Have you ever belonged to an organization and wondered, “Why am I paying memberships dues again?” I know I have belonged to such organizations. I have found myself wondering why organizations are often so nonresponsive to the membership, without which, there would be no organization.
Well this particular post is about an organization that has been responsive to its membership…at least in this particular case. The organization is the United States Professional Tennis Association, “the oldest and largest association of tennis-teaching professionals” (http://uspta.com/default.aspx/MenuItemID/1887/MenuGroup/New-USPTA-About.htm).
Here’s the story: A couple of weeks ago, my friend Eric Ernstrom called me and notified me that the USPTA National Clay Court Championships were coming up at BallenIsles Country Club in Palm Beach Gardens this month. With a little more time on my hands than I have had for a few years, and with the body feeling less than horrible, I began thinking about it.
Soon thereafter, I received “official” notice from the USPTA, and went to the site suggested to register for the event. Well, I’m looking down the list of events, and thinking, “This must be a typo. There’s no Men’s 50s!” There were Men’s 45s, and Men’s 55s, but no 50s.
Well, it wasn’t a typo, and I really wasn’t planning on shelling out a hefty entry fee, booking a hotel room, and hiking across the State to play in the 45s, because regardless of how well I did (and I wouldn’t expect to do too well), I wouldn’t get any points for my age group. It just seemed odd to me, given that the 50s Division at USPTA Florida Fast-Dry Courts and 10s Tennis Supply Grand Prix Circuit events is usually a relatively well-populated division.
So I emailed Trish Faulkner, Tournament Director, and Mike Baldwin, USPTA Florida Grand Prix Chairman, and asked why we didn’t have a 50s Division. I was just seeking an explanation, and didn’t for a moment expect anything to be done. Not too long after I sent the email, Mike Baldwin called me, and we chat about why there might not have been a 50s Division. He said he would check into it and get back to me.
The next day Mike called me again and reported that he had spoken with Trish and had spoken with the National USPTA office and the upshot was that Men’s 50s and 60s Singles and Women’s 50s Doubles events had been added to the USPTA Clay Court Championships.
Great! I had already registered to play Mixed Doubles at my local Club this weekend, and would now have to make a difficult call. Difficult call aside, however, the crux of the matter is that the USPTA responded to feedback from its membership, and acted in a manner conducive to member satisfaction.
The USPTA functioned as an organization should, at both the local and national levels. Having listened to feedback from Florida USPTA professionals, Mike Baldwin and Trish Faulkner served as local liaisons to the National office, and National, most likely Gary Trost (Vice President) and Rich Fanning (Director of Operations), responded as one would hope the upper echelon of a national organization would.
According to Baldwin, the National office assured our Florida liaisons that, “Our hands weren’t tied as far as the divisions were concerned.” Baldwin also noted that Chuck Gill, Director of Tennis at Ibis Country Club, which had hosted the National Clay courts for the past several years, had been a valuable informational resource and source of guidance in the matter.
Because of the efforts by Mike Baldwin and Trish Faulkner, I will trek across the State this weekend, and I will give it my best shot in the Men’s 50s. Regardless of the outcome, when it is all over, I will have gladly represented the USPTA, both local and national. Game, set, match…T A