Friday, December 4, 2015

A First-Hand Perspective of Marketing Collegiate Tennis

by Alannah Keele

This academic year I was given the opportunity to intern for the MTSU Men’s Tennis team as their marketing manager. I am in my senior year of college pursuing a marketing degree in hopes of working in corporate sales for a sports team at the professional level. I felt as if this was a once in a lifetime opportunity that I could not pass up. I really enjoy playing tennis leisurely and do it frequently, but have never played on a league or team so the knowledge that I have is very limited. The head coach, Jimmy Borendame, told me my main duties would be to come up with marketing strategies to attract fans to the home matches. I thought to myself “how hard can that be” and gladly accepted the position.

Marking MT Tennis

Since accepting the position I have quickly learned that attracting fans to matches is much more difficult than a person would think. When MTSU Athletic Marketing came to speak to my Sports Marketing class they spoke about how they market to all MT sports but the main three sports that they market are: football, basketball, and baseball. I have found that tennis is unfortunately at the bottom of that marketing list alongside golf and track. However, the reason I am in this position is to overcome those obstacles and raise attendance for our matches. Season does not start until the spring semester so I have not gotten to see how well my marketing tactics work out, but what Iwill do is give you five sincere reasons as to why I believe everyone needs to attend an MTSU Men’s Tennis match.

5 Reasons to Attend an MTSU Tennis Match

  1. The MTSU tennis players are good, really good. The men play a few tournaments during the fall semester and the first tournament they played in was the Dale Short Shootout which took place at home on 9/28/15. During that tournament the men were able to secure a win in 7 of the 9 matches they were in against Austin Peay, the University of Alabama Birmingham, and Lipscomb University. This means that the team was able to win 78% of all matches that weekend and the two they lost were incredibly close.
  2. These guys are incredibly athletic. During their preseason the guys are required to run their mile in 5 minutes and 35 seconds or less. I do not know of many sports where the entire team can run a mile in less than 5 minutes and 35 seconds. Not to mention how fast they actually hit and return the ball. I went down on the courts once to take pictures of the team in action and lasted less than a minute because of fear that I was going to get hit and severely injured.
  3. Another reason why you should attend an MTSU tennis match is because the team is committed to helping their community. This season alone they have hosted two free tennis clinics to the children of Rutherford County. During these clinics they taught the kids the basic fundamentals of tennis and put on an exhibition for them. After the clinics were over the team signed autographs and took pictures with all of the participants. Not once did I hear a player complain or say anything negative during the clinics. The players were more than happy to get the community involved in the sport that they love so much. See picture below from our first free clinic this year. 
  4. Is one of your reasons for not coming to a tennis match because the weather is too cold or rainy? If you answered yes then this problem will not be an issue anymore! This summer the City of Murfreesboro and Middle Tennessee State University unveiled an eight-court, $5.8 million indoor tennis complex. MTSU will host 19 home matches this season and half of those will be played at the new indoor complex. The new indoor complex allows fans to watch the matches above the court to get a great angle, the building has heat and air conditioning, there is a concession stand available during the matches, and the best part of all is that the matches are completely free to attend. Everyone should attend a match atleast to just experience the indoor facility. I can almost guarantee that there will be some free goodies to the matches that you attend! You have to come to the matches though to see what those goodies might be.
  5. The final reason I believe people should attend MTSU tennis matches is because the guys need your support. MTSU is its own community inside Rutherford County. I consider MTSU my home and my classmates and friends my family. There are ten players on the roster this academic year and out of the ten eight are from a different country. There are players from Spain, Germany, Australia, Msccor, and Paraguay. With the players being from so far away it is impossible for their parents and family members to attend their matches. We, as their MTSU family, need to come and give them the support they deserve. I know as a soccer player I always played better when I had friends and family at my games to support me. The guys risked a lot to move halfway around the world to play for our school and we owe it to them to give them our support.

Additional Reasons to Attend a Match

I encourage everyone to attend an MTSU Men’s Tennis match this upcoming spring. All matches are completely free to attend and I can almost guarantee there will be some sort of giveaway at each match. If you hate the match you are not required to attend another one or even stay the whole time, but I have a good feeling that you will like what you see. The MTSU Men’s tennis page where you can find their schedule, roster, and any news about the team can be found at

If there are any suggestions you have about marketing MTSU tennis or any experience you have with marketing collegiate sports please feel free to comment.

Alannah Keele is a senior marketing major at Middle Tennessee State University from Manchester, Tennessee.