Matched Up

Jan Barrett and Ellen Stubbs.

Local Tennis Lover Launches New App To Promote The Game And Find Fellow Players

By Lisa Hornung

Photos by Chelsea Grider

Tennis players can’t exactly play solo. They need someone to return the ball in order to have a proper game, and finding an opponent or doubles partner can be a challenge. Luckily, a local tennis lover has created an app to solve that problem.

Rally78, created by Ellen Stubbs, has been described as a kind of Tinder for tennis – minus the romantic component. “You do swipe, but I’m not going to say you swipe right or left,” Stubbs said with a laugh.

Rally78 gets its name from the length of a tennis court, 78 feet. Tennis players of all levels can create a profile and find a partner based on their skill level, age and location.

Stubbs got the idea while traveling for her former job at Capture Higher Ed. 

Ellen Stubbs.

“I’d find myself in some really great tennis towns in Southern California or Texas, and I’d be on the road traveling visiting college campuses, but I needed people to play tennis with.”

She liked to travel with her racket, but not having someone to play with was frustrtaing. “For tennis players, (with Rally78) no matter where they’re at, whether they’re traveling or they’ve moved to a new city or they’re just in their hometown, they can hop onto one platform and find more people to play with,” Stubbs said.

Stubbs knew that Louisville has a thriving entrepreneurial scene, and she had connections at Forest Giant, which developed the app. She quit her job last year at Capture Higher Ed, and now she’s full-time with Rally78, which is available on Apple and Android platforms.

The official launch was in July, and she’s been traveling all over to promote the app among tennis players. It now has almost 1,000 members, and her goal is to hit 10,000 by the end of the year. She and her business partner, Jan Barrett, recently traveled to the Atlanta Open tournament to promote the app in the largest tennis community in the world.

“We’re excited to try and build a platform that is easy to use, fun and engaging for tennis players everywhere,” Stubbs said. “We just really want to grow the game, and there are a lot of people who want to take their rackets with them when they travel.”

Jason Miller, executive director of the U.S. Tennis Association of Kentucky, said the app will help promote the sport. “It’s just been very apparent that (Stubbs and Barrett) get the big picture as far as growing tennis goes,” he said. “It takes everybody working together to grow tennis as a sport and they really get that.”

He said the app is quite easy to use, which Stubbs said has always been the goal, and it’s free for users. The find-a-partner portion of the app will always be free, but advertising will help support it. Later, she’d like to integrate the ability to pay court fees through the app, which would generate a small service fee.

“Tennis can be seen as exclusive or expensive,” Stubbs said, “but it really doesn’t have to be that way.” VT


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