From Social Tennis to SPC: Mark Connects the Racket Sports World

From Social Tennis to SportsProsConnect: Mark Connects the Racket Sports World

In this interview, Mark discusses inheriting his father’s legacy, his passion for tennis and cricket, and his vision for the future of SportsProsConnect with SPC new recruit, Jared Wilson. From Social Tennis to SportsProsConnect: Mark Connects the Racket Sports World


Jared Wilson: Good morning, Mark, a pleasure to have you here today. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background?

Mark Wylam: Hi Jared, thanks for having me! My background blends business/finance with sports, particularly tennis and cricket. Between 11 and 16, private school fueled my love for sports. I played on various teams: tennis, football, hockey, cricket, squash, and badminton. While my parents instilled this passion early on, I was never without a bat or ball in my hand.

At 21, I went to Southampton University for a Business Management degree. Right after graduation, I obtained my first tennis coaching qualification, followed by a cricket coaching qualification (which took a valiant attempt!). Throughout this time, I actively played tennis and cricket for league clubs while working in sales and financial services and coaching on the side.

Fast forward over 20 years, I’m now living in Ireland with my wife Michelle and our 10-year-old son Joshua, who shares my love for all things sports (except cricket). We enjoy a wonderful life in Ireland, and I still actively play tennis (with a touch of coaching) and am nearing the end of my cricket-playing days.

SportsProsConnect (SPC) began after my father, facing a terminal illness, entrusted me with his business, Social Tennis. After 18 months of development, we rebranded to SportsProsConnect, and here we are, connecting the global racket sports community.

JW: We often chat about sports, being fellow cricket and tennis enthusiasts. What is your personal sporting background?

MW: As I mentioned earlier, I consider myself a good club-level tennis and cricket player. In my younger days, I was an off-spinning all-rounder in cricket and more of a doubles player in tennis. Currently, I play for St Johnston Cricket Club and Letterkenny Tennis Club, where I’m a committee member and currently serve as the Playing Captain.

JW: I might be a little biased, but I personally think SportsProsConnect is amazing. Why did you start SPC?

MW: This question is particularly dear to me, as it allows me to honor my father’s memory. He founded Social Tennis and, as an expat who lived in various countries, was the reason behind my private school years. He even wrote a book on running social tennis tournaments and created a website in the early 2000s, pioneering the world’s first online directory for tennis coaches.

In June 2015, Dad was given only six months to live, sadly passing away just three months later. Before his passing, he entrusted me with taking over Social Tennis. While my wife and I were already working on it part-time, a conversation with my father’s best friend, Robert, in January of the following year truly solidified the weight of this legacy and opportunity. This conversation empowered me to make the best decision of my life!

I gave up my full-time job in March 2016 to fully dedicate myself to Social Tennis. It’s been an incredibly rewarding journey, and I love every minute of it. In late 2017/early 2018, we made the strategic decision to rebrand and launch SportsProsConnect. We’ve recently celebrated our 6th anniversary, and there’s no doubt – SportsProsConnect wouldn’t exist without my father. His legacy continues to inspire me, and I hope to see it flourish for many years to come.

JW: What future plans do you have for SPC?

MW: For those who’ve followed our journey, you know we’re constantly evolving. We always have plans for platform expansion and updates. We recently launched our exciting Tennis Scholarship Programme for tennis players at US Colleges, and we’re working on integrating Padel and Pickleball seamlessly. Expanding to other sports is also a future possibility.

There’s another project brewing that I can’t quite reveal yet, but it’ll be a unique membership benefit for our fantastic community. Stay tuned for more news in the coming weeks!

JW:  A question I always like to ask business owners and people I look up to – What is the greatest piece of advice you have ever received?

MW: As an avid Dragons’ Den viewer, I admire how businesses win (or lose!) investments. I’m a big fan of Peter Jones, and his 10 golden rules for business success particularly resonate with me (https://www.peterjones.com/business-advice/10-golden-rules/). If there’s one thing I’ve learned from him and from business in general, it’s that perseverance is key. “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try and try again! From Social Tennis to SportsProsConnect: Mark Connects the Racket Sports World

JW: Let’s end with a quick fire round!
  • Favourite Sport:  Tennis (of course)
  • Favourite football team: Spurs
  • Favourite Tennis Player: Andy Murray
  • Favourite Food: Curry
  • Favourite Name: Joshua
  • Favourite Drink: Fanta or Beer
  • Favourite Colour: Red
  • Favourite Car: Porsche 911
  • Favourite Cricketer: Freddie Flintoff
  • Highest Score (Playing Cricket): 116 not out

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May 28, 2024 Categories: Interviews