Tennis Industry magazine

 

Industry News

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USPTA Inks Six-Year Deal With Lotto for Clothes, Shoes

The U.S. Professional Tennis Association recently began a six-year partnership with Lotto Sport Italia that makes the Italian company the exclusive provider of official USPTA clothing and shoes.

Lotto also has partnerships with Wimbledon, the WTA Tour and the ATP. The USPTA agreement runs to 2009.

For USPTA members, the new endorsement will mean “year-round purchasing power and preferred pricing,” the association said in a statement. Special contract offers will be available to professional-level tennis teachers. Lotto also will support the USPTA partnership through marketing efforts that include TV, print and online ads, and promotions at key venues around the U.S.

Lotto products are distributed in more than 70 countries. More than 120 pro tour players wear the brand.

Tennis Launches Huge ‘Come Out Swinging’ Ad Campaign

A new marketing campaign for the sport of tennis will break in the next few months, in what may well be the biggest consumer push that any recreational sport has ever seen. The tennis marketing drive is timed to coincide with the push to get new and returning players into the new Tennis Welcome Center program.

Ads will begin appearing in newspapers, in magazines, and on TV and radio that are designed to play up the sport of tennis and its benefits, and, said USTA Community Tennis Chief Executive Kurt Kamperman, “to convey a new, exciting attitude about the game.”

Tennis: Come out swinging

“Basically, we want to put tennis back into the pop culture,” Kamperman told more than 600 people who attended the USTA’s Community Tennis Development Workshop in Las Vegas in early February. “The overall image of tennis needs to be re-shaped, especially in the broader community.”

The theme of the ad campaign will be “Tennis: Come out swinging,” designed to “relay a cool message” to consumers, Kamperman said. Ads will feature such celebrities as boxing heavyweight champion Roy Jones Jr., actress Daisy Fuentes, newsman Mike Wallace and Nascar driver Jeff Gordon, among others.

The print part of the campaign also will involve 5 million eight-page inserts into leading magazines in April, May and June that will extol the benefits of tennis, tell consumers how to get started and more. “Each insert will be tailored to that specific magazine audience,” said Kamperman. Some of the targeted groups will include active men and women and urban youth. There will also be print ads running before and after the insert campaign.

The marketing campaign “will sell the attributes of tennis, with no labels on them,” Kamperman said, referring to the fact that there will be no reference in the ads to the USTA, USA Tennis or any other tie-in with the association. “This is a multimillion-dollar ad campaign driving players to your business,” he added.

In addition to the overall campaign, Kamperman said that $1 million has been earmarked to promote the sport in 50 key markets around the country. “This is about as targeted a marketing campaign as you can get,” he said.

“This is a chance to trumpet the sport we all love,” said USTA President Alan Schwartz at the workshop in Las Vegas. “Who’s going to make it happen? You folks, on the community level.”

The “call to action” of the marketing campaign will be to drive people to the new Tennis Welcome Centers. Kamperman said that as of early February, 2,600 parks and facilities have signed on as TWCs. “We’re averaging about a hundred a week,” he added. The industry drive is hoping to garner 3,000 TWCs by the Spring. (To become a TWC, visit partners.tenniswelcomecenter.com.)

But quantity isn’t what Kamperman said he’s after. “We want 3,000 TWCs, but this is not a numbers game. We need quality welcome centers,” Kamperman told the assembled community tennis leaders. “I urge you to not worry about the quantity; focus on the quality.”

Fernandez joins Wilson

Mary Jo Fernandez

Former tennis pro Mary Joe Fernandez recently joined Wilson Racquet Sports’ Advisory Staff and Speaker’s Program. She will be asked to make appearances on behalf of Wilson at various events, such as exhibitions, seminars, clinics and training sessions.

Fernandez, a commentator for ESPN, won seven singles titles and 19 doubles titles, including the 1996 Roland Garros title with Lindsay Davenport. She is also the youngest player to win a U.S. Open match at 14 years, eight days.

“Mary Joe is internationally recognized both on and off the court,” says Jon Muir, Wilson’s director of U.S. marketing and promotions. “We are extremely excited to add her to our W Team staff.”

In other Wilson news, the company recently renewed its contract as the official racquet of World Team Tennis, as well as its relationship with tennis legend and World Team Tennis co-founder Billie Jean King.

Fernandez and King are part of the Wilson Advisory Staff that also includes Vic Braden, Peter Burwash, Dennis Ralston, Tom Gullikson, and Wayne Bryan.

Völkl Links With U.S.High School Tennis Association

Völkl is the official racquet of the U.S. High School Tennis Association (USHSTA) for 2004.

