I would think in this day and age of marketing, kids would at least have some idea of how to respond to this question. I just turned 40 and 3 months ago decided to get back into tennis after a 15 year vacation. I used to be a solid 4.0-4.5 player. I am in the best shape of my life now and after noticing that I was beating 3.5 players, and even a couple of 4.0ís, I have decided to start playing all of the USTA events in my state. My goal is to be in the top 20 of 3.5 players in SC next year. The year after, I want to do the same in the 4.0, after that 4.5. I am going to need some kind of financial help with the travel equipment, clothing, etc. Thing is, Iím too old to have a major sponsor, they only want youngsters.
Wearing your sponsorís logo during a match isnít enough to make them want to invest in you. I believe my answer to the question posed would involve ideas like this:
I would wear something with their logo all of the time out in public. I would be seen using their product and I would tell other people about how good it was. I would know as much about the product as folks who sell it and be able to answer questions about it. I would offer to sit at a display booth and hand out samples, coupons, or other promotional materials after the matches. I would mention the sponsor and give thanks to them if given the chance to speak publicly about my tennis matches. These are just a few ideas right off the top of my head. Turn your thinking caps on and use some imagination and creativity.
A sponsored player needs to be an ambassador for the company that they represent. You need to forge a long term relationship. For them, it is like making a major purchase of manufacturing equipment. They canít justify the cost of such a purchase without seeing the value it presents. You have to show them that you are cost effective and will provide a good return of investment. They arenít interested in your prize money. After all, if you arenít a pro yet, how are you going to get paid anything? Build a good relationship and you will be surprised how your commitment to each other will grow over time.
Iím too old to ever play pro, but I will find someone to sponsor my amateur play next year despite my age. Why, you ask? Because I know how to sell myself and I am confident in my abilities on and off the court. It may not be a big sponsor, but any help is better than no help at all. Be willing to start small and remember that salesmanship and follow-up commitment to your sponsor is just as important as your ranking on the court, maybe even more so!