Elite Tennis Students Served Up iBooks

Tennis, anyone?

Say that at the new Middle Years Tennis School (MYTS), located within Box Hill Senior Secondary College, and you’ll get major eye-rolls from 5th- to 9th-grader-tennis pros. The MYTS opened earlier this year, welcoming 53 fresh, young faces — and very talented tennis players — to the government-financed facility that promises a stimulating learning environment, providing a unique educational program addressing the challenges most young athletes encounter.

The school was developed to enable this elite team of racket-slammers to become more focused on their sport while also spending significant time devoted to student-directed, self-paced learning, either individually or in small groups.

Armed with Apple iBook laptops (with video-conferencing capabilities to keep them in “learning mode” while away at tournaments), these young, elite athletes have it made: they’re the integral part of this new approach to schooling, designed purely to make their lives less complicated. Their laptops were financed through the school’s yearly fee, ranging from $4,200 to $5,000, which also covers all coaching.

Part of the nearly $1.5 million of the State Government’s Leading Schools Fund went toward the development of a wireless-networked classroom for the young tennis pros. And plans are in full swing to develop an online curriculum covering all study areas.

Peter Hine, head of the school, procured funding by presenting the tennis school, in part, as a “research school that identifies the nature of giftedness in sport and its links to educational achievement.”

As most know, young sports stars who show significant promise often quit school to pursue the big-time arena of professional sports, perhaps intending to return to school, but never going back. MYTS provides a challenging, sports-oriented environment that stimulates kids into staying in school — because actually GOING to school at MYTS means playing sports is part of the curriculum.

And for these kids, that’s a major grand-slam.

Related story – A Laptop in every satchel

By Catherine Van Herrin

Saturday, March 26, 2005