Tennis Industry magazine

 

On-the-Job Training

A young professional says the experiences she gained from her PTM internships have helped guide her career in the tennis industry.

By Allison Halbert

What makes a Professional Tennis Management Program unique? In the program, students receive a business degree and are able to choose between a concentration in marketing or resort management. Students are able to participate in professional workshops, network with industry leaders and gain “real world” experience through internships. All of this helps students have a better grasp of the whole tennis industry, not just a niche, providing them with a competitive edge.

I graduated from the PTM program at Ferris State University in 2007, and we were required to complete two internships prior to graduation. For many, those internships provide valuable experience and increase a graduate’s value in the marketplace. Nothing can compare to the experience you gain from being thrown into the fire and dealing with issues on the job. Internships help to assess what skills are needed in the real world, such as interpersonal skills, persistence and proactive approaches to handling problems.

When I was looking for internships, I knew I wanted to work both at an exclusive club and in a corporate environment. I felt it was important to have diverse experiences in the tennis industry.

My first internship was with the Philadelphia Cricket Club, one of the oldest, most prestigious clubs on the East Coast. I gained experience both on court teaching and off court by running USTA and club tournaments. In addition, I was able to be a part of the ITF Junior Grass Court Championships, which leads to players competing in the Junior Wimbledon event. Working seven days a week during my summer in Philly was common; it taught me a great deal about what it takes to be dedicated to what you do. Also living in a new city on my own and meeting new people was a growing-up experience.

For my second internship, I worked in Phoenix in the marketing department of Head/Penn Racquet Sports. I noticed quickly that the corporate environment is night and day compared to working at a club. Part of the country club culture is recreational and informal; the corporate environment was more serious. But it was definitely fulfilling. I was able to be a part of projects ranging from Chrysler National Promotional Sweepstakes, trade shows, promotional and sponsorship events as well as market research, which I loved.

After graduation, I gained even more on-court experience at Saddlebrook Resort, expanding my knowledge in a business environment, in which I completed a Marketing and Communications Internship with the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. All these opportunities gave me the chance to learn more about myself and what direction in tennis would be best for my skills and interests.

These experiences also made me understand that each company and organization has its own personality. When I finished my internship with the WTA, I had to ask myself what environment and company is best for me? I analyzed all my resources that I collected throughout my internships and college networking.

The first full-time position I took was as a pro shop attendee and assistant tennis professional. As time went on, my role shifted more toward the assistant tennis professional role, with my biggest responsibility as the Men’s Team Coordinator at an exclusive country club in Orlando. I was able to plan events and clinics and run two men’s leagues. When running a men’s program, persistence and follow-up is a key to success, as many members have hectic work schedules.

I was able to utilize my corporate marketing experience by promoting the men’s team and marketing the events. The country club I worked for had a small membership, so it was vital that I took a proactive and creative approach to keep members involved. My past internships prepared me for this with tangible job knowledge.

But there are some things internships cannot fully prepare you for, such as a changing economy, changes within the company, member issues, managing finances, co-workers and team involvement. While I was able to get a glimpse of these and other challenging issues in my internships, in real life they come at you with a different, higher level of intensity. I know the best thing that will help me is time — time to continue to experience life’s challenges.

But I learned that when times are tough, there are resources I can draw on: a supportive family, caring mentors, and as much experience as I can glean from my previous jobs and internships. All will help me grow as a person and as a professional.

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About the Author

Allison Halbert  graduated from Ferris State University’s Professional Tennis Management Program in 2007 with a business degree and marketing concentration. She worked at the Isleworth Country Club in Orlando, Fla., as an assistant tennis pro. Currently, she is a USPTA Pro 1 in Orlando, looking to continue her education in a master’s program.

 

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