Tennis Industry magazine


Your Serve: Want More Business?

Take a Look At What You’re Doing, Then Change It.

By Roger Cox

I’ve spent the last two decades visiting tennis resorts, clubs and camps in order to give avid players advice about where to go to play tennis. The research has taken me to more than 350 tennis resorts and clubs and some 50 tennis camps on five continents and exposed me, firsthand, to a broad spectrum of programs and services. No one can do my job and not become a critic.

But while I’ve concentrated on giving advice to avid players — that is, your customers — it’s hard not to notice which tennis facilities are doing things to encourage play and repeat visits, and hence increase their money-making opportunities. Knowing what can be done to create a great tennis experience has made me acutely attuned to certain lapses, things that could easily be remedied with a simple change in policy or attitude.

You want more business? You want more people on your courts? Here’s what you need to do to help make the tennis experience the best possible.

First Impressions

There is a subtle but important difference between “Hi, can I help you?” and “Hi, can I set up some tennis?” The first, though friendly enough, is what you say to a retail customer. The second assumes that the person is there because he wants to play or drill or take lessons. It gives your staff a chance to lay out the options, and it immediately makes the guest part of the tennis family.

Game Matching

For tennis facilities, no service is more important to your business than the ability to set up players with matches, or to place them in clinics with players at a similar level. For resorts, most people go on a tennis vacation expecting to play, and if they can’t for lack of an opponent, the fault lies with the resort staff. A hitting lesson with a pro is no substitute. For a club, you need to be aware of your players, their level of play and their availability on short notice, and you need to offer members plenty of opportunities to get out on the court.


Whenever I revisit a resort that I haven’t been to for several years, I’m always taken aback when the menu of programs and services is unchanged since my last trip. The argument I hear is, “We’ve figured out what works and so we stick with it.” But if you haven’t tried other programs or services, how do you know that there isn’t something better? Great clubs, resorts and camps periodically experiment with changes, partly because it keeps the staff and programs from stagnating, partly because it’s exciting for return guests to experience new options, and mostly because they’re constantly striving to get better.

Minimum Number of Participants

A player who has signed up for a group clinic arrives at the appointed hour only to be told that the minimum number of participants has not been met and so the clinic has been canceled. Wait. It’s not the player’s fault, and he’s already set aside that time. The best clubs and camps run their full program regardless of the number of participants, willingly sacrificing a few dollars for the goodwill it generates.


I’m appalled by the number of tennis facilities I come across that don’t gather e-mail addresses. It is the least expensive form of marketing you can do. What if a tournament or some other event scheduled to begin in three weeks doesn’t have many entries? What if you’ve just hired new staff or added new programs? What if you’ve made significant enhancements to the facility? You can send an e-mail blast for no cost but the time it takes to write it.

Some pros also use e-mail addresses to follow up on lessons, with reminders of the crucial points they focused on. Others use it to request feedback and comments. And some, let’s be realistic, use the list to let past pupils know when they move to another club or resort. Put a clipboard on the counter and let players voluntarily provide their e-mail addresses (make sure to spell out a privacy policy asserting that the list will not be sold). That way you’re only sending to people who actually want to hear from you.

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About the Author

Roger Cox is the founder of Tennis Resorts Online, an award-winning guide to tennis resorts and camps worldwide.



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