New Business Stirs Racket Among Tennis Lovers

Al Macasinag's new store features everything a tennis player might want.

It's become a familiar story in today's dour economy.

Three years ago, after relocating his family from Denver to Tampa Bay for his job as a human resources manager for Verizon Wireless, Al Macasinag's position was eliminated.

Although unfortunate, Macasinag preferred to view it as an opportunity.

"I was tired of HR," said Macasinag, who holds a master's degree in business. "I wanted to do something fun, something I'm passionate about."

His thoughts turned to his lifelong love affair with tennis.

"I've been playing tennis since I was a kid, and have always loved it," said the Brandon resident.

He decided to share that love with both seasoned players and newcomers to the sport by opening a shop specializing in tennis equipment and athletic wear. 

"Before opening, I did a lot of market research and looked at the demographics of the area," said Macasinag. He also took advantage of free Small Business Administration classes at the University of South Florida.

He discovered that, while there was an abundance of places to play tennis in the area, there was no business specializing in tennis racquets and accessories.

After becoming an approved vendor for Avila, Fila, Wilson, Babolat and other tennis equipment and clothing manufacturers, Macasinag poured his life savings into Al's Tennis Shop. 

Opening two months ago at 6026 Winthrop Town Centre Ave., Riverview, Macasinag packed the small storefront with tennis and racquetball racquets, apparel and accessories including strings, shoes, grips, sweatbands and bags.

"If I don't have it, I can order it," said Macasinag, adding that he prices his items at manufactured advertised prices.

A certified racquet stringer, Macasinag also invested in a stringing machine.

Admittedly, said Macasinag, a good tennis racquet is an investment. They run from $150 to $200. So Macasinag offers players an opportunity to try out a racquet for free for five days.

"There's no commitment to buy," he said. "I believe that, if you're going to invest in a racquet, you need to play with it."

He added that he's always willing to take time to advise customers on their racquet choices, which vary depending on the size and power of the player.

Macasinag said the popularity of the sport, founded in the 1890s, is on the rise among competitive athletes who enjoy the fitness benefits of the sport as well as the challenge.

And, Florida in particular has become a mecca for tennis lovers due to the fact it can be played year round, said Macasinag.

"It's a sport for any age," said Macasinag who carries junior racquets for young players. "In addition to being good exercise, it's a social sport."

And players don't have to purchase a membership at a ritzy tennis club to participate.

"There are free courts everywhere," said Macasinag.

For those interested in learning more about the sport or how to choose a racquet, contact Macasinag at 813-571-1010.





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