Our Serve: The Next Chapters
I’ve been fortunate over the years to have attended a lot of industry-related events, from USTA meetings on national, sectional, district and local levels, to educational conferences from the PTR and USPTA, to meetings and forums presented by the TIA focusing on growth, and much more. I always find something useful in these gatherings, and I never get tired of meeting and networking with colleagues.
But in mid-March, I attended two concurrent meetings in Indian Wells, Calif. — the TIA Tennis Summit followed by the Tennis Owners & Managers (T.O.M.) Conference — that overall, may well have been the most informative in many years.
In full disclosure, since the mission of this magazine and the mission of the TIA are similar, I work with and for the TIA on many projects and campaigns, and I did help in organizing these two meetings. But, as with everything the TIA does, the meetings were more a product of help by the entire industry — many segments came together with the TIA and volunteered their time and expertise to help with the programs.
The Tennis Summit (see pages 14 and 20) had a great lineup of speakers and panelists from all walks of tennis, while the T.O.M. had tennis and club industry experts imparting their knowledge to help facility owners and managers run their businesses more efficiently and profitably. After three days at these meetings, I left exhausted, but thoroughly inspired to do what I can to keep growing this sport and get more people playing.
A number of speakers hit on themes that I’ve always felt are critical. Dr. Jim Loehr, for instance, who works with athletes in many sports, thinks tennis is absolutely the best overall for developing human beings, and for providing healthy exercise for body and mind. He feels we need to do a better job of selling this sport and its benefits.
I’ve long said we’re not getting “out there” enough with messages about all the benefits tennis can offer, and it was gratifying to hear Dr. Loehr and others talk about this. We all know these benefits, but we tend to speak to each other more than to the general public. We like to make ourselves feel good about this sport, but it’s time we focused outward and put together a consumer campaign to reach people who don’t wake up every morning thinking about tennis.
We must give people real, substantive reasons to play. We must do a better job of selling the health and fitness benefits of tennis to the general public. We need a targeted campaign to do this, one that pulls in all segments of this industry.
And we need to realize, whether a volunteer in tennis or someone who makes their living from this sport, that above all, this is a business. As much as we want to do things simply for the good of the game and to help humanity, we need to know we can stay in business and make money in this sport. When tennis companies start shutting down, this whole sport suffers.
The news in tennis isn’t all rosy. We have participation and retail sales challenges. Some of these were mentioned in Indian Wells, and hopefully, we as an industry won’t shy away from telling not just the good, but the bad and the ugly, too — then finding ways to improve things. The TIA meetings in Indian Wells provided a great launching pad for the next, critical chapters in our sport.
Peter Francesconi, Editorial Director
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.
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