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TIA Honors Top Pro, Specialty, Chain Retailers

The winners of the inaugural Tennis Industry Association Retailer Awards were announced in November and include the top 10 pro shops, top 10 specialty shops, and chain store of the year.

“We’re pleased to honor the pro and specialty retailers who are not only doing a fantastic job with their own businesses, but also are helping this sport to grow,” says TIA President Jim Baugh. “The response from the industry about these awards has been huge. While we are honoring 20 shops here, it was clear from the nominations that there are many more who are highly successful and doing great things for this sport.”

Retailer Award winners, who will receive a plaque from the TIA, were selected by representatives from various manufacturers and associations. Selection criteria included technical expertise and product knowledge, merchandising excellence, how and how frequently they “give back” to the sport, and whether the retailer is the “go to” shop when it comes to tennis in their area. For the purposes of the awards, pro shops are defined as a tennis shop at a club or facility with courts. Specialty shops are defined as free-standing tennis shops not at a club and not with courts (although they may have a hitting lane). Specialty shops can have products from no more than two other sports and tennis must be at least 35 percent of all sales.

The TIA’s chain store of the year, selected by a panel of hardgood and softgood manufacturers, is The Sports Authority/Garts Sports. The TIA will shortly announce other award winners, including the top Tennis Welcome Centers in each of the 17 USTA sections for the year, and top soft-goods and hard-goods manufacturer or supplier for the year.

The top 10 pro shops:

The top 10 specialty shops:

USTA Names Outstanding Facility Award Winners

he USTA has named 15 winners of its 2004 Outstanding Facility Awards. The awards program, in its 23rd year, encourages higher standards for the construction and/or renovation of public tennis facilities throughout the country.

Selection was based on overall layout and adaptation to the site; excellence of court surface and lights; ease of maintenance; accommodations for players, spectators, press/officials; aesthetics, including landscaping; amenities; and programs supporting the USTA and growth of the game. The winners are:

Franklin Johnson To Lead USTA

Franklin Johnson

In 2005, Franklin Johnson of Los Angeles starts his two-year term as chairman of the board and president of the USTA. Johnson has been on the USTA board of directors for eight years, including two-year stints as first vice president and secretary-treasurer.

Johnson will replace Alan Schwartz as president, following what some industry insiders termed a “contentious” process leading up to the choice. Schwartz, who reportedly had garnered widespread support for an unprecedented second term as president, remains on the board as immediate past president.

“Tennis is poised for a resurgence in our country with unprecedented collaboration at every level,” says Johnson. “I embrace the opportunity to build on this momentum and thank current President Alan Schwartz for his significant efforts and achievements.”

Other members of the 2005-2006 USTA board of directors include: Jane G. Brown (Middle States) as First Vice President; Lucy S. Garvin (Southern), Vice President; Gordon A. Smith (Southern), Vice President; and James S. Chaffin (Texas), Secretary-Treasurer.

Directors at large are: Katrina Adams (USA Tennis Florida), James R. Baugh (Midwest), Martin H. Blackman (Middle States), David N. Dinkins (Eastern), Joseph A. Grover (Midwest), John Korff (Eastern), Joaquim Rasgado Jr. (USA Tennis Florida), Donald L. Tisdel (Pacific Northwest), and David J. Wheaton (Northern).

SuperShow Adds International Business Intelligence Series

The International Sports Product Experience (ISPE), a feature at The Super Show, includes a three-day schedule of events with more than 40 onsite and offsite gatherings for industry professionals. The Super Show will be in Orlando, Fla., Jan. 17 to 19.

Included in the ISPE will be the International Business Intelligence Series (IBIS), featuring presentations by industry leaders such as Doug Morton, president and CEO of The Sports Authority; Robert Corliss, president and CEO of The Athlete’s Foot; Kevin Plank, founder and president of Under Armour; and Richard Heckmann, chairman and CEO of K-2. IBIS also includes a series of 40 one-hour research-based presentations covering topics such as color and style, forecasting, the Latin market, and the impact of health and aging issues on the business of sports.

