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Book a court and find a partner with new GoTennis app

11:08 03/12/2017
A new digital platform brings tennis to the people, partnering players, booking court times and even inviting users to its own urban court in Anderlecht

What with Belgium’s most excellent showing in tennis this month – from the ATP Finals to the Davis Cup – the timing couldn’t have been better for the launch of GoTennis. Because, regardless of how well the pros are doing, it’s tough for the amateurs to find an open court.

Jacob Gloser launched GoTennis last week in Brussels. Not only does the online platform and app hook you up with a tennis partner, it books your court time.

Gloser, 30, was born in the Czech Republic, grew up in London, lived for a time in Nairobi, went to university in Scotland and Spain and then wound up in Brussels. A self-proclaimed “tennis geek”, Gloser noticed the same thing everywhere he went: There was no easy way to find people to play it with or to book a court.

Too many phone calls and too much effort went into both, he says, so he began to think about how he could solve these problems – not just for himself but for everybody. Previously a financial analyst, he began looking into the data.

“I couldn’t find anything digital that was helping players find each other,” he said. “It just seemed so strange to me that nothing like this existed.”

Tennis for a new generation

Once he and a loyal team of equally enthusiastic tennis players determined there was a niche in the market, they got busy creating the platform. “It takes tennis online,” he says. “We wanted to build something that addressed not just one or two issues, but everything related to tennis.”

So when you sign up to GoTennis, you can say when you want to play a match, and it will find potential partners. Then you book a court on the system. But you can also find like-minded people to chat about the latest WTA standings or the trouble you’re having with your backhand.

The sport is less popular than it used to be, and Gloser attributes this in part to it not catering to young, digitally minded players. Calling around for a court and then booking days ahead for a slot should be a thing of the past, he says.

GoTennis “is like carrying a tennis club in your pocket,” says Gloser. “My generation looks for everything in one place.”

His generation also wants “a more targeted choice,” he says. So the algorythm the team developed offers users choices, and when they choose, it learns. It then narrows its first list of options based on your previous preferences. And it does all this in four clicks.

“It’s about more than tennis; it brings people together,” says Gloser. “What if you’re in New York and you want to train or you want a quick game in Singapore. This will now be available to you; this is your community.”

Though those cities are not part of the app quite yet. Having just launched, only Brussels courts are part of the app right now. Gloser has arranged partnerships with two tennis courts, where GoTennis users will have priority for some of the “prime time” slots. That means between 18.00 and 21.00 Monday through Thursday. “In exchange, we’ll help them fill the non-prime time slots.”

Tennis for all

But there’s one court that’s always open to GoTennis users – because the company built it themselves. Partnering up with Toestand, an NGO in Brussels that converts industrial spaces into social projects, it created a tennis court inside an old record label factory in Anderlecht.

“They liked the project and the idea of making tennis more democratic,” explains Gloser. “So we bought a net, we painted lines, we made a court. The idea is to bring tennis into the urban environment, into the city centre. That’s of course the whole point: to make it easier for everyone to play tennis.”

Tennis equipment manufacturer Head has signed on as a GoTennis sponsor, and the start-up was accepted into the Start It @KBC programme, where the team has received coaching, office space and advice on creating a business plan.

This will help ensure expansion to other cities. Antwerp, for instance, is just about ready. And from there, they will move further into the Benelux. If Gloser’s theory that GoTennis will get younger people playing again is right, New York and Singapore are right around the corner.

Photo: Jacob Gloser in the GoTennis court in Anderlecht

Written by Lisa Bradshaw (Flanders Today)