Sport

Clubs turn to youth for leadership on, off court

By Campaspe News

THE FUTURE of tennis is bright in the Campaspe region.

Young and passionate presidents have taken charge of local clubs Elmore and Rochester — and are leading the way for tomorrow’s talented racquet-eers.

Elmore’s Bryce Niven, 22, and Rochester’s Elliot Taylor, 23, are new to their positions, but have already made their marks on the tennis community.

For Niven, it was a chance to give his father a break from the Elmore presidency when he raised his hand at the AGM in January last year.

The challenge, he said, wasn’t being elected — it was gaining the trust and confidence of some of the stalwarts of the club many years his senior.

And he is not alone in the hot seat — some of his good friends have also stepped up to the mark and been elected to high-ranking positions at Elmore.

Jordan Tobin was elected as club secretary; and Ryan Byrne, both 22, is the Campaspe Tennis Association’s league score recorder, a big responsibility for another young man.

‘‘I’ve been here since the under-13s for Elmore, that’s what you do really — you join your local club,’’ Niven said.

‘‘I wanted to have a go at presidency, especially after we lost a few members over the past few years I thought it’d take the pressure off those who had been doing the jobs for so long.

‘‘It is a similar role to what I expected, but not totally. My dad was president for the last couple of years, so he’s helping me out and the older hands at the club also help out.’’

Niven tends everything from the courts to the people on them.

That includes the veterans of the club — the Tuesday ladies.

‘‘Some of the Tuesday ladies, they used to go through the other ladies at the club for their problems, but they have definitely got used to having to come to me,’’ he said.

‘‘That was sort of the challenge, when I first started I heard a lot of problems second and thirdhand. As they got adjusted to it, they became more confident in me,’’ Niven said.

And the on-field success for Elmore has not been affected by the changing of the guard either.

‘‘Our senior team has lost a few players but gained a couple as well,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ve won about 70 per cent of our games this season and only lost a few by five or 10 games.

Rochester’s Elliott Taylor is by far the youngest member on the committee and has served as president for the past two years.

Even more impressive about Taylor’s case is the way he shares his time being responsible for the running of the club with his full-time university work.

Graduating from Geelong with a degree in sports science at the end of 2016, Taylor had a year off before choosing to continue on for a masters degree in exercise physiology at Bendigo.

But that doesn’t mean he is ready to throw in the towel with either just yet.

Ideally he would graduate at the end of the year and get a job locally that allows him to continue on as president at his local club, Rochy.

‘‘I’m happy to keep going with both. I’m looking forward to finishing uni and I want to keep going otherwise with tennis,’’ Taylor said.

‘‘I’ve always played tennis at Rochester, ever since the youngest age group which was when I was about 10 or 11.

‘‘My mum also plays in the same team as me in the Goulburn Murray comp; and my auntie Rachel Major is also in the same team.’’

Taking up the top job wasn’t always on the cards for Taylor, but came with the backing of then president Rod Fiedler and his mother, who has ‘‘always been on the executive’’.

‘‘Rod was looking to step back a bit and they both thought it’d be a good opportunity for me,’’ Taylor said.

‘‘(Rod is) still very much involved in the job, and always lends a hand which is great.

‘‘I was well received, everyone was pretty happy and I got a lot of congratulations. There was no one upset or confused about the decision, they were happy for a change of the guard,’’ he said.

Numbers have been steady at Rochester since that change of leadership.

With two brand new artificial grass courts having opened at the start of this year, things are looking up for the club.

Campaspe Tennis Association president Sarah Crossman said she hoped to see more clubs take charge just as Elmore and Rochester had.

‘‘It is fantastic to have some new and young blood become an integral part of our tennis community,’’ Crossman said.

‘‘They bring with them new and fresh ideas.

‘‘I am hoping it will encourage other 20 and 30-somethings to step up and take the reins.’’