I am often asked the questions, What makes a tennis program so special? And, Why do you think some programs are better than others? There is no easy answer when it comes to discussing what a top tennis program looks like, but there are indicators that a person should be able to find when thinking of joining a club. At the country club level, people who are looking for a top tennis program should look beyond what happens on the tennis courts!
Yes, tennis courts are important. The surface, the cleanliness of the facility, the water irrigation, the fences and the lines are all important, but it is not the whole picture.
There is a large factor that many clubs fail to recognize, which is integration with other departments. The tennis department should work closely with many different areas of the club, including golf, fitness, food and beverage, pickleball, croquet and bocce.
Golf remains to be the main driver of new club members and clubs that do not also integrate tennis are missing a big part of the business. Many golfers no longer play tennis because of physical limitations. Often, they afraid to try tennis and hurt themselves. Bridging the gap between these two departments leads to a growth in activity and a gain in new players.
Fitness is another aspect of integration with Tennis. Racquetfit is the newest program which combines personal trainers, physical therapists and tennis professionals all under the same approach to make a player better. Cardio Tennis is another tennis/fitness program that has been around for years but very few clubs have implemented it to its full capacity. The closer tennis and fitness work together, the healthier and stronger members will feel.
Food and Beverage is also very important as they enhance the social aspect of tennis. F&B can be a wonderful marketing tool to retain existing members, expand offerings to members who are not tennis players, and retain current members.
Pickleball has grown tremendously in the past few years. There is a myth that tennis players will give up playing tennis to play pickleball, but it is not necessarily true. There is no question that both sports have their similarities, but they are different. Tennis and Pickleball programs are capable of coexisting programs and can be beneficial to each other as both sports bring more attention to non-tennis players.
Bocce and croquet are known for being social sports where families come together to play at any level. When a tennis program can see the opportunity and create events which combines bocce or croquet with tennis, it hits a jackpot. Many times, families are afraid of playing tennis due to its competitiveness, but when you add the social aspect and take the scoring away from it, families will tend to try to play more tennis.
When searching for a country club, the integration of programming between departments is very important. The country club should strive to enhance the ability of members to know other departments and encourage different activities
By Jose Pastrello
Director of Court Sports