An examination of the stakeholders and elite player development pathways in tennis

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Research question: The research questions that guided this investigation were (1) ‘What are the roles of sport development stakeholders in elite player development pathways?’ and (2) ‘How are those elite pathways modelled in tennis?’
Research method: Data from 18 semi-structured in-depth interviews with international tennis experts were thematically analysed to explore stakeholder involvement and how their interactions and strategies shape elite tennis pathways.
Results and findings: The results show that during the attraction/retention process of elite sport development national tennis associations (NTAs) are responsible for initiating programs that local clubs and coaches deliver. During the talent identification and selection process NTAs, clubs and coaches cooperate to identify talent. Throughout the talent development process, tennis players progress from clubs to NTA training centres or private academies. Last, during the nurturing process, NTAs support players in the transition from junior to senior level and once players are self-sufficient, the NTA support decreases.
Implications: These findings offer empirical evidence on the roles of stakeholders and their support to players in shaping development pathways in tennis. The shift in stakeholder dynamics and variation in their roles and relationships suggests that stakeholders can have different levels of involvement depending on the developmental process. These results help draw meaningful practical implications. For instance, the heightened role of local clubs during most of the sport development processes points toward the need to revisit the level of support clubs receive and their capacity to deliver optimal developmental pathways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)454-477
JournalEuropean Sport Management Quarterly
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2015
EventSPLISS congress - Antwerp
Duration: 13 Nov 201314 Nov 2014


  • Elite sport development
  • sport development stakeholders
  • pathways
  • sport clubs
  • national sporting organisations


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