I admire the enterpreneurs who used the "Lean Startup" method intentionally or wrote a business plan with crisp financial projections. Man, the clarity of purpose! TenniswithD was born partly out of necessity, partly out of resting on lessons ingrained on the tennis court and entirely accidental.
In 2007 my university tennis coach asked me if I could play with one of his clients who was closer to me in downtown Chicago, than the coach's club in the suburbs at the time. While it never ended up happening, I was very excited about this so in sharing conversations with my teammates, I found they were already getting clients around the city and teaching them how to play tennis and in the process, making some extra cash. We were college kids and broke, the prospect was exciting! The first client send her family and friends. It turns out the clients loved it and I happened to have a touch!
Armed with 2 degrees, one in Architecture and another in Urban & Public Affairs, nothing could have prepared me for the economic crisis of 2008-9. I submitted graduate school applications but the offers my postgraduate colleagues, some PHDs, were getting were miserable for the amount of debt incurred! While "figuring it all out", I started to coach tennis full time. Turns out tennis was a great escape for the times. I asked a friend to help me with the junior camps which wasn't saying much as private lessons and adult classes dwindled camps but it worked beautifully!
The trend started early. There was a correlation between connecting with people personally and the rate of improvement in their game. The better they played the healthier and happier they got and the more the tended to flourish at work. Tennis coaches sit in front of the most expensive career advise which spans almost all industries for free!
The result was the same for kid's tennis. Here there is a conscious step to add layers of fun, discipline, and accountability. Another realization, while kids will not ask for structure they personally realize they want and need it and they thrive under it.
With these realizations, the next natural steps was to run social mixers and leagues. After all this was an already currated network it worked well.
Personally (excluding interns or other coaches) I have credited "playing an important role in the success of a few careers", "getting my health back and suits fitting again", "getting a lot of compliments for figure at my wedding" to mention a few.
The line between having a well run program that clients enjoy and need, great coaching that gets results, competitive market positioning among a couple of other important key measures and convenience of access, is very fine!
For example, I over emphasized the quality of tennis when some parents simply needed baby sitting. How our group classes were suitable for competitive tennis when the clients sought networking.
I downplay excessively the significance and value of trendiness of the program. Until now a good portion of tennis play will pay for the extra glow regardless of mission and ethos of the program.
The value of marketing or in my case not marketing enough. This ranged from staff's personal laurels, business laurels, to paid media to disseminate the message.
It turns out traits such as fit, results, sincerity, culture, practicality, modesty, while they honorable, the gloss makes it palatable.
The tennis industry is overhead heavy.
*Indoor space in Chicago has eluded our operations going on 5 years. To run a truelly competitive program we need a year round operation where we control the space including all times of the day. The success of the program thus far is built on seasonal efforts May through October. We have untapped potential
*To run, support, and interact with our clients in an increasingly global world we need automated systems and apps may it be to move merchandize or virtually interact with our students who increasingly are from all over the world
* We need to have operations in the most competitive tennis destination for example the sunbelt states of the USA.
Tennis as a sport is an empowering platform greatly rewarding in life lessons to recipients and investors alike. TenniswithD as program program has been an exampleray vehicle testament to this value; through mutually beneficial partnerships we want to continue the work with paterners with matching enthusiasm, integrity, and sincerity in their business efforts and practices. Ideal partners:
1. Private communities with tennis facilities to house our program as we serve the community
2. Kindergartens & School: In Chicago we help start programs in elementary education institutions who aim to give their students a full educational experience and curriculum by introducing tennis classes
3. Online education resources with IB/GSCE curriculum or equivalent to support home schooled competitive players.
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