Our Serve: Why they stay
If you’re like me, or probably like most people in the tennis industry, you have days when you wonder why you’re in this business at all.
You may be a retailer, struggling to maintain margin on the products you sell. Or a facility owner or manager, dealing with court repairs — again. Or a teaching pro, worried about your clinic numbers this season. Or a league captain, constantly trying to keep the peace between players. Sometimes, you just have to wonder why you do any of this at all. And not only that, but why you keep coming back for more.
Well, we may have stumbled on some answers.
Fourteen years ago, in our July 2000 issue, we did a story on “40 Under 40.” Our headline for the story back then proclaimed, “These men and women are examples of exceptional talent that will bring tennis into the new century.” So this past fall, we thought, let’s check up on the 40 people we chose for that feature story and see what they’re doing now. Did they, as we said they would, stick it out in tennis?
Surprisingly, many did, and are still at it, in all areas of this industry. When I dug that July 2000 issue out of my files and started paging through the story, I was surprised to see that we were pretty darn accurate back then with our picks. And many of those who didn’t stay in the tennis industry specifically went on to roles that often still have a tennis component.
Industry veteran Denny Schackter helped us make contact with the original 40 (it ended up that, despite our best efforts, one person seemed to have dropped off the grid), and Denny sent out a short series of questions for them to answer that included what their current job is, what working in tennis means to them, what they found most satisfying about tennis and the industry, and, if they’ve left the industry, whether they still play, coach or volunteer.
The answers, even from those who have since left the tennis industry, were eye-opening, and made me realize that, yeah, there may be bad days in this business, but there’s just a whole lot of good in this industry, too, and there are a whole lot of dedicated and passionate people who love this sport and consider working in tennis to not be “work” at all. Our update on what the original 40 are doing now is on page 20, and we’ve devoted the Your Serve on page 60 to some of their answers about how they feel about this sport and industry.
One of my favorite comments came from Pam Shriver: “At the end of my days, if I have given more back to tennis than I received, then I will consider myself a better person.”
It’s inspiring, and an honor, to be in such company.
Peter Francesconi, Editorial Director
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.