Tennis Industry magazine

 

A Growing Tennis Village

The TIA’s executive director says collaborations within the industry are what lead to the growth of the sport.

By Jolyn de Boer

Over the last 10 years, I’ve come to think of the Tennis Industry Association as Switzerland — a neutral ground where ideas can be freely explored and developed, where all brands can live in harmony, and where there is a collective group of manufacturers, organizations, retailers, teaching pros, court contractors, facilities, pro groups, and tennis media who all are working for the good of the sport. All of these constituents have ownership in the TIA and its mission, which is to promote the growth and economic vitality of tennis.

In 1995 I started working directly for then-TIA President Kurt Kamperman. That year, we announced the Grow the Game Initiative at the Super Show in Atlanta — the start of numerous collaborative efforts among industry businesses and organizations. When Kurt moved on to his current position as USTA chief executive of Community Tennis, I knew it would be great for tennis and a positive relationship-builder for the TIA.

Jim Baugh succeeded Kurt as TIA president, and during his three-year term I saw single-minded passion that resulted in successful launches of the Tennis Welcome Center and Cardio Tennis initiatives.

It underscores a basic fact I’ve observed: Industry-wide collaborations in tennis make for successful ventures. And that’s what is truly unique about the TIA. This spirit carries us into 2007, with new TIA President Dave Haggerty of HEAD Penn, and a fully committed Board of Directors and Executive Committee, which includes Jon Muir of Wilson, Doug Fonte of Prince, and Kurt Kamperman of the USTA. Our board members are leaders in business who make up all areas of the industry and give the TIA depth and direction. The TIA is everyone’s vehicle to impact tennis.

My Early Tennis Tribe

Growing up in Reading, Pa., tennis was a major part of my life. Every day after school, anywhere from eight to 16 (or more) of us would be at various courts around the city. We’d take turns playing, doing homework, eating, and then meeting back up on lighted courts later so we could play after dark. We had courts along the river, on the mountain overlooking the city, under the viaduct, at schools and parks — too many to recall.

While my formal instruction was mainly through the schools, my tennis game wasn’t about the competition as much as the social aspect. It was great fun. I was an unofficial missionary for the game back then, convincing friends and family members to pick up a racquet.

I converted my future husband, a commercial airline pilot, to switch careers to tennis. Since 1990, he has been the director of tennis at Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The majority of my former tennis friends are still avid players and many have made it their career, including me. Nearly 24 years ago my path was re-connected to tennis, the last decade with the TIA. I feel very fortunate to work in this game I love.

Throughout my history in business, I’ve worked directly with — and learned from — many great leaders and visionaries. After college, I worked for retail legend Albert Boscov in the special events and marketing department of Boscov’s Department Stores. Then I was hired by the president of Club Med to help establish their first retail sales office in Manhattan.

In the early 1980s, my “pilot-turned-tennis-pro” husband and I moved to Hilton Head, and I became the marketing and advertising director for Dennis Van der Meer, where I met the first of many amazing people in this industry. After eight years, I started my own marketing and advertising agency, working with the likes of Stan Smith, the Family Circle Cup, the South Carolina Tennis Association, the TIA, and many other businesses. I realized, however, that the TIA was where I belonged.

A Bright Future

The TIA is a group of positive people working for a common good, who want only the best for tennis. That spirit of collaboration has been pervasive in the organization for many years. Our board, our members, and the participating partners — many who give a percentage of their sales — enable the TIA to “perform” to its fullest. The USTA is a major partner in our success, too, and we very much value our growing, positive relationship.

Through our research partners Sports Marketing Surveys, W&W Services Inc., and Taylor Research Group, the TIA produces more than 80 market intelligence reports and surveys annually, including the annual Participation Study, plus consumer and census reports that monitor ball and racquet shipments.

The TIA remains focused on improving the health of the game for all constituents. Tennis is on the rise and all areas of the industry are working together to keep the momentum going.

When I visit my hometown these days, it’s good to see the tennis courts in Hampden Park are full of tennis players, not skateboarders.

And it makes me proud to be part of this growing tennis village.

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About the Author

Jolyn de Boer  is an avid player, and has been in the tennis industry for 26 years and is the executive director of the Tennis Industry Association.

 

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