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Wilson Introduces New Group For Innovations & Design

Wilson Racquet Sports has named company veteran Bill Severa the director of technology for the newly formed Innovations & Design Group.

The new group will be responsible for all performance and prestrung racquets, from start to finish, from design and concept, to playtesting new technologies. The group also will handle all stringing aspects and the string itself.

Severa, who has been with the company for 21 years, was the senior designer for the last seven years. He has 13 U.S. patents under his belt, including patents for the Sledghammer, Power Holes and TRIAD technologies.

The Innovations & Design Group will utilize four engineers for the various product categories. Dan Hernandez is the project manager for racquetball, squash and paddle; Mark Lin is the test lab supervisor and product manager for badminton; Mike Moon is the project manager for recreational racquets; and Don Loeffler is the project manager for performance racquets.

In addition, Ron Rocchi is the global tour equipment manager, responsible for servicing and customizing all racquets for touring pros. Klara Nowak is the prototype manager, and Dawn Cacioppo is the master racquet technician.

2004 PTR Symposium Cited as ‘Best Ever’

Results of an on-site survey conducted by the PTR at its 2004 International Tennis Symposium & $25,000 Tennis Championships say that the event was the “best ever held” by the organization, says Dan Santorum, the PTR’s CEO and executive director.

Nearly 700 attendees participated in the courses and presentations at the February event. The Symposium also included a two-day Tennis Trade Show and a tournament in which more than 200 teaching pros competed for prize money in 27 divisions.

Alan Schwartz

One key to the event was that the USTA board of directors and key staff members attended, meeting with the PTR to discuss tennis participation in the U.S., among other issues. The board of directors participated in the Parade of Nations Flag Ceremony, which featured 47 countries. USTA President Alan Schwartz (right), who also is on the board of the ITF, welcomed attendees.

“It was great that the USTA board was there for PTR week,” says Santorum. “They’re reaching out to the industry more and working with their partners. And I know it’s going to continue. You’re going to see the same tone from the people on the board who are going to succeed Alan Schwartz, as far as being more industry-friendly.”

Santorum says he gave a report to the USTA board about the ACE multicultural program. ACE, which stands for Advancing the Commitment to Education, is a joint PTR-USTA initiative designed to educate tennis teaching pros in multicultural communities. It’s being conducted in 60 cities this year.

Also at the Symposium was Tennis Corporation of America’s senior staff of tennis directors and general managers from 37 top tennis clubs. TCA staff were among the 56 faculty who conducted more than 70 on-court and classroom presentations.

“It was fantastic to have the TCA directors, and the nice thing was some of them were speakers for us, so we got to take advantage of their expertise in running and managing clubs,” says Santorum.

In other PTR news, the organization was recently honored by Special Olympics South Carolina as the 2004 Outstanding Organization of the Year. The PTR and the Van Der Meer Shipyard Racquet Club have hosted the Special Olympics Southeast Regional Tennis Championships since its inception five years ago. Participation in that time has grown from 30 athletes to more than 175 athletes from 13 states.

Among those honored at the PTR Symposium’s annual awards banquet were: Professional of the Year: Ajay Pant, Overland Park, Kan.; Coach Verdieck Award, College: Joey Rive, Texas Christian University, Fort Worth, Texas; Coach Verdieck Award, High School: Macy Bruce, Upper St. Claire High School, McMurray, Pa.; Coach Verdieck Award, Touring Pro: Andy Brandi, Boca Raton, Fla.;

Also, Clinician of the Year: Jimmie Nigro, Philadelphia; Tester of the Year: Todd Miller, East Amherst, N.Y.; Stanley

Plagenhoef Award, Dr. Jack Groppel, Algonquin, Ill.; Male Player of the Year: John Powless, Madison, Wis.; Female Player: Renata Marcinkowska, Rock Hill, S.C.; Wheelchair Pro: Paul Walker, Lakeland, Fla.;

Also, Humanitarian Award: Dr. Elizabeth Odera, Nairobi, Kenya; Volunteer of the Year: Adam Gard’ner, Shanghai, China; Media Excellence Award: Carlos Manaure, Caracas, Venezuela; USTA Community Service Award: Mary Thompson, Sioux Falls, S.D.; TIA Commitment to the Industry Award:

Fernando Velasco, Austin, Texas; Public Facility: Robinswood Tennis Center, Seattle; Private Facility: The Racket Centre, Nussloch, Germany.

