Tennis Industry magazine

 

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Industry News

Information to help you run your business.

Fonte Is New President of Prince USA

Doug Fonte

Industry and business veteran Doug Fonte has come out of semi-retirement to become the new president of Prince USA.

“Over the past 25 years, Doug has brought vision and energy to several leading companies in various industries, including tennis, which has resulted in significant business growth and improved customer satisfaction,” says George Napier, chairman and CEO of Prince Sports Inc. “He has a strong track record in business but his heart, and passion, is in the tennis industry.”

Previously, Fonte was at the helm of Companion Systems Inc. and a partner in a strategy consulting group called Business Visions LLC. Before that, he was president of Boston Whaler and was instrumental in the turnaround that led the company to a leadership position in the luxury boating world.

Fonte’s expertise in the tennis arena was groomed as president of Penn Racquet Sports. There he helped the company become the worldwide market leader in its category. Early in his career, he held positions in the home furnishings industry.

“Prince is the kind of company that tennis enthusiasts want to work for,” says Fonte. “Their constant focus on innovation and performance enhancement creates a dynamic, stimulating work environment in which ideas come to life. I have worked with George before and am looking forward to strengthening his team and leveraging the progress they’ve made since the management buy-out, and creating new opportunities moving forward.”

“Doug is going to raise the bar for management excellence,” says Napier.

National Retailer Golfsmith Enters Tennis Market

Golfsmith
Jim Thompson

National golf retailer Golfsmith is entering the tennis market. The company announced in late April that it plans to add tennis centers in up to 60 percent of its stores in major markets by summer.

Recently, Golfsmith began operating tennis centers in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Orlando, and the San Francisco Bay area under the Golfsmith Golf & Tennis brand. Its 2005 plans call for a continued roll out to its stores in Chicago and future locations in Florida. Most of these states fall into the USTA’s top 10 regions for number of tennis players, the company says. Golfsmith operates a total of 47 stores.

“Tennis is a natural complement to our national golf business,” says Jim Thompson (below), president and CEO of Golfsmith, a portfolio company of Atlantic Equity Partners III, L.P., a fund operated by First Atlantic Capital, Ltd. “Tennis consumers will benefit from all the best brands at guaranteed low prices, certified racquet stringing and Golfsmith’s 38 years of quality customer service.”

Golfsmith, in a statement, points to USTA/TIA Participation Studies, which show tennis participation in the U.S. remaining relatively steady at about 24 million players since 2000. The findings indicate that more than 50 percent of those surveyed are regular — or “continuing” — tennis players and are also likely to play golf.

“Golfsmith’s entry into the U.S. tennis market is a positive development for the industry and the health of our game,” says Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the TIA. “Golfsmith’s decision reinforces our belief that tennis is gaining in popularity. We hope to leverage the strength of their national brand to highlight the sport of tennis and ultimately grow the game.”

For tennis consumers, Golfsmith Golf & Tennis will offer certified racquet stringing, in a partnership with the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, and 24-hour turnaround on all stringing services. In addition, the retailer has a “90/90 Playability Guarantee,” in which customers have 90 days to return their tennis racquet purchases and receive an in-store credit for a different racquet worth up to 90 percent of the original purchase price.

“We believe the tennis retail market is very similar to the golf retail market in that there is a strong base of dedicated players, a fragmented national retail market, and the absence of a true national specialty brand,” says Thompson.

Golfsmith, based in Austin, Texas, has “superstores,” which range in size from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, in the following 16 markets: Atlanta (3); Austin (2); Chicago (4); Columbus, Ohio; Dallas (4); Denver (3); Detroit (3); Houston (3); Los Angeles (6); Minneapolis; Moorestown, N.J.; New York (5); Orlando; Phoenix (3); San Diego; and San Francisco (6).

Wilson Expands Partnership With USTA Schools Program

Wilson Racquet Sports has renewed and expanded its support of the USTA’s Schools Program in a multi-year agreement naming Wilson the official racquet supplier. Wilson, which has worked with the Schools Program since its inception, expands its reach by providing custom-designed entry-level racquets to all USTA sections, which are utilized by more than 1.9 million students each year, in more than 6,500 schools.

