Tennis has taken Ghislaine Brien all over the world.

The Huatoki Tennis Club head coach has not only had a successful career playing the game in her youth, but is now encouraging others to do the same through her role.
Originally from England, Ghislaine started up at the club 15 months ago and settled in Stratford.

Born in Sunderland, England, the 46-year-old was born into a football-mad house, growing up across the road from her uncles who played football.

Her mother worked as a secretary for the Sunderland Football Club - for which Ghislaine was the first-ever female mascot - and soon became fed up with Ghislaine coming home bruised and battered after playing the game.


Ghislaine's mother put her onto the tennis-mad manager of the Sunderland Football Club, who was so impressed with her natural talent, he took her along to see a tennis coach. The coach was equally impressed and agreed to take her on, giving her two weeks to prepare for a tournament.

"I had no clue about tennis. He explained the rules and I won the tournament and things took off from there."

She was picked to play for the county team and then got picked for the regional team which paved the way for a career in the sport.

Ghislaine travelled around her home country playing tennis and even played for England in the Junior Olympics - coming home with a silver medal when she was 15.

From there she played tennis in Europe and USA, picking up some prize money and sponsorship along the way, but it wasn't long until injuries started to take their toll.

"I realised I was getting to a level where I couldn't maintain a career so I went into coaching and took tennis coaching exams. I also went to college to study sport recreation and leisure management courses."

After a successful coaching career in England, a set of circumstances led her to settle in Stratford and score her current role. Eight years ago Ghislaine found out she had a sister living in Stratford and started to visit her regularly.

"It's like we have never not known each other - we finish each other's sentences and are really close."

Ghislaine had fancied settling in New Zealand and getting a job as a tennis coach but assumed there wouldn't be any jobs out there. She attended a New Year's eve party where she got talking to someone who worked for Sport Taranaki. She was put in touch with the right people and was rapt to get the job.

Ghislaine never went home after that and soon purchased a home in Stratford before settling in to enjoy the people, lifestyle and job.

"I knew this is where I wanted to be. I am absolutely loving it - it's the best thing I ever did."

Ghislaine teaches all levels - from beginner tennis programmes for adults (Tennis Xpress) and children (Hot Shots) to representative players. She also teaches Cardio Tennis which is tennis fitness to music and a good workout for players and non-players. She finds the job rewarding and loves to see the sport ignite a passion in her students.

"I love seeing people hit the ball for the first time - when it clicks they can do it - kids especially.

"With the older kids, it's when we are making things more difficult - it's the look on their face when they get it. It's a real passion."

"What I did with my tennis career - I would like to see people enjoy this too. It was an amazing career and an amazing time. It's hard work but it does pay off.

"The thing that I want to bring to tennis is to encourage families to come along. I want people to come to the club and it be a family day."

She is also encouraging youngsters to go down the same career path through a programme which allows those aged between 12 and 16 to learn about coaching.

"The thing is that if you go away to university or college then you have always got a fall-back with tennis coaching. It can be a bit of money to earn and it's good to see the other side.

"I like to get them involved and I want to bring forward more coaches. It's a great game."