Characters of Cork: Conor is nurturing new talent on court

The head coach of the Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Conor Twomey, talks to Roisin Burke about his passion for tennis and for developing sport for young people who play it
Characters of Cork: Conor is nurturing new talent on court

Conor Twomey, head coach, Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Cork. Picture Denis Minihane.

A BELIEVER in nurturing youth and listening to the next generation, tennis coach Conor Twomey enjoys the part he plays in his community.

The head coach of the Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club (BLTC) since 2006, Conor, who is 52, was a very successful interprovincial player in his younger years, with a number of local and provincial titles under his belt.

Despite these accolades, Conor said one of his proudest achievements is nurturing the next generation of tennis players at the club and in particular guiding four juniors to the senior final of the grade one Munster competition.

Conor said BLTC trains kids in a unique way by empowering the young athletes in a motivational environment.

“The coaches are here to serve the kids, not the other way round,” he said.

“I’m not in this job to make money, It’s not a permanent job, I must be the longest-running head coach in Cork, but I love tennis and working with kids and it’s very rewarding to work with your passions.”

Conor who is a father of four children aged from six to 16, lives in Bishopstown with his wife, Audrey, and said the best thing about his lifestyle is that his job is something he is passionate about.

Conor Twomey, head coach, Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
Conor Twomey, head coach, Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

“I get paid to do something I love and it keeps you fit.”

The tennis coach said he works hard to get the most out of his proteges.

“The job is 24/7, you are always taking calls, making programmes, supporting kids at tournaments, you are always on.”

Despite the time and effort he puts into training kids, Conor said the first 10 to 12 years of his coaching career were an ‘embarrassment’.

“I have a lot of regret for how I used to coach, I was a follower, I looked at others and did what they did and got the same results.”

Conor said in recent years he has changed his coaching model, putting a stronger emphasis on the science behind the sport. He believes this has transformed his training style.

“Now, I feel I am at the pinnacle of what I am doing. I am confident now in my ability to coach.”

While Conor works hard to be the best he can be, he acknowledged he is only as good as the team around him and highlighted Mick Hurley and Conor O’Callaghan as integral parts of the tennis club.

When he is not teaching tennis, Conor also helps out with local GAA clubs including Ballinora and Donoughmore but said he enjoys nothing more than chilling out by his fire pit in his back garden with friends.

“It’s something I started doing during lockdown, and I just couldn’t give it up now.”

Conor Twomey, head coach, Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.
Conor Twomey, head coach, Bishopstown Lawn Tennis Club, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

While Conor has other interests outside of sport, he said his love for tennis is all-encompassing.

“When I go on holidays, wherever I go, I always go down to the local tennis club and watch a few sessions, I watch the coaching and you know you always pick up something.”

Conor would like to see more children being encouraged to play freely, without structure.

“Kids don’t just play anymore,” Conor said, “They get coached, but they don’t play.”

Conor said when he was a kid, everyone played in the evenings, and there was a natural ability that was developed through play.

“Kids now have no game literacy, play develops strength and coordination, it’s important.”

Another aspect of modern life that Conor thinks has some downsides is social media.

“For kids, social media is the worst thing in the world, you don’t know what kids are at, the kids don’t even talk to each other, they are lost without their phone.”

Although there are negative parts to modern technology, Conor also accepts that as a coach, social media is an amazing tool for sharing knowledge and accessing new information.

Chatting about what makes a character, Conor said there are a couple of attributes that can create a distinctive, well-liked personality.

“A real character has empathy, is interested in people, and is unique.”

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