USPTA Elite Professional Bill Phillips with student Kirk Harrison.
Even though I had some excellent mentors, having a Tennis Service Representative (TSR) to assist me in my early years as a young teaching pro could have helped me in so many ways that would have made a positive difference.
I would have been a much better pro by taking advantage of the opportunities to further my tennis education. I would have been able to learn how to develop grassroots tennis programs, how to market myself in the community, and how to keep and retain players through appropriate competition pathways.
40 + years ago, when I started teaching what I would now consider very mediocre tennis lessons, I did not have that opportunity. Today, I encourage you to take advantage of it.
TSRs are your personal tennis industry consultants. As a TSR for Louisiana in the USTA Southern section, my role is to help anybody who is involved with tennis to be more successful, particularly tennis professionals. It is a broad description, but my goal truly is to help in any way that I can.
Whether it’s improving player retention or hiring coaches at a local club, implementing a new program at a school or securing funding to refurbish public park courts, TSRs are here for you as a clearinghouse for all things tennis.
Here in Louisiana, I worked with Crowley parks and local advocates to secure a $38,000 grant to help build the Glady Trahan Tennis Centre, a six-court public complex. I also helped the Lake Charles CTA work with a new Public Parks Commission to build an eight-court tennis complex there. Once the facility was built, I assisted with the programming models and in keeping them connected to the CTA.
One of my favorite examples of helping a pro was at Lake Charles Racquet Club. When I started working with USPTA Pro Bobby Walker, the club had 235 members, a number that was declining. We identified that the 10-and-Under Tennis pathway could be a key strategy to help the club grow.
After working with Bobby through education and training, I was thrilled to see him develop a large base of red ball and orange ball entry-level players at the club, highlighted by a large group of tournament 10-and-Under players, some ranked as high as Top 5 in the south. There is now a 75-family waiting list for membership and Bobby attributes much of that to the success of this program.
As Bobby explains: “Our club was the place to bring young children to learn and play tennis. The parents knew we had a fully-developed plan to turn them into tennis players and not just perpetual lesson-takers.”
Separately, after a flood in Baton Rouge in 2016, I was able to assist the YMCA Lamar Tennis Center with much-needed facility grants through USTA Facility Assistance and USTA Southern.
Additional success stories are popping up across the country. In Florida, local tennis pros resurrected the JTT program in the Jacksonville area. Working along with their TSR, they grew the program to 500 players in 2017.
Also with the help of TSRs, the USTA Eastern section created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for children by having them on Arthur Ashe Stadium for a Net Generation Tennis demonstration during the 2017 US Open. USTA Eastern worked along with regional certified pros to organize the demos as part of the launch for the new youth brand.
Finally, USTA Mid-Atlantic TSRs worked closely with USPTA pros to launch an adult beginner program in ACAC Midlothian in Richmond, Virginia. Today, this has become a great feeder system for USTA League.
I hope that you can work with your local TSR to add to these wonderful stories and to establish a great partnership. To learn more and to find contact information, visit USTA.com/TSR.*