You know a product is working when others take it, improve and fine tune it, and start offering it. One of the latest tennis league programs, the USTA’s Flex League, which in its various forms may have originated from Alpharetta, Georgia’s T2 Tennis, is one of those products. New and established tennis organizations all over the country are realizing that a totally flexible approach to a league system, with the “freedom to play who, when and where you want,” enables organizers to offer local league play with less manpower and fewer headaches. The WTT, ALTA and even more USTA adult League programs are extensive, expensive, and need an immense administrative apparatus in place. The Flex League concept is easy to create, install, administer, and promote. Mike Gunn decided to create Orange County Tennis Star along the same guidelines and offer his own flexible league in Orange County, maybe soon in other areas, too.
Born and raised in San Diego, Mike Gunn is an avid tennis player. Ever since his High School days he just loves getting out there and playing tennis. He tried Ultimate Flex League, USTA tournaments, and LeagueTennis.com. When a friend told him about a need for flexible tennis in Orange County, he started researching a business model. Since Internet marketing is his expertise and he had recently sold his online retail business, he decided to get the league off the ground and call it Orange County Tennis Star.
The first league is starting in November and he has already signed up 30 players after placing a full page color ad in the October issue of Inside Tennis. Gunn advertises his league as Orange County’s Premiere Flex League / Tournament:
- Improve your game, play more matches and meet new players at your skill level
- Men’s and women’s singles / doubles divisions
- Easy to schedule matches. Freedom to play who, when and where you want.
- Playoff style tournament at the end of every season
Winning a division also means this player /.team will get a trophy, shirt, and a case of balls. League rules are spelled out on the web site’s rules page.
Offering flexible leagues like Orange County Tennis Star or USTA Flex Leagues or T2 Tennis is not without challenges. And the other established Flex Leagues are facing those problems, too. The number one challenge is the skill level of participants. Since there is no automated or otherwise administered self-ratings system in place, players have to come in on the honor system. It’s up to the organizer to react to complaints about players competing totally out of level.
The other problem is often a rather sloppy approach of participants to answering emails and returning phone calls. Larger, traditionally organized leagues don’t have this challenge because communication with players is usually the team Captain’s responsibility. .
Mike Gunn is currently working on partnerships and sponsor deals. He is also setting up a referral program and tries to employ all new Internet and Social Media tools, such as Google Internet marketing, Groupons and LivingSocial deals. Next year he is ready to start new leagues in markets like Sacramento, the Bay area, and San Diego.
Mike Gunn can be reached at [email protected]
Have you ever played in a Flex League type tennis league? Was that a positive experience? Were there challenges? Are you willing to share that information?
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