Grassroots Marketing Manager Tennis
HEAD Penn Racquet Sports
When we received the HEAD Penn Racquet Sports press release about the hiring of Sophia Bott, we became interested in reporting about her. Maybe even as a regular column about Industry Pros. The announcement read, "As a Tech Rep for HEAD Penn, Bott has conducted hundreds of HEAD Experience events, worked with HEAD Ad Staff and retailers, and represented HEAD Penn at events such as the BNP Paribas Open, USA Pickleball Nationals, and the USPTA World Conference. She has increased brand awareness through social media and key partners like the CIF Southern Section."
The HEAD Penn Brand Manager had this to say: “I’m looking forward to working more closely with Sophia in this new role as the Grassroots Marketing Specialist,” said Allison Barnett, Brand Manager, HEAD USA. “Sophia’s dedication and professionalism representing HEAD Penn at multiple events has elevated our brands, and I know she’ll continue to do great things in her new position.”
Since then, Sophia's position has been elevated to Manager. Congratulations. Here is more about Sophia.
Questions for Sophia Bott
TCB: Where were you born, Sophia?
SB: Southern California. We lived in Arcadia, California until I was six years old.
TCB: When did you explore tennis and who got you into it?
SB: Three factors motivated me to join the group lessons: the end of soccer season, a big crush on Andy Roddick, and a desire to find a way out of piano practice. That first group lesson was very social and I liked the drills. It was just before my ninth birthday because I remember telling my mom I planned to use my birthday money to buy this demo racquet the coach loaned me. My mom was learning too and I remember us walking to the park with a lot of tennis balls and my little brother in a wagon. We'd rally from the midcourt and count how many in a row we could hit.
TCB: How did your development in youth tennis go?
SB: My youth tennis experience was a combination of clinics, camps, tourneys, friends, team competitions, and private lessons. I am the first in my family to play tennis so it was all new to us. I feel fortunate to have started lessons with Jonathan Stark at Seattle Tennis Club. He is very nice and encouraged me to get a little better each day. Although we lived in PNW, I spent summers with
my grandparents in Mission Viejo working with Mark Walpole and Nenad Toroman. These two are big on technique and they take a lot of pride in being described as "old school" by their peers. They've been a constant presence for me throughout juniors. However, it was Jonathan who recommended me for Aaron Gross’s Elite Academy at UP when our family moved from Washington to Oregon. We were a tight group of "ranked" players who cheered for each other at tourneys. We were confident because our workouts were so good. A few of the motivational highlights at this time were qualifying for national teams, Pacific Cup, and working as a Ball Kid at the Davis Cup when the USA defeated Russia. Throughout my junior development coaches encouraged me to play a lot of practice sets and find time to hit on the ball machine or against a wall. While in Portland I loved hanging out at West Hills Racquet Club in Beaverton, it’s a great place for families. We immersed ourselves in our small world of tennis and did the best we could to develop my game. The one big plus about my competition experience is that PNW offered pro set back draws for every tourney, so early on I learned how to bounce back and play through a weekend; in fact, my dad nicknamed me "Queen of Consolation."
TCB: Did you play High School tennis?
SB: Yes, I played for Southridge H.S. in Beaverton. This team was huge because the coach had a no-cut policy. I lost in the finals of state my freshman year, but I came back strong in tenth grade and won the OSAA title. We moved back to California before my junior year and I joined the San Clemente High School tennis team and quickly made friends at my new school.
TCB: You spent a year studying Journalism at Cal Poly SU in San Luis Obispo. Is that a field you wanted to pursue?
SB: No, I’d say I was more interested in the media field in general. I think journalism can be pretty tedious. I greatly admire the people who do it well.
TCB: At the University of Washington, you studied Communications/Media and subsequently worked for Kodak Motion Pictures. What made you change into the field of tennis?
