Tennis Industry magazine

 

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Tennis Welcome Center Program ‘Alive and Well’

The industry-wide Tennis Welcome Center initiative is still going strong, says Tennis Industry Association President Jim Baugh and USTA Community Tennis Chief Executive Kurt Kamperman.

Tennis Welcome Center

Speaking at the TIA board meeting in March during the USTA’s Annual Meeting at La Quinta, Calif., Baugh told the group, “We have to be united in our front to make sure the Tennis Welcome Center initiative does not get lost in the shuffle. We all have to be committed to make sure we keep pushing Tennis Welcome Centers. We can’t lose sight of that.”

Some at the meeting expressed concern at comments from USTA section personnel that the TWC program was “last year’s program.” But Kamperman said that the TWC program, which began in 2004, was never intended to be just a one-year initiative. “You need long-term programs,” he said.

The first year of the TWC program was “overall positive,” said Baugh, adding that the program created unprecedented cooperation within the industry and exposed issues with tennis’s delivery system and customer service that need to be addressed.

More than 4,000 facilities, clubs and parks signed up to be TWCs initially, but in the 2005 renewal process, that number was whittled down to 2,600. But importantly, the “quality” of these TWCs has improved significantly, says Kamperman.

Also, the TIA and the USTA have put out a nifty, free “Marketing & Customer Service Kit” for Tennis Welcome Centers (left) that includes all marketing materials, ads, logos and much more, in both hard copy and on a CD.

For more on the TWC program, and to download information in the marketing kit or to receive one, visit partners.tenniswelcomecenter.com or call 843-686-3036.

USTA Adds $10 Million to New ‘Grow the Game Fund’

Franklin Johnson

The USTA announced that it will commit $10 million over the course of 2005-2006 to develop new programs to increase player participation and raise the profile of tennis in the U.S. The USTA will fund these new initiatives as part of a board-approved planned deficit totaling $10 million over the next two years.

This incremental funding initiative follows a year of operating income and investment portfolio performance that resulted in a $26.1 million excess in income over expenses, according to the recently published 2004 USTA financial statements audited by Ernst & Young. USTA operating revenues were up for the fifth consecutive year, led largely by the continued growth of the US Open. The USTA will announce plans for specific spending in the near future.

“The USTA has never been in a stronger financial position to make an investment of this kind,” says Franklin Johnson (right), USTA chairman of the board and president. “Our operating performance — based largely on the success of the US Open — and returns on our investments have resulted in unprecedented reserves for the association. As a not-for-profit organization, we have the obligation and responsibility to spend these funds to better carry out our mission.”

In related news, the USTA reported at its annual meeting in March that total operating revenues in 2004 was $221 million, up from $205 million in 2003. Total operating expenses for 2004 was $187 million, vs. $179 million in ‘03. Total net assets at the end of ‘04 were $269 million, vs. $243 million in ‘03.

TTC Signs Multiyear Deal with Comcast Cable

The Tennis Channel

The Tennis Channel has signed a multiyear affiliation agreement with Comcast Cable, the leading cable operator in the U.S. The arrangement provides for carriage opportunities for the traditional, linear network, as well as video on demand (VOD) content.

“We’re excited to have the opportunity to work with Comcast to bring The Tennis Channel’s programming to more customers,” says David Meister, CEO and chairman of TTC. “It’s great to be offering viewers Tennis Channel video-on-demand content, taking fullest advantage of rapidly evolving distribution technology.”

“A number of tennis hotbeds are served by Comcast systems,” says Randy Brown, senior vice president of distribution for TTC. “We’re looking forward to the opportunity to bring our top-tier tournaments, lifestyle programming and instructional series to Comcast customers around the country.”

USTA Honors Seattle Facility

The Amy Yee Tennis Center in Seattle has been named the 2005 USTA Member Organization of the Year. The facility was recognized at the recent USTA Annual Meeting for providing outstanding service to its members and the local community.

In 2004, the Amy Yee Tennis Center was home to more than 100,000 players, making it the largest public indoor facility in the Puget Sound area. The tennis center, which is owned and operated by the Seattle Parks & Recreation Department, has supported more than 50 USA League Tennis Adult, Senior, Super Senior, and Mixed Doubles teams. One of the center’s more successful programs is its USA Tennis NJTL program, which had more than 450 children participate in summer camps and junior group lessons. It also serves as the home of the Garfield High School boys and girls varsity teams’ practices and matches.

