I received the following email from USC Trojans Men’s Coach Peter Smith via Wayne Bryan:
Below is most of our home schedule and I would like to invite clubs or anyone who would like to take part in this (they just have to do some organizing on their end) to come watch our match, have the kids be ball kids (and get pizza and free t-shirt) and then have a clinic with the team after the match. Every match we have done it at over the past 3 years it has been a huge hit. What the club director or pro needs to do is teach them how to be ball kids, organize them to come to the match and then we will feed them and my team will hit with them after the match. The kids just love it.
2/1/14 – UCLA vs Florida – 10am – USC vs Georgia 2pm
2/2/14 – UCLA vs Georgia – 10am – USC vs Florida 1pm
3/9/14 – USC vs Baylor 12N – USC vs UC Riverside 4 pm
4/4/14 – USC vs Stanford – 1:30 pm
4/5/14 – USC vs Cal – 1 pm
I didn’t include a couple of matches because I don’t think the fit would be right, but these matches will be an absolute blast.
In a follow-up email from Wayne that included replies from several folks (including Yours Truly), I saw this from UGA Bulldogs Men’s Coach Manny Diaz:
Thanks! The Dawgs look forward to a “Wild and Crazy Weekend” in SoCal. Let me know if we can do anything to create a better experience for the fans/kids while at the matches! What a fantastic attitude and that’s what makes you and your program such a humungous winner, Manny, and mega thanks! Ya know, when I think of you, here is the first thing that always comes into my mind: “Class is hard to define, but you when you see it you never forget it.” Grantland Rice. See you in SoCal and wishing you and your Dawgs yet another great season – – – and with full stands. Best, WB Manny Diaz, Manuel Diaz, Jr., Head Men’s Tennis Coach, University of Georgia
And this from Mike Gennette, California Lutheran University’s head coach:
All, We are going out to all of the local high schools to give them wallet sized schedules and also to have each school come out as a team to one match together. We have the team stay after to say hi to the HS team. We also have a local retirement community that loves to come out and get involved. Our university PE classes get credit for attending one match during the season also. Just a few ideas…
And from developmental coach JP Weber:
Just a quick note here to say one of the best times we have each year is going to take the kids to UGA for matches. Craig Jones of Macon takes advantage of it in an even better way. He charters a bus with a ton of kids to a special match each season! I must say one of the best events we went to was about two years ago and Manny had a pro from the area set up drills for the kids in attendance on the Women’s courts at Georgia. They begin a short 45 minute session of drills for the kids immediately following the doubles matches and those community pros ran the drills for 45 minutes. At the end of the 45 minutes they had pizza and Powerade for the kids and they wandered back over to the match where they were able to pick up the action mostly still in the first set of singles. This was one of the best things and the kids still remember that particular day and format! (BTW–with your new format not so much fun can be had by the spectating kids…) Just thought to drop my 2 cents in on this as I will also make one more comment– Manny and his players are terrific. After the match they wait and sign autographs and posters for the kids down on the stadium court. It ends up being a terrific way to fire up the kids. It is not easy – bandages, fatigue and hunger are there but each of them is willing to help with the kids. Good stuff.
Those who say we need to change the format of college matches in order to fill the stands should take a lesson from the great coaches above – they’ve figured out that if you offer up exciting tennis and engage your local community, the fans will come in droves!