Keen to get more players involved

New Tennis Otago competitions and development officer Ayesha Horley (20) at the tennis centre at...
New Tennis Otago competitions and development officer Ayesha Horley (20) at the tennis centre at Logan Park in Dunedin this week. Photo: Gregor Richardson
Ayesha Horley sure is a fast mover.

She has landed her "dream job" just weeks after completing her sports management degree.

The 20-year-old is Tennis Otago's new competitions and development officer.

Having been involved with the sport since she was 6 years old it was a big passion and she was "stoked" to have the role.

She began last week, jumping straight in to getting a feel for the competitions and organising school visits.

It was all part of her goal to grow the game throughout the region.

"I'd like to be able to help push up participation rates," Horley said.

"I think that's something Tennis Otago and the coaches have already been doing some work towards.

"I'd be happy to be able to contribute to that.

"I think being able to get out into some of the schools further out into South Otago is going to be a big part of that - making sure tennis is an option for students going to schools out there."

Horley was born in England and lived the first 10 years of her life in Birmingham.

It was there she began playing tennis, her mother's influence being important in getting her and her siblings into the sport.

After a family holiday to New Zealand, the family decided they liked it so much they wanted to move.

They relocated to Auckland and Ayesha spent her teenage years attending Selwyn College.

She continued to play tennis, her biggest tournament being when she played in the under-16 grade of the national championships in Christchurch.

Her school did not have a team to begin with, but by year 12 it had put down courts and formed a team.

It won its way into the top division of Auckland school tennis, which had been satisfying.

After finishing there she moved south to attend the University of Otago's School of Physical Education.

She spent three years studying and was finding that useful in her new job.

"There's always a bit of a jump between the theory and the practice.

"But it's definitely helped a lot.

"It's interesting seeing the stuff you studied in uni being able to be applied."

She took a break from competitive tennis, but still kept hitting regularly through those years.

Now back playing in the Dunedin interclub competition for Andersons Bay, she was enjoying the competitive side of the sport again.

She thought Otago tennis was set for a period of growth and there were plenty of enthusiastic people willing to help others get involved.

"I think its going to grow.

"There was a down period a few years ago and it's picking up again.

"So I'm quite optimistic about where that's going to go with junior participation rates picking up.

"I've been seeing some of the club stuff going on and it's cool to see some of the younger players come in and give it a go."


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