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On Court or Off Court, Kalindi Dinoffer Brings Health and Wit To Her Tennis Business

As a business owner and leader in our industry, Kalindi Dinoffer has led the industry not only with training aids and creation of tools for teaching professionals, but also in marketing. Kalindi’s efforts in marketing her brand both at national industry conferences, through social media and video presentations have introduced her as a leader in our industry.

As Kalindi starts to mix and dabble with mindfulness and combining that in her life and business with her tennis following an injury-prone career of competitive tennis, she takes us on a journey through training, meditation and marketing.

Discussing who served as her mentors and role models, Kalindi looks at her exposure as a junior player and while in college, not just on the courts but, like her company’s name, off the court as well where her Spanish professor and then an Italian professor at the business school, Kalindi speaks about her experiences growing up in the business. She discusses why she thinks the golf industry and the PGA are leaders in the leisure industries and why we, in the tennis industry, follow their lead.

Kalindi’s latest achievement is the creation of a 5-day Virtual Symposium, starting July 13th. Given the restrictions that Covid-19 has placed on our industry, Kalindi along with inspirational speaker and tennis coach, Emma Doyle, have put together a panel of phenomenal speakers from across the tennis industry. With three interactive sessions daily, this is one event not to miss.

Kalindi’s business for tennis and pickleball and more is at OnCourt, OffCourt and you can reach her any time at her email: kalindi@oncourtoffcourt.com

You may visit her website at www.oncourtoffcourt.com

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A Tennis Academy Was A Girl’s Wish. Now She’s a CEO

Female CEO Amy Pazahanick

By Ed Shanaphy
A second report in our series: Women in Tennis

Amy Pazahanick always knew she wanted to start a tennis academy. She knew it long before she graduated from college. She knew it with every tennis ball she hit during practice as a kid. She knew it while she played nationals and headed to a Division I school. By the age of 26, she thought.

Pazahanick did it. She didn’t just start an academy, however. Amy now finds herself running one of the fastest growing management firms in the nation. Her firm, Agape Tennis Academy, established in 2012 on the outskirts of Atlanta, Georgia, was an academy aimed at integrating with the community. Now, as a management firm, Agape maintains its values by remaining truthful to its roots – the numerous communities it serves on the courts.

Just Like Tennis, Business Improves Through Practice and Repetition

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University, Amy learned her trade under a fellow female director of tennis. Under her first director and mentor, Amy remembers that she learned just as much about the “business” side of running a tennis facility as teaching a backswing. Referring to her first boss Amy notes: “She was instrumental in my development,” as Amy reflects on her start in the tennis world which, to her, seems so long ago.

Amy Pazahanick made a deal with herself to run an academy by the age of 26. She now manages 10 city championships, 70 tennis courts and 30 pickleball courts over 4 facilities…
with more to come.

The consistency of branding and putting a message out there that stays true to Amy’s “mission and vision” has brought her success. Alluding to her training as a Division I athlete where she practiced something again and again, Amy cites the parallel with business – business improves with repetition and practice. Amy pounds the pavement and never stops growing and learning through repetitive, yet objective, marketing, planning, and strategizing.

Creating a Team On and Off The Court

With a staff of over 50, Amy has assembled teaching professionals on the court that work as a team with juniors in the academy in the foreground and the community as the backdrop. They all look to take juniors to a new level, she says. Unlike other academies where personalities may get in the way, she stresses the emphasis of teamwork in developing juniors’ games. Amy does rely on her hand-picked team to support her and her company, but realizes that hard work and attention to detail can’t be replaced when you’re a leader.

One of the most Influential Women In The Industry

“If you’re a woman, you are held to a higher standard… men have a little more freedom to make mistakes,” states Pazahanick. But, then she says the industry is fair. “If you’re good, you’re good. The market is not going to care. If you’re good, it doesn’t matter what you look like, if you’re a female or if you look like you’re twelve years old.”

