Commitment To Community Youth Earn Springfield Lasers A Gold Star Award
Paul Nahon knows the impact the Springfield Lasers have on the local tennis community. He understands that not only as a parent but also as the general manager of the World TeamTennis franchise. So it’s an honor, not a surprise, to him the Lasers have earned a USTA Missouri Valley Gold Star award.
In honor of its 100th anniversary this year, USTA Missouri Valley is recognizing 100 deserving tennis providers, players, partners and more throughout the section. These Gold Star awards recognize contributions to support and grow the game in USTA Missouri Valley.
“I think it’s a great honor,” Nahon said. “I’m glad to see (the Lasers) getting recognized for not only playing a season, but also motivating the kids to get out and play.”
Nahon and the Lasers were nominated by Manon Eilts, USTA Missouri Valley Marketing, Communications & Membership Director. She is impressed with the positive customer experience they provide as well as their support for the Net Generation mission.
“The Springfield Lasers have been a great organization to rally around as they have represented the USTA Missouri Valley in professional tennis for decades,” Eilts said. “In our partnership with the Lasers, we have benefited from the presence Paul and his management have provided by incorporating USTA messaging, signage and on-site customer service opportunities during their home matches over the years. We have especially enjoyed working with the team and the Park Board on the Kids Nights where the players spend time with the kids on and off the court, giving them a night to remember.”
As a tennis fan and player himself, Nahon is very familiar with the USTA and its programs. That’s part of why the partnership between the franchise and USTA Missouri Valley is so important to him.
“We have been a partner with USTA for many, many years. Unfortunately this year we couldn’t do our on-site events, where we have a Kids Night, because COVID-19 forced the WTT season to be played in West Virginia,” he said. “But, really, every single night of the World TeamTennis season we have some sort of activity for the kids. We also get out in the community and promote Net Generation, USTA’s avenue for competition as well as entry-level tennis.”
That outreach continued this summer, just not in Springfield. Nahon recalls very fondly a fan the Lasers made while living and playing at The Greenbrier Resort.
“We did a little clinic at The Greenbrier and gave this 6-year-old girl a Lasers hat,” he said. “She showed up to the rest of our matches that weekend. I think that type of impact builds fans for life and creates inspiration, too. Seeing professional athletes inspire kids to play, as well as adult players, is a lot of fun.”
And those kids can play team tennis, too. That’s another benefit of the Lasers embracing the USTA and its mission.
“World TeamTennis and the format for USTA’s Junior Team Tennis follow each other very closely,” Nahon said. “I think it’s a healthy avenue for competition and isn’t so cutthroat. I think those two things mirror each other pretty well, so the kids can go out and really do the same type of event the professionals do.”
Nahon has worked with the Lasers since 2013. He started in sales, securing sponsors and helping to sell tickets. In 2014 he was promoted to general manager and has since guided the Lasers to their first-ever WTT championships, in 2018 and 2019.
But before that, he was just a tennis-loving dad enjoying the game with his family.
“I look back to my children’s involvement and the Lasers were inspirational to them,” he said. “I see the Lasers from an inspirational standpoint, getting kids involved. Growing the sport and getting kids involved is something we’re very proud of.”