Rules For Success

Garner a reputation for excellence in tennis facilities

By John Krafft

The Midland Community Tennis Center (MCTC) in Midland, Mich., has a reputation for innovation and enterprise, growing the game throughout the region and earning the United States Tennis Association’s (USTA) Best Tennis Town in the USA Award.

There is no shortage of endorsements.

Industry leaders, like the USTA, the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA), the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), and the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), have all recognized the facility with honors, establishing national training sites at the facility for USTA 10 & Under Tennis, TIA Cardio Tennis, and USTA  Recreational Tennis Instruction.

USTA officials have observed that the Dow Corning Tennis Classic--one of two $100,000 women’s pro tennis events on the 90-stop tour--is, indeed, one of the tour’s best-managed tournaments. The event draws 15,000 fans over eight days and nights of competition. Educational/cultural outreach serves another 4,000 youths and adults, while 60 corporate sponsors and 240 volunteers deliver guest services.

The MCTC’s Welcome Center is a two-time USTA National Top 50 member service, while the Advantage-Pro Shop was listed in the TIA National Top 10.

So, what’s the secret?

The Secret To Success

Over the last 10 years, the center has changed dramatically.

Visionary leadership from Executive Director Mike Woody first established MCTC’s credo--the nearly 3,000 members of the tennis center star in an Excellent Tennis Adventure, and a cadre of 21 certified teaching professionals are there to ensure each member’s experience is just that.

The staff members have been known to--literally--roll out the red carpet and dress in tuxedos to welcome members in for an afternoon league or weekend tournament.

The welcome center provides free jelly beans and a member-services program that empowers staff members to do whatever it takes to ensure member satisfaction.  Additionally, members enjoy a computer nook, kitchen facility, free hitting and tennis tips, high fives, and a noisily theatrical attention to their tennis wins and woes.

Woody offers three secrets for success:

  • Good is not good enough. Constantly get better and push your team to be better.

  • Focus on your strengths and position them. Don’t think of your weaknesses as weaknesses--think of them as areas that you creatively support in other ways.

  • The status quo is boring, so dream big and go after cool and exciting visions.

So what can any center do to automatically improve its situation?

“Program, program, program, and then sell, sell, sell,” says Woody. “Make it exciting. It seems simple, but you need to be ready to work hard with passion, energy, and a belief that you can do things better. Then surround yourself with a team that believes in the same dream.”

Fueling Growth

In 2011, MCTC unveiled the Paul Oreffice Outdoor Tennis Complex, featuring newly-resurfaced hard courts and an array of clay courts, along with four scaled courts for 8 & under juniors and three special courts for 10 & under kids.

Court visits are up from 34,000 to 43,000.

Adult tennis has expanded to become one of the largest league programs in the state, and in 2011 the Senior Women’s 3.5 Travel Team finished third at Nationals.

Wheelchair tennis leagues also are offered.

MCTC’s Junior Jams boasts five academies that have produced 17 national junior championships since 2008 and four high-school state titles since 2009.

With 23 events a year, the facility hosts or manages high-school matches, conference and state finals, college matches, and conference championships, as well as USTA national and Midwest junior tournaments.

These achievements are rooted in understanding the nuances and needs of the community and of the surrounding region.

“You need to look at your business and segment your market and deliver to each of the market’s needs. It's not a one-size-fits-all mentality,” Woody emphasizes. “You have to customize and specialize, and think about how to make every deliverable ’award-winning’ in terms of caliber.”

John Krafft is the Marketing Director for MCTC. For more information, call (989) 631-6151, or visit .