Corporate League Tennis: Advantage, Business
By Kristen Daley
Water cooler conversation no longer needs to be the social highlight of your company’s workday.
More than 120 companies, from Fire Departments to Fortune 500 entities, participate in corporate tennis leagues across the United States, presented through a partnership between World TeamTennis (WTT) and the United States Tennis Association (USTA). Employees join their colleagues on tennis courts for fun and energizing co-ed competition. “It’s a great networking opportunity, both socially and professionally,” says Ilana Kloss, CEO and commissioner of World TeamTennis.
Corporate League Tennis can also help boost employee morale and reduce health care costs, benefits well worth the time and energy a company or employee dedicates to participation. It also can help improve business production and efficiency, as healthy employees are less likely to miss work. Tennis is known to combine aerobic, health, and strength-building benefits, improve conditioning, strengthen the heart and lower the risk of illnesses like coronary heart disease.
Played in the co-ed WTT format, featuring fun additions to the traditional game like cheering, coaching and substitution, Corporate League Tennis takes into account the busy schedules of working professionals while also focusing on the importance of physical and social activity. The format is flexible—only four players need be present (two men and two women at least), but there is no limit as to how many team members can show up to play. And as long as half of the team is on its company’s payroll, the team can invite friends and family to participate. The team with the most total games won at the end of the set is the winner of the match.
“I think that Corporate World TeamTennis is ideal for someone who wants to be involved in a sport but has a limited amount of time,” says Scott Hanover, a new Corporate League director in Kansas City, Mo.
Local corporate leagues can be intercompany, in which different companies play each other, or intracompany, where teams from within the same company compete. At the end of each season, a team from each league can move on to the WTT Nationals.
This fun, friendly competition also fosters teamwork and networking. Between and after matches, says Gina Larkin, director of the Milwaukee GE Healthcare intracompany league, players talk best practices and learn more about their teammates’ and opponents’ respective careers. And the networking is not only a boost for the employees’ professional lives, but for their tennis lives outside of the corporate league as well. “You establish friendships and relationships with people, and you learn who you want to play with to get challenged,” says Larkin.
Bob Williams, director of the Greater Twin Cities Corporate League, has found that email announcements and the local Web site he developed (www.wtttwincities.com) are both important tools for building interest and running the league. The league now serves 200 players from 13 companies and organizations in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. It has grown every year since its inception in 2005, with the help of some very satisfied customers. “Players enthusiastically tell others about the unique and exciting format and do the marketing for me,” says Williams.
Miami league director Elaine Wingfield found that the easiest way to get teams interested is to first approach a local tennis player who works for a company large enough to field a team. The Miami Corporate Tennis League is made up of about 15 teams from several different industries, including cruise lines, law and accounting firms, and more.
Wingfield took players’ busy work and travel schedules into consideration when scheduling competition, organizing matches twice a month for each team. “All they had to do was work their schedule around two Tuesdays a month,” and meet at a central location, she says. “They found that very attractive.”
Regardless of when and how competition takes place, it’s always a great time.
“I’ve really seen in action the benefits of doing a corporate league and getting people back into the game,” says Wingfield. “I’m sure this is happening in other areas.”
Making it happen in your area is easy. Visit the Corporate League section on WTT.com for more information on how to join or start a Corporate Tennis League.