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October 29, 2014 03:31 PM

Lindsay_stringing_(2)Toby Smith talks to Lindsay Stansifer about Albuquerque’s new store for all tennis needs

With the assistance of her father, Gary Stanisfer, a familiar face on Albuquerque’s tennis scene, and Art Gardenswartz, a familiar name in retail sporting goods in Albuquerque, Lindsay Stansifer, 26, brought back a stand-alone tennis shop to the city. Tennis Ace, which opened last June, is located in San Mateo Square, a shopping center on San Mateo, just south of Comanche.  Lindsay Stansifer is not new to tennis.  She played on the Eldorado girls’ team for four years and served as captain two of those years.  She worked at the Lobo Tennis Club for three and half years stringing rackets. She also strung rackets at Tanoan and worked the front desk and gave lessons at Jerry Cline.  

How did this all come into being?  I assume it wasn’t just magic.

Oh, no. I was talking to my dad about maybe opening a racket-stringing business, since I had done a lot of that.  Then last winter when my dad went on a skiing trip with Art Gardenswartz my dad mentioned my interest in stringing rackets as a business.  Art’s thought was that we should do a full tennis store, which Albuquerque has not had in couple of years.

What did your dad think?

Oh, he had wanted his own tennis shop for 20 years.  So there was no arm-twisting there. The idea of a complete store for tennis players kept coming back to us and we started talking about it seriously in March.  We opened June 15. My dad is the vice president and manager.  I am president.

What is Art’s role?

Art had recently purchased San Mateo Square with his wife Sonya and said he had space open there, which was actually two suites.  We didn’t think we wanted that much room, but Art encouraged us to think about it.  Turns out he was right. If we’d gone into a smaller space we probably wouldn’t be able to stock as many things as we do. We would have been pretty cramped. Art was instrumental in getting us in contact with sporting goods companies. His name carries a good reputation with Head and Wilson and Adidas, so that really helped.

What kinds of retail experience did you have?

I did sales for a while at the Apple store. Working at the Lobo Tennis Club, Tanoan and Jerry Cline gave me a lot of customer-service experience.

Stand-alone tennis shops face strong competition from large online tennis outlets, such as Tennis Warehouse.  How have you met that challenge?

We try to match prices online.  Also, we have a good demo racket program.  Anything a customer spends on a demo goes toward the cost of a new racket.  A lot of people come in and say they’d prefer to support a local business.  We’ve had a lot of support from the tennis community.

Has the media helped?

Yes.  The Journal did an article on us and so did Albuquerque Business First.  We also ran an ad in the Journal during Wimbledon; we had a Wimbledon Sale that week.  And we got that sale advertised on television. I think we had 50 spots on various ESPN channels.  Art arranged it. Many of those spots ran during the men’s and women’s finals at Wimbledon.

What about tennis clothes?

I didn’t have any experience ordering clothes. My parents ran a pro shop at Highpoint when I was little, so Dad was of some help there. Art especially helped me with shoes and their sizes.  We have some clothing lines that looked OK in the catalog, but when we ordered them, we thought, no, this isn’t right.  Tennis clothes continue to be our biggest adjustment.

Because you are stringing a racket as we speak, I’m guessing that racket stringing is a big part of your business.

It is. I learned to string rackets at Tanoan, from Andy Cramer.  When I worked at the Lobo Tennis Club, I was doing 10 rackets a day.  I got a lot of practice.  They always wanted them done immediately, like right now.

How do you deal with people who want the exact kind racket that Federer uses. Or Nadal?

We tell people that you don’t play the way Federer plays or Nadal plays.  Their rackets are made specifically for their needs and are different than the ones sold to the public.  

Your store is open from 10 to 6 every day but Monday.  Are you here all that time?

No, I can’t live here. I have two part-time employees.  Because we opened in the summer, I had to have extra help.  We do have quiet days, but I always have accounting stuff to work on.

Who named the store?


We went through a lot of different names.  We had a bunch of names that had tennis in it, such as 40-Love Tennis.  Art was very intent on us having tennis as the first name of the store’s name.  At first my dad and I weren’t sure of Tennis Ace, but now we like it.  Art sent us to a designer for a logo on the store’s front and other places.

You have a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Mexico in Portuguese language and literature.  Do get to talk much Portuguese in the store?

[Laughs.]  No.  But there are some Brazilian exchange students at my church.  I get to practice a little with them.

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