The History of sportsprosconnect.com


sportsprosconnect.com was founded in 1999 by Ralph Wylam and was taken over in March 2016 by myself, Mark Wylam – Ralph’s son.  The website was primarily launched in 2003 as a base to sell Ralph’s book Revolutionise Your Social Tennis Tournaments which was first published in 1994 and is currently on its third edition.

Ralph retired in 2003 from his job as an electrical engineer, where he spent many years overseas and became involved in running social tournaments for the expatriate community.  The website www.sportsprosconnect.com was then built to sell his book and set up a directory of coaches worldwide.  He offered free web pages for coaches and his services were unique at the time.  In 2003 there was no Orange Coach, no Setteo, no Club Spark and believe it or not there was no Facebook.  The idea was his own and it was only in the more recent years that he was being caught up.

Facebook was founded a year later and sportsprosconnect.com was already established in a niche market.  At this time the income was all via advertising and his book, and he created a new part to his project – the Club Noticeboard.  Again this was new to the worldwide web and he offered the service to clubs who wanted to have an online presence.  He charged clubs £100 per year for hosting and running the site and committee members would be given user names and passwords to update the site themselves.

Ralph was only really interested in a part time business since he had already retired, but at one point he had over 40 clubs signed up and there were over 1000 coaches who had joined and taken out a free web page.  There was huge interest in his book, but other than that sportsprosconnect.com wasn’t really a full time enterprise. 

From 2011, the business ticked along nicely.  There was the 30-40 tennis clubs who would pay their annual subscriptions and there was a fair amount of activity from the coaches on the site but nothing new was being developed.  As Ralph became older there was less interest in the business and his health was deteriorating.  In June 2015, Ralph was given a year to live and in September of that year he unfortunately passed away.  It was a shame that the innovative ideas didn’t keep flowing  as surely the business would have been at another level now.

Once Ralph knew of his fate, he decided that he would pass the business down to myself as I had helped him a fair bit on his journey.  Since I had been a tennis coach myself in the past, and always had an active interest in the business, I was the ideal person to take over.  So he handed over the reigns in the summer of 2015.  This was to be my legacy from Dad and I was determined to make a go of it.


When I took over the business primarily, I was working full time in Ireland.  I was married with a 2 year old son Joshua and  step son Nathan who was 17.  My wife, Michelle, was also working and therefore there was not much time to spend on the business.  So, in March 2016 I decided to give up my job at the time and take on the business full time. 

There were many challenges in my way.  The website was dated and needed to be upgraded and there was not much money coming in so this needed to be changed.  I soon struck a partnership with Acebook for an Online Court Booking Systems, which is based just 20 minutes down the road from me and I also decided to expand into the Tennis Holidays side.  Since the coach web pages and club websites had been stagnant since 2003 and 2005 respectively, new web pages and new websites had to be created.

The website was upgraded, new web pages created, new website formats started, a holiday section and court booking system added and towards the end of September 2016 a new website had been created.  The website was vastly improved thanks to my expert web designer, Peripatus Ltd.

The club websites for clubs more or less run themselves, I am obviously actively promoting and trying to sell them but Club Spark stand in my way in the UK.  However, I totally believe in my website and in the products that I am selling. 

The coach web pages are perhaps at the moment my biggest winner.  I firmly believe there is a place for these in every federation in the world.  I cannot find any business that is actually doing something like this for tennis coaches anywhere in the world.  I feel that every federation should have a ‘Find a Coach’ tool and they should be represented with a nice profile. A lot of worldwide federations have this tool but do not profile their coaches as they should.  My web pages are not websites but single page promotional sites which give the coach an online presence and enables the coach to positively profile themselves.  It enables the coach to proactively tell the world what they can do, what they have done and what they will be doing in the future.

A client of mine, Susan Nardi recently purchased a web page from sportsprosconnect.com.  She built a really professional site, promoted herself on social media (Facebook, Twitter and Linked in), put the domain on her email signature and added the domain to her business card.  She wasn’t particularly looking for another coaching job, however, 4 different resorts and country clubs in the United States approached her about coming to work for them.  She travelled to Florida from Texas for an interview and she is now due to start as Director of Tennis in the Country Club in Florida.  In the interview she was told that the directors and all upper management had been able to see what she was capable of doing by looking at her profile on sportsprosconnect.com.  You can see her site on https://www.sportsprosconnect.com/susannardi/.

I hope over the next few years many more coaches will be able to tell me stories like this.  As I mentioned before, this business was a legacy from my father and I am proud to have taken over sportsprosconnect.com.  I hope that he is looking down on me now and in years to come proud of the work I have undertaken so far and its future success.  So, if you are a coach, a tennis player, a tennis enthusiast, a federation or an official, please just have a look at www.sportsprosconnect.com. There is something there for everyone! 


Mark Wylam                                                                                                                                                                     https://www.sportsprosconnect.com/markwylam/


April 28, 2017 Categories: Written by Owner