Tao Tennis Shops, a family-owned tennis pro shop with two locations in New Jersey, has been taking its shop on the road this summer to provide performance gear, stringing and more to players and fans onsite. They kicked off their summer tour with pop-up shop at Mercer County Park during the US Open National Playoffs in June, and came back again to Mercer this week to service the historic and popular Cryan Tournament.
It’s just another way that Gerald and Brooke Sarmiento keep up with New Jersey’s active tennis community.
“We have always been very service-oriented people, and so our pro shops are designed to reflect that ideal,” says Brooke, a New York fashion designer whose former work included dressing celebrities, including Beyonce.
Brooke handles the buying of apparel, footwear and accessories, which means that Tao Tennis Shops often has the newest and hottest apparel around.
Brooke’s husband, Gerald, handles the technologies end, including racquets, strings and accessories.
“Gerald has a very strong background in high-performance tennis and tennis technologies, so it just makes sense,” Brooke said. “He’s a 20-year veteran Master Racquet Technician, and has strung over 60,000 racquets in his career, including many touring pros. He is an expert in the field and the heart and soul of the operation.”
Tao Tennis Shops adopted its name Tao Tennis two years ago — an ancient Chinese word that means “the path, the way, the principle.” It is an ideal that Brooke and Gerald take to heart and is reflected in the company tagline “the principle of performance.”
By focusing on the elements of performance (the right racquet, on-point customization, accurate stringing, well-fitted footwear and apparel), Tao Tennis Shops aims to help their clients achieve optimum performance.
By bringing the Tao Pop-up Shops to events in the area, Brooke and Gerald are hoping to spread the word.
“Coming from the fashion industry, I have worked the concept of pop-up shops for years,” Brooke said. “I was very familiar with how it was done, and a couple of years ago thought it would be a good idea for the tennis industry. Last year we started working with the USTA, and set up a tent at several events. This year we decided to invest in a trailer, and we’ve outfitted it to where we can simply ppop-up’ wherever we are needed. We have great fun doing it, and the response from the players has been fantastic.”
The success of Tao Tennis Shops was evident in early July, when Gerald and his stringing team traveled to Newport, R.I. for 10 days to service the ATP Tennis Hall of Fame Championships, a pro tour event that attracts some of the world’s top players. Gerald serviced more than 250 racquets for pros that year, providing not only stringing, but customization work. He’s now back in New Jersey, providing the same world class service for local players.
“People generally purchase racquets on recommendation, usually from a website or magazine or even their teaching pro. However, the most satisfied Tao clients have come to realize that seeking out the expertise of an experienced professional like Gerald simplifies the process. They can discuss their goals and he can target products that will best suit their needs,” Brooke said. “And while we do carry almost every major brand of racquet, our selection is edited by Gerald himself. If he does not believe in the integrity of a particular product, he does not buy into it. Our clients know this, and it keeps them coming back.”
For more information on Tao Tennis Shops and their “Pop-Up” schedule, check them out at facebook.com/taotennisshops.