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Is Tennis Dead: Tips From a Top 50 USTA Facility

Explore the remarkable journey of Overland Park Racquet Club and how it became one of the top Tennis facilities in the Midwest. In this episode, we're joined by Elliott McDermed, the brain behind this thriving sports facility as an employee-turned co-owner. Elliot shares some of the secrets to their success, from diverse membership options to embracing the rise of pickleball. This one is full of tips on how to run a tennis club from a top 50 USTA facility. For more on racquet sports, check out our episode about pickleball with Chicken N Pickle!

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Coaching the Future of Sports

Welcome to the Overland Park Racquet Club, a beacon of excellence in the sports and entertainment industry.  The Overland Park Racquet Club, which has been voted a top 50 USTA facility, is the largest tennis facility in the Kansas City Area with 14 standard courts and 4 clay courts. Discover the winning strategies, the challenges faced, and some inside tips from this top-tier tennis facility. 

Covered in This Episode:

  • The Secrets of Being a Top 50 Tennis Club
  • The Rise of Pickleball: Impact and Adaptation
  • Crafting Diverse Tennis Memberships
  • Focusing on the Future of Tennis and Pickleball

Highlights and Key Moments:

  • "I relied heavily on feedback from people who played in the leagues."
  • "It's all about that experience, and if you can elevate that just a little bit, people stay and come back."
  • "The rise of pickleball hasn't affected tennis; it's good for everybody."
  • "Creating opportunities for every age and every level to keep the facility active."

The Secrets of Being a Top 50 Tennis Club

Earning a place among the top 50 clubs recognized by the USTA is an achievement that reflects Overland Park Racquet Club's dedication to excellence. Behind this recognition lies a set of valuable secrets that have propelled the club to this esteemed status. Central to this achievement is the club's profound emphasis on listening to customer feedback, an approach that allows them to continually refine their services and offerings. This customer-centric strategy has led to a strong, loyal clientele base. Additionally, the club's owner, Elliott McDermed, revealed the importance of leagues and tournaments. While they aren’t an immediate return on investment, they create a culture of healthy competition, bring in non-members, and are a huge benefit to growing the sport as a whole. 

The Rise of Pickleball: Impact and Adaptation

The surge of pickleball, often considered a potential rival to traditional tennis, has been a topic of discussion in the sports world. Overland Park Racquet Club, however, has managed to embrace the changing landscape gracefully. Their secret? They view pickleball as a complementary, rather than a competing, sport. By integrating pickleball into their offerings, they've broadened their appeal and introduced a more diverse audience to their facility. While the pickleball craze continues to grow, tennis remains strong at Overland Park Racquet Club, and they believe it's not a matter of one replacing the other. The club's success in navigating this transition underscores their adaptability and willingness to meet the evolving needs of their community.

Crafting Diverse Tennis Memberships

One of the fundamental aspects of Overland Park Racquet Club's success is its ability to craft diverse memberships that cater to a wide range of preferences. The club offers a membership structure that accommodates various categories, from individuals to families, military personnel, and more. This inclusivity ensures that the club isn't just a place for sports enthusiasts; it's also a family-oriented haven. This wide array of memberships incentivizes people of all ages to join the club, which in turn helps the facility fill more court hours throughout the day. For instance, those in retirement age find their way to the courts during traditional work hours, while teenagers often come by after school. This variety allows the courts to be booked throughout the day while still keeping the facility from being overcrowded. 

Focusing on the Future of Tennis and Pickleball

Overland Park Racquet Club's commitment to the world of sports goes beyond providing facilities; it's about nurturing talent and passion, especially in young athletes. Coaching and youth development have become integral to the club's mission. They understand that to keep the love for racquet sports alive, it's essential to impart skills and enthusiasm to the younger generation. This approach has been a game-changer, as young athletes receive personalized coaching and support to unlock their full potential. By creating a welcoming environment for kids, the club ensures that the passion for tennis and pickleball continues to thrive for generations to come. The youth programs include lessons, clinics, and coaching to help kids improve their skills and fall in love with the game. Ultimately, it's the dedication to coaching and youth development that makes Overland Park Racquet Club not just a place for sports but a nurturing ground for future athletes.


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Thank you for joining us on this episode of Facility Playbook! We hope the knowledge shared serves as a valuable resource for facility owners and managers seeking to thrive in the ever-evolving sports industry. Stay tuned for our next episode, where we will continue to bring you expert tips to help you navigate the dynamic world of facility management

The Overland Park Racquet Club continues to redefine the industry by embracing change, expanding its facilities, and keeping the customer experience at the heart of its operations. As you've discovered, it's a place where racquet sports thrive, and families find a home in their sporting journey.

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