“We’ve set up the International Business Intelligence Series in direct response to the changing needs of the industry,” says Tom Cove, president of SGMA International. “We’re committed to providing real, tangible value to attendees, and we’re confident this jam-packed program will deliver.” Also offered is a Sports Executive Series geared toward strategic planning issues, as well as a FasTrax Series aimed at buyers and manufacturers in a number of different categories. Admission to each IBIS session is $20 (in recognition of the show’s 20th anniversary). A limited number of passes also will be distributed free to exhibitors, which they may pass on to their customers.

The International Sports Product Experience also brings business leaders together for two luncheon presentations. On Jan. 17, the SGMA International State of the Industry Address plus a Manufacturers’ View from the Top will examine data from 2004 and identify key market trends for 2005 and beyond. On Jan. 18, the Retailer View from the Top will feature a panel of speakers from mega-retailers and major sports industry executives. The ISPE also will include 20 networking parties in 20 different categories.

“In our first 19 years, buyers came to The Super Show for the show,” says Peter Haines, the show director. “In recent years, the impetus for many industry professionals has shifted toward information-gathering and networking. We recognize, support and encourage this trend as part of the show’s evolution.”

For more information, log onto thesupershow.com or call 800-327-3736.

ITF Report Says Auto-Ref Accurate to 4 Millimeters

The International Tennis Federation report on the Auto-Ref line-calling technology says the system is capable of an accuracy of 4 millimeters, and that all decisions made by the system during testing were correct. The report bases its findings on three areas: practicality, accuracy and consistency. “We feel the report was extremely positive about Auto-Ref’s performance in all three areas,” says Auto-Ref CEO Peter Szirmak. “Nevertheless, we continued our discussions with the ITF to explore how we could further strengthen the technology’s credibility within the industry.”

Auto-Ref combines high-speed cameras and advanced software algorithms to track the flight of the ball during play. Its software then maps the point of the ball’s impact relative to the court lines, providing real-time determination of whether the ball is in or out. The system made international news following the Serena Williams-Jennifer Capriati match at the 2004 US Open in which there were several wrong line calls.

Shortly after the ITF report, Auto-Ref, based in Canada, was used unofficially at the Bell Challenge in Quebec City in early November, running simultaneously with existing line calling. Attending the trial were representatives from the ITF, WTA, ATP, and USTA.

“The system captures every shot digitally and provides a broad range of statistics that can be instantly displayed and analyzed,” says Szirmak.

Sportwall Introduces Internet-Based Challenge

Sportwall International introduced its internet-based Off the Wall Skills Challenge at the recent USPTA World Conference in La Quinta, Calif. Sportwall is a partner with the USPTA.

The Off the Wall Skills Challenge encourages participants to improve their tennis skills and compete with their peers locally, nationally, and internationally using the Sportwall Sports-PC computerized backboard. Participants track and compare their scores on the internet in seven skill categories and 63 instructor-certified skills tests.

“We created the Off the Wall Skills Challenge and Sports-PC to bring technology to the world of tennis in a way that makes learning and practicing more fun,” says Sportwall founder and CEO Cathi Lamberti. “Now players of all ages have a fabulous tool to learn and hone advanced physical and mental skills, improve speed and agility, and maximize cardiovascular fitness while enjoying competition with others around the world.”

For more information, visit sportwall.com.

Penn in Pink

Penn has revamped its Pink Tennis Ball with updated color and packaging. The new Pink Ball, featuring extra-duty felt, is now a soft pink. It’s packaged in a Penn Championship can with a breast cancer awareness sticker on the outside. The special-edition ball is available nationwide for $4.99 a can. A portion of the proceeds from each sale will be donated to breast cancer awareness charities.

Penn Pink Tennis Ball

Florida’s Johnston Makes USA League Tennis History

John Johnston

USA League Tennis player John Johnston made history recently. In October, “Johnny” became the first wheelchair tennis player to participate in a USA League Tennis National Championship, competing against able-bodied players. He’s also the first wheelchair player to captain an able-bodied team, the 3.0 Senior men’s team from Gainsville, Fla.

