Tennis Industry magazine


Industry News

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Cook Leaves Völkl Tennis; Pearson Named

Industry veteran Sam Cook has been promoted within the Völkl organization to vice president of sales for Völkl Sport America’s and Tecnica USA’s Winter Divisions. He leaves Völkl Tennis, which he’s managed since 1993.

Taking over at Völkl Tennis is Chris Pearson, who is the new vice president and Tennis Division manager of Völkl Sport America. Pearson, an avid tennis player, graduated from Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business in 2003. Pearson competed in three Division III National Team Championships at Swarthmore College from 1991 to 1995.

Cook’s new duties include responsibility for sales of Völkl Ski and Snowboard and Tecnica Ski Boots. “Cook’s fresh and enthusiastic approach, as well as his analytical and organizational skills, are a welcome addition to the management team in the Winter Divisions,” says Mike Noonan, the recently named president of K2 Inc., which recently acquired Völkl Sport America. The change was part of other senior management shifts at Völkl and Tecnica.

Also, Völkl recently promoted Megan Costello to national marketing manager, from marketing coordinator. Costello, who has been with the company for three years, is responsible for all Völkl Tennis marketing activities in the U.S.

Pearson, Costello, and National Product and Promotions Manager Sarah Maynard can be contacted at 800-264-4579.

Wilson Ups Commitment to College Tennis, Named Title Sponsor of ITA Regional Championships


Wilson Racquet Sports is expanding its partnership with the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) and will serve as title sponsor of the 2004 ITA Regional Championships this fall. Wilson has also renewed its continuing role as the official tennis ball, racquet and accessory company for the ITA.

In a relationship that has spanned more than three decades, Wilson’s new agreement marks the greatest commitment to college tennis in the industry, the company said in a statement. Wilson’s current sponsorship includes title sponsor of the 2004 Wilson/ITA Regional Championships, the official ball, racquet and accessory company of the ITA, and ongoing presenter of the Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year Award — which Wilson has supported since 1973.

“The opportunity to expand our partnership and be directly involved in of one of the most visible collegiate tennis events, the Wilson/ITA Regional Championships, demonstrates Wilson’s commitment to college tennis, competition and developing athletes,” says Jon Muir, director of U.S. marketing and promotions for Wilson.

The Wilson/ITA Regional Championships will host more than 5,000 men and women collegiate tennis players to compete in 80 regional events played on campus sites at the NCAA Division I, II and III, and NAIA levels during the months of September and October. The ITA promotes both the athletic and academic achievements of the collegiate tennis community by administering national and regional championship events and a comprehensive awards program for players and coaches.

“We are delighted to announce Wilson’s sponsorship of our regional championships,” says David A. Benjamin, executive director of the ITA. “We are very proud of our association with Wilson and are grateful for their generous support of and ongoing commitment to collegiate tennis.”

Wilson is also the official tennis ball supplier of the NCAA.

Prince Launches Racquet Selection Wizard

Prince Tennis has launched its Racquet Selection Wizard on its website, The online tool offers players a tailored racquet recommendation guide.

Visitors to the website click on the Racquet Selection Wizard button then answer a series of questions regarding their individual style of play, such as preferred swing style, racquet power level and racquet head size. The online program then comes up with a recommended list of racquets, along with performance features and full specifications.

“We created the Racquet Wizard to provide players with an easy, more exact tool to decide which racquet best suits their game,” says Bill Foy, president of Prince Sports USA. “The Wizard will help tennis players better understand the differences in their playing styles so that they choose the correct racquet. We hope this tool will help players of all abilities reach their playing goals.”

The Racquet Selection Wizard correlates specific swing types with Prince performance racquets. visitors who use the tool are first asked to click on their preferred swing style from three options (shorter/slower strokes, moderate/fuller strokes, or longer/faster strokes); then asked to click on their preferred racquet power level (maximum power, blend of power/control, or maximum control); and finally, users choose their ideal racquet head size (midsize/midplus or oversize).

Babolat VS Gut
Babolat Pro Hurricane

Babolat Introduces Custom+Hybrid Strings to Give Players a Choice

Babolat recently launched its new Custom+Hybrid stings — in 20-foot lengths — designed to allow players to choose which strings will produce the desired benefits on both the mains and the crosses.

The company says that with Custom+Hybrid strings, players can select the appropriate string for crosses and mains in order to create the combination that best suits their games. For instance, club players who like the feel and comfort of multifilaments, but want more power and a better tension maintenance, can find the answer with VS+ (natural gut) on mains and Xcel Premium+ on crosses. Alternately, big string-breakers who play with heavy topspin would do well with a combination of Pro Hurricane+ and Xcel Premium+ to improve comfort, tension maintenance and durability.

