5 Proven Ways to Improve Your Tennis Operation

As Founder and Executive Director of Lifetime Tennis, managing two municipal tennis centers in the San Francisco Bay area, Dana Gill has boosted recreation budgets by more than 12 million dollars and become a three-time participation growth leader in Northern California.

In his 15 years of management services for municipal operations, Dana has helped over 42,000 people enjoy the game of tennis, creating nearly 13,000 first time players. Through a focus on technology and sound management practices, Dana has exponentially increased revenues and participation levels.

"Almost overnight, Dana's approach transformed what had been a moderately active tennis park into a bustling tennis community," said Mary Pat Patrick, an employee of the Pleasanton tennis center. "Dana believes in creating a comfortable, inviting atmosphere where players not only get value for their money but also have a positive experience from the moment they step into the office until they step off the court."

Here are five examples from Lifetime Tennis on how a little creative ingenuity can add up to big returns for your private or public tennis facility.

Ball Machine Pass

You can double your revenues and triple participation on the ball machine by offering a three- and six-month pass. Each pass holder can use the machine up to one time per day during their term. This way, people find added value every time they come and practice on the machine. Additionally, by offering a designated court and online reservations you can further increase your productivity and streamline revenues from your ball machine. Other benefits to the service: pass holders usually take more tennis lessons, go through grips faster and require more frequent restringing than other players. This adds up to more revenue for your pro shop.

Tennis Ball Recycling Program

You can save money, extend the playing life of a tennis ball and even donate balls to students, senior centers or physical therapists by creating a ball recycling program at your facility. Simply arrange to buy "used balls" from local private clubs for your youth classes and tennis camps. In 2009, Lifetime Tennis purchased 18,000 balls (.10 each), saved some money, and donated 23,000 balls to our students and the local community -- a win-win for everyone.

Elementary and Middle School Program

Remember how great it was to play for your school team? Well, you can bring that feeling to kids in 4th - 8th grade by starting an Elementary and Middle School Tennis League. In Pleasanton, California, we run our "doubles only" league during the spring and fall. By utilizing local high school courts on Saturdays, we create convenient practice/match times without impacting the boys and girls tennis teams.? This program is a great way to build community ties, foster teamwork and strengthen the high school tennis programs.

Carnival Camps

Adding rotations or stations to your tennis camps will greatly enhance the experience of the students. Here's how it works: Assistant instructors lead one simple or involved drill/game and repeat it to each rotating group. Students stay more attentive as they "refresh" from one activity to another. We also recommend having a dedicated supervisor (roaming) if the camp has five or more groups of students. Individual and team contests are held on the last day of the camp.

Little Tennis Success Program

Very young students (ages 4-6) often get lost in the mix of a program's offering. Most facilities offer a starter program (i.e. Little Tennis 1, 2, 3) but often stop there. By the time the kids graduate from a 2nd or 3rd level program, they're still only six or seven years old; which is typically too young for many of the development programs.

Consequently, we created a Tournament Training module specifically for this special group of students:

  • Little Tennis (ages 4-6) - students graduate in 6-24 weeks
  • Little Rallyers (ages 5 & 6) - students graduate in 3 months to 1 year
  • Intro to Tournament (ages 5 & 6) - students graduate in 6 months to 1 year
  • Tournament Training (ages 7 & above) - year round tournament player development

Dana Gill is a USPTA certified professional, former collegiate D1 player, national doubles champion and currently serves on the USTA Board of Directors (NorCal division). He majored in Recreation and Business at San Diego State. To learn
more on how you can improve your private or municipal tennis operation visit LifetimeTennis.com
or email Dana at danag@lifetimetennis.com.

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