Johnston’s USA Tennis Florida team didn’t bring home the national title, but Johnston and his able-bodied doubles partner, Rich Romano, won their match against a team from the Missouri Valley Section in a third-set tie-break.

In addition to his role as captain of the Florida men’s team, Johnston is coach of the girls’ tennis team at Buchholtz High School in Gainsville. His girls’ team has been champion four out of the five years he’s been at the helm. And he’s also coached nationally ranked wheelchair players Beth Arnoult and Julia Dorsett.

Johnston, 56, who lost the use of his legs after being shot in Vietnam, became the first person in a wheelchair to be certified as a tennis teaching pro in 1989. He recently received the Wheelchair Pro of the Year Award from the PTR.

If it weren’t for tennis, Johnston says, “I know I wouldn’t have done half the stuff I have done. Tennis is a great game that anyone can play for the rest of their life.”

Ferrero signs with Head

Two-time Grand Slam winner Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain has signed a long-term deal to use Head racquets, bags and accessories and Penn tennis balls. As part of the partnership, Head and Ferrero will collaborate on the development of a new tennis racquet concept and design.

Players Drink

Players Drink is a new product developed by George Fareed, the former team doctor for the U.S. Davis Cup team. The 30 percent fruit juice blend, which comes in four flavors, balances sodium, potassium, electrolytes, and other nutrients. For more information, visit playersdrink.com.

Cardio Tennis

Business Manager — National

The TIA is looking for the right candidate to help implement a new, nationwide tennis program being developed to give players a high-energy workout.

Extensive travel involved, marketing and PR skills are desired. Teaching background and interests in research analysis and health/fitness trends are a plus.

This is the perfect opportunity for a self-starter to be part of an exciting new national launch of fitness and tennis combined to help combat the ever-increasing obesity crisis for adults and kids while increasing tennis participation in America.

Position will report to the president of the TIA but work with all allied organizations. Position starts immediately.

Interested candidates can e-mail their resumes to: jimbaugh@tennisindustry.org and also receive a more detailed job description.

Or, you can fax resumes to 843-686-3036 or mail to TIA, P.O. Box 7845, Hilton Head Island, SC 29938.

Ashaway Introduces Line of Squash Racquets

Ashaway Racket Strings recently introduced a new line of squash racquets, designed to work with the company’s line of squash strings.

Ashaway squash

The racquets feature three strategic stringing nodes for enhanced string performance and maximum kinetic advantage, says the company. The frames also feature “Full Motion” string holes, which allow the strings to pivot against the outside of the frame, rather than the inside, adding up to 2 cm of active string length.

“For years, players and distributors have asked us to throw our hats into the squash racquet and accessories markets,” says Steven Crandall, Ashaway’s vice president of marketing. “But we weren’t willing to do that until we knew we could offer something unique and innovative. With these four new racquets, I believe we’ve done just that.”

The four frames are the Rad 475, Liberty 495, Destiny 490 and Hornet 495. Each frame is made of Carbon 4 and high or extreme modulus graphite.

For more information, contact 800-556-7260 or visit ashawayusa.com.

Short Sets

Penn Offers Prizes for Fans At Tennis Masters Cup

At November’s season-ending Tennis Masters Cup in Houston, Penn Racquet Sports provided free autograph cards and conducted several product giveaways.

Fans entering tournament grounds received hand-held fans featuring a photo of a Penn tennis ball on one side and an invitation on the other side to visit the HEAD Penn booth to pick up a free set of ATP player autograph cards featuring the top 12 players on the men’s tour.

Also, as part of several radio station call-in promotions, local Houston residents and tournament attendees were able to win prize packages containing a giant autograph Penn tennis ball, cans of balls, a camera bag and more. A computer at the HEAD Penn tournament booth allowed fans to enter to win a Head Liquidmetal racquet signed by Andre Agassi.