PTR Honorees

Tennis Channel Extends Deal With ATP Masters

The Tennis Channel The Tennis Channel has signed a four-year extension for the exclusive U.S. telecast rights to five of the 10 tennis tournaments in the ATP Masters Series.

The 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports will telecast the five European events of the ATP Masters Series — Monte Carlo, Rome, Hamburg, Madrid, and Paris — live and in their entirety, and will provide early-round coverage of the ATP Masters Series’ U.S.-based events in Indian Wells, Calif., and Miami.

Additionally, this year The Tennis Channel will cap its ATP Masters Series telecasts with complete, live doubles coverage of the series’ finale, the Tennis Masters Cup in Houston in November. The agreement begins this year and runs through 2007, and builds on TTC’s previous licensing relationship with the ATP Masters Series which saw the network telecast the European ATP Masters Series tournaments and the doubles championship at the Tennis Masters Cup.

“This agreement is great for tennis, tennis fans, the ATP Masters Series and The Tennis Channel viewers,” said Steve Bellamy, president and founder of TTC. “For viewers and fans, we will be bringing these tournaments on live and in their entirety, about 10 hours a day. For the sport, this extension continues our ability to provide the most comprehensive tennis coverage on television.”

In other TTC news, the 2004 spring tournament schedule includes the following (check local listings for times):

Date Tie
April 9-11: Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, second round, France at Switzerland and Argentina at Belarus.
April 16-18: U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championships
April 18: The Family Circle Cup, doubles semifinal and championship
April 19-25: Masters Series Monte Carlo
April 24-25: Fed Cup Opening Round, U.S. at Slovenia and Croatia at Belgium
May 1-2: J&S Cup, semifinal and championship
May 1-2: Open Seat Godo, semifinal and championship
May 3-9: Masters Series Rome
May 8-9: Ladies German Open, semifinal and championship
May 10-16: Masters Series Hamburg
May 15-16: Telecom Italia Masters, semifinal and championship

Stan Smith Honored At Sports Legends Awards

Stan Smith with Jack Kramer Former Wimbledon and U.S. Open champion Stan Smith (left) was one of five sports legends honored recently at the 13th Annual Sports Legends Awards, presented by The Paralysis Project of America. Tennis legend and former honoree Jack Kramer (right) a member of the Paralysis Project’s Sports Council, presented Smith with his award at The Omni Hotel in Los Angeles. Hosted by ABC sportscaster Al Michaels, the event also honored auto racing’s Bobby Unser, baseball’s Joe Morgan and golf’s Kathy Whitworth, and made a special presentation to football’s Mike Utley, the former Detroit Lion who was paralyzed on the playing field in 1991. (Photo by Lou Sauritch, The Paralysis Project of America)

SSV Tennis Rating System Receives Anonymous Gift

Neil Johnson, president of SSV Tennis, says that a “significant” grant has been received to establish Serve, Stroke & Volley (SSV) as an international rating system for tennis. The funding, from an anonymous donor, will allow the SSV Tennis Rating and internet support services to be offered free to players, pros, coaches, clubs, schools, parks and associations across the country and internationally, Johnson says.

In addition, to promote the use of the rating system, Johnson says SSV will sponsor a national competition for high school tennis teams. The free program will have players tested by their coaches on their home courts. All players receive a national ranking based on their SSV rating in their age division. The top six rating scores are added to determine the team score, and then the teams will be ranked nationally and by state.