Amy isn’t just good. She’s excellent. She is a perfectionist when it comes to organization and has grown a teenage dream into a large-scale reality. She has been named both Georgia’s Tennis Association and Georgia’s PTR Professional of the Year. Her dream, Agape Tennis Academy, was named Tennis Organization of the Year by the Tennis Media Group, but even more special to Pazahanick, was that the Academy was also named Community Outreach Program of the Year.

Join us as we take a podcast journey to find what makes Amy Pazahanick, well, simply…tick.

Agape Tennis Academy (agapetennisacademy.com) is actively bidding for more facilities, and Pazahanick expects the firm to have up to nine facilities under management by the end of 2020. You can reach Amy by email at amypazahanick@hotmail.com

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The Home Owners Association: Where The Members Are Residents

Stillwater HOA Clubhouse

At a country club, a Director of Tennis sees the members that come to the club on that day. At a Home Owner’s Association, every member sees when the Director arrives in the morning, when he teaches, whom she teaches, and when the Director leaves for the day.

The 4 new courts at Stillwater HOA

Tim Clay, Director of Tennis at Stillwater Tennis in Naperville, IL, takes us through a normal day at the his home owner’s association. Tim is a great pro, but a true business man. Tim runs a business. “I’m neither an employee nor an independent contractor,” pronounces Tim. He’s right. As a full corporation with various interests, he is simply a corporation with a franchise at an HOA. Fortunately he has his M.S. in Management. “But, I’m always learning.” He has built a program that has over 90 percent prepayment and preregistration all through credit card usage.

Tim Clay has been the Director of Tennis at Stillwater for 10 years and has worked at the HOA for the past 15 years.

Tim has been coaching tennis for over 20 years. Illinois PTR named Tim their Member of the Year for 2 consecutive years in 2019 and 2020. His program at Stillwater is one of the bright lights in the region.

HOA Politics and Resale Values

Whether dealing directly with residents or through a Community Association Manager or management firm, Tim has found the right method of navigating through a situation that is rife with politics. How can it not be where each member is on property all the time and each decision Tim makes could affect property values? Tim discusses how he has grown into the job and learned the differences between being a country club professional and a Director at a large HOA.

You can reach Tim with any and all of your questions about working at HOA’s by email: tim@stillwatertennis.com

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Rolex, Tennis, Marketing and Why Member-Guests Are Just One Morning

Roger Federer hitting backhand at Wimbledon

John Flaherty, former ATP and Division I player, joins us to discuss marketing to the tennis and golf masses through the eyes of a world famous brand, Rolex. John is a leading marketer for S&P 500 company Gartner after spending many years at Rolex and shares his experience, opinions and anecdotes from the tour.

We discuss the method behind Rolex’s marketing and sponsorship of both the tennis and golf tours and how golf professionals are more business-minded than their tennis counterparts. John takes us into the numbers and the marketing behind Tiger Woods’ raising the Master’s trophy wearing his timepiece, and how Roger Federer is probably the greatest ambassador for tennis that we will ever see in our lifetimes.

From his roots in Fairfield County, Connecticut, John has used his abilities both on and off the tennis court to carve a niche for himself in the marketing world. His views are indeed news for us here at beyondthebaselines.com. We investigate the rise of pickle ball and the expansion of paddle tennis during the winter in the Northern states.

We also discuss the changes that have come to the country club lifestyle over the past 30 years. Do you remember those halcyon days when the mixed tennis member guests were a weekend-long event? We reminisce and wonder why club tournaments no longer run past 12 noon on Saturday morning. We investigate how Directors of Tennis can compete with golf and other activities that are etching away at members’ time on the courts.

You can always reach us at beyondthebaselines.com by email at beyondthebaselines@gmail.com or by phone at the office on (508) 538-1288.

