Adelaide teenager Taegan White has been through more than most for someone so young.
Despite injury ending her playing career, White’s love of tennis continued to keep her involved in the sport.
A former top state junior player, she had to give up playing tennis due to a back injury which made serving very difficult for her.
Her love of the sport has driven her to be involved as a ball kid, a line and chair umpire and now pursuing tennis coaching.
White said she started playing tennis older than most and recalled the interesting way she got into the sport.
“As a kid I tried many different sports like little athletics, dance, netball, hockey and cross country,” she reflected.
“When it came to choosing a sport my tennis coach offered me lollies for hitting forehands and backhands into the court so that’s what I chose.
“I was a bit of a late bloomer, I started playing when I was eight years old, which is older than a lot of people.
“I started playing tennis tournaments when I was 10 years old and I was playing grass court nationals at 11 years old.
“I lived in Canberra for a little while and this gave me good experience with playing on different grass courts.
“I was then invited to Adelaide to play in the Junior and Women’s State League and Junior ITF.”
White said one of her favourite experiences was being a ball kid for the first time in 2017 at the Davis Cup and Adelaide International.
“I applied to be a ball kid for the first Adelaide International and then I was invited back to do the Brazil versus Australia Davis Cup tie,” she said.
“It was amazing being there at both tournaments but the Davis Cup in particular was an incredible experience and getting to see the professionals in action.”
In 2019 and whilst still playing White decided to get into line umpiring and she recalled the unusual reason for this change.
“I heard a rumor that line umpires get better food than ball kids,” she said.
“Having heard this, I was 15 years old at the time and I applied to be a line umpire. I must admit that the rumors were true."
“I got the gig and the food was so much better and we got paid on top of it as well which was absolutely amazing.”
She stopped playing tennis in 2019 and it was then that she decided to get into chair umpiring despite having doubts that she would get in.
“The progression from a line umpire to chair umpire seemed so natural for me,” she said.
“I wasn’t sure that I would get into the Chair Academy though because I was so young at the time but I quickly progressed as I was playing at such a high level and had a background of the game.
“I did a year of training and it was online at the time due to Covid-19 so it took longer than normal for the practical aspect and I couldn’t go to Melbourne so I had to be the Chair Umpire for local games.
“After the Chair Academy I was selected to do Junior State League matches, I found that strange as I was chair umpiring kids that I knew as they were all in my age group.”
White has recently become accredited as a Court Supervisor after excelling in line umpiring. Earlier this year she was involved as a Chair Umpire in Canberra at the National Clay court Championships alongside other developing Australian Chair Umpires.
White has now achieved her Level B in Chair Umpiring which means she is qualified to chair UTR Pros, ITF Juniors, and national events.
Whilst White enjoyed being a Chair Umpire she said it came with lots of responsibility.
“I really enjoy the experiences of chair umpiring and travelling around Australia and the atmosphere but it’s definitely more pressure than playing,” she said.
“There are so more things that people don’t know about, it’s not just calling the scores, I have to control the players, spectators, line umpires and ball kids.
“It’s really exhausting and takes a lot of concentration.”
In 2020, White got involved in tennis coaching which she said she also really enjoyed.
“I love being connected with the kids and it’s been an amazing opportunity and teach them about the sport that I love,” she said.
“With coaching I really enjoy the weekly interactions and to see how the kids are progressing"
White said it would be tough if she had to choose one or the other but said her career will be in tennis regardless