Toby Jackson

  • Current role: Head Coach and Company Founder, Game Set Tennis
  • Year of graduation: 2017
  • Degree course: Sports Studies – Foundation & BSc
'I was fortunate enough to become the University Tennis Ambassador which allowed me to be part of the committee which has now changed how tennis is delivered at University.'

We asked Toby...

What is your current role and how did you get to this point in your career?

I am currently the Head Tennis Coach at Cambourne Tennis, one of the biggest clubs in Cambridgeshire. I have grown the weekly coaching programme from 23 participants to around 160. I was approached by the club committee to provide a 5 year plan for their coaching programme and compete for the role against a well-established coaching provider in Cambridgeshire. I managed to secure this role and set up my business, Game Set Tennis, all before I graduated.

How did your studies at the University of Hertfordshire help shape your career?

My University degree certainly left my options open once I graduated having had modules on Sports Management, Coaching and Development. Within a week of starting my role as Head Coach, I had used knowledge from my entire degree and I continue to do so. Furthermore, throughout my three years at University, I was able to pinpoint my strengths and weaknesses which did allow me to focus my career more towards coaching which I’m grateful for.

What made you decide to study at this University?

I remember the day I received my A-Level results and I wasn’t extremely pleased as I didn’t get into any of my chosen Universities! I went through the clearing process and managed to meet one of the UH lecturers the same day which was fantastic! I was apprehensive at having to complete a foundation degree first however as it is integrated so well with the BSc Honours Degree, I was won over by it. Although the University of Hertfordshire was not one of my chosen universities, I wouldn’t have wanted to go anywhere else!

What was the best or most useful thing about your course?

The best part about my Foundation Degree was the support I was given along the way. As the class size was only about 12 students, the lecturers had time to give us 1-2-1 support which was extremely helpful at the start of my University journey. Also, the assessments such as a ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch really helped me secure my job role I’m currently in!

What is your stand-out memory from your time at the University?

My stand out memory at University has to be my time with the University tennis team. I was fortunate enough to become the University Tennis Ambassador which allowed me to be part of the committee which has now changed how tennis is delivered at University. The Tennis Programme now is much bigger and has a great link to Gosling Tennis Centre (one of the best in the country!).

Are you still in contact with friends you met at the University of Hertfordshire?

I am still in touch with most of my friends from University which is great. I thought I would struggle to socialise at University in my first year as I was commuting from home, however, becoming integrated with the tennis team really helped.

What advice would you give your younger self if you were starting at the University tomorrow?

If I were to start University again, I would make sure I have the right balance between; work, socialising and sport. These were the most important things to me as a student but sometimes work took over from them all and sometimes sport did too, so I would ensure I have a good balance between the three.

Do you have any advice for University of Hertfordshire graduates who are considering a career in your industry?

My advice for future graduates in my industry would be, “Make sure you find the right job for you, even if it takes time, so start looking early.” I always said I never wanted to be a tennis coach unless I can run my own coaching programme and be Head Coach. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity right away but I wouldn’t have been happy working for someone else.

What are your future career plans/ ambitions?

My future ambitions are to become an LTA Level 4 Accredited + Coach in the next few years. Also, I would like to increase the coaching programme size to 250 juniors and adults a week. My long-term goal is to have Game Set Tennis operate at a number of Tennis Clubs in Cambridgeshire whilst keeping a high standard of coaching.