Join Team Soto for your Transition/Gap Year

Posted on: May 2, 2022 |

What is the Transition Year?

The Transition Year – which takes place in Ireland between the Junior Certificate and studying for the Leaving Certificate – is a programme designed to provide young Irish students with the opportunity to discover their own talents, aptitudes and abilities, whilst also developing skills and competencies outside of their academic achievements.

Once Irish tennis players get to age 15/16 (around their Transition Year), Tennis Ireland actively encourages these players to explore their options to travel and gain international experience. This is where we come in…

SotoTennis Academy is delighted to welcome aspiring Irish junior players to join us during their Transition Year, as well as players who have chosen to take a Gap Year from education. We provide the perfect opportunity for players to not only develop their tennis and competitor skills, but also gain the experience of spending time away from home in our Team Soto family environment.

We believe this time is invaluable for young players (and their parents) to make an informed decision as to which route to take their tennis going forwards.

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“The Transition Year in Ireland affords Irish junior tennis players an opportunity to get international experience at SotoTennis Academy in Spain, where two Irish Davis Cup players previously trained as juniors.

Junior players at STA will have opportunities to avail of regular local Spanish competition, and over the course of their Gap Year will have opportunities to gain experience at Tennis Europe and ITF events with coach support.

Peter Bothwell,
Former Full Time STA Player & Irish Number 1

“Our relationship with SotoTennis Academy has opened the door for new and exciting opportunities for both our players and coaches. Any of our players or coaches that have travelled to Soto have been struck by the warm and welcoming atmosphere the Academy provides.

We value the relationships that we build as a club and we know that anyone from Sutton that travels to Sotogrande will be given a wonderful tennis experience by Dan and all his team.”

Rob Turpin,
Tennis Director, Sutton LTC

Tournament Opportunities

Competitions play a pivotal role in a player’s development, both as an athlete and as an individual.

Here at SotoTennis Academy, all of our players – including those that have joined us on their Transition/Gap Year – have the opportunity to develop their competitive skills every week. They can do this by not only competing every Friday in our UTR-powered match play, but also by travelling to local and national tournaments here in Spain.

Depending on a player’s level, there are also opportunities to travel to international junior tournaments around the world, including Junior Grand Slams.


“I can’t recommend SotoTennis Academy enough times to do the place justice. It’s a fantastic base to train and experience what it feels like to live a day in the life of a professional tennis player.

As an Irish coach working at the Academy, I had the opportunity to experience the tournament structure in Spain first-hand – there are so many opportunities to compete within an hour’s drive of the Academy.

The STA Coaches and the Off Court Team care so much for each individual that arrives in Sotogrande. If you’re looking for a place to train abroad, this is it!” 

Eoin Considine, Travelling Tennis Coach based in Dublin, Ireland

Player Focus

In 2021, we welcomed Johnny Wilkinson (16) to the Academy as a Full Time Player on his Transition Year. We have seen Johnny hugely develop both as a tennis player and person on and off the court.

Throughout his time at the Academy so far, Johnny has been able to travel to and compete at national and international events, live with a wonderful Spanish host family, work on his language skills, and make friends for life! 

“Sending a 15 (now 16) year old to a foreign county alone is daunting! SotoTennis is an excellent tennis academy and needs no referencing, but, as parents of a Transition Year student, the year of self-development was extremely important to us. We have not been disappointed by STA’s package!    

Johnny has been given huge independence. He has had to take full responsibility for his timetable which includes his private lessons, his squads and his tournaments, as well as the Spanish lessons he has been having several times each week.

Whilst he has the full support of the team around him in Sotogrande, and the host family, the ultimate responsibility for his day to day routine rests with him.” 

Caitriona Hannigan, Johnny’s Mother


On the tennis court, Johnny has been a big part of Team Soto during his time with us so far.  Together with compatriot Hugh O’Sullivan, he reached the final of STA’s very own Progress Tour Tiebreak Tens Doubles Event.

Furthermore, Johnny has been exposed to international competition at a number of ITF events around the world. At the beginning of 2022, Johnny gained his first ITF Junior Ranking points after a successful trip to Senegal, Africa!

Johnny has had the chance to experience Spanish culture to the fullest by staying with a Spanish host family and having language lessons every week.

“We wanted our son, Johnny, to learn Spanish during his Transition Year, and SotoTennis Academy specially selected a wonderful Spanish family for Johnny to live with.

This family have similar age children, and from the moment we met them we could not have been more comfortable. Johnny is being minded as if he is a member of their family, which reassures us hugely. 

We note a huge improvement in his communication and organisation skills. He has really developed socially, as he went to Spain alone, and has had to start from scratch and make new friends. We are very happy with the Transition Year experience Johnny is having in Sotogrande, and we feel that the Academy has provided us with all the support we could want.

STA has given Johnny the best opportunity for his tennis to flourish, whilst at the same time encouraged his personal development skills and learning of a new language.”

Caitriona Hannigan, Johnny’s Mother

Host Families and Spanish Lessons


At SotoTennis Academy we are also very fortunate to be able to offer accommodation to our players through some amazing host families, both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, all located within the Sotogrande area.

Host families can provide transport and meals, as well as Wi-Fi for our players to be able to continue their studies. Spanish lessons can also be arranged if a player would like to work on their Spanish skills before putting them to practice around the house with their host family!

You can find more information about our brilliant Host Families in our Access Player Brochure here on page 10. 


“If you are serious about improving your tennis in a big way, I would recommend SotoTennis Academy. It is a professional environment where you are surrounded by a tight-knit group of players with similar goals in mind, and where you can improve each day.

Everyone is given a high level of technical, tactical, physical and mental training by the excellent coaches. If you are looking to study Spanish for the Leaving Certificate, I would also recommend staying with a Host Family, as you will experience the lifestyle of a Spanish family while hearing everyday language and expressions.” 

Hugh O’Sullivan, STA Access Player

If you have any questions about you or your child joining Team Soto during their Transition Year or Gap Year to train, compete and live in an international environment, you can:

or email info@sototennis.com directly to find out more.

We look forward to welcoming you to Sotogrande!  

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