Jono's Return: Strong Clubs Pt 1
Modernising Tennis Plan
What does a Strong Club mean?
Jono Spring · 26 April 2022
· Is a tennis club strong because it has a large number of members?
· Does it have a lot of money in the bank account?
· Has it won a lot of awards, a lot of interclub titles, and does it have the top players around?
Here is an interesting point to note… I have seen all these attributes in various tennis clubs over my years, only to see those clubs in question almost on their knees.
The above achievements do not on their own, in my opinion, make a strong club. Yet I know many people involved with the administration of tennis clubs seek these goals as a priority, but to what expense?
I have seen clubs with hundreds of thousands of dollars in their bank accounts, only for their numbers to be dwindling, courts and facilities to be in a state of disrepair and members greatly dissatisfied… but at least there’s a lot of money in the account, so things must be good right?
Conversely, having the top players in a club doesn’t make a club strong either. Look let’s be really honest with ourselves here… what percentage of the overall playing population are what we would loosely call ‘elite’, or ‘high performance’? High Performance is a generally relative term I believe, as it can mean different things in different environments… but the truth of the matter is, that we are typically only talking about less than 5% of a general playing population.
I’m afraid, that is not a high enough number for this to be the focus of a club. Especially if we are only talking 100 players as our base level to begin with. Less than 5% of 100 is, you guessed it, a maximum of 5 people.
How about we consider the other 95 as equally as the 5, and see what benefits can be achieved then.
Now comes my next question...how do we look after not just the 95, but the whole 100? And then as a sub-part if you will, how do we grow that 100 into 500?
Well, we have to recognise many things. For instance, and most importantly, what are our end users wants and needs? And let me tell you this right now, that is not the same thing and/or in the same way that it was done 50 years ago I’m afraid.
Times have changed, pure and simple, and we need to change with the times. Hence the reason that Modernising Tennis Plan has become a concept that needs to be embraced.
The reality is that people are more online than ever. A clear example of this is the number of people that come to my open homes in my real estate world or make enquiries about a property from seeing it online. This typically happens the majority of the time.
For tennis clubs to keep up with the changing times, they need to be accessible, contactable, communicable… online.
To an old man like me, who grew up as a kid without all this online stuff, it’s pretty scary and intimidating. But to be fair, I am shown up by people well past my age who buy their groceries, book their takeaways and organise their daily activities this way.
Why should tennis be any different? Well, the truth is, it shouldn’t.
Oh you’ve heard of that before…? Great, well then how about we all start using it then, if we’re not already…? I tell you what, let’s make a deal. If I educate myself up on these systems and make sure that I’m using them for everything that they can be, then how about the rest of us do it too.
Not just as individuals though, I’m talking about your club, your committee, and all that goes with it. Because one thing that I’ve learned in my time is that the ‘team’ approach is the strongest approach, and that if everyone is on board then we all benefit in many ways.
We have a system that is sitting there, ready to be taken advantage of, that can unite tennis management and experience in this great country of ours. By making it easier for clubs to administrate their members, their fees, their court and facility management as well as access for members and non-members alike.
The beautiful thing here is that there are already clubs dotted around Aotearoa that are successfully utilising the system with massive benefits to both their clubs and its members. Even more beautiful is the fact that they are only too willing to share their knowledge and experience with the rest of us, who like me, are a little shy, tentative, stubborn and scared to do things differently than the way we’ve always done it. But the truth is, the way we’ve always done it, simply isn’t the best way anymore. We all need to ‘get on the bus’, and trust that we can do things better, by adopting and utilising modern tools and expertise that could in fact, make life far easier and rewardable in the future.
Sure, you can take my word for it, and you can hear what Tennis NZ have to say about it all… but I propose that the best way for it to make sense will be to hear it from the people and the clubs who are actually utilising and living this on the daily.
Enjoy your week
Jono is a Manawatu based (former) coach, player and administrator who has been involved in tennis for over 35 years and held nearly every role you can think of in our game. Over the next couple of months Jono will be sharing his perspective, and those of people in the tennis community across New Zealand on why working together and striving to modernize the way we deliver tennis is so important. He contributes popular articles for the Manawatu Standard and Stuff on tennis, known as Jono’s Serve…keeping with the theme, his new series of articles are now called Jono's Return!