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It’s Not All About The Backhand, But The Back End

When I started in marketing and advertising at the tender age of 22 in London, England, I kept hearing the term “The Back End.” In the days which will be known as P.A. (Pre-Amazon), the “back end” referred to the fulfillment side of any direct marketing business. Taking or receiving the order, applying that order to the correct advertising outlet, picking and packing the order, slipping in additional up-sells, whether on the telephone or in the outgoing shipment, and then following up the order with great customer service… this was “the back end.” Seems simple, but I spent more than 50 percent of my time working on the back end. I’m a marketing guy – I love the print ads, the outgoing emails and catalogs, the creation of radio and television spots. I didn’t like the back end, but it took most of my time. It does for any excellent Director of Tennis or Fitness too.

How many times have I heard the expression: “You just chase fuzzy yellow balls around the court all day.” This is the viewpoint most have of tennis professionals. I wish it were that easy.

Slowly, the club world is getting smarter. They are realizing they are indeed a business that has to show profit in all divisions, whether it be tennis, fitness, golf or food and beverage. I advise all the clubs we work with to put in a limit to the number of hours a Director of Tennis or Fitness should be on the court or gym floor. Why? Because the back end takes more and more time as you produce a better and better product. Amazon changed the “Back End” to “Cascading Fulfillment” – which was that software would go through the closest warehouses to the customer and assign the pick and pack at the first warehouse that had inventory. Interesting to note that I now see Amazon with its own delivery trucks – they too are always enhancing the back end.

Order Taking

The back end starts with the order. Your marketing strategies have worked and you have a member that wants to book a clinic, a lesson, a personal training hour, or a yoga class. Great! Now make that as easy as possible. Members see different avenues to bookings. Older members like the paper signups on the wall or bulletin board. My age group (40s and 50s) seems to like computer-based software. The younger generation wants to simply text their order and let us deal with it. All are possible and offering many different ways to booking an hour or a group instruction session enhances the ordering experience. Think about this, you can still mail an order to Vineyard Vines, you can call with your order or you can email directly off the website. Three different ways to order. No one way is the best way in tennis or fitness either.

I’ve worked at clubs where all bookings had to go through the front desk. What a slow, sloggy and sloppy way to deal with members. A lot of times, the front desk is too busy to take 100 percent of the bookings in a meaningful way. They are not sure of the intent of the member given they probably only have a few seconds to deal with the booking. Lighten that front desk staff’s load and let members order online or by text. Let the professionals, either on the court or on the floor, have access to the books and use their phones right on the floor or court. When you go to an AT&T store, the advisor walks around with you and books your order right on an IPAD. We should be doing the same at country clubs whether it’s for a tennis lesson, a Pilates class, or even a food order in the restaurant.

Perhaps the best opportunity to upsell another session is right after that member has enjoyed the session and wants more. In fact, if your trainers or pros are independent contractors, they really have to control their own books 100 percent of the time. So they should have access to the booking software system at all times, from anywhere. Yes from anywhere, because a member may text that pro while the pro is at dinner asking for a lesson the next day. Don’t miss that revenue stream.

Software

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Software is only as good as the people using it. Ensure that all staff understand the club’s booking and billing software thoroughly. There is no longer a position known as just a “teaching pro”. All teaching pros and fitness instructors are actually club ambassadors, always looking to enhance the member experience. Most teaching pros are independent contractors, and under that status, have to indeed complete their own billing at all times. If the Club does the billing for the pro or fitness instructor, the classification of that worker just became an employee.

Software can be progressive. If the database in your tennis software is up to date with cell phones, why not download that member database to a google voice account and add texting as one of your communication streams. We advise to confirm every lesson, every clinic and every tournament via text. Great way to limit any questions later on about billing.

Reserving courts was often a rush to the phone at 7am the day before where a member of staff was taking the calls on one line. With software, 16 courts can be booked within 30 seconds and members can see the courts being populated as they put in their own reservation. How truly transparent is that? No one can complain they didn’t have an opportunity or were a victim of favoritism by the front desk staff. It is, in fact, “Cascading Fulfillment” which seeks the next available stock item – in this case, a tennis court. If you have your software right and you know which professionals are available, you can cascade fulfill your instructors as well! “Joe is not available for a lesson, but Joanne is if that would work for you…”

Upsells and Customer Service

In the marketing industry, this is when we have the customer on the phone line and say: Would you like a second item and receive free shipping and handling? Why don’t we do more of this in the tennis and fitness industry? Why not, after a clinic try this: “Did you like your clinic? Well book the next three clinics for 20% off right now on court.” Or, would you like to combine a healthy lunch at the Clubhouse with your personal training session today? The revenue streams and combinations are endless – but we seem content to sit back and let the members come to us. This isn’t helping the member and it isn’t helping the bottom line, either.

