| By Steven Kaplan

When James D. Watson of the Cold Spring Harbor Lab (who is an avid tennis player) and Francis Crick presented their molecular modeling analysis of DNA, they suggested that its structure was a double-helix. This was a ground-breaking discovery. Slightly less significant to the world, but equally compelling to junior tennis players, is the discovery that they love sponsorships.

One of the "hottest" apparel company's in the tennis world is Athletic DNA and the reason behind their success is simple and brilliant. They understand what junior players want. The marketing concept behind this company is inspired genius because they have identified and satisfied an immutable fact about what motivates junior tennis players. Just about every young player I know, gets excited at the idea of "Sponsorship" and the people at Athletic DNA have built a highly successful sales campaign around it. They carry no high priced professional player contracts and they have limited media expense liabilities. By clever "Gorilla" marketing, Athletic DNA has great presence for a small brand. Players may qualify for some degree of Athletic DNA sponsorship with a ranking of 500 nationally or better. The marking acumen here is demonstrated by calling a 25 percent discount on a $40 shirt a 'sponsorship" rather then a "sale." If you visit a national junior event it is evident that many of the 4000 players that qualify for sponsorship are joining this somewhat less then exclusive club.

Junior players often forget that in almost every case they already have a sponsorship organization called "Mom" and "Dad." They pay for most expenses and If you have any talent then be thankful, because this is the actual place you derived your true athletic DNA.

Steven Kaplan

Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation, and executive director and founder of Serve &Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally- ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.