Municipal tennis facility of the year: Gates T.C.
Every year, 125,000 unique visitors walk through the doors of the Gates Tennis Center, making it one of the largest and busiest public facilities in the USTA Intermountain Section. It would be easy for Gates to bank on its “location, location, location” in downtown Denver to ensure long-term sustainability. But the highly motivated proprietors have always set the bar much higher.
“There is no denying this is a special place,” says Ted Bradley, general manager of the center, which has operated for more than 30 years without city funds. “Our owners are really driven to see tennis in Denver succeed. We want our facility to be a recreational hub that provides the absolute highest quality programs for people of all ages, abilities and backgrounds.” And for all its success in those goals, Gates is Tennis Industry’s Municipal Facility of the Year.
Gates Tennis Center is a “pay as you play” public facility with no residency requirements. All 20 courts are outdoors, with four courts with blended lines and four more to be added in 2016. Gates also has four 36-foot courts.
“The current management group has done a lot over the years to bring to light that this is not a private club, but a public facility with a wide array of programs, events and activities for the community,” says USTA Colorado Executive Director Fritz Garger. “In addition to their own events and programs, Gates hosts USTA-sanctioned junior, adult and senior leagues as well as a number of USTA sanctioned tournaments that include Futures/Entry level and Challengers/Intermediate A.C.E. one-day format junior events, junior championship and USTA Colorado’s Colorado State Open.” — Wendy Anderson
Tips for Success
- Personally connect with clients. “Only 20 percent of emails are opened, so our staff spends hours each week making personal phone calls to players,” says Bradley.
- Trust your pros and make sure they are your biggest advocates. “Someone taking a lesson may not want to play in a certain program, but if their pro encourages them to try it, many more of them will.”
- Offer creative programming and be open to new ideas. Be willing to take a risk, analyze and tweak.
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