The USTA Schools Program teaches K-12 students the skills of tennis during physical education class and fosters additional opportunities for children to explore the game in after-school and summer programs. Schools that commit to the program receive complimentary and discounted tennis equipment along with teacher-friendly lesson plans. The program, which was founded in 1985 with Arthur Ashe leading the way, was developed to ensure that every young person be exposed to tennis and have the opportunity to play throughout his or her lifetime.

In addition to racquets, Wilson also supplies transitional balls for teaching, mini-nets, targets, and other teaching aids. The tennis equipment is available to the USTA schools through a special purchase program.

“Wilson’s support of the USA School Tennis Program gives teachers the necessary tools to teach tennis to children using a fun, active curriculum that we are implementing in the schools,” says Jason Jamison, USTA product manager for recreational coaching, who oversees the Schools Program. “The student-friendly equipment being provided helps ensure that children’s first introduction to tennis is a good experience, which helps grow the sport and plays a part in encouraging schoolchildren across the country to be more physically active.”

HEAD’s Radical Junior

New from HEAD is the Radical Junior, a graphite racquet in a junior length that the manufacturer says is the “perfect match to Andre Agassi’s new Flexpoint Radical.” The racquet features a constant 21 mm beam for better control and feel, says Head, along with a 102-square-inch head size. It weighs 9.5 ounces unstrung and has a 1-inch head-light balance. For more information, visit HEAD on the web or call 800-289-7366.

Prince introduces 2 New Frames

Prince Sports recently debuted two new racquets, the Diablo XP and Air DB, that the company says are designed for players of all skill levels.

Prince Diablo XP and Prince Air DB

“We expanded the technology of our traditional DB and Diablo racquets, implementing some of their most effective features, creating two dynamic additions to the Prince line,” says Steve Davis, vice president of Next Generation at Prince. “The Diablo XP is ideal for players with longer, faster strokes who are looking for maximum touch and feel, from a racquet that provides them with the extra punch they desire. The Air DB is for players with moderate to full strokes requiring an extremely comfortable feel, without compromising power and control.”

The Diablo XP features an oversize (107 square inches) and mid-plus (96), both with a 22 mm LongBody box beam cross section. The Air DB features an oversize (110) and mid-plus (100). For more information, contact 800-283-6647 or visit Prince Tennis on the web.

Wilson Sponsors ‘Jensen Brothers Tour’

Wilson Racquet Sports has teamed up with tennis pros Luke and Murphy Jensen to sponsor the “Jensen Brothers Tour,” a series of instructional tennis clinics that are already under way at clubs across the country.

The Jensen Brothers Tour focuses on providing professional instruction for men, women, and juniors at clubs and tennis programs nationwide. Wilson is providing

tennis equipment for the tour, which includes introducing players to its exclusive nCode line of performance racquets.

“The Jensen Brothers Tour is a unique way for Wilson to demonstrate its commitment to providing world-class instruction for players of all levels throughout the country,” says James Burda, national promotions manager for Wilson. “Luke and Murphy Jensen bring such enthusiasm and passion for the sport and are ideal to represent tennis both through their accomplishments and endearing personalities.”

Luke and Murphy Jensen, former Grand Slam Doubles champions, were once ranked No. 4 in the world. The Jensen Brothers are known for their colorful personalities and on-court excitability and continue to play on the ATP Tour. Both are also members of the Wilson Advisory Staff Speaker’s Bureau and Luke is an ESPN analyst.

For more information, visit www.jensenbrothers.com on the web.

PTR Foundation Names New Board of Directors

Professional Tennis Registry

The PTR Foundation, the charitable arm of the Professional Tennis Registry, recently announced its new Board of Directors. PTR Master Professional Scott Tharp of Philadelphia is the new board president. Other board members include Dennis Van der Meer, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Luciano Botti, Marling, Italy; Michael Tomic, Arlington, Va.; and Dr. Jim Loehr, Orlando, Fla.

PTR Foundation, a 501(c)(3), was established in 1979 to raise and distribute funds and tennis equipment to programs in inner-city and rural areas, for wheelchair tennis programs, junior scholarships and other projects. Through the PTR Foundation, ACE Workshops provide teaching certification opportunities to minority participants who agree to reciprocate with 10 hours of tennis instruction to their inner-city youth program. Racquet Roundup, another PTR Foundation program, collects used racquets, has them restrung with strings provided by Gamma and distributes them to programs in need.