“The Amy Yee Tennis Center is the embodiment of the USTA’s mission to promote and develop the growth of tennis by making the game more accessible through public parks and facilities,” says Franklin R. Johnson, USTA chairman of the board and president.

Polo Ralph Lauren is New US Open Apparel Sponsor

The USTA and Polo Ralph Lauren signed a new global partnership designating Polo Ralph Lauren the Official Apparel Sponsor of the US Open through 2008. The four-year landmark partnership will include the creation of an official shirt designed by Ralph Lauren, which will outfit all on-court officials including ballpersons and line judges.

Polo Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren and the USTA will create a major retail presence for the duration of the tournament. Initial plans call for co-branded US Open/Polo Ralph Lauren merchandise to be sold at select retail stores. Other on-site visibility will include ring signage in Arthur Ashe Stadium as well as a presence on the video and electronic message boards throughout the grounds. Also, Polo Ralph Lauren will have a major online presence on usopen.org and will feature us open apparel at polo.com and USOpen.org.

“We are very excited to be partnering with the USTA and to play such a key role in one of the most celebrated global sporting events,” says Ralph Lauren, chairman and CEO of Polo Ralph Lauren Corp.

Playmate Introduces Totally Upgradeable Ball Machine

Playmate Smash

The Smash, by Playmate Tennis Machines, is the industry’s first completely upgradeable ball machine, says the company. The Smash allows users to purchase a base model machine, and to upgrade it to a top-of-the-line model by purchasing various control boxes, with no complicated installation or unwieldy equipment.

“The advantage of the Smash is its versatility,” says Tina Yarur, marketing director of Playmate. “Customers can buy the Smash now, and should they later decide they want a machine with more options, they can get the control boxes that will allow them to upgrade it to have the features of all of our higher-level models, including the Deuce, the Genie or the Playmate PC.”

The Smash holds 300 balls, can be set for topspin and backspin, has electronic height and direction to seven lines, remote on/off controls and a three-year limited warranty. It is compatible with Playmate’s patented Serve Lift, a mechanism that allows ball machines to approximate a serve.

The Smash is available from Playmate and from its authorized dealers. For more information, call 800-776-6770 or 919-544-0344, or go to playmatetennismachines.com.

Penn Offers Free BlackBerry

In a unique promotion, cans of Penn tennis balls will include an offer for a free BlackBerry 7280 (after mail-in rebate and with a two-year service agreement).

“The promotion will allow us to provide our retail partners and consumers with added value for each can of Penn tennis balls and offer them a free state-of-the-art BlackBerry that normally costs hundreds of dollars,” says Jennifer Parker, Penn’s business manager.

More than 2 million Penn tennis ball cans will offer the free BlackBerry with a sticker on the outside of the can providing information on redemption. Consumers will need to sign up for a standard cell phone plan with redemption, but the retail price of the BlackBerry is refunded to the consumer through a mail-in rebate. For more information, visit pennracquet.com.

Tail Website Gets Facelift

Tail Inc. has updated its website, tailinc.com, offering a new look and easier navigation. The revised site offers a view of the entire family of Tail brands including the new Tail Tech Golf, links to Tail2 and Cha-Ching sites, and core golf and tennis brands. The site also has a business-to-business link for customers who are interested in placing orders over the internet.

“The new website is more in tune with our image,” says Bill Evans, Tail’s vice president of sales and marketing. “We wanted to create a showcase for our merchandise and this site does an excellent job of that.”

USPTA Presents ‘Tennis Across America’

USPTA

Throughout the spring, more than 1,500 USPTA pros and developmental coaches, along with volunteers, will offer free clinics to the public in more than 350 cities nationwide as part of the USTPA’s Tennis Across America, which is now in its 16th year.

“With help from a knowledgeable instructor, new players can quickly gain the skills they need to keep the ball in play, which is the key to having the most fun and getting the best workout in tennis,” says USPTA CEO Tim Heckler. “USPTA members can provide a great first tennis experience, which translates into more players playing more often. That’s what Tennis Across America has always been about.”

