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Three Keys to Building an Elite Tennis Program


According to the American Tennis Association, the first tennis court in the U.S. was built in 1876. Since, many health clubs have offered tennis programs as a way to boost ancillary revenue and increase community.

This includes Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club, which has a foundation in tennis. The club came to fruition in 1974 under the ownership of Paul Ramsey, a Hollywood real estate developer, and Wendel Niles, a television producer.

Toluca Lake Tennis and Fitness Club’s tennis program is currently led by tennis director Ben Brunkow, a nationally ranked doubles champion, and Christian Straka, the club’s head tennis pro. Under their leadership, the program hosts USTA matches, plays inter-club tournaments with other tennis clubs in the community and conducts special charity tournaments on a regular basis.

Although some clubs have moved away from offering tennis, Adam James, the gym’s general manager, explained tennis will always be a focus. “The club will continue to provide the Toluca Lake and Hollywood community with elite tennis and fitness facilities and services for years to come,” he said.

According to James, there are multiple benefits to hosting a robust tennis program, including fostering a social bond among members, providing members with a great physical workout and boosting the club’s revenue.

“The bottom line for a club is positively impacted by tennis because members will pay more for quality courts and services,” continued James. “Players are always looking for an edge and they will participate in private tennis lessons, clinics and personal training for strength and sports conditioning. Also, tennis tournaments are an excellent source for exposure, marketing, revenue and building club spirit.”

However, there are challenges to boasting a tennis program. James explained it can be expensive to maintain quality facilities, and finding and keeping quality instructors is a challenge. In addition, tennis is a high-service offering.

“Few sports demand more service attention than tennis,” said James. “Handling court reservations, organizing tennis tournaments, arranging games for new members and balancing tennis lessons with matches all demands a very high level of customer service. These are all situations that require management supervision and excellent staff members who can answer every question and solve every crisis.”

Regardless of the challenges, James think there’s great opportunity in a tennis program. “It provides a unique opportunity to provide five-star service and create long-term relationships with your members,” he said.

Adam James’ Three Keys to Building an Elite Tennis Program:

Amazing people: “Tennis is a people sport and the health club industry is all about people. It starts with hiring and developing the best employees. Investing in the club staff is the best investment of all. Take time to find people who match your club mission and vision. Then provide extensive training so they understand how to provide the highest level of service and sport.”

Top-quality facilities: “Members want to play tennis and workout in an environment that is clean and safe. You don’t have to build new facilities, but you do need to do consistent maintenance to the facilities that you do have at your club. You should also look to make little improvement every year like new benches, water dispensers on the courts or new nets.”

Get involved in the tennis community and give back: “One of the best ways to add quality to your tennis program is to host USTA matches and charity Pro-Am events. The USTA is building tennis across the country and hosting USTA matches gets more people who play tennis in your local community to visit your club. Also, conducting charity Pro-Am events will bring well known players to your club and most importantly, it will raise money for a worthy cause. Lastly, by offering a program for people with special needs, under privileged children, veterans, seniors and others, you will connect even deeper with the community.”

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko

Rachel Zabonick-Chonko is the editor-in-chief of Club Solutions Magazine. She can be reached at rachel@peakemedia.com.

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