For the ninth year, Northfield Information Services Inc., Boston, took its clients to a tennis tournament at the tony International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. But the June 6 event was no Wimbledon strawberries-and-cream affair. This kind of tennis originated in medieval times. Played in an indoor court with an irregular stone wall and a ball closer to a baseball than a hollow, felt-covered Wilson's, real tennis was the sport of kings.
Recalling William Shakespeare's "Henry V," which recounts the king's invasion of France, Northfield founder and President Dan diBartolomeo says nobody remembers why Henry invaded France upon the death of his father. The reason, according to Shakespeare: the French dauphin sent Henry a gift of 1,000 tennis balls upon his ascendance to the throne, with a nasty card saying he should stick to sports and stay out of politics. The upshot was that Henry seized Normandy. (Historians differ with the playwright on this point.)
This is not necessarily what one would expect from a firm whose conference features talks on such subjects as: "Bayesian Analysis of Stochastic Beta: When do Rolling Regression Betas Misspecify Systemic Risk the Most?"
But Northfield, an 18-year-old risk management and software firm that competes with BARRA Inc., is noted for the locales of its client conferences, which have been held in Venice; Coronado, Calif.; Yosemite National Park, Calif.; and, most recently, a ski resort in Stowe, Vt., where attendees were encouraged to bring their dogs. The latter event included sleigh rides; afterwards, they loaded all the dogs into one sled for a photo op, Mr. diBartolomeo said.