Tennis Industry magazine


Tennis NOW Through 'Coopetition'

By Crawford Lindsey

There is nothing wrong with trying to sell the most racquets, build the most courts, recruit the most members, or teach the most players. In fact, that is what guarantees that the best products and services will be available to all customers of a given category. Competition is what creates added value for consumers. Competition between rivals in any tennis business category is good, and being a good competitor is prerequisite to success.

But another key to success might be to focus beyond your particular category. What if we had an infrastructure of “coopetition” between tennis business categories? That means that we compete within a category, but we cooperate between categories. What if every tennis business had a formal, reciprocal business relation with at least two to five other tennis businesses in the community? The goal of this relationship would be for each business to engage actively in bringing business to the other.

For example, if a customer is buying a racquet at a tennis shop, why not have the store formally set the player up with a partner, schedule a lesson with a pro, enter them in a league or tournament, or schedule them a court? If the customer now has a new racquet, let’s make sure he is going to use it — a lot! And let’s make sure of it now, when the customer is in the retailer’s presence.

No matter at what “node” of the tennis business infrastructure a consumer/player is located, whether making a purchase, asking a question — or whatever — why not have that node facilitate, orchestrate, and motivate the entire tennis experience, if need be, for that person? Instead of, “Do you want fries with your cheeseburger,” it should be, “Would you like a court, partner, lesson, program, league, tournament, etc., with that racquet? I can set you up right now.”

Retail stores are a focal point of tennis. Everyone has to have a racquet before they go to the court. As such, they are the perfect candidates to become “Tennis NOW Coordination Centers.” And any shop that wants to compete by cooperating can do so. They just have to set it up. Every racquet sold should at least come with a contact list of area courts, clubs, stringers, teaching pros, leagues, programs, partner matching services, and court builders.

In a perfect world, such coopetition would push players to play more. And players who play more draw other players into playing more. And more players playing create a vitality and energy that begins to seep into the community. The energy resonates with nonplayers, who, before you know it, become players. Soon there is more of everything for everybody.

Oops! There’s my alarm. Time to wake up. Man, I had a strange dream.

Crawford Lindsey

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About the Author

Crawford Lindsey  is co-author of The Physics and Technology of Tennis and Technical Tennis



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