And in related news, the PTR Foundation also supported the recent Special Olympics by giving thousands of dollars in equipment to many Special Olympics tennis programs throughout the East. Free equipment included 10 dozen SpeedBalls, six cases of tennis balls, five ball hoppers, a dozen ball pick-up tubes, 49 junior tennis racquets, 58 adult tennis racquets, a Sports Tutor portable ball throwing machine, and a number of pairs of tennis shoes.

The PTR hosted the sixth annual Special Olympics Tennis Championships in March at the Van der Meer Tennis Shipyard Racquet Club on Hilton Head, S.C. More than 220 Special Olympics athletes from 12 states and Switzerland competed in singles, doubles, and individual skills events. PTR is the Official Tennis Training Partner of Special Olympics.

Make e-mail work for you

As more and more clubs and shops make use of the internet to stay in touch with customers, players, and suppliers, e-mail etiquette has become an important part of doing business. Keep these five simple tips in mind when crafting e-mails:

Virginia Club Installs Nova’ProClay

Nova’Pro Tennis Surfaces installed its Nova’ProClay surface at the four courts at the Indian Creek Yacht & Racquet Club in Kilmarnock, Va. It is the same surface that is installed at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Rick Burke of Novagrass says the patented clay surface can be played on year-round. “In fact, [Indian Creek staff] played on it in rainy conditions last autumn and liked it so much they decided to convert their four courts,” he says. The surface, says Burke, requires very little water, “just to dampen the Har-Tru on top.”

Indian Creek’s indoor facility has Nova’ProBounce cushioned hard courts. For more information, contact 800-835-0033 or visit NovaGrass on the web.

WTT Kicks Off 30th Pro Season

The 30th season of World TeamTennis action kicks off with the battle of the Martinas, the first singles match between tennis legend Martina Navratilova and her namesake, former world No. 1 Martina Hingis. The duo, which never played each other in WTA Tour singles competition, is expected to face off July 7 in Boston.

The schedule for the 2005 WTT Pro League presented by Advanta, includes 84 matches in 12 markets July 4 to 24. The top two teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences advance to the WTT Finals, this year to be held Sept. 16-17 in Sacramento, Calif.

For complete WTT schedules and rosters of pro players, visit WTT on the web.

Zvonareva, Kirkland Join Gamma String Team

Vera Zvonareva Jessica Kirkland

WTA players Vera Zvonareva and Jessica Kirkland are the newest pros on the Gamma String Team. Zvonareva, ranked No. 10 in singles, is playing with Gamma’s Zo Sweet string, while Kirkland, a rising young American, is using Gamma’s new Prodigy. Both players, who also use Fischer racquets, use Gamma Supreme Overgrip. Each member of the Gamma String Team will have a red dot on his strings, the new symbol for Gamma High Performance Strings. For more information, visit Gamma Sports on the web, e-mail tsr@gammasports.com, or call 800-333-0337 or 412-323-0335.

Short Sets

New Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center

Construction has begun on the new, state-of-the-art Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center in Philadelphia, an $11.5 million project expected to open in January. The center is being built on 9.2 acres at Fairmount Park’s Gustine Lake site and will feature eight indoor courts, eight all-weather outdoor courts including a stadium court, and a two-story area encompassing more than 10,000 square feet that will allow AAYTE to centralize its program and administrative offices as well as house locker rooms, a weight room, a library, the Arthur Ashe Reading is Fundamental Room and areas for meetings, study, service and storage. AAYTE currently serves more than 8,200 children.

Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center

USRSA Creates ‘Racquets Network’

On the heels of the successful Grommets Network, in which U.S. Racquet Stringers Association members can list grommets that they’re looking for, then receive a response from another member who has the grommets, the USRSA now introduces its Racquets Network, to help members locate out-of-production frames.

“Similar to the Grommets Network, involvement in the Racquets Network requires very little effort, and no cost, to members,” says Dave Bone, executive director of the USRSA. “Any member looking for a frame will simply send an e-mail to racquets@usrsa.com with the name of the frame they’re looking for. Then we’ll send that e-mail to all the members on the Racquets list. If you have that particular racquet, you can contact the member directly to arrange shipping and payment.”

The USRSA won’t be involved in the transactions and will not receive anything from the sales.

