together in a concerted effort to grow the game nationally,” said McCarrol. “With it came a list of new candidates to forge the future of Canadian tennis in both the performance and club industry.”
McCarrol has been involved in tennis and the health club business for the better part of 40 years. Since retiring, he’s now working as a consultant for the ORC – where he started as Tennis Director in 1981. Shortly after the TPA was founded 15 years ago, the ORC began only employing tennis professionals who were TPA certified – something McCarrol felt was essential to the club’s success.
“The reasons for only hiring TPA-certified staff are simple, yet fundamental. All successful companies and businesses create a team approach to share a common goal, vision, and objective and nothing does that better for our tennis industry than the TPA. It provides pathways, education, benefits, requirements for safe-work conditions and an overall vision and objective to grow the game. We want professionals at ORC who are interested in the same.”
Earlier this year, as part a three-part series on safe sport, CBC News and Sports conducted an investigation that found at least 222 coaches involved in Canadian amateur sports had been convicted of sexual offenses between 1998 and 2018. Their research also concluded that there were more than 600 victims affected.
Since joining the TPA requires applicants to submit a completed background check (free for all TPA members), hiring TPA-certified coaches is one of the best ways tennis clubs across the country can safeguard the sport. As McCarrol explains, the benefits of hiring certified staff only have been instrumental to the growth of the ORC.
“All clubs offer tennis courts, a roof, and teaching professionals, not all clubs offer fully certified tennis professionals. It shows that we believe in a system and it’s also perceived as a “credibility” factor for hesitant prospects.”
The TPA’s goal is to grow the sport and profession of tennis throughout Canada by providing certification, professional development and services to its members. Members also receive a range of benefits, from insurance to new equipment for their clubs. Signing up is also a very simple process. On top of a completed background check, applicants simply need a declaration of good character, an acknowledgement of the code of conduct, and a small fee – which goes straight back into coaching development. McCarrol got a glimpse of this development, having written the Club Pro 2 and 3 off-court curriculum and serving 12 years as the course facilitator for the TPA.
“Whether you are just entering the tennis profession or a seasoned veteran, the educational benefits are world class. We are lucky that we have some of the best coaches and clubs in the world with a wealth of leaders who are willing to share their stories and successes. There is no better way to learn than from first-hand experiences from other coaches or club leaders on the latest trends or club-business knowledge.”
This is just a small dose of the benefits TPA members receive upon registering. On top of an array of perks that also includes discounted tennis merchandise, members can also get access to courses at a fraction of cost.
“There are so many opportunities [through the TPA] to learn and develop your skills to a higher level with workshops, conferences and seminars, or if you prefer, get involved and be a course conductor or facilitator,” added McCarrol. “The possibilities are endless and pathways to success are at your fingertips with their online website from international partnerships with other associations including a robust benefits and insurance plan for contract workers.”
As of June 10, 72 organizations and year-round facilities in Canada were employing TPA-member coaches exclusively. This includes over 2,500 coaches who are TPA members in good standing, and McCarrol believes the time is now for others to join.
“As the TPA association continues to grow and improve each year, the leverage to gain new sponsors, engaging conferences, and brand recognition will also become more solidified. That is a great value proposition, and clubs, staff and members want to be part of it. At ORC, we use the TPA brand and logo in our marketing, in brochures and online literature, as often as we can. It instills a sense of value which we like to think is synonymous with ORC, where members know the instruction they receive is from a qualified and certified tennis professional.”
To sign up for the Tennis Professionals Association, please click here.
The Canadian Sport Helpline has been launched to provide a safe place for victims and witnesses of harassment, abuse and discrimination to speak in confidence to a neutral third party and get the help they need.
This professional listening and referral service is available from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week, by phone or text at 1-888-83SPORT (77678), and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.