While the USPTA’s Tennis Across America Day is May 14, activities will take place nationwide throughout the spring months. Clinics can be for adults, children, or both, or may include players returning to the game or in need of a spring tuneup. Professionals usually schedule clinics to coincide with the start of entry-level lesson programs. Clinics are held at clubs, public parks, schools, and other facilities.

A list of public Tennis Across America clinics, organized by city and state, can be found at uspta.com or by calling (800) USPTA-4U.

TTC’s Bellamy Honored By Indiana Business School

Steve Bellamy

Steve Bellamy, the president and founder of The Tennis Channel, was honored in March by the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington. Bellamy, of Santa Monica, Calif., received the business school’s 2005 Distinguished Entrepreneur Award.

A longtime fan of and cheerleader for the sport, Bellamy has been integrally involved in every facet of the industry, including facility owner, promoter, coach, tournament director and marketer.

Short Sets

Wilson Racquet Sports Expands Customer Service Hours

Wilson Racquet Sports has expanded its customer-service call center to now include Saturdays and expanded weekday hours for the upcoming spring and summer seasons, which generally marks the peak of tennis participation throughout the U.S.

Wilson accounts can now call the toll-free customer-service line — 800-272-6060 — on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. CST and with expanded weekday hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. CST.

USPTA raises $3.1 million for charity

In 2004, USPTA members were instrumental in raising more than $3.1 million for charities in the U.S. In the past three years, they have helped raise more than $10.6 million.

Through the USPTA’s Lessons for Life, an umbrella program for members’ charitable events, the association encourages tennis pros to take the lead in organizing fund-raising events.

Among the charities that have received donations from Lessons for Life events are the American Cancer Society, Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, churches, scholarship funds and many smaller, local charities.

Letters

Support for a Tennis & Golf Show

To the Editor:

In your April issue (page 14), Gene Niksich pleaded the case to combine a tennis show with the PGA show in Orlando. What a fantastic idea!

I, too, have witnessed the stunning and disappointing decline of the Tennis Show at the Super Show despite efforts to revive it by changing locations from Atlanta to Las Vegas to Orlando. Somehow, tennis apparel, equipment, and court products don’t have much in common with canoes, camping equipment, and logo gear.

But countless country clubs have golf and tennis. Add swimming pools to the mix, and all bases are covered. The most thrilled constituency might be the superintendents and club managers who must oversee all three parts of the facility.

This hearty endorsement comes from someone who has invested over 35 years in the tennis construction industry.

David Marsden
Boston Tennis Court Construction Co. Inc.
Hanover, Mass.

We welcome your letters and comments. Please e-mail them to rsi@usrsa.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

Grand Slam Stringers Launches Website

Grand Slam Stringers has launched its website, gssalliance.com, which provides a variety of links for racquet technicians of all levels, an interactive message board, and an e-commerce shopping mall offering professional stringing tools and accessories.

“I wanted to create a one-stop environment where stringers could get just about anything they needed to do a professional string job,” says founder and website developer Tim Strawn. “There are a lot of unique tools and products that are exclusive to the GSS website.”

Stringing professionals from across the globe staff the site’s interactive message board, and GSS created an expert stringing panel to give visitors direct access to professionals who frequently work at tour-level events. Panel members include Richard Parnell, MRT and tester for the USRSA & ERSA, based in Malaga, Spain; Albert Lee, MRT based in Potomac, Md.; Sam Chan, MRT and ERSA certification tester from London; Toru Yusuki, director of the Japanese Racquet Stringers Association; and Strawn, MRT from Roanoke, Va., and a member of the Bow Brand team.

Peoplewatch

Welch Schedules Clay Court Seminars

Welch Tennis Courts is offering four clay court maintenance seminars in May and October in Florida. The seminars, designed to give participants a working knowledge of Har-Tru courts, include an explanation and demonstration of the latest procedures in maintenance, with an emphasis on solving court maintenance problems and how recent innovations can be used to protect and enhance the investment you have in your courts.

The seminars cost $159 per person, and $125 for each additional person from the same facility, and includes breakfast, lunch, refreshments and a wrap-up happy hour. USPTA members can earn 3 credits for continuing education for attending. The schedule:

For information or to sign up, contact Deb Carlson at 800-282-4415.

