Our Serve: It's about more than just the job
Every business has its movers and shakers — the high-profile types who keep pushing, get a lot of things done, and, because of their effectiveness, tend to receive a lot of attention.
Right now in tennis, it is an important time for movers and shakers. The new marketing campaign for the sport is starting to hit at the consumer level, and the Tennis Welcome Center program — which is the biggest initiative ever in this sport to bring people into the game — is beginning to get under way. In addition, the sport is on the verge of seeing a “U.S. Open Series” of pro tournaments that lead into the Open, something that fans will love.
But it’s also a time when the influence of many not-so-high-profile people and initiatives are beginning to be noticed more and more. Case in point is a man by the name of Kirk Anderson.
Kirk doesn’t seek the limelight — he’s a soft-spoken man who knows that while it’s important to have people out front leading the charge, it’s even more important to have competent people behind the scenes making it all happen. Kirk is what the “player” side of this business is all about. And it’s people such as Kirk that the game needs to have even more of.
Currently the director of the Community Play department at the USTA, Kirk has done pretty much everything in this sport over the last 30 years — player, recreation department instructor, teaching pro (both PTR and USPTA), club manager, promotions manager, program administrator, volunteer, author of books and articles. He was with the USTA Midwest Section for seven years and joined the USTA national office eight years ago.
He travels a lot, giving clinics, teaching the teachers, designing curriculum. And the guy is fantastic. So fantastic, in fact, that the International Tennis Hall of Fame just awarded him its Tennis Educational Merit Award, an honor for which the Hall of Fame could not have found a better recipient.
The point of all this is, yes, to give Kirk his due, but also to point out that for Kirk — and for many others like him — tennis is more than a job, more than a simple source of income. When he’s not working on the clock for tennis, he’s, well, still “working” for tennis. And it’s fair to say that Kirk and others like him have kept tennis alive even through the lean years. To use an overworked phrase, he’s on a mission — and he’s been on that mission for more than 30 years.
There are, of course, many others out there who not only do their jobs and do them well, but also go well beyond the scope of their jobs when it comes to working “for” tennis. For instance, in this issue of RSI, you’ll meet three retailers who also take the attitude that tennis is more than just punching in and out as they pass through their pro shop doors. And you’ll read about a facility owner in Pennsylvania who adopts that same attitude when it comes to programming for new and returning players.
You know, it just makes sense to see tennis as more than a 9-to-5 job — not just for your own piece of business, but also for the sport as a whole. It’s also the best way to ensure that, while we all may not be holding aloft a well-deserved trophy or plaque, we will all — like Kirk Anderson — still be award-winners.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.