Excellent customer service comes with follow-ups. Follow up emails to the member perhaps outlining the exercises they completed during their personal training session that day, or reviewing the grip change you made halfway through the tennis lesson on their volley. Reinforcement creates progression and change, and it’s not an easy battle to get a western grip volley to a continental grip! But during this follow-up process, you’ll be amazed at how many bookings you might take during a follow up phone call or email.

Thank your member for taking the clinic or the lesson and then thank them again at the end of the year or season. Take the time to introduce them to the new staff and watch the bookings come in. It’s all about the back end. No matter how well you can hit a ball or how fast you can run a mile, you’ll find that the back end brings in more revenue than any other factor within a club’s department.

Ed Shanaphy is Director of Tennis at Sippican Tennis Club in Marion, MA and a USPTA teaching professional who constantly realizes that his marketing is better than his backhand. He is President of SBW Associates, a leading consulting service in the country club industry.

 

 

 

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Communication, Communication, Communication

Baileys Beach Club Chit

From Phone Books to Contacts and Club Chits. Communication Is Vital.

Baileys Beach Club Chit
Bailey’s Beach Newport Club Chit

We’ve asked each and every club and home owner association with which we have worked what would be their number one criterion for a new Director of Tennis or Fitness. It wasn’t that they were once ranked top 500 on the ATP Tour or that they competed at Crossfit Nationals. It was simply: communication, communication, communication.

Not to sound like a real estate agent emphasizing location, but it’s so true. In this day and age where we spend more time looking at our phones than speaking to other humans, it’s essential that we communicate through each medium presented to us. This holds true in the world of tennis and fitness.

 

Tradition versus Modernity

As I continue to work in the industry after a career in marketing and advertising, I realize that the speed of communication changes really from generation to generation. In my grandparents’ day, we had to wait for the Telegram, the fastest mode of communication. Then along came my parents’ generation and the telephone. I can still vividly see the cream colored, wall-mounted, long spiral-cabled phone in my childhood home in the early 70s. And we used to call the exchanges by letters rather numbers – my grandmother lived in Scarsdale, NY so it was SC3 (723 in today’s world). I grew up in South Salem, SO3 (763) and so on. Along came my adulthood and email where we had our Blackberrys logged into our our AOL (remember how it was capitalized?) account. But today, it’s text or IM (we need instant in everything from our coffee to messaging). So quick that my daughter calls it snapchat – oh, that’s the application? Oh, ok.

Phone Book White Pages

So as a boy, I flipped through what was known as the White Pages. I don’t think my daughter, who turns 11 in a few weeks, has ever heard that expression. “Dad, were there yellow pages?” Yes there were for commercial phone listings and pink pages for government and official listings. Now we just have “Contacts” in the grasp of our hands. How clutch is that? No pun intended!

One of my board members asks at the annual budget meeting about the cost and need of the yearly “Club Handbook”. It’s a private club tradition. A printed, bound club handbook with each member’s address, phone, email, place of work and the club’s by-laws written in the early decades of the past century. Every club has one. Years ago, one of the clubs where I served as Head Pro disbanded this and put it all on the protected member-only accessed website. What a great idea. Print it out at home if you’d like, or just type in and search for the member. My grandmother would opt for the printout, my daughter for the search bar.

Long gone are the days where the pro would call a home and leave a message to play in a doubles game hoping to hear back by the end of the day. Now, by sharing a text database with membership, members themselves put out a text say to 8 players and get a court of 4 back in a matter of minutes. Long gone are the Men’s and Ladies Days – they just exist in a different world: textual rather than virtual. In fact, Duxbury Yacht Club simply disbanded their formal Men’s and Ladies’ Days and left it to the members to text each other and updated the “sub” list with a text database update! No more bulletin board substitute lists that never get read because by the time you are the club it’s too late to get a substitute.