SSV is a method for determining tennis ability at all levels that Johnson says clearly and objectively answers the question, “How good are you?” The SSV Rating is an on-court test that measures basic skills.

Players hit 40 balls to target areas using different strokes, and points are scored for control and power by assigning a value to the first and the second bounces of the ball. The location of the first bounce indicates control; the depth of the second bounce indicates power. The combined total is the SSV score. The complete test takes less than 10 minutes.

For more information, contact or visit the website at

Nine Honored at USTA Development Workshop

TThe USTA honored nine individuals recently at an awards banquet held during its annual USA Tennis Community Tennis Development Workshop. More than 450 community tennis leaders attended this year’s workshop and banquet, held in February at the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas.

Six people were presented with the Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award for their selfless dedication to bringing the game of tennis to anyone who wants to play:

Christy Balsiger of El Paso, Texas — formed the El Paso Tennis Development Foundation in 1996, formed a partnership with the El Paso Independent School District, and spearheaded a campaign to raise money to build the El Paso Youth Center, which opened in 1999 and provides free tennis to area students.

Kerry Blum of San Diego — joined Youth Tennis San Diego as a volunteer in 1989 and now is director of the After School Tennis Program serving 7,500 kids. She has forged numerous partnerships with school districts and other organizations and agencies and is working toward growing the program to 150 locations and 40,000 students.

Valerie Kreger of Cloverdale, Calif., and the Cloverdale Tennis Association — helped the high school in this small community restart its tennis program by purchasing equipment, assisting with travel expenses and, more recently, helping to provide coaches. Also, the CTA is helping the Boys & Girls Club implement the USA Tennis 1-2-3 program.

Yvette Marshall of Denham Springs, La. — plans and implements all grassroots tennis programming for adults, children and multicultural populations for a large area of the Greater Baton Rouge CTA. She also provides training and workshops for instructors and solicits grants and sponsorships. She has broadened the reach of the CTA from 400 to 2,400 participants, and recently helped form two new CTAs and three NJTL programs.

Mark Platt of St. Louis — runs Beginner’s World Tennis, geared to beginning adult players. He was instrumental in bringing “Rallyball” to the area’s kids and has brought tennis to more than 10,000 students at 25 elementary schools. In all, more than 40,000 people participate in his programs.

Dr. Lance Turner of Stockton, Calif. — heads the grassroots program Future Stars 2000’s, teaching tennis to underprivileged kids and adults and promoting tennis in Northern California communities. The program now has more than 5,000 participants.

Three other attendees were honored with the USA Team Tennis Volunteer Awards:

David Bell of Pittsfield, Mass. — for his work with youth involved in team play.

Kristin Granlund of Corvallis, Ore. — for her work with team competition at the collegiate level, specifically with Oregon State University.

Laurie Selby of White River Junction, Vt. — for her work with the Upper Valley CTA and as the Adult Team Tennis League coordinator.

USTA and MassMutual Sign 5-Year Sponsorship Agreement

The USTA and Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual) signed a new worldwide marketing agreement for the U.S. Open through 2009 in the insurance category. The five-year deal also makes MassMutual a charter sponsor of the proposed “U.S. Open Series,” a series of summer professional tennis events that lead in to the U.S. Open, tentatively scheduled to launch this summer.

The deal includes a major media commitment to U.S. Open television broadcasts and, for the first-time, an extensive sponsorship of This component will include online media, e-mail, Radio and TV and an online promotion. In addition, CBS Sports will produce a vignette on MassMutual and the U.S. Open Junior Championships that will air during CBS’s broadcast of the Men’s Singles Final. The agreement brings to 15 years MassMutual’s long-standing relationship with the U.S. Open.

“MassMutual has been a key partner in helping us grow the U.S. Open into one of the world’s greatest sports and entertainment events,” says J. Pierce O’Neil, chief business officer of the USTA. “By creatively packaging and extending the power of our brand, we can continually offer sponsors new and bigger opportunities to get involved with the U.S. Open.”

