Tennis Industry magazine


Building Boom

The upsurge in tennis is providing more building and renovating opportunities, but court builders need to market themselves now.

By Mary Helen Sprecher

Tennis is surging in this country, and builders and suppliers in the tennis court market are already seeing harbingers of that growth, particularly at the parks and recreation level, where many new players will be starting out.

“We have seen a huge increase in inquiries and construction in the park and rec departments, as well as the school markets, since the end of the third quarter of 2007,” says Rick Burke of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based NGI Sports Inc. “The first quarter of ‘08 has already shown to be more active than the past with inquiries for tennis court reconstruction for these areas up over 300 percent.”

tennis court construction

Fred Manchester of Manchester Tennis Courts in Lexington, S.C., has noticed an uptick in requests for bids not just in new construction, but in reconstruction of existing facilities — a better sign than wanting to turn tennis courts into basketball courts or playgrounds. “In the past three months, I have seen requests for bids from seven different government sources,” says Manchester. “These projects have ranged from top dressing to hard-court resurfacing, to asphalt overlays to new construction to enlarge existing facilities.”

Those interested in renovating or building new public courts have been calling places like the American Sports Builders Association and requesting construction documents. “Tennis is on the right track,” says Carol Hogan, executive vice president of the ASBA. “Finally.”

Making It Happen

The bad news? There is no real bad news — just a caveat, really. Those who want to take advantage of the new wave need to start now — not next season, not in the off-season and certainly not “some day.”

Richard Zaino of Zaino Tennis Courts in Orange, Calif., says his company regularly reaches out to municipalities — without asking for a return.

“We advertise and make available guidelines and specifications to the cities and schools for repairs, resurfacing and construction,” Zaino says. “We provide these free to the owners along with inspections and budget costs.” Zaino also provides recommendations and information to homeowners’ associations, but believes he “could be more proactive in promoting the game.”

If promoting the game itself seems to be outside the job description of builders and suppliers, think of the trickle-down effect: With more courts being built and rehabbed at high schools, colleges, then at homes, there will be more players (not to mention more work for builders). Then, how about more Grand Slam winners coming from the U.S.? The possibilities are there.

“We in the industry would do well to contact all types of entities to help promote tennis,” says Jonnie Deremo of General Acrylics Inc. in Phoenix. Deremo believes contractors should reach out to city councils, parks and recs, non-profit youth programs, school athletic directors, police athletic leagues, fresh-air fund camps and more.

“I think the biggest thing we all can do now is to talk about our success and think tennis as we plan meetings, promote social events and our own activities,” says John Welborn of Lee Tennis in Charlottesville, Va. “If, knowing what we know, we are not playing more and more tennis, we don’t have any chance of influencing others for the game.

“As a company, we live and breathe tennis. You have to live it to fan the flame.”

Making It Happen for You

To keep tennis on the upswing, court builders need to make sure they continue to market themselves to schools, cities and more. Here are some hints from successful builders.

Making It Happen for Tennis

helping to market the game of tennis, builders and suppliers can greatly influence the number of players in this country.

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About the Author

Mary Helen Sprecher  is the managing editor of Sports Destinations Management Magazine, a niche business-to-business publication for planners of sports travel events, in addition to being an RSI Contributing Editor. She is the technical writer for the American Sports Builders Association and works as a newspaper reporter in Baltimore City.



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