Former British wheelchair tennis player Louise Hunt Skelley has announced the next step in her post-playing career.
At the end of February she will direct her second international tennis tournament.
The Bolton Indoor ITF3 Wheelchair Tennis Tournament will take place from Friday 17 to Tuesday 21 February at the Bolton Arena.
It her first event as a tournament director in Abingdon late last year.
Louise represented Great Britain at both the London and Rio Paralympics, and won 13 singles and 41 doubles titles, with a career-high ranking of 10 internationally in both women’s singles and doubles.
She said of next month's tournament: “I’m really looking forward to it, Bolton is a great venue and the tournament receives high levels of interest every year. I loved playing there during my career, it’s always a successful event.
“We will have athletes from all over the world, with entries already confirmed from the USA, Australia, Belgium, Israel and more. In total, there should be around 60 athletes competing in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, as well as the singles and doubles quad draws.”
Tennis fans will be familiar with the match referee and other on-court officials, but there won’t be too many who will have ever paused to consider the important role played by the tournament director.
Louise said: “Before a tournament I’m responsible for booking accommodation for the players, sorting entry fees, flights and transport to and from the airport, and organising the catering.
“Before and during the tournament I will be managing officials and referees, and dealing with the needs and requirements of players and staff, as well as ensuring the correct prize money gets paid.
"So as the tournament arrives it becomes less of a planning role and more about being reactive to what is going on in real time.
“I had a taster at Abingdon and it went really well, so I'm chuffed that the LTA asked me to take on the role again and at a higher level of tournament. I said ‘yes’ immediately.
"Being a director wasn’t on my initial list of post-playing career moves, but I’ve really enjoyed it so far and I am really keen to do more. I’ve had a lot of nice responses from the players about my involvement, which is lovely and really positive for me.
"I still have lots of friends on the tour, so I am really looking forward to catching up with them.
“I want to put my experience to good use and I think this is what the LTA (Lawn Tennis Association) wanted as well, someone who knows what it is like to play in these tournaments, not just on the court, but off it as well.
"I can say with confidence what athletes do and do not want, I have those insights. And I want to do what is best for the players.
“I’ve discovered a skill set that I never knew I had. I’m someone who needs diversity and I need to challenge myself, and being a tournament director has really ticked both those boxes. I’ve got a lot to learn but I am loving it.
"It has also reminded me of just how much passion I still have for the game and how much I care about growing it as a sport and getting more people involved.”
Louise's website is http://www.louisehunt.co.uk/
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