“The Custom+Hybrid range of strings offers a whole new concept of customizing the strings to any player’s specific needs,” says Eric Babolat, the company’s president and CEO. “Players recognize the important advantages that the strings can bring to their game since they are, after all, the only part of the racquet that comes into contact with the ball.” The Custom+Hybrid strings consist of Pro Hurricane+ (blue), VS+ (beige) and Xcel Premium+ (orange). For more information, contact 1-877-316-9435 or visit

Wilson Racquet Sports Expands Global Marketing Staff

Wilson Racquet Sports has expanded its global marketing team, under the direction of Brian Dillman, the vice president of global marketing. New to the team is Scott Rea, Wilson’s international tennis ball manager.

Rea, previously the sales and marketing director for Yonex USA and a former teaching pro with more than 10 years of industry sales and marketing experience, will focus on managing and expanding Wilson’s tennis ball market share globally from product testing to marketing. He will report to Antoine Ballon, the global marketing director for tennis racquets and tennis balls.

“The addition of this new talent to our team will enable us to focus on the opportunities we see in the global racquet sports market,” says Dillman.

PTR Honors State Members of Year

The PTR honored its State Members of the Year during its semiannual meeting in New York on Aug. 28. The recipients are:

Mark Frampton, Ariz.; Ken DeHart, Calif.; Greg Moran, Conn.; Luis Maria Brest, Fla.; Pete Collins, Ga.; Rick Ninete, Hawaii Pacific; Shelley George, Iowa; Doug Lintala, Ill.; Shelly Whitney, Ind.; Ajay Pant, Kan.; Gary Pina, Mass.; Alicia Von Lossberg, Md.; Wayne St. Peter, Maine; Fred Johnson, Mo.; Bill Webster, Mont.; Henry Hostetler, N.C.; Oliver Summers, N.D.; Larry Dillon, N.J.; Craig Witcher, Nev.; Todd Miller, N.Y.; Phil Norton, Ohio; Bill Wissinger, Pa.; Joey Eskridge, S.C.; Curtis Holland, Tenn.; Larry Haugness, Texas; John Raker, Va.; Dan Bonfigli, Vt.; Chris Samuel, Wash.

Tennis Expo Speakers to Address Retailer and Facility Operator Concerns

Speakers and seminars at the TIA TennisEXPO in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 17 to 19 will address topics ranging from “Keeping Frequent Players Playing Frequently” to “Selling and Merchandising Soft-Goods,” to “Making Money in Retailing,” and much more. The Tennis Industry Association’s lineup of top talent to help retailers and facility operators with their businesses includes:

Other speakers at the TIA Forum on Jan. 17 will be Kamperman, Jim Baugh of the TIA, Victor Taylor of the ATP, Sophie Goldschmidt of the WTA, and Jeff Harrison of WTT.

For more information about the TIA TennisEXPO, which will be held concurrent with The Super Show, visit

New Book for Top Tennis Performance

From Breakpoint to Advantage: A Practical Guide to Optimal Tennis Health and Performance is a new book by Babette Pluim and Marc Safran that was written to help players reach optimal, injury-free performance, including preventing overuse injuries. Pluim, a sports physician and medical director of the Royal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association, is the editor of the newsletter Medicine and Science in Tennis and a contributor to the IOC Handbook of Sports Medicine and Science: Tennis. Safran is an orthopedic surgeon in San Francisco specializing in sports medicine and biomechanics.

Topics in the book, which is published by Racquet Tech Publishing, include: injury prevention and rehabilitation; descriptions, symptoms, and treatments for all tennis injuries and ailments; stroke mechanics and injury; training programs for flexibility, balance, stabilization, and strength; proper nutrition for tennis players; equipment selection for health and performance; and more.

To order the book, which retails for $29.95, contact the USRSA at 760-536-1177, e-mail, or order through our on-line store.

