Tennis Clubs Go Social Via Backing From Tavistock, Dassler Family

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Social-focused tennis app Break the Love has raised $2.5 million in seed money from a diverse slate of investors—including Lake Nona Fund, an early-stage venture capital fund primarily backed by the Dassler family of Adidas fame and Tottenham Hotspur owner Joe Lewis.

Break the Love is an app focused on connecting tennis players with each other and with available courts at private clubs, colleges and public parks. Founded in 2019, it has 20,000 users signed up for the platform, which offers paid one-time and multiuse passes for players, among other services.

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“What we’re creating here is an online destination that creates access to recreational tennis,” co-founder Trisha Goyal said in a phone interview. “What we saw in the market is you either have to join a brick-and-mortar tennis club or a Facebook or Meetup.com group that doesn’t take care of logistics and is sometimes unorganized. Break the Love is for the millennial and Gen Z consumer who is savvy and also probably a little price-sensitive.”

The seed round funding, to be announced later this week, is led by the Orlando-based Lake Nona, a $30 million fund formed in September by Lewis’ real-estate focused Tavistock investment firm and Lead Sports & Health Tech Partners (usually styled leAD), a fund of the Miami-based family office of Adidas founder Adi Dassler.

“We were really growing during the pandemic at an exponential rate, and we were fortunate as part of that growth to go to Orlando to work with the U.S. Tennis Association and came across the Lake Nona fund,” Goyal said. “It was a really great fit to kickstart the round, and from there we were able to get some individuals passionate about the space and about creating more access and equity in tennis, the first female-first sport in the market.”

At least 10 other funds and individuals have invested in the $2.5 million round, including 2010 Wimbledon doubles champion Vania King, fitness entrepreneurs Hannah Bronfman and Sanne Vloet, women’s tennis coach Wim Fissette, tech entrepreneur Brian O’Kelley and Dutch photography duo Inez and Vinoodh Matadin. Antler Ventures, Red Giraffe and Caddie Ventures are other VC firms participating in the funding.

Break the Love will use the money to build out social network features, its app for Apple’s IOS, add employees and grow its geographical footprint.

“The next wave of social networks in general will become more niche,” Goyal added. “With sports in general, there aren’t any leading recreational sports platforms out there right now. There are a lot of platforms for segments of viewing and consuming sports, but not a lot for getting out there and playing. A big part of getting sports growing is getting people to play sports.”

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