As a major new extension to its involvement with the USTA and U.S. Open, MassMutual will become a charter sponsor of the U.S. Open Series which will establish for the first time regularly scheduled live television broadcasts of the North American hard-court summer season following Wimbledon and leading up to the U.S. Open.

“We are thrilled to expand our relationship with MassMutual to include the U.S. Open Series,” says Arlen Kantarian, the USTA’s chief executive of Professional Tennis. “Their commitment to tennis on every level — from the Junior Championships to the U.S. Open and now to the new U.S. Open Series — is a significant development for tennis in the U.S.”

NY Shop ‘Boutiques’ Racquet Brand

Mason's Tennis Mart Babolat boutique Customer response to Mason’s Tennis Mart’s first “boutique” of racquets and accessories from a single brand “has been fantastic,” says Mark Mason, owner of the New York City tennis retail shop.

“I’ve never ‘boutiqued’ a racquet brand. We do it in apparel, but not in equipment,” Mason says. Mason decided to display as a group all of Babolat’s products because the brand in his area “has been so hot,” he says. The displays have all the brand’s racquets, bags, T-shirts, hats, grips, dampeners and more together in one place.

“It makes shopping for that brand so much easier,” says Mason. “Everything a customer wants is all in one place. We make it as visual as possible, and it makes for a better presentation.”

Mason says that European shops often group, or “boutique,” their racquets and accessories by brand, rather than having one spot where, for instance, all the grips from different manufacturers would be displayed. “We’re trying in our shop to make people brand-conscious, and to add value to our franchise,” he says. “If this works the way it appears to be working, we may try to do this for other brands.”

Prince Tennis Releases Performance Racquet Index

Prince Tour NXG Graphite mid Prince Tennis unveiled its 2004 Racquet Index guide that educates players of all swing types on how to choose the right Prince Performance racquet according to their individual style of play. The index is broken down into the Thunder Series, Turbo Series and Tour Series, and correlates specific swing types and player preferences with racquets of varying levels of power and control, says Prince President Alistair Thorburn.

“We’ve worked to better segment our Performance racquet line and make it more consumer-friendly,” says Thorburn. “We want tennis players to understand the differences in their individual games so that they choose the correct racquet.”

The Thunder Series includes models that cater to players with shorter swings who are looking for maximum power in a lightweight frame. The Turbo Series represents racquets for players with moderate swings who are looking for a blend of power and control. The Tour Series offers racquets for players with long, full swings who are looking for maximum touch and feel.

To view the 2004 Prince racquet index, visit

Three Pro Events to be Played At Historic West Side Club in Forest Hills

The USTA has awarded The West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y., two new professional tennis tournaments, bringing the total to three for the 2004 tennis season at the historic club. Each tournament will be played on a different surface and will serve as a Grand Slam tune-up event. The historic West Side Tennis Club was the home of the U.S. Open for more than 50 years.

The WSTC will host two USTA Pro Circuit men’s challengers — The Forest Hills Clay Court Classic May 10-16, and The Forest Hills Grass Court Classic June 7-13 — and a newly sanctioned WTA Tour hard-court tournament Aug. 23-28 leading into the 2004 U.S. Open.

The two USTA Pro Circuit events will be held the weeks immediately preceding the qualifying tournaments at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, respectively. The USTA funds the 96 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S. — awarding nearly $3 million in prize money — and acquired a sanction from the WTA to launch the August women’s event.

“The return of professional events to this venerable club reinforces the connection of the U.S. Open and the sport to the community,” says Lee Hamilton, executive director of the USTA. “The West Side Tennis Club is a hub for recreational play and with these new events, we expect interest in the game to grow throughout Forest Hills and the Borough of Queens.”

