North Central College - Naperville, IL

Alumnus building new facility to court success

Robin Henders ’03, co-owner of Five Star Tennis, is pursuing his long-held dream of opening a tennis facility for his rapidly expanding business. Five Star Tennis is building a 40,000-square-foot indoor tennis facility in Plainfield near 119th Street and Normantown Road. A grand opening is scheduled for January 1, 2014.

“Opening a tennis club has been a dream of mine since high school,” Henders says. “I always knew I wanted to be a tennis pro and own a small business.”
Henders started the business in 2007 with Dan Brown, a chemistry teacher and boys tennis coach at Naperville Central High Scool. They’ve grown their business to provide tennis lessons to some 260 children and adults each year.

When the new facility opens, they’ll employ about a dozen people, including six or seven tennis pros. The facility will house five tennis courts, a lounge, locker rooms, pro shop and multipurpose room. They plan to host tournaments, including one booked for summer 2014 that will draw more than 200 players. The owners already have plans to expand the facility with a 40,000-square-foot addition that would add six more courts.

Henders continues to be grateful for the guidance of Gary Ernst, professor of international business and marketing emeritus, for the practical entrepreneurship skills he gained while studying business management at North Central College. “Dr. Ernst gave me a lot of ideas about running a small business,” Henders says. “They weren’t ideas from a book, either. When I was a student he talked to me like I was already a small business owner.”

Henders still shares many connections with the College. He was among the top singles and doubles players for the Cardinals. He returned as head coach of the men’s tennis team for two seasons, in 2005 and 2006. His mother, Rosemary Henders, worked at the College for 15 years as an instructional services librarian at Oesterle Library. His father, Richard, earned a master’s degree in computer science from the College in 2005. His sister, Rebecca, earned both her undergraduate degree in marketing in 2000 and her M.B.A. in 2004 at North Central.

“I came to North Central because my mom worked here, and once I got here, I loved it,” Henders says.