What Hosting a UTR Event Can Do for Your Club and Members
By: Mallory Taylor, Club Manager at John Newcombe Country Club
Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) was founded in 2008 to serve as the gold standard of tennis ratings and provide the most accurate measure of skill level for tennis players worldwide. Within 10 years, UTR had gone from hosting one-off local events to acting as a resource for clubs to deliver events at both local and national scales and help facilities connect with their surrounding player bases. In 2018, Cliff Drysdale Tennis became one of UTR’s early partners to implement their platform at CDT-managed clubs across the country.
Here at John Newcombe Country Club (JNCC), we started with month-end tournaments for local juniors and have since grown to hosting over 50 events spanning junior and adult events, prize money tournaments and now, professional tournaments. Our recent February 21-27 Men’s and Women’s $25K Prize Money UTR Pro Tournament marked the first of many more UTR Pro Events to come!
Whether you are looking for local tournaments to play in as a tennis professional, in need of play options for your junior tennis base to compete in or looking to host tournaments as a tool to attract outside players to your club, the tools, technology and reach UTR provides can benefit your facility exponentially, as we have seen firsthand here at John Newcombe Country Club!
HOSTING OUR FIRST UTR PRO EVENT
The main perk from partnering with UTR for a professional tennis tournament was their turnkey tennis support; prize money, tournament matches, draw postings and match schedules, to name a few, were all taken care of. As host facility, we were simply charged with adjusting local programming to accommodate the tournament, securing local sponsors to cover costs of umpires, and planning any supplementary events to draw extra engagement around the tournament.
As we prepared to host JNCC’s inaugural UTR Pro Event, a main priority for our team was to formalize our goals for the tournament and associated events. In this case, we aimed to:
Deliver a world-class experience for our members
Gain exposure for local businesses and organizations
Provide excellent hospitality to players, umpires, and the UTR team in order to secure future event opportunities at the club
Our first step was to leverage our community partnerships and membership connections to simply get the word out. Simultaneously, we prepared a sponsorship deck and tournament signage to generate extra hype leading up to the event. Ultimately, our local connections paid off and we managed to secure a main sponsor, party rental sponsors, drink and food sponsors, print sponsors and even water sponsors. By the time the event started, we were ready for a weeklong, live streamed, professional tennis event!
DELIVERING A FULL MEMBER EXPERIENCE
While the tournament can certainly draw interest on its own, our mission was to create a unique, memorable member experience for the duration of the tournament that members and guests could look forward to year after year. So, we decided to divide our tournament week into three major events with daily specials and viewing options for our members:
1. Player Sponsor Party
We wanted to help celebrate the support we had received from our members and sponsors, while also giving them an opportunity to socialize with the tournament players. We invited all of our club’s USTA Team Captains as well for extra exposure.
Following the week, Jason Pardon, the UTR Tournament Director, recalled, “The players’ party was amazing! I believe you guys were the first and only players’ party that we’ve had at any of our UTR events.”
2. Chamber of Commerce Event Night
JNCC has been a member of our local Chamber of Commerce for the past 5 years, which proved hugely valuable when it came time to secure sponsors! As a “thank you” to the Chamber, and added benefit for our sponsors, we hosted a Chamber Event Night to provide local businesses the opportunity to network amongst each other, see the tournament firsthand and of course, generate extra exposure for our club! We ended up hosting over 225 community members for this event.
Phyllis Forrester, a New Braunfels Chamber member, described, “The greatest kickoff event to start off the year for the New Braunfels Chamber! Every detail was perfect and people still keep commenting how much fun they had.”
3. Finals Weekend
To celebrate the finals, and draw extra spectators for the final round, we hosted a waffle bar and brunch with our local whiskey partner, Bahnbrecker, for sponsors and members. The Bar and Café and Member Services Staff were in full force from about 11am- 8pm that day cranking out food and drinks to all the spectators! This event also provided a “high note” to end on that members remembered. Within days of the tournament’s conclusion, members were already asking about dates for the next pro event and how they could sponsor and be involved.
As we all know, you can plan every event detail to a T, but things can still go awry. Nonetheless, our strategy was to prepare a backup plan, a disaster plan and a weather delay plan so we were equipped for as many obstacles as possible. It is important to note that the whole week long event should be a team effort – involve every department at your facility in developing plans and backup plans, and implementing them should that time come, so every facet of the club knows what to do to ensure the event’s success amidst any hiccups.
DIVING IN AND GETTING STARTED
If you have been considering hosting a UTR event or professional tournament, I cannot recommend it enough. UTR’s turnkey tennis support lets you focus on providing a one-of-a-kind member experience, as well as showcasing local businesses, networking in the community and generating extra positive exposure to your facility. Last but certainly not least, bringing front-row professional-level tennis to your tennis playing members can excite their interest in programming and lessons to improve their own
games! It has been a rewarding experience for our team at JNCC to see the success firsthand, and I hope this blog has given you some inspiration for bringing UTR tournaments and new events to your own facility!