7 min read
Everyone remembers the best player they ever shared a court with. With Universal Tennis Paid Hits, you can now improve your game by hitting with players better than you on a regular basis.
This week marked the official launch of Paid Hits, a new service pairing elite players and coaches (current and former pros, college players, and top juniors) with local players looking to pay for a hitting partner.
“Paid Hits really has huge value to the tennis industry,” said Stephen Amritraj, the Chief Tennis Officer at Universal Tennis. “It solves the consumer’s needs because they always want to play with people better and it solves the economic need for aspiring pros and collegiate athletes. There is a market for someone who wants their services tailored to them. We're trying to provide that.”
Creating a Solution for High Demand
Universal Tennis provides the marketplace for Paid Hitters to set any rate for a hit at a schedule and location they desire. Universal Tennis handles the marketing, posting the Paid Hits offer to everyone in the area (a 50-mile radius) as well as targeting interested junior and adult players on the platform.
When a Paid Hitter travels, they can update their location and hit with new players in different cities.
“Universal Tennis is a global brand so I feel like a lot of good players are traveling through Europe or the U.S.,” said Li Tu, a five-time champion on the UTR Pro Tennis Tour in 2021. “I think it's such a good incentive for them to be able to travel and also make money.”
Paid Hits is an early product concept created by Amritraj, a former player at Duke who competed on the pro tour before going on to coach Mardy Fish and Rajeev Ram. Amritraj was looking to make extra money through hitting sessions in Los Angeles when he wasn’t on the road, but he couldn’t commit to the schedule of working at a club and struggled to connect with players consistently.
“There was demand from people who wanted to hit, but there was no real way to do that at scale,” Amritraj said. “So fast forward almost a decade later, and we have this massive community of people who are able to identify players around them and there is a way to placate this desire to hit with players who are better than them.”
Universal Tennis Helps Pros Earn More
Universal Tennis is solving a problem that so many collegiate, professional, and elite players face: supplementing their income by utilizing their on-court skills. Paid Hits allow registrants to search for hits and accept the posted fee before meeting the Paid Hitter at an agreed-upon time and location. Communication is facilitated through the new Universal Tennis messaging software, and upfront payment is handled within the same system.
“It’s great,” said seven-time UTR PTT champion Marcela Zacarias. “I think it'll be really easy and simple for us to work some more hours and people will be really happy to hit with us.”
Professional players, especially those outside of the Top 100, need to add to their income to be able to continue their careers and chase their dreams. Paid Hits helps generate that much-needed income while reducing the stress and inefficiency of finding their own customers.
“There are so few players that make it into the money-making sphere in the Top 300 on tour,” Amritraj said. “What happens to the rest of the people and how do they make a living? That's where the idea of Paid Hits really took off.”
Paid Hits and College Athletes, a Perfect Match
Coaches, former players, and current pros and collegiate athletes can all take advantage of Paid Hits. Players like William Blumberg, Bradley Klahn, Hunter Reese, Taylor Johnson, JC Aragone, Jesse Levine, Christopher Eubanks, and Catherine Harrison are all available as Paid Hitters.
“You get paid a couple of 100 bucks to hit, why not do it?” said Blumberg, a record 10-time All-American who graduated in 2021. “I moved to Atlanta and I'm hitting now. Making money here and there never hurt anyone.”
“I work with kids during the summers already so I feel like it could be a cool opportunity for us to like make a little extra cash and hit with people,” said UCLA senior Johnson. “I'll definitely do it if anyone hits me up.”
The timing of Paid Hits is perfect as the NCAA just adopted an interim policy for "Name, Image and Likeness" regulations following a Supreme Court ruling. College athletes will be able to earn money using their own brand, image, and skills, and Paid Hits falls under that umbrella.
“We want to give collegiate athletes the opportunity to play with juniors and adults or whoever is willing to pay,” Amritraj said. “We are a professional service provider and the marketplace for them. It's exciting for us to be at the forefront of these changes in a positive and organic way.”
About Paid Hits
If you’re interested in becoming a Paid Hitter, you’ll need to apply, pass a free background check, and subscribe to become a Power Player. There is no upfront cost: Power fees will not be collected until you earn the full amount of $99/year through Paid Hits. Universal Tennis takes no cut.
If you’re looking to pay to hit with a nearby elite player, you can search for Paid Hitters in your community at www.universaltennis.com or use the new “Request to Hit” feature found now on every player profile with a UTR Rating above 8.0.
For more information and answers to frequently asked questions, please click here.