We stress the importance of the front desk having a fully up-to-date text database on either Google Voice or some other platform in order to communicate with each and every member instantly. No worrying if the member received the voicemail – it’s a text! Breaking down that database by level of player, whether they participate in clinics, or if they have children to whom you can market junior events – this is all helpful. Does it matter if they take clinics? Sure, how are you going to fill that last minute spot in the 9am clinic? With a text banged out to 27 members who love that clinic at 8.34am that same morning! You can do this for Pilates and Yoga classes too, although those members might be doing deep-breathing exercises before they type in their now 6-digit security code on their iPhone.

You can post on Twitter and on Instagram openings in clinics, or new programming ideas and events. Maybe a few people will stop their scrolling to see what their best-friend did last night, look and sign up. On Twitter, you can actually link usually right to your signup software. Tougher to do on Instagram. But Facebook allows direct links too.  Many private, elite, member-owned clubs frown on social media. I say, just control your viewership. Easy to do on most social media platforms. By the way, those old, printed club handbooks have a lot of information lying around people’s homes who may no longer be members if we are talking about viewership and confidential information.

The strength of your database is the foundation to your customer and member service. A weak database most likely means poor service. A wonderfully clean and efficient database means better billing, more on-court sales, filled yoga classes, and simply put, better member service. If you’re still using paper chits and not printing member receipts from a POS system, your behind the times in member services.

Don’t Forget To Dot your I’s and Cross Your T’s: Formal Writing

Strunk and White

My copy of Strunk and White is never far from my desk. I know, those two names show my age. I just looked – first published in 1959. But, like a classic book, there is still the opportunity for formal writing. A thank you email or, even, a posted letter to thank a member for attending a special event or the summer’s signature event, like a member-guest is always welcomed. Or, a thank you for a gratuity card receipt from an employee or a thank you for a contribution to the staff Christmas fund. A welcome letter at the beginning of the season or a new year is always suggested. And how often does your Director reach out with a letter, either emailed or posted, to all the new members feeling a bit “out-in-the-cold” after the rosé of the initial cocktail party fades? These touches bring members to your facility and growth to club revenues.

However you communicate, keep it professional, informative, to the point and often. Only two times has someone told me I email too often. Countless are the times I’ve heard: “If I had only known…”

 

Ed Shanaphy once wrote for a well-known magazine with offices in Murray Hill on 35th Street in Manhattan at which he learned that criteria is the plural to criterion.  He now muses on the country club industry while consulting for clubs and home-owner associations. His copy of The Elements of Style is so well-thumbed and brittle, MOMA is considering putting it in a glass case.

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A Community Cup – Enriching The Community and Marketing To New Members

Tennis has changed. From the lawns of Wimbledon in the early 1900s and prior to the “Open” Era, through to the advent of the “Open” to the present day, tennis, as with many other sports, has been brought into the 21st Century with professionals representing the sport at the highest levels. It wasn’t always like this. The “grass roots” – no pun intended – still remain in many areas, both nationally and internationally. By grass roots, we mean the country club tennis programs where member participation is strong and those members follow the US Open and other ATP events.  They love Federer… Nadal… they talk about the semi-finals and how Halep came through. But largely, these club programs have not much to do with tennis as a professional sport, or even tennis for the masses.

The professionals-to-be come more from the middle class and attend academies such as IMG, Saddlebrook, Rick Macci and others. The process of gaining and improving a UTR ranking is a full-time job and is not a part of the country club experience. So, we need to realize there is a divide between competitive and professional tennis and the country club.

At the country club level, pressures are being put on staff and programming for member use.  A constant re-evaluation of member services and club usage is required. Behind all this is the need for clubs to consistently find new and active members. It’s all well and good to have a large and diverse membership, but members who are not actively supporting the club are not profitable to the club, nor do they really add to the sustainability of the club. Dues alone are just not enough to sustain a club facility. The members have to be active or the club will struggle.

