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Student Aces Hall of Fame Internship

Published: July 03, 2008
It’s a whole different kind of game on the courts of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, says University of Tampa senior Ryan Messier.

The Hall of Fame’s historic courts in Newport, RI, are where many of the game’s legends of the past and present have played.

For Messier, a native of Attleboro, MA, who works at the Hall of Fame as an intern, it is where he regularly rubs elbows with millionaires and negotiates exclusive tournament accommodations for wealthy tennis enthusiasts. It’s all in a day’s work for the sport management major.
“It’s a place that’s been around forever,” Messier said. “You walk on the ground and you can just feel the history that’s there.”

As an intern, Messier is focused on the marketing and management of the Hall of Fame’s two major summer tournaments.

The Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, held from July 7 – 13, host some the world’s most notable players, with the competition broadcasted live on Fox Sports Net.

The Champions Cup, held Aug. 13 – 17, includes retired players and legendary pros like John McEnroe, Jim Courier and Mats Wilander.

Both tournaments attract tennis fans and professionals alike from all over the world.

Messier’s duties as an intern are many and varied. On a given day, he is charged with recruiting and coordinating tournament volunteers, handling ticket orders and selling exclusive travel packages and accommodations to tournament goers. He serves as a liaison between all sponsor representatives and coordinates all box holder packages, gifts and mailings.

“I walked in on the first day and they told me to sell a $1,000 luxury suite,” Messier said. “It’s definitely not an internship where they stick you in a room and leave you.”

Messier is also directly involved in the preparations for the annual Hall of Fame induction ceremony.

His other duties include supervising all tennis ball boys and ball girls. Even this, a seemingly simple task, carries with it much responsibility as a 20-page manual dictates exactly how each ball boy and ball girl must stand, kneel and move on the courts.

“I had no idea how much work actually went into that,” he said. “There are a lot of very specific things that they have to do.”

All of it is a long hustle, especially on the days of the tournament, when his working hours are all day every day. A $20 per day stipend is all he receives for payment. Nevertheless, the internship has many perks.

The job gives him the opportunity to meet tennis greats like John McEnroe and Andre Agassi, who make appearances at the tournaments and other events. Also, on a recent evening after a long day of work, Messier and some coworkers enjoyed a few rounds on the Hall of Fame’s renowned grass-covered tennis courts.

“It’s very stressful, but I’m learning a lot,” Messier said.

While the International Tennis Hall of Fame is his first internship, he is hoping to obtain further internships, including one possibly with the Tampa Bay Lightning, in order to gain further hands-on sport management experience.