Good afternoon Marko Jagodic, great to have you here! Please introduce yourself and what you do in the tennis world to our readers?
My name is Marko Jagodic an owner of MPSC Academy in Dongguan, China. I started a small club in Dongguan, China in 2013, and since then it grows to become one of the biggest tennis academies in this part of the world.
My first child, “MPSC Academy” now employs around 70 people in Dongguan, with 25 employees in management – the rest is our beloved coaches! In Dongguan we operate on 25000 sq meters of space (which is mostly indoor) and serve more than 3500 clients, plus schools and kindergardens.
In the last decade, I made an effort to introduce the culture of tennis in Dongguan, with 10 million people in the city, this number improves every day! Over the years I’ve built connections around tennis in China, and recently (2020) started franchising my business to another cities and provinces.
That bring us now to have our markets in cities such as Shenzhen, Guangzhou, Hangzhou , Wenzhou, Jinan, Wuhan, Zhengzhou and Hefei.
Trying to expand tennis culture and grow the market, made me and my team realise that we could outsource coaches to other places and make a bigger impact in the China tennis world. We have received multiple awards from multiple tennis federations in China, on a city, province and country level.
You have been based in China and have built up your business for many years now… What was it that attracted you to start up in China all those years ago?
After college in US, I started working as a hitting partner on WTA and ITF Tour. A very short time after that I got an offer to work for the China team on a project – TOP100, with some of the very best head coaches and junior players.
My contract was about to expire, but I was often going to Dongguan to play with government leaders, who suggested me to stay and start working on my own. Young and full of dreams I did! Every startup has a lot of troubles and bumpy roads. Language was a barrier, and I guess I was just stubborn and dedicated, but I had some strange feeling that there is no chance I could fail so I continued ?.
I learned everything on the road: people relations, public speaking, managing large groups, running the company, investing…. the language! And at the same time I got married and now have two beautiful boys!
SPC has many clients in China. All are looking for international tennis coaches, can you tell us why specifically international coaches are sought after in China?
Actually demand for international staff in China is at its peak now. China is a modern country that always wants to improve. After the pandemic, the new visa policies were introduced which meant that only qualified and educated people in the industry can get jobs. Now only strong companies have the ability to get the working visas for employees and arrange them a comfortable stay in China. Every club needs at least one international coach because the market cannot stagnate; continued improvement is a must.
My team is proof that you can have a very nice life in here and do what you love!
For obvious reasons COVID has effected China in many ways! Can you tell us how tennis as an industry was affected in China, and where the industry currently is?
In the beginning, the market was very uncertain, because the government hadn’t, at that time, decided the policies. In the period between Feb- April 2019, 60,000 tennis clubs closed for good due to financial reasons.
After this period kids hadn’t been at school for a while, so we used opportunity to start continious camps for almost 6 months! Since this time, the tennis industry is flying on the wings of the narrative that people need to care their body and exercise.
How has your own tennis coaching business been affected?
We actually had only one lockdown on the local level for the first two months of pandemic, and we were Covid free for most of the time. We made a decision to not close down, and that was one of the best decisions of my life, because we have annual growth of 200% year after year. This success has created a demand for coaches, and we were spending up to 20,000 USD to bring only one person (airplane tickets and quarantine was very expensive and exhausting).
During pandemic we learned a lot, managed struggles and improved so much in such quick period.
I see that the borders have been recently opened to international travel again. Does this mean that coaching providers are now on the look out for more foreign coaches?
Yes, as I mentioned, we need all levels of coaches, and any nation, religion, race, age people is welcomed.
The Chinese market for tennis is currently greater than the whole world combined so I positively encourage everyone to try working here!
Finally, I know that you are recruiting again in many cities within China. What are you looking for in a coach at this moment in time, and how can they apply?
We always have at least 20 open positions for all levels of coaches.
We need club level coaches who can work with all levels – these coaches are always in highest demand.
We also need professionals to take care of the ITF , WTA and ATP players in the province teams (currently we have contract with Shandong team), but there is an urgent demand for high level coaches for other province teams.
We also need the professionals for the mini tennis programs
SPC have lots of opportunities for coaching wanting to work in China. Does this sound like something you would be keen to apply? Check out our vacancies and apply here.
Until next week,