Tennis Industry magazine

 

Community Tennis: Local Delivery

For Tennis Service Reps, it’s all about growing tennis in your area.

By Peter Francesconi

Growing tennis, and growing your tennis business, is all about being local. It all boils down to how many tennis players are playing at your facility, or on your local community or school courts.

Ten years ago, the USTA created the Tennis Service Representative (TSR) program — billed at the time as a “sales force for tennis” — to reach out and offer resource support to tennis providers looking to increase local participation and gain new customers. Every USTA section has TSRs, and while created by the USTA national office, TSRs are employees of the section they reside in.

“It’s fair to say that TSRs have a lot on their plates,” says Glenn Arrington, the USTA’s director for TSRs, High School and Tennis On Campus. “Not only do they provide resources and guidance to all types of tennis providers in their territories, but they also pitch in on sectional and national initiatives, industry campaigns and a host of other responsibilities. These are some of the hardest working people in tennis.

“Currently, there are more than 85 TSRs,” Arrington adds. “They have to stay up to date on new programs, initiatives and trends within the sport so they can provide useful ideas and solutions to their customers. In many ways, they act as tennis consultants, identifying resources to help you fill your courts and grow your business.”

“Our TSR team in Texas is how we do tennis delivery,” says Mike Carter, director of community development for USTA Texas, which has six TSRs. “It’s all about supporting those who are engaged in building local tennis opportunities, and that’s what our TSRs do so well.”

Arrington, with help from sales consultant (and 29-year former Wilson territory manager) Bob Pfaender, has been reaching out to TSRs and section staff to make sure they have what they need to build long-term relationships and grow tennis in communities. “The depth and breadth of what TSRs deal with on a daily basis is pretty amazing,” Arrington says.

For instance, Jon Kostek, a TSR for USTA New England, recently started a local Junior Team Tennis middle-school league in northern Connecticut. “We’ve used our relationships with Park & Rec departments and schools to form the league,” Kostek says. “Each school or town can enter teams.”

“Jon’s gotten a terrific response. The schools and towns love the format and love being able to offer organized, recreational play,” Arrington says.

USTA Intermountain TSR Toni Sinclair (in front row with red shirt) is a “Play Day master” — so far this year, she’s helped organize and conduct more than 130 of them, in addition to helping train CTAs and other organizations in how to do Play Days in a big — and fun — way.

“Since Toni has become involved as a TSR, the numbers (in our junior high clinics) have quadrupled,” says Nancy Sommerwerck, president of McCall CTA and director of the Donnelly Tennis Club in Boise, Idaho.

Molly Zimmer, a TSR for USTA Florida, partnered with YMCA Volusia County to train 65 staff for summer camps, then coordinated Kids Tennis Camps that saw 1,036 youngsters on court. “Each of the five sites doing the Kids Tennis Camps plans to continue them in after-school programs,” Zimmer says. “And the trained summer staff will also transition to providing after-school tennis.”

TSRs also are leveraging pro events. At the Western + Southern Open this past August in Cincinnati, USTA Midwest TSR Manager Jim Amick and his team hosted a High School Tennis Hospitality Day for coaches and players. “We had tons of fun,” Amick says. “It was great to support high school tennis, a great way to thank high school coaches and players for all they do in tennis.”

“Our TSRs are unique,” Arrington says, “able to keep a lot of balls in the air while growing participation for all ages. For tennis providers, connecting with the TSR in their area will be a win for everyone.”

For more information on Tennis Service Reps and to find the TSR who serves your area, visit USTA.com/TSR.

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About the Author

Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.

 

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