Sometimes we overlook the simplest things. Translation: to enjoy our sport, you need a partner. However, tennis hasn’t exactly focused its ample energies on this little problem.
Enter Alex Marinov, a 3.5 player with a consistent serve. In ’07, he moved from San Francisco to Miami Beach, where he figured he shouldn’t have a problem finding a partner. He went to a local club in South Beach, where he told the manager he’d just moved to town and wanted a game. The manager responded, “We have a ladder.”
“How much is it?” Marinov asked.
“Twenty bucks,” said the manager.
He signed up and asked for a printout of the players he could contact.
Think again. There were no names — only a curious collection of badges on the wall. So Marinov sat around writing all the names down — a 20-minute exercise. He immediately thought there must be a better way to find a tennis partner. He let the idea marinate for a year, then he and his brother thought, “Why not construct a website where, with just a few clicks, you can access people to play at your level in your own neighborhood?” His friends loved the concept. Marinov’s conceit: Finding a problem in the game he loved and addressing it. He contacted a software engineer, a web designer and soon, Tennis Round (www.tennisround.com), a cutting-edge website where you can find partners at your own level and in your neighborhood, was born.
Already, Tennis Round, which is completely free, has 1,200 members, mostly in web-savvy hubs like San Francisco, Austin, Seattle and New York. Said to be the largest directory of courts in the country, it now lists over 15,000 facilities.
Marinov says, “My goal has always been to be able to come back from my work at 6:30 p.m. and see who’s available to play and go out for a game of tennis by 7 p.m. It would be just as easy as coming home and then just heading out to the gym. To do that doesn’t take any time, but in the past it would take four or five hours to arrange for an opponent.”
“Now,” adds Marinov, “there’s a real-time menu of players. I don’t want finding an opponent to be a chore. That is just unacceptable in the 21st century.”
So that’s the story of Tennis Round, an inventive (“Why didn’t I think of that?”) way to meet people and get matches in the sport you love in or near the neighborhood where you live. Visit www.tennisround.com.