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Embrace Technology to Enhance the Game and the Places We Play

By Pat Hanssen, President of HAR-TRU

The world’s first autonomous tennis ball collector.
The world’s first autonomous tennis ball collector.
I remember when I first started teaching the game of tennis. The club where I began my career was still espousing continental grips and one-handed backhands, this despite considerable evidence that the game was moving to topspin grips and two-handed backhands. The shift was not precipitated by new technology the way we think of it today, but even then, string and racquet materials were evolving and that played a large roll driving the changes in playing styles that have continued through today.

When it comes to adopting “new” tennis has always been a laggard and much like I experienced at my first club, I think that is holding us back. In today’s world the paradigm is to try things and fail fast, but, with no small amount of irony, it appears that tennis fears failure. Some of this is likely systemic. Many who manage facilities have learned that it is safer and easier to minimize change and disruption. “What if our members don’t like it?” Some might be attributed to stubbornness and apathy. “This is how it has always been, and I don’t want to be bothered with trying that.” This in turn affects the innovators, manufacturers and suppliers. It takes significant capital and effort to develop, market and sell new technology. If the chance of adoption is deemed low, why invest? In the end, consumers and the sport are bereft of the value and energy that innovation can bring.

The wonderful thing about great ideas, many of which are technological these days, is that they slowly win over consumers. Technology is beginning to sift into our sport and in the process, it is doing many things to enhance the game and the places we play. At Har-Tru we increasingly understand that we can make a difference in the rate of adoption by supporting new technologies and giving them a platform to reach the customer. What we hope is that consumers take notice and, through trial and feedback, assist in the evolution of ideas that will help tennis thrive. Here are a few to consider that we are involved with:

Vue Tennis: LED lights for tennis are now able to generate light levels consistent with, or in most cases better than, your existing Metal Halide fixture. The light can be directed quite accurately to produce more consistent (better quality) lighting. Upfront costs continue to drop, and operating costs are significantly lower. We love Vue Tennis because it uses an innovative reflector to place the light where you want it, improving uniformity but reducing annoying glare.

TopScore: This is the world’s first digital, net-mounted, tennis scoreboard and if professionalism and appearance are important for your facility or event, you should have this product. It features up/down arrows for sets and games, a reset button, a changeover button, and a home /visitor function. It runs on two AA batteries and is easily visible from several courts away.

Tennibot: This is world’s first autonomous robotic ball boy! It clears the court while you play or relax, making it an awesome ball-picking-up solution with serious cool factor. As an investment partner, Har-Tru is assisting Tennibot with the launch of the product, as well as its sales and distribution. Look for product to hit the market in spring of 2019.

About Har-Tru
In 1931, a contractor named Henry Alexander Robinson (HAR) developed a clay court surface using American stone first mined in Pennsylvania. The stone’s true green color, and the true bounce that came from playing on it, quickly caught on — and the Har-Tru company was born.

Har-Tru is based in Charlottesville, Virginia and is the leading provider of clay courts, lighting and court accessories in the tennis industry. As the Official Provider of Teaching Carts, Ball Mowers and Baskets of the USPTA, all USPTA-certified members receive a 3 percent contribution on all ball equipment purchased towards their USPTA Supplemental Savings Program. Har-Tru also offers special rates for USPTA members when shopping on their website for qualified products. For more information or to purchase equipment for your club or facility today, visit

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