SKILLMAN, NJ - Three years ago the ITA started the ITA Attendance Race to help encourage varsity tennis coaches to raise attendance at their local home game matches and to garner recognition and extra incentive to bolster support for their varsity tennis program. Race leaders are recognized in the following categories during the first weeks of March, April, May: Total Home Attendance, Average Home Attendance, Highest Single Match Totals.
The ITA considers the Attendance Race to be more than just a competition but a way that universities and colleges can create awareness and add to the excitement of college tennis. Although increasing attendance of a particular match in itself is an effort that needs to consistently be built upon, more importantly, it helps promote the value and importance of college tennis by driving the youth to enjoy collegiate tennis as a passion and goal of their own.
This past Monday, to the delight of the ITA, the lengendary Wayne Bryan, father and coach of the world's No. 1 doubles team and former Stanford tennis greats, Bob and Mike Bryan, invited 25 west coast tennis leaders to gather to discuss ways to promote attendance at college tennis matches, with the meeting taking place at the beautiful Malibu Racquet Club on Monday, October 18.
"Wayne Bryan is a great advocate for college tennis and his leadership in this project will bring some great ideas to help strengthen the collegiate varsity tennis attendance", said ITA Executive Director David A Benjamin. "We greatly appreciate Wayne's strong support for college tennis and hope that this will lead to others expanding the knowledge and involvement of junior players to the world of college tennis."
The goal of the meeting was for the industry experts to share their best ideas and to brainstorm on ways to help promote college tennis and to have college tennis help promote other areas of tennis like the Tennis Channel and the Farmers Classis/L.A. Open.
"It was a pleasure and honor [to host the meeting] for a fantastic group of tennis leaders", said Bryan. "I was just amazed at the turnout and the positive energy in that room. It was a very productive and powerful hour and a half, indeed."
"We must all pull together to fill those stands for exciting and inspirational college tennis matches", Bryan went on to say. "As I said in our meeting yesterday, our basic DNA for tennis has for far too long been the half hour private lesson and we must change that and make it a van or bus load of kids going to see a college tennis match!"a college tennis match!"
Topics of discussion included:
- Why do we want to increase attendance at college matches?
- The most successful promo ideas.
- How to get your own players involved with promoting matches
- Getting more club pros to bring their juniors and adults to college matches.
- Discussion of how we can get more high school teams and grade schools kids to college matches.
- Getting connected with service clubs like the Rotary Club.
- How can we work together with the USTA to get more of their members out: JTT, Adult leagues, Seniors, Juniors, NJTL? And how can college tennis help these programs? How can we link up?
- How can we as a group help to increase attendance at the Farmers Classis at UCLA?
- How can we as a group help the Tennis Channel? How can the Tennis Channel help college tennis?
- How can we do a better job of promoting college tennis in newspapers, radio, TV, magazines, college newspaper?
- How can we polish the presentation of our college tennis matches?
Wayne's promotional vision was launched during a 2009 match between USC vs. UCLA women's varsity tennis teams which was highly successful and led to interaction between the ITA and USTA Player Development staff to expand the idea into the Campus Kids Day program.
The goal of Campus Kids Day is to expose more junior players and their families to varsity college tennis. The juniors have a chance to engage in a variety of promotional activities such as fast-serve contests, raffles, exhibition matches, autograph signings, etc, in addition to serving as spectators for the feature match.
"It was great to be a part of such a high-powered group of individuals representing different constituencies", said Brad Pearce, Head Coach at Brigham Young University and former ITA All-American at UCLA, who was recently inducted into the ITA Men's Collegiate Hall of Fame. "As a member of the USTA Collegiate Varsity Committee, I believe this meeting format should be used as a "template" to be implemented throughout the country, as these meetings will go a long ways to improving the health and collegiate tennis experience for everyone."
The ITA will continue to highlight extraordinary examples of proactive efforts within the college tennis community, in hopes of continuing the growth and betterment of the sport.
Attendees (left to right): Vijay Armitraj (former ATP pro), Harold Hecht (Tennis Channel), Josh Osswald (Riviera CC), Steve Bellamy(Palisades TC, The Ski Channel & founder of the Tennis Channel), Brad Pearce (BYU), Adam Steinberg (Pepperdine), CathyAnn Simon (SB Tennis Patrons), David Egdes (The Tennis Channel), Elizabeth Winterhalter (SBTP), Peter Smith (USC), Richard Gallien (USC), Terry Lynch (VCJTA), Wayne Bryan (organizer), John McCampbell (MRC pro), Gary Victor (CSUN), Mark McCampbell (Oxnard Tennis Center), Craig Cignarelli (Malbu Racquet Club), Darren Potkey (SCTA), Trey Waltke (Malibu Racquet Club), Bob Kramer (SCTA/Farmer's Classic L.A. Open), and Mike Gennette (CLU). Not pictured but present: Billy Martin (UCLA), Grant Chen (UCLA).
For more information, visit www.itatennis.com.