Andrew Chmura, President of Grand Slam Tennis Tours
Andrew Chmura created Topnotch Tennis Tours in 2000 before merging with Grand Slam Tennis Tours, initially founded in 1988 by Dave Kenney. In 2004, Grand Slam Tennis Tours merged with Topnotch Tennis Tours, and the entity has recently evolved to share management with a professional tennis agency: Topnotch Management. This merger has given Grand Slam Tennis Tours the ability to craft custom tennis-specific tours unrivaled within the tourism industry.
Andrew Chmura took his experience as a successful collegiate and professional tennis player and applied his insider knowledge to creating unique luxury travel experiences for tennis enthusiasts who were looking for more than just standard tour offerings. Andrew has competed on the satellite circuit, played for the University of Notre Dame, held the No. 1 ranking in New England as a junior, and is a USPTR accredited teaching professional.
He loves to share his passion and travels around the world to assemble the finest tennis conditions for his clients and to make his experience profitable for them.
Recently during the 2016 US Open, Grand Slam Tennis Tours’ clients have the unique opportunity to play with 5-time US Open champions Mike and Bob Bryan during a private clinic and enjoy a welcome dinner with them during a 1:1 video analysis of their serve in a fine dining restaurant, as well as attending the main event with exclusive seating options.
Travel Research Online (TRO): What motivated you to bring your passion for tennis to the travel industry?
Andrew Chmura (AC): Tennis has been my life for as long as I can remember. Growing up I played high-level junior tennis, went on to play at Notre Dame and then spent some time on the pro circuit. Initially I started helping a few friends travel to tennis tournaments. I’d help them get tickets and tell them where to stay, and after enough people were asking me for help I realized that I was onto something. Twenty years later, I recognize how lucky I’ve been.
TRO: Tell us about your day-to-day role at Grand Slam Tennis Tours (GSTT).
AC: I just returned from Wimbledon, where I spent as much time as possible with guests. I shared meals with them at the Welcome Dinners, I spent hours chatting tennis at the Hospitality House, and every day I escorted them to the grounds. I also lead our tennis clinics, which are pretty popular. When I’m not with guests, I stay busy with meetings and work with my team to manage operations, and finally, in between everything else, I try to watch some tennis myself.
TRO: GSTT is fairly unique in the industry, in that it also manages top tennis talent. How has this new role helped expand your offerings in the travel sector?
AC: The other day at Wimbledon we had our guests come back to the Hospitality House and they found two pros outside, BBQ’ing with us in the backyard. Our guests came right in and sat down next to them, the same players they’d watched on Centre Court earlier that day. It wasn’t planned, and there wasn’t an upsell; it was just a cool experience. No other tour company offers tennis fans this sort of casual, personal access.
TRO: How many different international tennis tournaments and competitions does GSTT offer tours and itineraries for in total?
AC: Our goal is that when a customer calls us up and tells us they want to travel to any tennis event around the world, we can make it happen with total expertise. We want to have the best seats, fine accommodations, excellent dining, and a genuinely interesting local excursion, all at our fingertips. Currently, we offer tours to all four Grand Slams, and through our sister company, Topnotch Tennis Tours, we take people to tennis events around the world. We travel to 12 events in the US, Europe, and South America, plus annual Davis Cup events. Two years from now I expect we’ll travel to Tokyo, Madrid, and a few other unique events around the world.
TRO: Can clients take any kind of workshops or clinics while on a tour?
AC: Clinics are an integral part of every one of our tours. Our guests are tennis fans, they love to watch and they love to play. We arrange for them to hit with former grand slam champions and we play on the local surface. At Wimbledon we play on grass at the Roehampton Club; at Roland Garros we play on clay at the Tennis Club du Paris; at the Australian Open we play at Kooyong, the site of the original Aussie Open. Our guests love it, and honestly, the few hours on the courts is something I look forward to at each event.
TRO: What are the chances of guests meeting some past and present pro players on any of your tours?
AC: 100%. We give each of our guests the opportunity to meet former grand slam champions. Two of our favorite past players are Fred Stolle and Owen Davidson, each winners of multiple grand slams, who join us at our Welcome Dinners and teach at our clinics. Current players are a bit busier during the tournaments, but just this past week for example, our guests met Steve Johnson, Sam Querrey, and Caroline Garcia.
TRO: What do you think is one of your most unique and popular itineraries, aside from the US Open and Wimbledon?
AC: Our European clay court events are becoming increasingly popular, specifically Monte Carlo and Rome. First of all, who doesn’t like Europe in the springtime, and secondly, these two longstanding, clay-court events are some of the finest experiences on the pro tour. They attract all the top players and yet remain intimate and uniquely beautiful. Rome itself is like a museum, and the Monte Carlo event features arguably the most stunning stadium in Europe’s most exclusive city. We also throw in a helicopter transfer from the Nice airport to Monte Carlo itself, which guests love.
TRO: What can a travel consultant expect when booking one of their clients on a Grand Slam Tennis Tours itinerary?
AC: We provide the finest tennis tours around. To me, this starts with the providing the best seats, and of course we book excellent hotels, but it’s the service and the personal touches that please our guests and keep them coming back. We have an extremely loyal client base and they keep coming back because we consistently exceed their expectations. After they book a client on one of our tours, a travel consultant should expect a high-five and a rebooking.
TRO: What is your favorite travel destination to date?
AC: As far as tennis, the Australian Open is the most fun and Wimbledon is the most special. Beyond tennis, though, I’d rate the Galapagos Islands as one of my favorites; I loved the birding and I had a really fun group of people on my tour.
TRO: What is on the horizon for Grand Slam Tennis Tours?
AC: Well, we’re currently giving away a trip to the Wimbledon finals, which is pretty exciting. It’s free and you can enter on our website. And we’re also trying to get a pro tennis event of our own up in Vermont, which would take the synergy between the management and the tourism to the next level.
For more information on Grand Slam Tennis Tours, visit them online at www.grandslamtennistours.com.