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COACH FRANKLE PASSES THE BATON (2014)

SUCCESSION PLAN

Left, Tennis NZ's club coach of the year Mike Frankle, and right, his successor at Cockle Bay Tennis Club Jono Frankle. Times file photos.
IT'S game, set and match for New Zealand's top tennis club coach.

Cockle Bay Tennis Club's Mike Frankle was named Club Coach of the Year at the Tennis New Zealand awards earlier this month.

However, the honour was the final point of Mike's time at Cockle Bay, as he embarks on a new management career with Honda.

"It's a nice way to go out," he told the Times. "I was quite shocked when I got the call.

"When you join a club and then when you leave, you hope to have made it slightly better and hopefully I have done that."

Mike has been the head coach at Cockle Bay since 2003 and was a committee member before then.

"The former coach left and when the club first approached me I initially said no.

"I don't know how I ended up doing it. I thought I'll help out for a short while and see what happens."

The 54-year-old has played tennis all his life and he started coaching when his son Jono first picked up a racquet.

During his time at Cockle Bay, Mike has helped to expand its membership and facilities to be the envy of other Auckland clubs.

"We started off as a little club with a handful of teams and we have at least 20 now," he says.

"Our top team was in second grade. Now we have men's Caro Bowl [Auckland's premier competition], reserves, first grade and two teams in second grade.

"It's been a long process but the way the club has grown makes me more proud than anything else."

He was named Auckland club coach of the year in 2010 and was instrumental in establishing the Meadowlands Multisport Centre in conjunction with Howick Squash and Howick Softball clubs in 2011.

"I thought [Meadowlands] was a goer, whereas a number of people thought it would be bad for the club," says Mike. "But look at what we've got now.

"Even though the award is for the year, it's for what I've done over a long period of time.

"But it's not just myself. It's a team effort and a group of people have contributed towards the award."

In a nice touch of reciprocity, Jono is taking over the reins at Cockle Bay from the man who encouraged him to get his coaching qualifications at a young age.

Jono has coached at Cockle Bay and Manukau Tennis Centre for a number of years, making Mike's exit a smooth transition.

The pair have quite different coaching styles though, with Jono bringing more technical expertise having reached Club Professional ITF Level Two status.

"We're going to look to keep building and start to run some academy squads here," says Jono.

"We also want to create better links with the schools and we're stepping up our cardio tennis to another level.

"I've also started some whiteboard sessions, going through tactics, positional play and the mental side of the game."

As well as catering to experienced and elite players, Jono is one of New Zealand's top Hot Shots facilitators to teach youngsters new to the sport.

Alongside him will be another familiar face at Cockle Bay. The club's Caro Bowl reserves captain Dan Kelly will continue as an assistant coach while also managing its retail business.

Dan was a top-ranked junior in New Zealand before playing for South Carolina State University in the United States.

"I think Jono and I complement each other really well," says Dan.

"He's very technical and can look at a swing and pick up deficiencies in technique just like that. I come from a more tactical and strategy base."

Meanwhile, Mike is looking forward to tennis being something he does outside of work.

"I'll still be involved on the committee and I'll probably enjoy playing more now," he says. "It's a huge part of my life.

"Even though I've put heaps into this place, I've got heaps out of it."