Courting success: How USTA Tennis Venue Services revitalized the Mobile Tennis Center

Judy Leand | June 09, 2023

The Mobile Tennis Center in Alabama is one of the world’s largest public tennis facilities. It currently boasts 60 lighted hard courts, with programming that includes year-round lessons and clinics for all ages, a Junior Team Tennis program, USTA adult leagues, and a schools program involving 10 local elementary schools. All eight of MTC’s instructors are PTR or USPTA-certified, and it’s a partner with the Mobile Area Tennis Association.


The center continues to positively impact the lives and health and wellness of its active, engaged and growing local membership—but that’s not all, says Scott Novak, MTC’s general manager. “Tennis is considered one of the top tourist events in Mobile. We run 25 to 30 tennis tournaments annually, which account for more than $30 million in economic impact for the area.”

And the center has ambitious expansion plans, including the addition of 30 clay tennis courts, 12 indoor tennis courts, and eight indoor and 12 outdoor pickleball courts. Enter the USTA’s Tennis Venue Services (TVS), which has quietly been using its wealth of expertise and resources to advise facilities and organizations about how to improve and grow. 


“The Mobile Tennis Center has utilized TVS for a wide array of projects over the last four years,” says Todd Carlson, the USTA’s director of Tennis Venue Services, Parks & CTAs.


“Among other areas, TVS has been able to advise on programming, budgeting, facility assessments, advocacy, digital tools, facility funding and more.”


“As a municipality,” adds Novak, “we’re fortunate to be able to have TVS as an advisor for many facility and organizational situations that arise. We don’t need to be the experts in every field, but TVS has experts in each field to advise us and give us ideas.” 

Mobile Tennis Center. Photo by Thigpen Photography, Inc.

In addition, says Novak, TVS has been able to navigate municipal bureaucracies to bring plans and studies to light, and to get correct information into bids for work.


Currently, TVS has created plans for MTC’s future addition of clay and indoor courts. TVS also evaluated plans for resurfacing and LED lighting and made suggestions to the city bid presenters; provided resources for a live stream video project (the facility is preparing a bid for live stream video on all 60 courts); provided options for an online court reservation system; made business management suggestions; and has offered suggestions and help with teaching pro certification and training.


"The relationship with USTA has given the City of Mobile the ability to have highlevel advice around operational services,” says Shonnda Smith, Mobile’s deputy executive director of Public Works. “Plus, the ability to get consultation and design services to assist us with building 30 clay courts and indoor courts is priceless.”


“The TVS team met with me and our park director and evaluated all of our tennis facilities—outlining our strengths and weaknesses in facilities and programming,” adds Novak. “The fact that they took the time to develop a relationship with our Park and Rec director was invaluable. In short, TVS has provided great advocacy for the City of Mobile and the Mobile Tennis Center, and has kept us from making large, financially costly mistakes.”


“Through Scott and Shonnda’s leadership, the Mobile Tennis Center is one of the top venues in the country,” says Carlson. “It’s made a significant impact on the physical health and wellness of the Mobile community while also increasing the economic benefits to the area.” 


Judy Leand is a contributing editor to Racquet Sports Industry magazine. For more about the Mobile Tennis Center, visit its website here.

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