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An Effective Use of Time

June 2, 2006 10:49 AM

By Kevin Theos

Since the beginning of the year, upwards of 80 USTA Tennis Service Representatives (TSRs) have been meeting with pros and tennis program directors throughout the country to develop strategies for increasing participation and acting as informational resources. While reviews of the TSRs have been outstanding, there are still many pros who have not met with their TSR and probably at least some of whom question whether such a visit would be valuable.

The answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!” Developing a relationship with your TSR is valuable for at least four reasons. First, in sharp contrast with traditional USTA efforts, the TSRs are encouraged to help build tennis participation primarily by meeting the individual needs of each facility, while only secondarily being focused on promoting USTA programs. This means that if a pro wants ideas about how to get more club members to play in an internal non-USTA league, the TSR will attempt to help with this initiative. Or if a facility wants to encourage home-schooled children to take lessons when the courts are empty during the late morning or early afternoon, which would have no immediate direct benefit to the USTA, TSRs will help with that as well. TSRS can provide marketing support, information on other successful similar efforts, or simply help the “customer walk through his business plan.”

Yes, TSRs are employees of their respective USTA sections. However, our job goes well beyond the bounds of the USTA. We promote the brand “TENNIS” first and foremost. Whether a particular program “belongs” to the USTA or not doesn’t matter—our task is to connect you with programs and services that fit your needs.

Second, as noted in the above example, by meeting with so many pros and tennis directors at various facilities, TSRs learn what is or is not working in each community and how these programs have developed over time. Once your TSR has a thorough grasp of your facility’s situation and goals, he or she can share knowledge from the field and potentially help invigorate your facility’s programs with new ideas. This can save you and your facility significant time and money by helping you avoid steps of the trial-and-error process.

For example, some pros wish to develop relationships with schools in order to gain more students. TSRs and their colleagues, the USTA School Tennis Coordinators, can suggest the most efficient and effective methods for approaching schools, saving pros’ time and maximizing their results.

Third, not only do we gain and share knowledge from the field, but also, we’re fortunate to have an excellent support system through the USTA, the 17 USTA sections, and the Tennis Industry Association. Working with our national manager, Mark McMahon, and his staff, we have extensive USTA and non-USTA program information and resources right at our fingertips that can help your business and answer your questions.

One difficulty that pros have is that they lack the time to sift through the extensive USTA and non-USTA program and grant materials available to find the most useful information. Why waste your valuable time and resources tracking down information that may, or may not, be able to help you and your business? We have that information available to help you out. That’s what we do.

Fourth, and perhaps the most surprising benefit of meeting with your TSR, is that the USTA is providing the TSRs free of charge, which differs markedly from other industries where an individual business consultant can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. This is our job—to help the brand of tennis gain more exposure and increase participation, while at the same time helping you to increase your business.

By working closely with facilities, and helping them achieve their individual goals, whether they involve the USTA or not, TSRs and the rest of the tennis family are poised to make significant progress toward reaching the goal of 30 million players by 2010.

Don’t be left behind—start working with your TSR today! We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to
rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

Kevin Theos is the USTA Southern Section TSR for Alabama. He is a USPTA pro with more than 15 years teaching experience and is the former executive director of the Birmingham Area Tennis Association.




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