SB: I loved my job at Kodak working with Steve Bellamy and Vanessa Bendetti. I couldn’t ask for two better mentors. I guess the film industry isn't so much different than the sports industry? Both involve special events and famous people. I went for the tennis industry job because it allowed me to build my communication skills as well as leverage my tennis experience. I am very grateful for Steve’s support and a few others who encouraged me and saw me as a good fit for the HEAD position.
TCB: Did you ever contemplate turning pro on the WTA Tour?
SB: No, but I am proud of my friends who contemplated professional tennis and are now WTA pro players… Mayo, Gugu, Desirae. They made a huge commitment. My mindset was more about making the zonal team. My mom always said, “The sport belongs to everyone. Enjoy it and set some goals.” So initially, my goal was to play for my high school team; eventually, this turned into a dream to play in college. I wanted to be a Husky. I attended a tennis camp at UW and the coaches and the purple courts at the Nordstrom Center made a lasting impression.
TCB: After 2 years as HEAD Technology Sales Representative in the Los Angeles area, did you apply for an open position as Grassroots Marketing Coordinator in Phoenix or were you approached?
SB: I’ve always told the company that I’d be willing to relocate from LA to Phoenix if the right opportunity came along.
TCB: What are you tasked with in your new position?
SB: As Grassroots Marketing Manager, I work closely with our National Team HEAD coaches and events and program sponsorships, like the BNP Paribas Open and PTR. I am tasked with growing our HEAD brand presence with juniors, college teams, and academies. We have a lot of plans. I recently launched a new Team HEAD North America Instagram which features Team HEAD junior player results, previews of upcoming gear, customer giveaways, and other news.
TCB: What does your day look like?
SB: My days are fast-paced and there is a lot of energy in the Phoenix office. Every day I am learning, building connections, and busy prepping for upcoming promotional events. My day changes when I am out in the field. This March, I am at Indian Wells Tennis Garden for the Oracle Challenger and BNP Paribas Open managing the HEAD string room and working on location with our pro athletes and our marketing team developing content for our social media channels. I’ll be sharing some behind the scene HEAD moments and autograph sessions.
TCB: What are your long-term goals in this new grassroots position?
SB: HEAD Penn is a great racquet company with excellent products used by top players worldwide including Novak, Coco, Barty, Stephens, and Zverev. My long-term goal is to contribute to our successful increase in market share. Our team is driven to support our sales staff, customers, and partners. Ideally, I’d like to see HEAD Penn become the first choice for all levels of players here in the USA.
TCB: What would you say to other tennis professionals wanting to work for HEAD? Is it a good company to work for? Are there plans to hire more Coordinators such as yourself?
SB: Go for TEAM HEAD, it is a very good company with great leadership in North America and Europe. Recently, I recruited my former UW teammate from SoCal, Kenadi Hance, to apply for the HEAD West Tech job. I am so proud of her for making it through a super tough candidate field. She is an awesome addition to the team. Go Dawgs!
TCB: Do you still play tennis a lot? Leagues, tournaments?
SB: This is a definite 2020 goal. I’m actually looking for a club here in Scottsdale to join sometime after the BNP Paribas Open. I’ll start with a group workout and maybe it will lead to playing league or a tourney.
TCB: What HEAD tennis racquet are you playing with?
SB: I play with the Speed Graphene 360 MP and I plan to upgrade to the new Speed Graphene 360+ when it comes out on March 6th. It’s a solid racquet, awesome for the player with an all-court game, big groundstrokes, and a strong serve.
TCB: Do you play pickleball? How do you like it?
SB: Pickleball is everywhere, isn't it? Honestly, my first love is tennis, but I do see people having a blast so I am thinking “Why not play both?” In fact, I suggest all diehard tennis players pick up one of our HEAD paddles and visit the Pickleball Margaritaville Nationals held at Indian Wells.
TCB: How can people reach you, Sophia?
SB: They can reach me through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
They can also follow me and interact with me on Instagram. The Instagram social media account is @teamhead_northamerica.
TCB: Thank you, Sophia Bott.