A special program for high school players and coaches became available in February. For authorized Völkl retailers, details of the 2004 High School program are hosted on the ushsta.org. all participating authorized dealers will be highlighted on the current dealer search engine on voelkl-tennis.com and on a dealer search engine on the USHSTA site as well.

For more information, contact Sarah Maynard.

Pennsylvania Center Boasts Year-Round Red Clay

Bob Fossler, owner of Fossler’s Cheltenham Tennis Center in Cheltenham Township, Pa., welcomes WTA pro Amy Frazier to the new climate-controlled fabric dome covering two of the six red-clay courts at FCTC. The dome was manufactured by Yeadon Fabric Domes of Canada.

Bob Fossler, Amy Frazier at Cheltenham Tennis Center, PA

Hall of Fame Launches Youth Field Trip Program

Dodo Cheney

The International Tennis Hall of Fame has established a Youth Field Trip Program for elementary through high-school students in the New England region, offering them the opportunity to visit the Hall of Fame Museum as part of a multi-faceted education program that will also introduce them to the sport of tennis.

The Hall of Fame says the program will give educators a unique opportunity to provide their students with an innovative and varied experience, within the context of their normal field trip programs. For schools with ongoing tennis programs, an on-court tennis component can be added to the museum tour, offering play on the Hall of Fame’s legendary grass courts in-season (mid-May through September).

The Youth Field Trip Program is partially underwritten by the International Tennis Hall of Fame and its donors and corporate partners. The support makes it possible for the ITHF to discount all student group museum admission costs by 50 percent. In addition, admission fees for teachers and chaperones accompanying student groups will be waived. Students participating in the program will also receive a Hall of Fame memento on the day of their visit and a copy of New England Tennis Magazine and the class will receive a group photo, compliments of the ITHF.

Set on six acres, the ITHF is a National Historic Landmark. The 20,000-square-foot museum has interactive exhibits, videos and popular memorabilia from the greatest champions of the game. The Hall of Fame Museum galleries offer a dynamic presentation of the sport’s key developments, including an extensive collection of historic tennis equipment, period clothing and interactive displays, as well as a tennis research center and library.

For more information, call ITHF Youth Field Trip Program coordinator Brandon Barnes at 401-849-4777.

Iorli Wins Silent Partner Stringing Contest

Dean Iorli (left), the manager of Sportline of Hilton Head, S.C., won Silent Partner’s third annual speed stringing contest, held in January at this year’s Super Show in Orlando, Fla. Iorli, who also won the title in 2003, had a time of 13 minutes, 40 seconds, which is 14 seconds shy of his time last year. Silent Partner President John Bassili (right) said contestants competed for $1,000 in Silent Partner strings.

Dean Iorli Speed Stringing Contest winner

Northern Loses James Murphy

James T. Murphy, a mainstay of tennis in Minnesota and the USTA Northern Section, died in December.

Founder of the Tennis Foundation of St. Cloud, Minn., Murphy coached the St. John’s University men’s tennis team and served as assistant coach of the women’s team at St. Cloud State University. He served as USTA Northern’s president, on its board of directors and as chairman of the Community Development Committee. In addition, he was appointed to numerous USTA national committees and was a USTA adjunct faculty member. In recognition of Murphy’s years of service to the sport, the Northern Section recently named its annual NJTL Chapter of the Year award in his honor.

Murphy’s daughter, Christine Murphy-Peck, continues his legacy of contributions to the sport in her position as national director of USTA SERV.

Peoplewatch

Lotto Duo Wins Aussie Open Doubles Title

Suarez and Ruano-Pascal

Paola Suarez and Virginia Ruano Pascual won their first Australian Open women’s doubles title this year. Both have clothing deals with Lotto Sport Italia.

Special Olympics Coaches Now Can Re-Certify Online

The American Sport Education Program (ASEP) of Champaign, Ill., will now offer online courses to Special Olympics North America (SONA) coaches seeking re-certification. The ASEP online courses include re-certification courses in “Coaching Youth Tennis.”

“Online courses give SONA another option for implementation of the Special Olympics Coach Education System and also enable Special Olympics coaches access for re-certification at any time,” says Robyn Markey, senior manager of coach development for SONA. Other sports offering online re-certification are youth soccer, basketball, softball and volleyball.

SONA coaches who have completed SONA’s General Orientation and Skills or Coaching Special Olympics Athletes may take ASEP’s online courses to maintain certification in their respective sports.

SONA coaches can register for online courses by visiting specialolympics.org. The registration fee is $30 per course, and includes access to the online course, as well as a copy of both the coaching book and video.

