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The Tennis Business

Tennis teaches all sorts of lessons. To Middle States captain Deb Ruriani, one of the biggest lessons is about business.

A USTA League Tennis captain, Ruriani recently wrote a LinkedIn article entitled “Five Management Skills Sharpened by Captaining a USTA Tennis Team.” In the article, Ruriani hones in on recent experiences with a 4.0 women’s team this spring.

“I love to write creatively but I got away from it when I got into project management,” said Ruriani, who lives in Yardley, Pa. and works in Princeton, N.J. “I’ve learned so much through tennis and through captaining. Writing something just made sense.”

She first had the idea to write the article when sitting at the airport on Sunday morning while calling  her team to get score results — having spent the day before rescheduling the rain out first match. “ It just came to me so I penned it on the plane.”

After having her daughter look it over, she posted it online.

Ruriani had plenty to write about.  After first picking up a racquet to drill in 1999, She captained her first USTA League Tennis, a team that went on to win the national 2.5 title that year. Ruriani went on to nationals again at 3.5., reached 4.0 status then took a hiatus for four years while her career jumped to a new level.  In 2010, she got back into USTA tennis and captained her first team in more than a decade…She says she’s currently having a great time.

Some of the biggest lessons she’s learned along the way? She outlined five in the article.

1. Make Sure You Define the Agenda
2. Learn to Build a Team
3. Trust Your Instincts
4. Develop a Thick Skin
5. Give Your Players a License to Lose

One of the biggest things to Ruriani when looking for players is dependability.

“You need people who are going to be there — people you can count on,” she said. “It’s just like that in business, too. Who can you depend on when it matters most?

“I think, as a captain, you also have to be very understanding,” she added. “It all comes back to managing people and developing people skills. And confident decision making is so important.”

Since publishing the article on LinkedIn in May, Ruriani has had more feedback than she imagined. She’s also enjoying her time on the court. Especially the time spent with her team.

“The team has been such a pleasure,” she said. “It’s been stressful at times. It’s a lot of work. But it’s really worth it.”

Read Ruriani’s entire article here. 

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