Specialty Store Racquet Performance: January-June 2003 vs. 2004

Units Dollars Ave. Rac. Price
2003 262,793 $35,864 $136
2004 291,633 $38,841 $133
% Change 11% 8% -2%

Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys USA

Gamma Debuts 2 New Strings

Gamma is introducing two new strings for Fall, the Gamma Revelation and the Gamma Zo Sweet. The new Revelation is a multifilament available in 16 and 17 gauge. Gamma says the Live Wire Multifilament Technology, with a new pearl coating, will provide a solid, crisp feel and added string life. The Gamma Zo Sweet is a hybrid featuring 17-gauge Zo monofilament mains combined with TNT2 17 crosses. The manufacturer says the hybrid combination offers more forgiving feel and more control, and will be easier on a player’s arm. For more information, contact 412-323-0335 or

Sharapova Switches To New Prince Shark Frame

Maria Sharapova switches to the Prince Shark

Wimbledon singles champion Maria Sharapova has switched to the new Prince Turbo Shark racquet, a frame that Prince says she helped to create.

“Maria has used Prince racquets for over a decade and was an instrumental member of the Shark development team,” says Bill Foy, president of Prince Sports USA. “She has such high confidence in switching to the Shark right after her dominating performance at Wimbledon because of her involvement in the overall creation of this racquet. The Shark is designed for players who want a bit more pop in their game without sacrificing control, and Maria herself has referred to it as solid, quiet, powerful, and deadly.”

“I think tennis players of all abilities are going to benefit from the added performance of the Shark,” says the 17-year-old Sharapova. “I have worked closely with Prince’s development team to craft the racquet, and I’m thrilled with the results. I’m looking forward to putting the Shark’s controlled power into action.”

For more information and images of the Shark racquet and Maria Sharapova, visit

DecoSystems Court Surfaces in 7 U.S. Open Series Events

Seven of the 10 tournaments leading up to the U.S. Open were played at facilities that offer DecoSystems surfaces, DecoTurf and DecoColor, and Pro-DecoTurf has been selected for use at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., the site of the U.S. Open since 1978.

The seven venues with DecoSystems courts are RCA Championships, Indianapolis; Tennis Masters Series, Toronto; Rogers Cup, Montreal; Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Cincinnati; Legg Mason Tennis Classic, Washington, D.C.; Pilot Pen Tennis, New Haven, Conn.; and TD Waterhouse Cup, Long Island, N.Y.

“We’re very excited about the new tournament series and the fact that most of the tournaments will be played on our products,” says John Graham, managing director of DecoSystems. “It’s been a great year for the DecoSystems surfaces. Not only will DecoTurf be a premier surface for this series, but it has also been selected for use at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens.”

For more information, visit or call 800-DECO 1ST.

USPTA Lessons for Life, Raising Money for Charity, Set for October

USPTA’s Lessons for Life will take place throughout the month of October to raise money for various local and national charities, when association members use tennis as a vehicle to help others.

In 2003, USPTA members raised more than $5 million for charities, including the American Cancer Society, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and many other charities.

Lessons for Life is officially celebrated in October, and Lessons for Life Day is set for Oct. 23. However, USPTA members run fund-raisers year-round, in a variety of forms, including tournaments, auctions, clinics and pro-ams.

“By organizing fun on-court and off-court events, USPTA members help their own communities pool their resources to assist the local charities that are most important to them and national organizations that we all admire,” says USPTA President David T. Porter.

Lessons for Life became the USPTA’s national charitable program in 1999. Since 2002, the amount of money raised for charity has increased considerably, totaling about $7.5 million in the past two years.

USTC&TBA to Change Name

The U.S. Tennis Court & Track Builders Association will change its name officially at its December Technical Meeting in New Orleans. The new name will be the American Sports Builders Association.

The board of directors of the USTC&TBA (which soon will adopt the much easier to handle acronym “ASBA”) approved the name change at its summer meeting in July. The new name and logo will be available for members’ use in December.

The Technical Meeting will be Dec. 3 to 7 at the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans.

Sacramento Capitals Sweep World TeamTennis Post-Season Honors

After leading the Sacramento Capitals to the Western Conference Championship with a league best 13-1 record and a spot in the 2004 World TeamTennis Semifinal Playoffs, first-year player Dmitry Tursunov was named the WTT Pro League Male MVP and the Male Rookie of the Year. He had a 46-31 singles record and 65-40 doubles record.

The Female MVP and Rookie awards also went to a member of the Sacramento pro team, Nicole Vaidisova. She finished the season with a 66-36 record and a No. 1 ranking in women’s singles, and had a 59-41 record in doubles.

Also, Sacramento Coach Wayne Bryan, in his third year with WTT, won Coach of the Year honors.

Why Customers Leave

(From a sign at a deli in Fairfield, Conn., supplied by Boar’s Head brand deli products.)