The Legacy Error – Costing Country Clubs Financially

A few decades ago, clubs, which had always thrived on tradition and legacy, in general made legacies extremely inviting. Due to a national trend, country club membership began to wane. The accepting of children of long-time family members at a reduced “legacy” initiation rate or at lower annual dues in reality has come back to haunt club coffers in the 21st Century. A large percentage of dues-paying members came in at a lower rate, and much like Social Security, the funds are now running low, making it hard to maintain the club finances.

Because of these issues, the drive for new memberships to maintain member-service levels and the facility is crucial and constant.

One of the best ways of attracting new members is by “showing off “the club or facility, but how can we do this? How can we bring potential, active members in large numbers to the club and let them see the club without looking like we are “selling” the club, to both the perspective members and the current members who might not be all that supportive of new memberships and change?

A Community or Charity Cup

Quail Valley Golf Club in Vero Beach, Florida might be the best example of such an idea creating an environment for new membership applications, while creating an atmosphere of giving to the less privileged in the community. The Charity Cup, as Kevin Given and Steve Mulvey called it back almost 19 years ago, has grown into a club-wide tournament which garners close to $800,000 per year in charitable giving. We hear members across the country bemoan that they can’t get a member-guest tournament to last more than an extended morning. Imagine a three-day tennis tournament just like those old Member-Guest days, a two-day golf tournament, charity fast walk and run, a “cook-a-thon” from the best local chefs, a duplicate bridge competition, a Saturday night gala at the main clubhouse…. the list goes on, expanded greatly from the first year in which it was just a small golf tournament.

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What really gives The Charity Cup its austere feeling is that the diverse charities selected by the Quail Valley Charities Committee are all represented in so many ways on tournament days. From throngs of volunteers from each of the numerous children’s and local charities earmarked for funding, to the notice boards laced with supporters and charitable organizations alike, The Charity Cup is an inclusive event. The week-long celebration of giving literally puts Quail Valley on the cover of every “culture” insert and at the top of many web-page blogs, if not the front page of Vero Beach Magazine and all the local papers.

Quail Valley also realizes the importance of non-member play over the weekend. A majority of the golf and tennis pairings have at least one non-member playing and the tournament is viewed as the Member-Guest to play in the area. Pairings of non-members are also allowed so it is truly an Open tournament, simply using the club facility – opening the club to the public is attractive to non members.

What better way is there to “show off” a club to perspective members? The club, and its members, not only giving back financially to the community, but also producing the services at a greatly reduced cost. It proves that the club possesses the breadth and knowledge to host such an imposing, community-wide event. Reaching out to the community adds a wonderful perspective to both members and non-members alike.

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Is Roger Federer Hurting Tennis At My Club?

by Ed Shanaphy, Director of Tennis

Roger has just won his 20th Grand Slam singles title. Unreal. He’s perhaps the greatest singles player to ever walk on our planet. The accolades are sincere and worthy and it is a pleasure to watch his grace, athletism, and sportsmanship. He is a wonderful role model for younger players. But is he hurting the sport of tennis?

Roger’s entire career was focused and devised with the goal of winning and doing it wisely. He played fewer tournaments than most and, therefore, had fewer ranking points to defend to keep his number one or two spot in the world. Playing fewer tournaments often allowed him to be  healthier than his opponents over the two week fortnight of a slam. He arrived at most of his finals “fresh as a daisy” and having played fewer tournaments in the lead up to the slam, his legs were strong, sturdy and ready. His playing less over the years has allowed his longevity – he was always in it for the long haul and now his strategy is reaping its well-deserved reward.

His marketing and his brand awareness in the industry and media are second to none in all of sport. He’s a world icon leading tennis to new viewership and rating heights. He is an ambassador for our sport, and sport in general, to the world. I really like Roger. But is he hurting the sport of tennis?

