In Good Company
Creating a corporate tennis league in your area will bring more business to your facility.
Clubs and pros looking to generate revenue easily and effectively, and reach a whole new audience, can now create business by catering to business.
More than 100 companies now participate in corporate tennis leagues in 20 cities across the U.S. The program, presented by the USTA and World TeamTennis, offers thousands of players the chance to hit the courts with their colleagues for fun, co-ed competition. “It’s a great networking opportunity, socially and professionally,” says Ilana Kloss, CEO and commissioner of World TeamTennis.
For those in the tennis industry who make the leagues happen as coordinators, the benefits to their business and the game are numerous. “You put a lot of people on a limited number of courts, and you get to expose your facilities to companies in the area,” says Delaine Mast, WTT Recreational League national director. Once league competition begins, several facets of your business will reap the benefits — from equipment sales at the pro shop, to membership sales, to private lessons for league players looking to raise their game.
The corporate league that Annette Broersma, a USTA tournament director, organized in Irvine, Calif., turned out to be good news for the bottom line of the restaurant at the Newport Beach Tennis Club, the host site. Each Sunday in April and May, five teams of teaching pros and staff from local private tennis clubs competed for bragging rights, then would meet up after the matches at the restaurant. The participants are employees of clubs that Broersma collaborates with to present junior tournaments. “We interface all the time, so I was happy to do this,” she says. “It’s easy.”
“Overall, league management is not much harder than recruiting teams and scheduling matches,” says Glenn Arrington, USTA national manager of Collegiate and Corporate Tennis. “The glue that holds all of this together is the ability to provide adequate communication to participants.”
Pros and clubs interested in organizing and hosting a corporate tennis league can get help from World TeamTennis (866-PLAY-WTT). Facilities need a site license; for the $350 investment they get professionally-designed marketing materials, a free WTT web page, the ability to send teams to the WTT Nationals, and much more.
Once a facility is registered, organizers can scout league teams. Leagues can be intercompany, where different corporations play each other, or intracompany, made up of teams within the same company. According to Mast, league coordinators have had the most luck finding company teams by contacting local tennis players, asking them where they work and if they’d like to start a team.
In Key Biscayne, Fla., Elaine Wingfield’s corporate league is made up of a unique mix of organizations, including the military, a fire department, and faculty and staff from the University of Miami. “It’s not your typical definition of ‘corporate,’” says Wingfield, director of Miami Recreational and Corporate Leagues. “You have to think outside the box a little.” A company team can enter a league as long as all employee-players are on the same payroll. And as long as half its members are employees, a team can recruit family and friends to play as well.
Convincing a company to join a league can be an easy sell, with a format that caters to people with busy lives. It doesn’t matter how many people show up to play, as long as two men and two women are available to compete. “They know exactly the time commitment,” says Mast. “Everything’s done in two hours.”
Major corporations like General Electric and American Express have gotten on board. “We see a trend in companies looking to connect with and engage their employees in a social setting,” says Arrington. “There’s a definitive need for team building in the workplace. Corporate tennis leagues can help address these needs.”
For more information about corporate tennis leagues, contact Delaine Mast at 866-PLAY-WTT or visit WTT.com.
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for Tennis Industry magazine.