Tom Harrison Tennis Center
Address: 80 Commercial Way, Springboro
It has always been about the kids for Tom Harrison.
So when Harrison made the decision to open his own tennis center in the early 1990s, young players were his first priority. Fast forward more than two decades and the Tom Harrison Tennis Center is celebrating its 20th anniversary serving the Springboro community and beyond.
“I love working with kids, I just feed off of their enthusiasm,” Harrison said. “I enjoy having the opportunity to be a part of their lives and be a positive influence.”
The junior training center has more than 150 young players on the court weekly. Some go on to have successful high school and collegiate tennis careers, others play just for fun. But success on the court is not the sole objective.
“We feel good about the impact we’ve been able to have on young people’s lives,” Harrison said. “Many of the kids start here between 5 and 7 year olds and stay with us until they go to college.”
A longtime pro, Harrison started to think about opening his own facility by the early 1990s.
“I was working in clubs but I felt like I needed to do something more,” he said.
Springboro was starting to take off at the time with increased housing options and businesses; that, paired with a base of kids he already worked with at Sycamore Country Club, made it an ideal community for his club. He opened his doors in 1996.
“I hoped we would be successful, I knew it would take a lot of hours and a lot of hard work so I dove right into it,” Harrison said.
That base grew steadily over the years, nearly doubling in size from about 80 young players early on to more than 150 a week now. Harrison and two other pros do the coaching — providing both individual and group lessons. Leagues are also available for the kids.
Unlike more traditional tennis clubs, the Harrison Tennis Center does not offer memberships; it is considered a junior training center.
“It’s very personal, you really get to know everyone,” Harrison said.
Among Harrison’s proudest accomplishments is building up the Springboro girls’ junior high and high school tennis programs. Harrison recalls a time in the 1990s when there were less than 10 players on the team. This season, more than 40 girls came out for the Panthers squad.
“The program has blossomed into one of the premiere programs in the state,” Harrison said. “Of course other clubs have contributed, but our facility has always provided the bulk of the girls.”
While Harrison has retired as the Springboro girls’ tennis coach, retirement from tennis is not in the plans for the 66-year-old Kettering resident. He is right where he wants to be — on the court.
“I’m old, I must be because all my friends are retired,” he said with a smile. “But I enjoy working, I love going in every day.”