Our Serve: A winning game
There’s a well-known saying in tennis: Don’t change a winning game. You get ahead in a match, your strategy seems to be working — why deviate from that path?
Right now, the USTA has been on a path that is giving us more reason to be excited about what’s going on in the sport than ever before. The initiatives that have started recently have been both groundbreaking and inspirational for all of us in the tennis business.
On the recreational side of the game, there is the innovative Tennis Welcome Center program, combined with a massive marketing campaign for the sport, done in conjunction with the Tennis Industry Association. And on the professional front, the new U.S. Open Series of pro tournaments leading into the Open promises major new TV exposure for the game at a key time of year. On top of all that, for the first time in a long while, both racquet and ball sales figures are up for the first quarter.
When Alan Schwartz started his two-year term as USTA president in January 2003, he came in with an eye toward shaking things up, bringing various factions together, and making things happen. And — surprise! — that’s what’s been happening.
Much has been made of the fact that Schwartz is the first USTA president to actually make his living from the sport (he founded the highly successful Tennis Corporation of America and has been instrumental in promoting tennis for decades). His style is to get competent people, then to simply let them do their jobs. And it’s been working, to the benefit of everyone in the business.
One of Schwartz’s catch-phrases is that the USTA should be the “umbrella, not the gorilla” for the sport, and he’s worked extremely hard over the last year and a half to make that happen. Of course, the USTA is a huge organization, and what it does affects all of us in the tennis industry.
The USTA — and the sport as a whole — are moving in the right direction. We need to continue this momentum, and one way to do that is to support the leadership of the USTA and the programs that are put forth by the USTA and its partner organizations.
After all, we need to continue this winning game.
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