The Commish is not just one single person, it is a real and true thought experiment of many different entities. That's also why the Commish has no prefered pronouns and you
can call the Commish anything and anyway you want. Makes no difference to the Commish. The Commish lives in the minds of all tennis professionals, tennis players, tennis organizers, everyone with a clear and logical thought pocess.
The Commish Rules
By The Commish
The Commish Rules, but not with an iron fist, and they give lots and lots of advice, more than you want. At least you know there will be a wealth of it to refer to in the future and remember, the internet is forever. Commish would like to thank Marsh Riggs for his engagement and he gave The Commish the idea of writing a monthly advice column like Dear Abby or Ask Ann… so here it goes.
Q. Dear Commish, I am a director of tennis, and my club is on my case because my tennis professionals don’t do continuing education, or they think that talking on a social media gab page for coaches, counts as real training. What should I do?
A. Dear Educator, list an open position in every want ad you can find and start interviewing candidates but be sure to state that it’s for an anticipated opening. Be sure to have continuing education as an expectation of being brought aboard, and include language in their contracts. Also, have mandatory training at least once a month with your staff. Try to be flexible with the timing to make it as easy and convenient as possible for staff. Remember, you are in the service business, and the level of service you give your staff, they then will go forward to give that level of service. At your staff meeting, let your staff know that you anticipate possibly bringing someone new onto the staff, so everyone should prepare. In all new contracts, there will be language in regard to continuing education requirements. Find your lowest-performing staff member in education, and let them know that when you bring someone on board, the staff might not be larger. You get the drift, but don’t do it like the commish, do it your way. Sharks in the water keep the fish swimming.
Q. Dear Commish, my club has been overrun by USTA Leagues, and we can’t have casual play on weekends or a club championship.
A. Dear Clueless, you are letting someone else run your club? Get out your calendar, schedule your club championships, make rich rewards for the winners, and endlessly praise those that play it. Make a weekend time restriction for USTA matches. Most of your drop-in casual players at the club have almost zero interest in leagues, but they will play them if coerced because it's the only way to get on a court. Is that how you want to operate?
Try a rule that no USTA match can start before 11 am on the weekends. Drop-in play and regular reservations are first open to nonleague participants, then 72 hours before the weekend, anyone can book a court (otherwise your sneaky USTA captain criminals will book practice and warm up time for their team). Find a way to trim or limit the number of teams.
Yes, in the short term, all hell is going to break loose, but that’s why you get the big bucks. You are working for the silent majority, the ones who don’t complain, and you might have to punch the bully, the loud noisy complainers, and put them in their place. Be the boss. Be smart, find a way to trim your league offerings by 10%. Get together with the other professionals in your area, and come up with a comprehensive plan to serve all your members better. Does the USTA pay your club members dues, so those leagues essentially live rent-free? No, your members do, and I bet you have a lot more room for a lot more play from a lot more members if you make room for them to play without forcing them to do something they don’t want to do.
Now, obviously, there are clubs whose sole purpose in life is to serve at the altar of USTA leagues and you have massive clinic income and everything is about feeding that beast. So if that’s you, then succeed wildly at it, and don’t complain about no open play or club championships, you made your choice.
Q. Dear Commish, I work for a gatekeeper organization, and my job is mainly trying to appear useful and make people feel good while not really doing much. Lately, with so many people being laid off, I’m thinking of doing more so that I can keep my job. What do you suggest?
A. Dear Shit Sandwich Maker, stop making shit sandwiches. Instead, of starting every interaction with a vague compliment, followed by some shit that even you don’t believe, and then ending with an immeasurable action item, try actually doing things. Probably the smartest thing you at the gatekeeper organizations can do is, find out what the people who grow the game actually need and want. Then help them do something that grows the game. Maybe they want you to get them into schools for a school assembly. Maybe they need some marketing support. Maybe they need some help running an event that attracts players to the game.
Now about those shit sandwiches, is it in the gatekeeper manual to say “Well obviously Commish, you are very (passionate, creative, smart, enthusiastic) about your (idea, project, action item), but right now we are pushing (name of new massive money-wasting marketing effort), I will bring this up to (committee, board, executive director) and let you know what they say.”? We all know that many of you are well trained to keep thoughts, ideas, and actions at bay, so make the shift. Try this: What is it? How does it work? What can I do? Do I know someone who can help? What material or financial help can my org give? In what other ways can we collaborate? So instead of justifying your position, you will actually be providing value, and thus you will always have a great job or make one for yourself.
Do you have a question for The Commish? Please send to:
att. The Commish
Tennis Club Business is the only tennis business newsletter that calls out the failed policies and programs of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 17 USTA Sections, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
Our motto: MAVERICKS DON'T TOE THE LINE.