Van der Meer honored

Dennis Van der Meer, founder and president of the PTR and the Van der Meer Tennis University, was awarded an honorary doctorate of science degree in October from the University Greenwich in England. The ceremony took place in the Old Royal Naval College’s Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul.

Lotto Presents New Raptor Shoes

Lotto Sports Italia President Andrea Tomat presents players Paolo Suarez and Virginia Ruano Pascual with the first new pair of WTA Tour Raptor tennis shoes, the latest addition to the Lotto Spring/Summer 2005 collection. The top-ranked doubles duo was headed to Los Angeles in November for the season-ending WTA Tour Championships.

Tennis Medicine Book Launched at Party

Babette Pluim

Pro Richard Krajicek attended the official launch party Oct. 14 for the new USRSA book From Breakpoint to Advantage: A Practical Guide to Optimal Tennis Health and Performance, by Babette Pluim, M.D., Ph.D., and Marc Safran, M.D. The Royal Netherlands Lawn Tennis Association hosted the party, and Pluim was the toast of the town in an event featuring tennis celebrities, VIPs, media, and tennis enthusiasts, and concluding with a 20-minute author interview on national television. The book may be purchased online or by calling 760-536-1177. The price is $26.95 for USRSA members and $29.95 for nonmembers.

AZ governor attends USPTA conference

Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano attended the Southwest USPTA Convention at Mesa Country Club in Phoenix in October. After officiating at an exhibition with several area tennis players, including Greg Mason, the director of marketing and sales for HEAD Penn, Napolitano was presented with a Head Liquidmetal racquet and a can of Penn balls, which are manufactured in Arizona.

Penn, USTA Renew Ball Deal for USA League Tennis

Penn Racquet Sports and the USTA have signed a multi-year renewal of Penn’s sponsorship of USA League Tennis. Penn will continue to serve as the official ball of league play for more than 550,000 players through 2009.

Participation in USA League Tennis, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2005, has grown 15 percent since 2000. It is the largest recreational tennis league in the world. Players compete in three categories: adult, senior, and mixed doubles.

“USA League Tennis has a long history with Penn, and we’re pleased to extend our relationship with the No. 1 selling ball in the U.S.,” says Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis.

“The USTA and Penn share a common goal — to grow participation in the sport of tennis,” adds Kevin Kempin, vice president of international sales and marketing for Penn. “By partnering with the USTA’s premier grassroots program, we will continue to reach and support hundreds of thousands of recreational tennis players.”

Peoplewatch

Pro/Specialty Racquet Sales Up 8% in Units, 7% in Dollars

Sales of tennis racquets at pro/specialty stores increased by 8 percent in units and 7 percent in dollars through the end of the third quarter 2004, as compared to the same period in 2003, according to the TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys Retail Audit. Also, the Babolat Pure Drive Team racquet led dollar sales at the pro/specialty level for the nine months ended in September 2004.

In addition, nearly 50 percent of dealers are predicting an increase in racquet sales, while only 14 percent are predicting a decrease, according to Dealer Trend research from the TIA. The organization says this is the lowest number of dealers predicting a decrease since 2001.

The full Retail Audit and Dealer Trend research are available to TIA members starting at the $100 level. Visit tennisindustry.org for details.

‘Steps to Success’ Book Updated

The new edition of Tennis: Steps to Success by Jim Brown includes in-depth, progressive instruction and illustrations for each stroke and 80 drills that feature a scoring system to gauge and accelerate progress. The author, who has taught, coached, played, and written about tennis for 40 years, is the executive editor of Sports Performance Journal, an online publication of Athletes’ Performance. Tennis: Steps to Success is $17.95, from Human Kinetics (humankinetics.com).

What’s In a Name? A Lot Fewer Letters

ASBA

The U.S. Tennis Court & Track Builders Association has formally changed its name to the easier to handle American Sports Builders Association, along with adopting the much-shorter acronym “ASBA.” With the change comes a newer, more exciting logo.

The name change became official at the organization’s Technical Meeting in New Orleans in December. Both name and logo are available now for members’ use.

 

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