Let Them Play
I must strongly disagree with Angela Buxton’s Your Serve in the April issue (“Too Much of a Good Thing?”). I believe today’s pro tennis players are very aware of the fitness level required to compete in their sport and know their own limits. I would not want to deprive the competitors or the fans of such a rare and beautiful extended battle of wills when the skill sets of the players match so closely to one another.
Ms. Buxton’s fear for the tennis player’s safety is unwarranted. I use as an example the Ironman triathlon with its 2.4-mile swim, 112 miles on a bike, and 26.2-mile run, all completed without a changeover or stop in a little over 8 hours by the best in the world. Certainly the Ironman is much more demanding on the body than tennis.
Yes, tennis is taxing on your body and requires amazing coordination and skill. But it’s a non-contact sport in which you play your game in a controlled environment, have breaks every two games and can call a trainer if need be. In tennis, the player is truly the master of their own destiny. Let them play — for as long as they want, or as long as they can.
I will also say that a large part of the beauty of the sport is its unpredictability as far as the length of match and who might win. Why take anything away from the sport, or prevent especially rare and special moments for the sake of not inconveniencing the networks? What a crime that would be.
Anyone who knows tennis understands what they are getting into when the match starts. It could be short and sweet or a long, tough battle. Tennis was never intended to be played in the allotted time, it is to be played until the match is over … especially at the highest level of competition in the sport.
Hard-Working Sales Reps
I’ve been fortunate to work for some of the best racquet companies in the industry, and now I’m also fortunate to have a dedicated and loyal dealer base in the Mid-Atlantic. I’ve worked with some of the very best teaching professionals in tennis, squash, platform tennis, and racquetball. Recently, I completed certification for PTR to teach adults and children. And I’ve been able to forge excellent relationships with USTA Maryland, USTA Virginia and the Baltimore Tennis Patrons.
In response to Peter Francesconi’s “Our Serve” in the May issue about demanding more from your sales reps, I’ve tried to attend as many trade shows, events, promotions, and other tennis-related activities as could be accommodated. Could I have done more? Maybe, but I did the best I could to balance work, family, company and personal responsibilities.
I do know that I’ve been blessed to have spent the past 30 years working in a vibrant, stimulating, yet family-style industry. I like to think that everyone — dealers, teaching pros, USTA competitors, etc. — consider me a friend and ally.
Helpful Sales Reps
I like for my sales reps to initiate the contact between us. My two main reps are tennis players at a high level and know the game. They are active at state meetings and keep up with junior players and programs. I think one of the biggest problems is that many reps cover a vast territory and do not have time to have much face to face contact with shops that are not in their immediate home area.
In tennis, reps also have to be careful how they handle each account because of the fierce competition between shops and clubs that all service the same clients and prospects. I have heard of clubs that actually try to keep the reps from opening new accounts in their vicinity, and this can put the reps in a bad position.
But in my area, shops do try to support each other by sending customers to other shops when we may not have the merchandise the customers need in stock. Tennis shops’ main concern is to keep customers from purchasing online. This is why it is important to be able to get merchandise rapidly from the companies our reps represent. Many times small shops who cannot pre-book often find the manufacturers out when they try to order items as they sell them. Oftentimes the reps can help with this problem, and in fact mine have.
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TI magazine articles
- Our Serve: What We Need
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- Retailing 133: Hiring Smart
- International Tennis Hall of Fame: Five Who Moved This Sport Forward
- Pioneers in Tennis: History Lessons
- Selling Footwear: Gaining a Foothold
- Tennis Research: State of the Industry
- Fall Introductions: The Sum of Its Parts
- Fall Introductions: New and Improved