A BARRY mum is set to match Grand Slam champ, Andy Murray’s mum – Judy – having qualified as a level two coach last weekend.
Mum-of-three Penny Mickelsen, inspired by her children, Danny, Grace and Scott, has undergone a career transformation after her eldest child got involved with tennis and showed an aptitude for the sport.
39-year-old Penny used to manage an academic school at Cardiff University, before giving up a full-time career to look after her then-two-year old son Danny, who had developed type one diabetes and needed a carer.
Penny had always been an avid Wimbledon fan, but got more involved as her children joined in.
Daughter Grace started playing, aged three, meaning after school runs involved taking the children to their activities, with Barry Tennis and Penarth Lawn Tennis Clubs regular fixtures in the weekly schedule.
Danny began competing in local competitions, aged six, and Penny got herself on court starting with some cardio tennis classes with fellow mums at Barry Tennis Club and TennisXpress classes at Penarth Lawn Tennis Club, all provided by Vale Tennis Academy, the team responsible for the children's coaching.
Penny got involved with the committee at Barry Tennis Club, as junior development officer and became familiar with the running of the game as a whole.
She began attending Tennis Wales club forums, and immersing herself in as much as she could about the game.
She played for the Barry Ladies team and receiving some coaching herself and decided to take her level one coaching qualification so that she could help out with coaching the children herself.
Penny said: “I was totally bitten by the tennis bug by this time, and as I was already considering my future career options as Danny is so much more independent with his diabetes management now, I thought I might as well keep improving my tennis skills and knowledge by pursuing the level two qualification, which would then allow me to coach independently under the management of a licensed coach's programme.”
The Vale Tennis Academy encouraged Penny to begin offering family fun sessions at Barry Tennis Club, which has boosted her on-court confidence and honed her coaching style as well as hugely increasing children's involvement at the club.
Penny started level two training in June, attending four days of formal training, completing a detailed portfolio covering all elements of the game, from competition structure and rules of the game, to child protection and emergency procedures, undertaking eight hours of mentor-supervised coaching, and finally being assessed on her practical coaching.
She said: “I have absolutely no doubt that this is the career I want to pursue.
“I would never have considered a career in sport, but the enjoyment I get from being on court and the satisfaction of seeing kids smiling and having fun while developing healthy habits that will last them a lifetime is more than I ever expected in any profession. I want to continue working with the amazing families that have become involved with Barry Tennis Club over the past few months and introduce the game to as many people as possible. Whether people want to play the sport competitively, use it as a way of keeping fit, or just as a great social activity, if I can help them have fun with tennis, then I have done my job.”