| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

“Should I buy into a tennis franchise or continue on my path as a registered nurse?” This is the dilemma Jim Donnelly faced years ago.

“At the time, I was 25-years-old and the opportunity arose for me to purchase a franchised tennis store, Tennis Emporium,” said Donnelly. “Tennis Emporium was the lead store in tennis specialty located in East Northport. In 1975, tennis was booming as local parks had wait times to play and the professionals on tour had the local tennis community hooked.”

Ten years had passed and Tennis Emporium began to show the defects of a franchised business. Donnelly decided to leave the franchised store and open Grand Slam Tennis in 1986, ironically, the same year his youngest son, Chase, was born.

“After working for a franchise, and not being able to run my store exactly how I wanted, I decided to open Grand Slam Tennis,” Donnelly said. “My goal was to become a full-service shopping experience for the Long Island tennis community. In every scenario, I tried everything possible to provide the best service with the hope of getting my name out into the tennis community.”

Customer service and following up has been the mission at Grand Slam Tennis for 30 years.

“Our customer base has followed me from my days in East Northport to current day at Grand Slam Tennis 40 years later,” said Donnelly. “Yes, we may have an old school approach to taking care of our customers … trying to satisfy requests in-person and not through technology. E-mail blasts and selling on the Web may be easy, but retail is more than that. Running a specialty store has challenges. However, I have been fortunate to have my family help me over the past 15 years. My youngest son Chase, who grew up in the store working for me, now co-owns the store with me. As a father and son team, we take great pride in meeting the needs and wants of the people who come in through our doors. Our customers come in seeking guidance within their tennis game. Certain wants may not be immediately satisfied, but through communication and over time, we help build and strengthen their games. Instant gratification can sometimes be conquered, but most of the time, it is about building a relationship while slowly polishing a perfect tennis game.”

Grand Slam Tennis is the cultivation of 40 years of tennis retail experience. The Donnelly’s business concept has grown over the years to be a shopping experience for the consumer that has no other competition.

You cannot walk into Grand Slam and click a button to get what you want. You come in, receive undivided attention, regardless of the task at hand, whether it is a new racquet, demo program, restrings, re-grip, new sneakers, bag, the latest tennis apparel, or just seeking out information to help improve your game. Tennis is a personal preference sport … maybe the most individualized sport. The equipment you use can vary drastically from the racquet weight, balance, head size, grip size, string, string gauge, string tension, color, sneaker size and bag size used. You may not realize as a player who purchases everything from the Internet, but your local tennis specialty store helps you adapt and grow as a tennis player. Like anything in life, your game does not stay stationary.

“Every player grows and peaks over their tennis career, and we are here to help you enjoy the sport we all love so much. The tennis community and Grand Slam Tennis has given me and my family a lot over the years … friends, co-workers, long-lasting relationships and an inner drive to help grow the tennis game,” said Donnelly. “Our only hope is that the tennis community we have serviced over the past 40 years will pass on the passion to their children and grandchildren. With all of us working together, we can continue to grow the game.”