We keep reading how the tennis industry is 'aging out' and for the most part is dominated by a bunch of older male professionals.
So we set out to find young female tennis professionals who are really flourishing in our male-dominated industry. And we found them on the U.S. East Coast, West Coast, in England, and in Australia. We asked them a bunch of questions in order to learn how they got into teaching tennis, why they did it, and if they would do it again. We wanted to know their story.
"THERE IS A NEED FOR INNOVATIVE, FUN WAYS
TO ATTRACT NEW PLAYERS TO OUR SPORT"
USPTA/PTR Tennis Professional
Los Angeles, California
QUESTIONS FOR DIANA DONOSLOVIC
TCB: Diana, where were you born (city, country)?
DD: I was born in Subotica, Yugoslavia (now Serbia).
TCB: How old were you when you started to play tennis and who introduced you?
DD: My mom is a tennis coach and former national champion of Yugoslavia, so I started tennis pretty early at the age of 3.
TCB: Did you play tennis in high school, college?
DD: Yes, I was the team captain of my high school team and then later was recruited to play Division 1 tennis for Southeast Missouri State halfway through my freshman year of college.
TCB: Was tennis your first choice of work after school? If not, please explain.
DD: No. I actually got my degree in performing arts (acting).
TCB: When did you start teaching, tennis and why?
DD: I started teaching tennis seasonally my senior year of high school. I taught kids' summer camps every summer all the way through college. I started teaching tennis full-time when I moved to Los Angeles. It was what I knew how to do the best and it was flexible enough to allow me to also pursue acting.
TCB: Did you get certified as a tennis professional?
DD: Yes, I'm a USPTA certified Elite Professional as well as PTR certified Professional.
TCB: Where and in what position did you work as a tennis professional?
I've worked at a number of places as a tennis pro, but my first full-time job teaching tennis was at the Palisades Tennis Center.
TCB: When and why did you decide on creating LA Night Ball? What is your position there?
DD: We decided to create LA Night Ball in 2019 after realizing there was no company like it on the west coast. There is a need for innovative, fun ways to attract new players to our sport, especially the younger generations, and I can't think of a better way than with glow tennis. I'm sort of a jack of all trades at LA Night Ball, but officially I'm the co-owner/creative director. I run all aspects of marketing and creative for the company, so things like creating content for our Instagram, Facebook, and Youtube channels, designing and updating our website, creating and editing all of our promo materials and videos, etc. I also generate leads and give client presentations, as well as manage scheduling, event set-up, and customer service.
TCB: Where is LA Night Ball being played?
DD: Since our launch in mid-2019, we have put up events for the United States Tennis Association SoCal division, as well for some of the most respected clubs in Southern California such as the Jack Kramer Club, the Mulholland Club, the Los Angeles Tennis Club, La Canada Flintridge Country Club, and others in addition to private events. We're available for a wide variety of events such as tennis club socials, private events, birthday parties, corporate events, fundraisers, and more.
TCB: How did the players like LA Night Ball? How much fun is it?
DD: We've gotten amazing feedback from the players. It's like nothing people have seen before in tennis. We combine live ball style games with lasers and music, all played under black lights. So the only things lit up on the court are the banners (which we bring), the lines, net, and tennis balls. It's really amazing to see in person.
TCB: What are the challenges you are facing at LA Night Ball? And are you still teaching 'regular' tennis?
DD: I think with it being such a new concept to most people in tennis, the marketing aspect of it can be difficult. We are for the most part a B2B company as we do not have our own courts. So B2B is a different - and in my opinion, a more difficult type of marketing - than marketing straight to consumers.
I still taught part-time for the USTA SoCal as well as a middle/high school team before COVID-19, but I don't teach full-time on court anymore.
TCB: Are you planning to expand into other areas/states?
DD: We're currently (when the COVID-19 restrictions lift) available for booking all over the SoCal region. We are willing to travel as well.
TCB: How difficult was it for you as a woman to have a career in male-dominated tennis? (Please elaborate, if you like)
DD: I don't think getting a job as a tennis pro was any more difficult for me as a woman than it would have been for a man. I will say, however, that at times I've felt as a woman it's been more difficult to command the same level of respect on (and sometimes off) the court that the male pros had.
TCB: How did your past income, and how does your current income compare to similarly experienced male tennis professionals?
DD: I would imagine it's pretty similar.
TCB: What would you say to young women interested in tennis and undecided whether they want to make a career out of it?
DD: I'd say if it's something you're passionate about doing and truly want to help people, go for it! I think something I didn't realize when I first started teaching is that it's so much more than just giving tips on tennis. Being a good tennis pro involves not only being knowledgeable about tennis, but also being a good teacher and communicator in general, and knowing how to effectively communicate with different personality types. Working with kids especially, we as their teachers can shape their entire view of the sport and make them love it or hate it for the rest of their lives based on our approach. It's a big responsibility.
It's also a lot of dealing with people and sometimes seeing them at their most frustrated as they're trying to learn a new skill. It requires being a "people person." If you're not comfortable with either of that, tennis might not be the right career for you. I'm naturally a little bit of an introvert, so I always found that part difficult. Teaching tennis can also be pretty physically taxing. It might not seem like much, but even just feeding outside in the blazing hot California sun for hours on end takes its toll. I think these are some helpful things to consider and be aware of.
TCB: If you had a chance to do it all over again, would you choose the same career again?
DD: Yes, I love what I do for LA Night Ball and I would love to continue to do more of it. Through teaching on court, I've also learned to be so much more authoritative and I'm not sure that's something I would have learned in another career.
TCB: Do you play or teach Pickleball? How do you like the sport?
DD: Yes, I play pickleball and I also do marketing for the USAPA west region. LA Night Ball also does glow pickleball events in addition to tennis.
TCB: What is your tennis racquet of choice?
DD: I'm on the Wilson Advisory Staff and currently play with the Wilson Clash 100 Pro.
TCB: Thank you, Diana.