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May 15, 2017

by John R. Embree, USPTA Chief Executive Officer

Why is this date significant in the annals of the USPTA? Simple: on that Monday, the new staff of the USPTA came together for the first time at the Guidewell Innovation Center in Lake Nona, Florida to begin the next chapter of the association’s history. While we had anticipated that our new building across the street from the USTA National Campus would be completed by this date, we were still a long way away from taking occupancy, which meant we had to convene somewhere. With the office in Houston expected to close for good in late May, we had to keep to our original timeline and bring the team together. And, with only two weeks remaining before the Houston staff would no longer be operating, we had to dive right into learning our business through an intense training period so that we could be ready once the phones turned on June 1.

So, there we were in a crowded conference room, all 19 of us sitting at five round tables with telephone and computer cables all over the floor that were hooked up to make-shift workstations. At one table sat membership, communications at a second, finance at another, education and testing at their own and finally operations rounded out the group.

Remember, only five people relocated from Houston (Sid Newcomb moved from Nor Cal) which meant that 13 were brand spanking new. In addition, many knew nothing about tennis, which required education about the sport, let alone about our business. This was a critical time for all of us, as we not only got to know each other but the veterans could help with phone calls and questions that inevitably would come up during a normal day.

In many respects, it proved to be a challenge to work in such close quarters. But, in hindsight, the unintended consequences were such that everyone benefited from being together and the baptism by fire that everyone experienced. By the time we were able to move into our new home three months later, the team understood their respective roles and we were off to the races! Plus, each employee had their own space in which to work and the comfort of an ultra-modern office environment.

I am incredibly proud to have this team behind me. While we did have a few misses early on, the people that are now in place are terrific. While we did lose a ton of institutional knowledge with the departure of our Houston group, the fresh perspective and new energy that this team has brought with them has made us that much better. Let me take a moment to recognize each of them:

Membership Team: Amy Buchanan, Risa Epstein, Kelli Ferry, Sarah Fisher and Trevor Trudelle. The customer service that this team brings each day is awesome. They are on the front lines with our membership and you can hear the smile on the other end of the phone when you call.

Finance Team: Michael Tomassini, Ashley Walker and Ellen Weatherford. Mike has stabilized this department, Ellen can now live a normal life after working 15 hour days for the past three years and Ashley has our merchandising program on a roll.

Multimedia: One of the benefits of being adjacent to the National Campus are the collaborative opportunities that keep coming our way. John Gerard and Rico Edwards have so many projects on the docket, it is going to be fun to see their creativity come through their work.

Education Team: Jacquelyn Dahre and Ramona Husaru have hit their stride which is allowing Ramona to take on a variety of new roles within the organization.

Human Resources: Dana Dasch has added so much to our team with her calming influence and effervescent smile. As you know, HR is not glamorous, but Dana has garnered the respect of everyone.

Communications Team: John Cornell, DeVonte’ Martin and Gustavo Reyes. Under John’s leadership, DeVonte’ and Gus have ramped up our social media presence, our brand has a more consistent look and we have expanded USPTA messaging across all channels.

National Head Tester: Sid Newcomb has done a wonderful job managing our 71 testers, upgraded our PTCA, established a testing discipline which was long needed and is now rolling out a tablet to all testers to make our test results more efficient.

Chief Operating Officer:
Fred Viancos has contributed in more ways than one in his new role: dealing with building and IT issues, handling much of the relocation from Houston, and managing his team. We would not be where we are without his guidance and expertise.

Full Dimension IT: Finally, Scott Bucic and Dan Wilson made our transition seamless from an IT perspective, even though they remain in Houston. They had our new servers and computers all configured and ready to go once we commenced operations.

Thus, we celebrate our one-year anniversary together. Please take a moment to call the office and thank this group for all that they do to exceed the customer expectations of our membership. And, if you have not been to visit us yet, come see us... as that famous ad jingle states, “we will leave the light on for you!”

 
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