Tennis faces many challenges, both new and old. Tennis has moved past the quiet halls of pretigious clubs and into the forefront of national television and “big money” sport. But there are new challenges. These past few years have seen Pickleball take off across the nation. In my hometown of Vero Beach, FL, we’ve seen the changeover of several park and recreation tennis courts to Pickleball. We’ve seen Padel rising up from a grass-roots level in Europe, with last month seeing the International Padel Days Conference in Madrid, Spain. The USPTA now offers a Padel certification. Pop Tennis is a craze in Europe and gaining strength here in the USA. Where will tennis fit in with all these new and vibrant variants?

As a Director of Tennis and having taught the gamut of students in the industry and looking at the tennis industry as a whole, I have one question that keeps recurring: Where else do all those that play a game revere an idol like Roger Federer who plays a different game? By this I mean, I have rarely taught a singles clinic. I rarely teach the heartiest fans of Roger – the men, but mostly, women who set their alarms for 3.30am this past week so as not to miss a point of one of his matches down under – singles. They all play doubles. They rarely, if ever, play singles. Yet, they are Federer’s biggest fans. I am left trying to find a similar situation in other sports.

I once read an essay by William S. Baring Gould about Sherlock Holmes and why a fictional character could have such a fantastic and worldly following as Sherlock. The essay attributed the fame of the greatest consulting detective to the reader actually putting himself or herself in the story. It was the reader who was actually sitting at the fireplace across from Watson. It was the reader who fell in love with Irene Adler. It was the reader who strolled across Whitehall to help solve the government’s issues of the days with treasonous spies.

Roger Federer career statistics
Career finals
Discipline Type Won
Singles Total 96
Doubles Grand Slam tournaments
Year-End Championships

I believe with the NFL, we do think of ourselves in a way of “making that play” with hands outstretched and two feet still inside the green. My daughter and I recreate it all the time in the backyard. Perhaps the juniors of today, who do play singles, do put themselves in Roger’s shoes and hold up the trophy in their minds as I did when I watched Laver and Connors. But ladies who play USTA doubles seem to be even bigger fans than the young guns I teach. It’s difficult to reconcile this fact.

Most of us can’t put ourselves in Roger’s storyline – most of us don’t play singles. With this said, Roger has possibly hurt doubles, and doubles is the game most of us USTA registered players play. Gone are the days when we waited to see John McEnroe come back out for an encore presentation playing doubles with Peter Fleming. Gone are the matches in which Martina Navratilova, having just won the singles championship the previous day, had to come back and play mixed doubles. We loved watching Stan Smith and Bob Lutz come back for more after playing their singles. Not too long ago, we had second chances to see Serena playing with her sister Venus long after they had both lost in the singles. Proof is in the pudding: The most watched match of the Laver Cup was when Roger and Rafa Nadal played doubles – was it the first time most of us had seen Roger play doubles? It was for me.

I am left wondering if Roger is really hurting tennis. We can’t see him do what we do when we hit a cross court lob over two players or open the middle with a dipping topspin winner between the two, clashing racquets of our opponents. He doesn’t play the same game – doubles. We spend hours on court talking doubles strategy with perhaps 95% of our lessons and clinics, and yet we turn on the television with reckless abandon at 3.30am to watch Roger play singles, a game we rarely teach to our students. We teach that one doesn’t really need a big serve in doubles, and yet we tune it to see Cilic and Federer ace it out.

Our challenge is to make Roger relevant to what we do at our clubs and parks and at the recreational level across all demographics. If we don’t accept this challenge as teachers and industry leaders, we will possibly soon see Pickleball courts replacing even more tennis courts in our public and private parks and clubs. Padel will be the new immigrant across our borders – no green card needed for a sport. No chain migration legislation can end a sport’s immigration to our shores.

Roger is a fantastic role model and that helps, but I worry that he’s making the game of doubles almost irrelevant to most of us and, in fact, might be hurting tennis down the road. I hope that those teachers and instructors, far wiser than I, find a way to make Roger relevant to all of us, and find ways to increase participation in the games of singles and doubles and, hence, grow participation in the sport of tennis.