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Ann Arbor sports brand scoring points on Tree Town tennis courts

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ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Court Merch might just be starting out but the customizable sportswear brand can already be seen on tennis and pickleball courts around Ann Arbor.

Owned by Carolynn Hayman and Amy Gillett, the women-owned brand offers sportswear that players actually want to wear and personalize.

The duo are avid tennis players who are on the courts 5-6 times per week so they know just how difficult it is to find companies willing to make small-batch customized tennis wear. After a few playful ideas while on the court, they decided to give it a shot.

Initially, the pair thought to make a few shirts and put them up on online retailer, Etsy.

“When we looked into it further we said, ‘You know, why don’t we just try to build our own brand and our own website. And make this a little more significant and bigger. Your go-to place for fun team shirts and sweatshirts and merch,’” Hayman said.

Court Merch launched in early 2024.

Carolynn Hayman of Court Merch. (Court Merch)

Tennis and pickleball players with a sense of humor can find punny shirts with sayings like “I play deuce,” “Allez on the clay” and “I dink therefore I am.”

But the company doesn’t just make customizable T-shirts. Pretty much any message or image can be printed on tumblers, bucket hats, hoodies, cooler bags, baby items and more.

There is no minimum order for customized merchandise and sayings can be translated into other languages. Court Merch has made shirts with sayings in Brazilian Portuguese, Polish, and Spanish. They can also put sayings and images on any Court Merch gear.

The brand also has a blog where Gillet and Hayman interview their friends, fellow tennis players in the Ann Arbor area, who share their expertise. It also has photos of friends and helps to build a community amongst players in the area.

Teammates have shared how exciting it is to see each other online in Court Merch gear and how much closer they feel to the tennis community. Another player even suggested they make the shirt “Come for the tennis, stay for the friends.”

Now known “The Merch Ladies,” Gillet and Hayman said it’s become a joke in their tennis circles for coaches to shout “put that on a shirt” when someone says something fun or hilarious.

Their online store means they can quickly come up with personalized designs and specialized requests.

Carolynn Hayman and Amy Gillet of Court Merch. (Court Merch)

Gillet and Hayman also wanted their brainchild to have its own mascot. Enter Courtney.

A friendly-looking, neon yellow tennis ball, Courtney is all over Court Merch merchandise. Sometimes she wears a beret, but she mostly wears a whimsical bucket hat inspired by a hat regularly worn by Hayman. Gillet decided the name “Courtney” was a great hommage to the brand’s fun with words and puns.

Courtney even has her own collection on the Court Merch website and a growing fan base among customers.

Find Court Merch here.

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