Short Sets

WTA Tour Launches ‘Real Life’ TV Series

The WTA Tour launched a 12-episode TV series in August designed to bring “the off-court passions and lifestyles of women’s professional tennis stars closer than ever to fans,” the tour announced in a statement. The magazine-style show, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, will be titled “Dubai Duty Free Presents Real Life on the WTA Tour.”

The show, produced by the Tour and KC Productions, will air on The Tennis Channel. The series will also air on Eurosport. Each 30-minute show will feature human-interest stories and behind-the-scenes footage that showcase the entertainment and atmosphere of the world of women’s pro tennis.

The initial four episodes, which started airing in August, include footage from Tour events held earlier this year and include features on Serena Williams, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and Maria Sharapova. The TV series is a component of the WTA Tour’s commercial partnership with Dubai Duty Free, one of the world’s leading airport retailers.

Ashaway Offers New 17-Gauge Monofilament

Ashaway says its new MonoGut 17 multi-polymer synthetic gut tennis string now offers gut-like playability in a durable monofilament construction. The string’s coating lessens string movement and helps to provide bite on the ball, says the manufacturer.

A 17-gauge string, MonoGut 17 is recommended for hard-hitters or players who find hybrids too stiff. It was designed for power players who are looking for a string that is strong enough to stand up to their style of play while providing good feel and control. Ashaway says its new line of strings represents the first synthetic gut on the market to combine resiliency and durability in a single string.

Available in 360-foot (110 M) and 660-foot (200 M) reels, as well as 40-foot (12 M) sets, MonoGut 17 comes in metallic silver. The recommended stringing tension for MonoGut is 10 percent to 15 percent less tension than standard synthetic gut.

For more information, contact 800-556-7260.

Sales of U.S. Recreational Products Push $70 Billion

Steady as she goes. That’s one way to summarize the U.S. sports products industry, which is nearly $70 billion at wholesale in size. According to SGMA International’s Recreation Market Report, manufacturers’ sales of sporting goods equipment, sports apparel, athletic footwear, and recreational transport items in the U.S. totaled $68.6 billion in 2003 — a 0.5 percent increase over 2002.

For sports equipment, sales remained steady — $17.5 billion in 2003 vs. $17.4 billion in 2002. The six largest categories of sports equipment are: exercise equipment machines ($3.80 billion); golf ($2.42 billion); firearms/hunting ($1.90 billion); camping ($1.72 billion); team/institutional ($1.56 billion); and fishing ($1.03 billion).

In the exercise equipment category, treadmill sales account for 26.4 percent of that category. Also, sales of elliptical machines increased by 16.7 percent, from $120 million in 2002 to $140 million in 2003. After treadmills, the next two largest fitness categories are home gyms ($305 million) and exercise cycles ($200 million). Consumer spending for exercise equipment accounts for 81.3 percent of the entire exercise equipment category.

Sports apparel sales fell 2.5 percent in 2003. Despite the slight drop, it is still the largest segment of the sports and recreation industry with sales of $22.8 billion. Activewear tops had the highest sales — $12.7 billion in 2003. Other sports apparel items experiencing sales growth were sweatpants, shorts, underwear (male), sports bras, and outerwear.

Athletic footwear sales rose 4.2 percent in 2003. Total sales were $9.73 billion, compared with $9.34 billion in 2002. The growth categories in athletic footwear were low performance (up 19.6 percent); tennis (up 16.9 percent); aerobic (up 11.1 percent); basketball (up 6.2 percent); and running (up 2 percent).

ICA’s Fabric Ducts Look Good, Cost Less

Tired of spending a small fortune installing and maintaining conventional sheet-metal ductwork in your facility? Check out fabric ductwork, which ICA is incorporating into some of its sports facility projects.

ICA says its fabric duct is both cost-effective and operationally efficient. The company says using fabric ducts can save from $5 to $8 per linear foot in materials, labor and finishes when compared to sheet metal, in addition to reduced maintenance labor and costs. Other benefits of fabric ducts, says ICA, include:

ICA says fabric ductwork is easy to assemble and install, and much lighter in weight, further simplifying installation and reducing maintenance and shipping costs. For example, a 60-inch diameter conventional duct can weigh 40 pounds per foot, says ICA, while the equivalent fabric duct weighs less than 5 pounds per foot.

ICA estimates that cost savings (materials, labor, finish) for a 60-foot-long building using fabric ductwork would be $3,000 to $4,000, and that for a 360-foot-long building, the savings would be $18,000 to $27,800.

For more information, contact ICA at 800-373-4262 or visit



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