Short Sets

Safin Debuts Head Liquidmetal Prestige Racquet

Marat Safin debuts Head Liquidmetal Prestige mid

Russian pro Marat Safin reached the final of the Australian Open playing his new Head Liquidmetal Prestige. The unseeded Safin defeated Andy Roddick and Andre Agassi before being defeated by new No. 1 player Roger Federer.

‘Big Bill’ Play Opens in NYC

The new play “Big Bill,” about tennis great Bill Tilden, opened in February at Lincoln Center’s Mitzi E. Newhouse Theater in New York City. The show is by A.R. Gurney.

Tilden was considered one of the greatest tennis players of all time, dominating the sport in the 1920s by winning seven U.S. Championships. He was also a closeted homosexual. In a series of scenes that shift back and forth in time, the play illuminates Tilden’s career, extravagant style, personal travails, and calamitous downfall.

The title role is played by John Michael Higgins, who may be best known for his work in the Christopher Guest films “Best in Show” and “A Mighty Wind.” His other film and TV credits include “Wag the Dog,” “G.I. Jane,” “Ally McBeal,” “Seinfeld,” “Frasier,” and “Party of Five.

Dunlop Offers Special Citizen Watch Promo

Dunlop offers Citizen watch

Dunlop is offering consumers who purchase one of its specified G-series racquets a free Citizen SL Series watch, with a retail value of up to $90. The promotion, which is on now until Sept. 30, is valid on purchases of the 900G, 800G I.C.E., 700G, 600G I.C.E., 400G, 300G, 300G OS, 200G, 200G XL and the Lady G racquets at authorized Dunlop dealers across the country.

At point of purchase, consumers will be given a redemption card that they can fill out and return to Dunlop along with the original receipt and a $12.95 shipping and handling fee to redeem their choice of either one men’s or women’s Citizen SL Series watch. The promotion will be supported by a PR campaign along with several point-of-purchase displays featuring tennis star James Blake, a Dunlop player. Blake also is endorsed by Citizen Watch.

“This promotion is a great opportunity for Dunlop to develop a relationship with a fellow James Blake endorser and at the same time offer consumers a promo item they truly value,” says Kai Nitsche, marketing manager for Dunlop Racquet Sports. All Dunlop G-Series racquets feature Hotmelt Technology and proprietary shock-absorbing handle systems. Suggested retail price for G-series racquets range from $169 to $219. Contact Dunlop at 800-768-4727 or dunlopsports.com.

USTA, CBS Extend Contract

The USTA and CBS Sports have agreed to extend CBS’s domestic rights to the U.S. Open through 2006, with a USTA option to extend the deal for an additional two years.

The agreement also includes live coverage on select weekends of the proposed “U.S. Open Series,” a series of summer pro events that will lead into the U.S. Open. The U.S. Open Series is tentatively scheduled to launch with select tournaments this year, with an expansion planned in 2005.

Overall, the new deal provides more than 60 hours of programming devoted to the U.S. Open, other summer tournaments and special USTA programming each year. Importantly, the deal also includes increased on-air support of the U.S. Open and the sport of tennis during the months leading up to and including the U.S. Open.

The new deal includes 48 hours of U.S. Open television coverage each year, including six days of coverage over two weekends, the continuation of the prime-time women’s singles final, a late-night highlights show, national telecast of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day, four episodes of the youth-targeted “Topspin” TV show, and more.

Cable broadcast rights for the U.S. Open for weekday coverage are with USA Network, which in 2002 signed a six-year agreement with the USTA.

Sierks Honored by USTC&TBA

Donna Sierks, the central region sales manager for SRI Sports, was honored by the USTC&TBA recently with its Industry Merit Award for outstanding service to the industry and the association.

“Donna is a leader in our industry,” says Carol Shaner, executive vice president of the USTC&TBA. “She’s been able to bring people together in a way that benefits the industry as a whole.”

Sierks, who has been with SRI Sports for more than 17 years, has held numerous positions in the USTC&TBA. She’s been active as an industry spokesperson and is a Certified Tennis Court Builder, in addition to being a Certified Track Builder.

Yearly Total For Tennis Event Attendance Tops 3.4 Million

A recent study of annual attendance at sporting events by The Sports Business Daily indicates that during the 2002 calendar year, attendance at tennis events in the U.S. and Canada was 3,419,811, up 77,709, or 2.3 percent, from the year before.

While that appears to be good news for the sport as a whole, it is a mere .73 percent of the total 470 million who attended sporting events that year. Baseball leads with more than 120.2 million, or 25 percent of the total, followed by football with 72 million. The study took into account attendance at professional and college events.