U.S. Sweeps Belgium in Fed Cup

Lindsay Davenport led the U.S. to a 5-0 victory over Belgium in the Fed Cup quarterfinals, played in April at Delray Beach, Fla. The U.S. team, which also consisted of Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Corina Morariu, and Captain Zina Garrison, will now face defending champion Russia in the semifinals, July 9-10, in Russia. The Russian squad could feature Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova, and Maria Sharapova.

Distance Learning Offered by USPTA

From the Court to the Classroom USPTA Specialty Course Series On Court with USPTA

The USPTA is offering DVDs and CDs of some of the best one-hour seminars and four-hour specialty courses presented at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis. Many presentations also apply to professionals in a wider club and public park industry, not just tennis.

Presentation topics include tennis business management, wheelchair tennis, training systems and more, along with topics that may appeal to a non-tennis audience, such as programming success by being smart and acting fast, addressing the top member complaints, creating your own professional compass, and making a pro shop (retail outlet) profitable. Speakers include Jack Groppel, Ph.D., Jim Loehr, Ed.D., and Jill Fonte — all USPTA members who regularly speak to general business groups.

Each video DVD and audio CD is available from USPTA at usprotennisshop.com. A selection of books also is available. And, available free, in the Education section of uspta.com, are audio presentations of seminars from the 2003 and earlier World Conferences.

The 2005 USPTA World Conference on Tennis will be Sept. 17 to 24 at Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Marco Island, Fla. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit USPTA on the web.

TWC Ad Campaign Hits the Streets

The Tennis Welcome Center campaign blasted out to consumers once again this spring, with key visibility in many markets, and timed to coincide with the National Tennis Month (May) Block Parties in markets across the country.

The national newspaper and magazine advertising campaign included 1.5 million inserts into USA Today in early May. Also, there were 4.5 million eight-page inserts into other newspapers.

Ads in magazines reached more than 9 million households. The ads appeared in Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Shape, Family Circle, Runner’s World, Women’s Health & Fitness, Vibe, and The Sporting News.

To become a TWC or to learn more about the program, visit Tennis Welcome Center on the web.

‘One-on-One Doubles’ In College Tennis

Ed Krass, director of the College Tennis Academy, is integrating his new game, “One-on-One Doubles,” into two fall 2005 collegiate tournaments. One-on-One Doubles is a half-court, serve-and-volley competition played crosscourt. Players must serve and volley on both first and second serves.

The first collegiate tournament to use the format took place on April 5 at Drew University, hosted by coach Ira Miller. “One-on-One Doubles provided a great opportunity to play a lot of matches that worked on doubles skills, but had the feel of singles play,” says Miller. “The response from players and coaches was overwhelmingly positive.”

For more information, call 800-446-2238 or visit One-on-One Doubles on the web.

Cardio Tennis Workshops Scheduled in 20 Communities

Have you signed up to be a Cardio Tennis site? Do you want to learn more about this new program — to be launched at the US Open this year — that’s designed to give players of all abilities a high-energy workout and should help to boost your business?

Cardio Tennis

To get ready for the fall consumer push, the TIA is conducting 20 Cardio Tennis workshops this summer at sites across the country. The four-hour workshops are free to participants from approved Cardio Tennis sites. The first 20 participants to sign up for each workshop also will receive free Polar heart rate monitors (a $79.99 value) and other gifts.

“These exciting workshops will provide an in-depth look at the new Cardio Tennis program,” says TIA President Jim Baugh. “The workshops, conducted by TIA staff and key members of the Cardio Tennis ‘Speakers Team,’ will include seminars and on-court demonstrations and approaches. The workshops are for professionals at approved sites only. We want everyone to be ready to deliver a great Cardio Tennis experience when our marketing starts this fall.”

USTA image 28

Key topics to be covered in the workshops include:

If you are interested in being a Cardio Tennis site, visit www.Partners.CardioTennis.com, where you can request a Cardio Tennis DVD. Every site then must view the entire DVD to get their personal code, which is needed when filling out the on-line application. If you are already a Cardio Tennis site and want to sign up for a workshop, see the schedule below.

For more information, please contact the TIA at info@cardiotennis.com, go to Cardio Tennis on the web, or call the TIA toll-free at 866-686 3036.

