Tennis Industry magazine


Facility Management: Party Lines

Make a celebration sizzle and connect with your customers in an exciting way by throwing a tennis party at your facility.

By John Torsiello

Throwing a good party at your tennis facility is more than putting out some brie, crackers, merlot and a few Bud Lights. If you want to make the celebration sizzle and get people buzzing about playing tennis at your club, then you have to wow your customers.

“Much like planning any party, it is important to know what the point of and goal of the party or event is,” says Heidi Hiller, owner and creative director for Maryland-based Innovative Party Planners. There are several basic, important elements to consider when planning an event, she adds. “Is this a celebration in honor of someone, an organization, a fun competition, a fund-raiser or some other type of celebration? These will help determine how much planning will be needed. A casual get-together with friends will take far less organization and planning than a fundraiser, for example.”

Hiller advises considering whether or not you want your guests to play tennis, if you want to serve food and/or drinks, whether you want entertainment and what type of guest seating you will need. If some guests are playing tennis, consider how to keep the rest of your guests entertained.

Create a Plan

“There’s nothing worse than a frazzled host or hostess,” says Julie Albert, who alongside Lisa Gnat operates the party-planning website and business

To avoid this, prepare diligently, choosing recipes that can be prepped in advance, setting tables ahead of time and paying attention to details, such as creating a themed music playlist. (“Great tennis tunes include ‘Hit Me with Your Best Shot’ by Pat Benatar, ‘Billie Jean’ by Michael Jackson, ‘No Return’ by the Kinks and ‘Great Balls of Fire’ by Jerry Lee Lewis,” says Albert.)

“We love to set the mood for the party with themed food and drink — Pimm’s cocktail, champagne punch, strawberry and cream cake,” Gnat says.

Albert and Gnat also like to use invitations to set the tone for a party. “Not only do they tell where and when, but also what guests should wear,” Albert says. “A fun way to invite people to your tennis party might be to print up labels with details and deliver them stuck on tennis ball cans. If you’re feeling a little less hands-on, you can find great themed invites on Paperless Post.”

Whether or not you want to involve playing tennis as part of the party is contingent upon the type of party it is, says Michele Cope of C & H Events of Florida. “If it is more of a special occasion or an opportunity for members, guests and acquaintances to get to know one another, a simple cocktail party may provide greater opportunities for guests to mingle than playing tennis.”

As for the length, Cope says it should be based on what type of party you are conducting. A cocktail party may be only an hour or so. If dinner is involved, it could take a few hours. “It also depends upon what day the party is held,” Cope adds. “During the week, I would keep the function a little shorter; on the weekend, it can be longer.”

Surprise With Prizes

Outlining the party’s format prior to the event ensures a clean start and generates clear expectations for each attendee, says Lori Slavin Conroy, events coordinator for the Tennis Center at Sand Point in Seattle. If tennis playing is involved, have prizes for the winners — but also offer surprise prizes for others. This is a fun way to acknowledge those who may not have played the best tennis during the party, but contributed to the revelry in other ways, such as wearing best costume, or being the most improved player.

“Players like to play, so give them at least two to two-and-a-half hours on the court with short breaks in between,” Slavin Conroy says. Mixing partners makes for a more social and cohesive group. “We like to start social events with mixed matches (best players with the newer players) just to keep the playing field level. Additionally, although we often serve adult beverages, it’s really best to hold off on serving alcohol until after play.”

No matter what type of party you’re hosting, don’t underestimate the impact of a thoughtful plan. By putting a little extra time and effort into your event, your clientele will be telling their friends what an exciting place your facility is every day of the week.



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