Sport 2002 Attendance
Baseball 120,274,358
Football 72,031,565
Basketball 67,166,805
Hockey 60,703,841
Auto Racing 35,916,390
Horse Racing 30,590,676
Rodeo 23,639,359
Golf 12,495,601
Soccer 7,251,763
Greyhound Racing 6,350,000
Action Sports 4,080,702
Tennis 3,419,811
Volleyball 2,666,848
Lacrosse 1,180,297
Bowling 538,500
Curling 457,569
Figure Skating 348,857
Other* 21,391,758
Total 470,504,700

Source: The Sports Business Daily

* Other sports include track and field, boxing and other Olympic sports.

Tennis Magazine Grand Slam Covers Clay, Grass and Hard

Tennis magazine has put together a trio of “signature” events in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal to celebrate three of the Grand Slams.

From May 24 to 27, the Tennis magazine “French Connection” will be set up in the terminal, where fans can view the action at Roland Garros and test their skills in interactive games.

The “Wimbledon Experience” will be June 21 to 24.

Finally the third annual “Tennis Magazine Grand Slam” will be Friday, Aug. 27, three days before the U.S. Open begins. The Grand Slam features 11 hours of tennis games, exhibits, and celebrities and pros on a full-size court built in the terminal.

Roddick Smacks Fastest Serve Ever Recorded

Andy Roddick hit a 150 mph unreturnable serve in the fourth point of the eighth game of a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory over Stefan Koubek of Austria in first-round Davis Cup play at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Connecticut on Feb. 6. The U.S. won the tie.

The previous record for fastest serve was shared by Roddick and Greg Rusedski at 149 mph.

Fastest Serves on Record
Andy Roddick 150 mph, 2004 Davis Cup First Round
Andy Roddick 149 mph, 2003 Queen’s
Greg Rusedski 149 mph, 1998 Indian Wells
Taylor Dent 144 mph, 2001 Wimbledon
Mark Philippoussis 142.3 mph, 1997 Dusseldorf
Julian Alonso 140 mph, 1997 Long Island

Tennis Topiary

tennis topiary

The Tampa Yacht and Country Club recently added a new feature: a topiary tennis player. The life-size topiary, which has an internal drip system, was created by Topiary Inc. of Tampa and installed last spring. It’s made from galvanized wire stuffed with sphagnum moss and planted with creeping fig. The club pro, Bill Lenoir, assisted in the design.

Gone, But Not Forgotten, Bancroft Now Has New Life

Tennis buffs know Bancroft. They know that the company made tennis racquets. Know that Bill Tilden, Billie Jean King, Martina Navratilova and Bjorn Borg all used Bancroft racquets at one time or another. And know that no one, whether they’re a touring pro or recreational player, has been seen hitting with a Bancroft in years.

That should change.

Bancroft started in 1882 in Pawtucket, R.I., and was one of the biggest producers of wood racquets right up until the dawn of metal and graphite frames in the 1970s. At that point, like everyone else, Bancroft shifted gears and started making composite frames of graphite, metal and fiberglass, though by the mid-1980s Bancroft fell off the tennis map. (No one seems to know what, exactly, happened to the company. The original owners could not be reached for this article.)

Bancroft Classic

In 2002, however, the Denver, Colorado-based company Harrow Sports bought the rights to Bancroft tennis. Harrow Sports, which sells hockey, lacrosse, racquetball and squash equipment, then re-launched the Bancroft brand last year with a slew of new racquets.

“Bancroft has a heritage that’s hard to match,” says Bancroft’s director of sales, Dave Rosen. “But these new racquets, while continuing the company’s history of high quality, are designed for players today who demand more power and control in their racquets.”

What can consumers expect? Bancroft is rolling out five new adult frames, three in the Classic (or player’s) category, and three in the Vapor (or game-improvement) division. The Vapor 260 is 9.2 ounces and 107 square inches; the Vapor 270 is 9.5 ounces and 115 square inches; and the Vapor 280 is 9.9 ounces and 107 square inches. Better players can choose from the Classic 315, which is 11.1 ounces and 98 square inches, and the slightly heavier, 11.8 ounce, 98-square-inch Classic 335. All of the Vapor and Classic models carry a suggested retail price of $189.

Bancroft is also offering a Classic Junior racquet ($89), for kids, as well as a line of T-shirts and two racquet bags. Product can be purchased at bancroftsports.com.

At press time, Bancroft was expecting to be one of the sponsors of this summer’s men’s ATP event, the Campbell Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, R.I., home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame and not too far from the company’s original headquarters in Pawtucket. “What better place for a brand like Bancroft, with such a rich history, to raise its profile than at the tournament that takes place at the Hall of Fame,” Rosen says. For more information about Bancroft, visit the site or call 800-779-0807.

— James Martin

 

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