Last year, professional tennis returned to the former home of the U.S. Open for the first time since 1989 when the WSTC hosted The Forest Hills Classic, a USTA Pro Circuit Men’s $50,000 Challenger. Home to the U.S. Open until 1977, the club hosted the tournament on grass until 1974 and the only three years the event was held on clay (1975-‘77). The West Side Tennis Club is currently home to over 800 members, maintaining 39 courts on four different surfaces.

James Blake Announces Unique Charity Initiative

James Blake U.S. player James Blake kicked off a 2004 charity initiative during January’s Australian Open to benefit the Harlem Junior Tennis Program and Shriner’s Hospital. Blake, 24, began donating $100 to each organization for every match he wins.

To date, his donations total $1,400 from the seven matches he won collectively at the Australian Open, Siebel Open, Kroger St. Jude and Franklin Templeton Classic. Prior to the Australian Open, Blake, ranked 23rd in the world, made initial donations and appearances on behalf of both charities. He plans to continue this initiative during all sanctioned professional matches this year as well as the Davis Cup. Nike and Dunlop will also participate in the donations, Blake said.

A pro player since 1999, Blake has had a long-standing relationship with both organizations. Over 20 years ago, Blake’s parents became volunteer coaches at the Harlem Junior Tennis Program in New York City. Both James and his brother, Thomas, were also participants in Harlem Junior Tennis. Blake also has close ties to Shriner’s Hospital, which provided him with free medical treatment and equipment as he wrestled with scoliosis as a teenager.

USTA, ESPN Near Deal for Open Series

Reports in a recent issue of Sports Business Journal claim the USTA and ESPN are near to signing a multiyear agreement to broadcast a proposed new summer tennis series of tournaments that lead up to the U.S. Open.

The publication said an ESPN executive confirmed that the network was in talks with the USTA, but that the USTA still had to line up a requisite number of tournaments before the deal could go through.

Citing “tennis sources,” the magazine said that four summer tournament have signed on. Tournaments that the publication said are believe to be on board are the Bank of the West women’s event in Palo Alto, Calif.; the Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.; one if not both of the men’s (Mercedes-Benz Cup) and women’s (JP Morgan Chase Open) events in Los Angeles; and the USTA-owned Pilot Pen Tournament in New Haven, Conn.

Texas A&M Captures National Team Campus Championships

Texas A&M beat Virginia 30-9 to capture its second title in three years at the 2004 USA Team Tennis National Campus Championships at the Florida Tennis Center in Daytona Beach.

This co-ed event, which was played March 11 to 13, is the national championship for club and intramural tennis teams. This year’s event featured a record 40 teams from 33 schools participating in the fifth annual tournament.

“This event gives me a great chance to represent my school,” said Michael Karka, a Texas A&M senior from Houston who had wins in singles and doubles. “I could have played tennis at other schools, but wanted to focus on academics at A&M. Coming here and playing in this tournament has been so much fun.”

A&M was playing in its third straight final at this event, winning its second title. The Aggies dominated the tournament, winning 32 of 35 sets played in the seven matches and sweeping all five matches in the championship. The format for each match includes sets of men’s and women’s singles and doubles and mixed doubles. Scoring is cumulative — each game won counts as a point to a team’s overall score).

Also, Florida International won the Silver Division, Ohio University won the Bronze Division and Central Florida (B) won the Daytona Cup.

Former U.S. Davis Cup Captain Tom Gullikson was on hand as a special guest for the championship. Tape delay television coverage will be broadcast on The Tennis Channel and Sunshine Network in May (dates and times to be announced). The tournament is administered by the USTA, Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association.

USTA Publications For Your Facility

Rules of Tennis Friend at Court Ever wonder what publications you should make sure you have on hand at your facility? Rick Rennert, the USTA’s director of publishing, suggests that tennis facilities carry Friend at Court: The USTA Handbook of Tennis Rules and Regulations, and Rules of Tennis with The Code: The Players’ Guide for Unofficiated Matches.