Florida Rooftop Installation

The rooftop tennis court at the Waverly, a luxury condominium complex in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Fla., was “rehabilitated” recently through the efforts of Sheldon Westervelt of Global Sports & Tennis Design Group of Boynton Beach, Fla., and the Classic Turf System Sport Surfaces cushioned sheet-goods product by Classic Turf Co. of Woodbury, Conn. Although only recently constructed using conventional techniques, the surface had failed, said Westervelt, adding that the new Classic Turf surface is waterproof, cushioned, and solves buckling and erosion problems. For more information, contact Classic Turf at 203-263-0800 or www.classicturf.org, or Global Sports & Tennis Design Group at 561-733-1633 or globaltennisdesign.com.

Tennis Mag Awards ‘Editors’ Choice’

Tennis magazine’s Spring Gear Guide (April 2005 issue) designated two racquets and one tennis shoe as “Editors’ Choice” picks. The magazine said the Prince O3 Silver “offers an outstanding blend of power and control for a super-oversize racquet.” The Babolat Aeropro Drive, meanwhile, “gives strong tournament players the ability to swing harder for more power without losing command of their shots.” Two racquets also received honorable mention by the magazine: The Wilson nTour 95 and the Head Flexpoint Radical.

On the shoe front, Tennis said the K-Swiss Defier RS is “the total package, with outstanding durability, stability, and comfort.”

Lansdorp Wins USTA President’s Award

Robert Lansdorp

Renowned tennis coach Robert Lansdorp of Rolling Hills Estates, Calif., was awarded the 2005 USTA President’s Award at the USTA’s Annual Meeting in March in La Quinta, Calif. Established in 1999, the President’s Award annually honors an individual who has given unusual and extraordinary service to tennis.

“Over the last 30 years, Robert has coached some of tennis’s greatest players and is one of our sport’s most distinguished coaches,” said Franklin R. Johnson, the USTA chairman of the board and president. “I selected Robert for this honor based on his extraordinary legacy and all that he continues to do to enhance our great game and help develop players of exceptional talent.”

Lansdorp has coached five different Grand Slam champions — Tracy Austin, Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport, Anastasia Myskina, and Maria Sharapova. Combined, they have won a total of 21 Grand Slam titles.

USRSA Member Classifieds

FOR SALE: Gamma 8500 Els, one year old, excellent condition. Original cost $3500 (plus shipping), selling for $2500 firm (plus shipping). If living in New England, willing to meet halfway. Contact: genbur@juno.com

FOR SALE: Gamma 7000 ES stringing machine (electric), in excellent condition. Includes tools, cover, manual, and clamps. Photos upon request. Asking: $1200 + shipping, OBO. Contact: George Tompkins, Grand Junction, CO 81506 • 970/241-9043 or e-mail pilonero78@hotmail.com

FOR SALE: Gamma Progression ESII electronic stringing machine. Great condition: new clamps, new tension head, floor stand, cover. Complete and ready to start stringing! Asking: $500. Call Deven for details • 602/672-0189 or e-mail spagstring@hotmail.com

COLLECTORS: Wilson T-2, 3, 4, 5000 + one Connors’ T. All great shape. Asking: $100 plus S&H $20. Contact: Frank Inamorati, Lecanto, FL • 352/746-4063 or e-mail BF@netsignia.net

WANTED: Prince Precision 730 MP longbody racquets, size 4-l/2. Contact: Bill Miller • 903/534-0217 or e-mail bstrings@academicplanet.com

WANTED: Prince Precision 730 MP bumper kits. Contact: Bill Miller • 903/534-0217 or e-mail bstrings@academicplanet.com

WANTED: Grommet strip and bumper guard for a Prince Catalyst Ti Oversize tennis racquet. Contact: David Thomas @ Raise A Racquet • 405/247-2759 or e-mail mrdt@netride.net

WANTED: Old/new tools for stringing all racquet sports; tennis, etc. Single tools or complete tool sets from Babolat, Wilson, Prince, etc. Must be in very good condition or new. Also looking for a Gosen 7000 stringing machine. Contact: Warren • 408-398-6632

 

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