Seeing doubles: Pair opens Tennis Town

Wednesday, December 29, 2004 at 12:00am

There's roughly 30 feet of string in a tennis racquet.

It's not a figure you're likely to remember, unless you've come up short once or seven times.

Fortunately, Tennis Town's owners Jim Madrigal and Brad Herrera are both fairly good at restringing a racquet, because their new company promises 24-hour turnaround service on its customers' racquets.

"I learned to string [in my parent's store in Cincinnati] before I even knew how to play tennis," says Madrigal, 33, who, like Herrera, runs the store between their jobs coaching tennis at Belmont University and giving lessons at Seven Hills Swim & Tennis Club.

Playing doubles like this may come naturally to a pair of tennis pros who have more than 25 years of experience on the courts, both professionally and at the collegiate level.

Herrera, age 27, went to Eastern Kentucky University on a tennis scholarship, where he garnered a business degree that until late was little used.

"The numbers mean more to me now," he said.

The partners, along with a silent investor, each put up a third of about $30,000 to begin serving up something in addition to tennis balls late in November. Their first dollar bill from a sale is now proudly framed on the counter, and customers have already found the little shop in the Brentwood Court shopping center at 7020 Church St. East in Brentwood.

"We get people who didn't want to drive out to the store in Antioch or Cool Springs," Madrigal explains. "Between the two of us, we probably know all the tennis players in town." He hopes that's enough customers to hit at least $100,000 in sales over their first year.

Madrigal's outgoing manner certainly has a flair for bringing people in. He met Herrera at a tennis tournament a little over a year ago and soon brought him in as an assistant coach at Belmont. In their store's front window, he quickly devised a manner to broadcast the new business to passersby.

"I came in one day and [Jim] had filled up the window with balls by putting up a piece of Plexiglas," recalls Herrera.

The bright yellow fuzzy tennis balls are certainly an eye-catching design and also help call attention to the women's tennis clothes in the store, which Madrigal says will change every month.

The duo are happily juggling their responsibilities on and off the court by taking turns running the store, while the other one is giving lessons.

"It gives us a chance to branch out. As a tennis pro, your income is really subject to the weather and seasons," Herrera said.

It's easy to average between 40 and 50 hours of teaching in the summer, but that drops to 30 hours in the winter, he said, but fortunately "there's lots of flexibility in scheduling all of our jobs."

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