Also suggested is the USA Tennis Guide to Dynamic and Static Stretching. Pamphlet, 2-sided, $1. (Rennert suggests getting two copies of this pamphlet and posting them, front and back, on your club’s wall.)

To order, call 888-832-8291(shipping costs are extra). USTA members receive a 10 percent discount.

USPTA Midwest Honors Its Own in Indy

The USPTA Midwest Division honored the following at its annual convention in February in Indianapolis:

Coaches of the Year — High School: Robert Wagemann, Lake Bluff, Ill.; College: Debbie Peirick, Noblesville, Ind.; Individual Junior Coach: Dennis Royal, West Bloomfield, Mich.

Players of the Year — 45 and Over: Mark Simcina, Huntington Woods, Mich.; 35 and Over: Christine Sheldon, Arlington Heights, Ill.; Men’s Open: Mike Friedman, Highland Park, Ill.; Women’s Open: Kristin Reed, Westerville, Ohio.

Rookie of the Year — Don Roesler, Fishers, Ind.; Facility Manger of the Year: Don Arndt, West Bloomfield, Mich.; Midwest Outstanding Education Award: David Brouwer, Hudsonville, Mich.; Seminar Contest Winner: Jason Stanislaw, Chicago; Nancy Mickler Memorial Award: Anna Hazlett, Evansville, Ind.; Fay Tooley Memorial Award: Denny Schackter, Palatine, Ill.

Briton Curry To Receive Hall of Fame Honor

John Curry of Great Britain is the 2004 recipient of the prestigious Golden Achievement Award, presented annually by the International Tennis Hall of Fame to individuals who have made important contributions to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion or education, and have devoted long and outstanding service to the sport.

Presentation of this year’s award will be made in England on Saturday, June 19, at the International Club Ball, which marks the start of the Wimbledon Championships.

Curry has been involved in tennis form more than 30 years. He served as chairman of the All England Lawn Tennis Club and chairman of The Lawn Tennis Championships (Wimbledon) from 1989 to 1999. During his tenure, Curry led major changes in the Wimbledon facilities for both players and spectators.

He was also an active participant and leader of the Grand Slam Committee and worked to bring about major changes and enhancements in the worldwide importance of the Grand Slams.

Nominations for the Golden Achievement Award are submitted by tennis federations from around the world, and then voted on by the Golden Achievement Award Selection Committee.

Short Sets

Prince Launches new Premier String

Prince Premier with Softflex Prince Tennis has announced a new string, Premier, that combines a multifilament design with Prince’s exclusive Softflex technology that the company says provides excellent playability.

Doug Root, Prince’s product manager for strings, says Premier with Softflex offers gut-like play and performance at a price “far less than natural gut.” Premier provides players with increased power and feel without sacrificing durability, he says.

The elasticity of Softflex offers shock dampening and shock absorption for an ultra-soft, enhanced feel, says Root, adding that “even those with tennis elbow will experience increased string reaction with added comfort thanks to the string’s gut-like feel. Additionally, the string experiences minimal tension loss due to Softflex’s superb recovery from stretch.

Premier with Softflex features a multifilament string design consisting of a micro-filament core wrapped with filament outer wraps made of the elastic Softflex. The string also has a soft polyurethane coating for added touch and feel, says the company. Premier with Softflex is available in 16 and 17 gauges in gold.

For more information, visit or call 800-283-6647. Website Goes Live

Tennis Welcome Center -- Learn to play tennis fast

The consumer website for the Tennis Welcome Center initiative was officially launched in February. Any new or returning tennis player wishing to find a place for introductory tennis programs can visit, plug in his ZIP code and find places nearby that offer lessons and play.

More than 3,000 clubs and facilities signed on to become Tennis Welcome Centers, exceeding the goal the USTA and the Tennis Industry Association set for the program. The TIA says more content will be added to the consumer site in the future.



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