Sunball Partner Resorts
Sunball Tennis works as an int'l tennis school providing many tennis camps, tennis events and professional tennis services with select hotels/resorts in nearly all important vacation destination regions in Europe, North Africa and Dubai.
INTERVIEW WITH SUNBALL TENNIS OWNER FRANK HENZE
TCB: Hello, Frank. Where are you originally from?
FH: I am from Hamburg / Germany.
TCB: How old were you when you started with tennis, and who got you into it?
FH: I am 43 years old and started tennis when I was 8 years old. My neighbors motivated me to play tennis and of course Boris Becker. I started to play when Boris was winning the first Wimbledon title in 1985.
TCB: How did your tennis develop as a child/teenager and in school? FH: With 11 years I moved to a bigger club and from then on I trained more intensely, played many tournaments, and had my first success. From 12 to 18 years I was playing almost every day. In the North of Germany, I was always one of the best in my age group, but in all of Germany my highest ranking was not higher than no. 50.
TCB: I believe you are or were teaching tennis, too? When did you start, and what qualifications did you obtain?
FH: I started coaching with 16 years and did get licensed by the German Tennis Federation (DTB).
TCB: You started Sunball Tennis in 2001. How did this come about? What made you do it?
FH: After school, in 1996 I wanted to gain some experience and do some travels, to discover the world. I also studied business economics at the University of Hamburg, but every year I was traveling for around 5 months with Sunball. Sunball Tennis was already existing and working in a few hotels. So, from 1996 – 2001 I was working as a coach and assistant manager with Sunball and already supported the previous owner of Sunball. I loved working with Sunball in tourist destinations. Then in 2001, I agreed with the previous owner to take over the company and started the expansion of Sunball.
TCB: How are you selecting destinations to be added to your catalog?
FH: I look at high standard, minimum 4-star hotel resorts with at least 2 good quality tennis courts. Our partner hotels are resorts for tourists who wish to be active during their holiday. In general, all worldwide destinations could be interesting for us, but logistically it is easier to work closer to Europe.
TCB: What are your three most popular destinations? FH: The largest number of clients are flying to strong touristic destinations like Mallorca, Crete, and Andalusia. But also Italy, Portugal, Croatia, and Turkey are very popular.
TCB: Are the tennis professionals at your destination hotels your staff or hotel staff?
FH: All tennis professionals are Sunball staff. This is the service we offer to the hotels, that we organize professional coaches to offer the tennis programs to all tourists.
Indoor courts at Aldiana Club Ampflwang – Austria
TCB: Are you looking for tennis pros in some locations? What are the requirements?
FH: Every year we hire new coaches as we have a large number of jobs and always expanded in the last years. The coaches need a coaching certificate, coaching experience, and also social and language skills to deal with many clients from different nationalities every week. We expect the coaches to be very energetic, passionate and to create a special experience for our clients.
TCB: What are your customers saying about Sunball Tennis vacations? Is everyone happy?
FH: I can say with a very good conscience that almost all customers are very happy. Fortunately, Sunball has excellent coaches with a great personality working with us. There are just very few complaints, but with thousands of guests during the year this is probably impossible to avoid. We try to make every client happy, but some persons have expectations on holidays which are almost impossible to meet.
TCB: What are the biggest challenges in your business?
FH: It is not easy to make long term plans. There can be travel restrictions (like now with Covid) and the tourism is stopping completely in some destinations. The popularity of some destinations can also change. Moreover, hotels are changing ownership or management concepts, so their plans about tennis can change as well. Surely, there is also competition on the market of many coaches and other companies, but fortunately, we are in a very good market position. If I look back at the year 2020, there cannot be a bigger challenge coming in the future, as the Covid situation was already the absolute worst-case scenario for the whole tourism industry.
TCB: Where are you planning to take your company in the next 10 years?
FH: I wish that we can remain the market leader in tourism in Europe and to strengthen this position, to find new hotel collaboration in exciting destinations, to keep working with our great coaches on a long term basis, to find fantastic new coaches. It is an ongoing process to keep going every year and even every day, to try to always improve some details constantly. A goal in the next 10 years is to expand more worldwide, that Sunball will also work in some resorts in the Middle East, in Asia, and in the Caribbean.
TCB: What are your plans for your 20th anniversary in 2021?
FH: Unfortunately during Covid, there are no big parties allowed. -) But for sure I will try to have a nice celebration with some of our very loyal coaches and with my family.
TCB: Have you played pickleball? Is it available in any of your locations?
FH: I never played pickleball, but heard about it and saw videos. Looks great, but in Europe (as we mainly work in Europe) it is almost non-existing. In Europe the padel tennis is growing fast in some countries, it is a bit similar to pickleball.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
FH: I play with Babolat Pure Drive Tour already for many years.
TCB: Thank you, Frank.
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