Cardio Tennis Workshop Schedule

City/Location Date Contact # Coordinator Time
Hilton Head Island
USPTA Southern Meeting
May 20 800-43-USPTA Fred Burdick 1 - 5
St. Louis
Creve Coeur Racquet Club
June 2 314-434-0344 Carey Powell 11-3
Denver
Greenwood Athletic Club
June 3 303-695-4116 ext 300 Kristy Harris 12-4
Boston
Cedardale Health & Ath. Club
June 9 978-373-1596 Adam Molda 8-12
New York
National Tennis Center
June 10 718-760-6200
mountford@usta.com
Bill Mountford 8-12
Chicago
Midtown Tennis Club
June 28 773-235-2300 Jeff Long TBD
Philadelphia
Greenville Country Club
July 8 302-654-8691 Mark Centrella 5-8
Baltimore/Washington DC
TBD
July 9 410-296-2100
lmorrell@tennispatrons.org
Lynn Morrell TBD
Indianapolis
Barbara S. Wayne Ten. Center
July 9 317-259-5377 Spencer Fields TBD
Cincinnati
Western Ten. & Fitness Club
July 10 513-451-4233
angelawilson@westerntfc.com
Angela Wilson 10-2
San Diego
Balboa Tennis Club
July 17 619-291-5248 Geoff Griffin TB
Stanford
Taube Tennis Centeer
July 23 510-748-7373 USTA Nor Cal 10-2
Los Angeles Tennis Center
(UCLA Campus)
July 24 310-208-3838
marthak@scta.usta.com
Martha Katsufrakis 2-6
Orlando
Mission Inn
July 30 352-324-2024 ext 7145 Cesar Villarroel 9-1
Fort Lauderdale
Jimmy Evert Tennis Center
July 31 954-828-5379 Whitney Kraft 8-12
Atlanta
Crooked Creek Tennis
Aug. 5 770-569-1401 Heather Silvia TBD
Seattle
Robinswood Tennis Center
Aug. 13 425-452-7690 John Soriano TBD
Houston
Royal Oaks Country Club
Aug. TBD cpendrys@royaloakscc.com Craig Pendry TBD
Hilton Head Island
PTR Int. Headquarters
Sept. 24 1-800-421-6289 Julie Jillie TBD
Minneapolis TBD TBD

Go to Workshop.CardioTennis.com for a complete listing and up-to-date information.

Note: schedule, locations, and times may change.

Peoplewatch

TIA Enhances TWC Website

Consumers visiting TennisWelcomeCenter.com now will have an easier time navigating the site and finding out more detailed programming information. Enhancements by the TIA allow teaching pros and facilities to list beginner programs in a format that will provide in-depth information, which will help new players get started and also encourage repeat visits to see new seasonal postings. In addition, a toll-free customer-service line will be added to help consumers locate programs.

Tennis Welcome Center

Consumers will still type in their ZIP code or city/state to see a list of official TWCs, but the more complete information they receive will be easier to navigate by clicking on “tabs.” Facilities can list their entry-level programs along with all their events, and the facilities themselves can easily update this information.

Specific changes include a more detailed Facility Listing display, which now can include details such as staff certification, number and type of courts, links to finding a game, and driving directions. Under the “Play” tab, facilities can list details of their beginner programs, including times and cost, along with other programs offered.

The “Feedback” tab allows for quality control, says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “If someone has a problem, they can e-mail us, and we’ll contact the site,” she says. “There is also a star rating system once they’ve taken part in a program at that facility.”

LSI’s Aerosystem Garners Top Rating

LSI Aerosystem

LSI Courtsider Sports Lighting’s Aerosystem court lighting fixture has received an IP65 rating by the International Electrotechnical Commission. The IP65 rating indicates that the Aerosystem has met stringent standards that apply to the prevention of dust and moisture entering into the fixture. “The Aerosystem is the only lighting product in the tennis industry to offer this certified rating,” the company said in a statement.

In other news from LSI, the company has introduced a new, interactive feature on its website, courtsider.com, called “Create-A-Court,” which allows users to customize a lighting plan appropriate for a specific tennis facility. Users select the parameters that best describe the facility, then the suggested lighting design comes up in a PDF format that can be viewed, e-mailed, or printed easily. The feature also works for basketball, volleyball, and hockey applications.

 


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