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USTA Commits $1.5 Million to New ‘Tennis in the Parks’

The USTA will invest $1.5 million in new funding to support public parks tennis facility improvements, renovations, and new construction projects to provide more and enhanced tennis venues for increased playing opportunities. The funding of the “Tennis in the Parks” initiative follows the USTA’s recent announcement of a $10 million “Grow the Game” fund created to develop new programs to increase player participation and raise the profile of tennis in the U.S.

The new initiative includes a local community advocacy component, in which USTA-provided grants will be matched on the local level, with the total investment in the sport totaling $7.5 million in working dollars. This 20-fold increase in financial support from last year will impact more than 1,000 outdoor and indoor public facilities and thousands of courts. More than 70 percent of recreational tennis in the U.S. is played on public courts.

These grants can be applied toward new construction, reconstruction, or facility improvements, contingent upon ongoing programming, coaching and maintenance commitments at the local facilities.

“The revitalization of tennis in our public parks, where the majority of the sport is played at the grassroots level, is critical to the growth strategy for tennis,” says Franklin R. Johnson, USTA chairman of the board and president. “I have made this the key focus of my presidency.”

For more information on USTA Public Facility Funding, e-mail facilityfunding@usta.com. These public tennis facility funds will be awarded in three grant cycles during 2005.

Teaching Pros to Gather in NYC for 2005 TTC

Todd MartinFormer pro and perennial US Open favorite Todd Martin will be the keynote speaker at the 35th annual USA Tennis Teachers Conference, to be held Aug. 27 to 30 at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City, just as the US Open gets under way.

The theme of this year’s TTC is “Can we play now?” and it’s designed to help teaching pros and coaches instruct people to play tennis, administer programs, and manage their businesses and careers. While technical instruction is an important part of learning tennis, simply “playing” the game is key, and that’s the focus of many of the presentations and seminars at this year’s event.

Seminars and on-court demonstrations will be presented by experienced teachers and coaches such as Eliot Teltscher, Greg Patton, Rodney Harmon, Wayne Bryan, Steve Bellamy, Donna Yuritic, Craig Tiley, and others. Some sessions, including a session on Cardio Tennis, will be held at the USTA National Tennis Center, site of the US Open, in nearby Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Free transportation between the Grand Hyatt and the NTC is included.

Register for the full three days by Aug. 9 for $200; after that date, it’s $255. Single-day registration is also available, as are group rates. Also, attendees are eligible for discounted rates at the Grand Hyatt ($168 per night, not including taxes), access to US Open tickets, welcome receptions sponsored by the USTA and PTR, and daily continental breakfast. There also is a trade show during the conference.

The TTC draws more than 700 tennis teachers and coaches from across the country and around the world. For more information, e-mail TTC@usta.com or call 914-696-7004. To register online, visit the Teachers Tennis Conference on the web.

ATP to Implement Changes in Pro Doubles

ATP doubles changes

Starting in September, ATP tournaments will feature changes to doubles that the ATP says are designed to appeal to fans and better showcase the doubles game. ATP doubles matches at many fall tournaments will feature no-ad games and sets played to five games rather than six, with a tie-break at 4-4. Possible set scores will be 5-0, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3 and 5-4.

The ATP says that scheduling policies will be changed to ensure that more doubles will be prominently featured on show courts for spectators and TV viewers alike. The ATP and tournaments also are developing a variety of promotional initiatives to showcase doubles and increase its appeal to fans and sponsors.

Many of the changes, approved by the ATP Board at Wimbledon, were initially recommended by a Research & Development Doubles Project Team chaired by Horst Klosterkemper, ATP president Europe and player relations. It included player representatives, tournament directors, and ATP staff and evaluated data from surveys from four groups: fans, players, media, and tournaments.

“All groups clearly acknowledged that doubles is an important part of tennis, but believe some enhancements were necessary,” Klosterkemper says. “Singles players said they would consider playing doubles on a more consistent basis if changes were made, citing the length of matches, which average more than 90 minutes, and scheduling difficulties as reasons for the lack of participation. The project team not only found remedies for these challenges, but also identified some format changes that will broaden the appeal of the game for fans.”

USTA, Amex Sign New US Open Agreement

The USTA and American Express announced a new sponsorship and marketing agreement extending American Express’s designation as the “Official Card” and “Official Travelers Cheque” of the US Open. In the new agreement, American Express also becomes an “Official Sponsor of the US Open Series,” the six-week summer tennis season that links all major North American tournaments to the US Open.

The first program under the extended relationship was the option for Amex card holders to buy tickets to the US Open in early June, before sale to the general public. Also, Amex offered a buy-one ticket, get-one-free deal for the first three evening sessions in certain seating areas.

“The US Open is a premier sporting event, and we are pleased to extend our long-standing commitment to the USTA,” says Nancy Smith, Amex’s vice president of Global Media and Sponsorship Marketing. “Bringing special access and experiences to cardmembers at the US Open is one of the many ways we recognize and reward our cardmembers.”

In recent years, the USTA and American Express have developed extensive marketing initiatives designed to elevate the profile of the sport and enhance the experience of the US Open, including US Open-themed advertising and significant cardmember benefits. American Express again will sponsor Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess on Saturday, Aug. 27, a full-day tennis and music festival for children and families.

Prince Offers Its First Tennis Ball

Prince Sports has introduced a new tennis ball — the Prince Tour. The company says the Prince Tour ball, which is Prince’s first foray into the tennis ball category, is a premium grade, consistent, long-lasting ball.

Prince tennis balls

The Prince Tour, which is USTA-approved, incorporates a hi-vis woven felt for optimal visibility and a longer-lasting, dynamic core for extended play, says the company, and the balls are hand-covered for consistent quality. The Tour ball is offered in Extra Duty felt for hard-court use, Regular Duty felt for soft courts, and a High Altitude Extra Duty felt for areas above 3,500 feet.

For more information, contact 800-283-6647 or Prince Tennis on the web.

MassMutual, Through USTA T&EF, Commits $525,000 for College Scholarships

The MassMutual Foundation for Hartford Inc. and the USTA Tennis & Education Foundation have awarded $5,000 college scholarships to 35 high school seniors across the U.S. The honorees were selected by the USTA T&EF on the basis of their commitment to academic success, their local community, and the game of tennis.

The MassMutual Foundation is supporting the USTA T&EF with 35 college scholarships annually for the next three years, for a total contribution of $525,000. Each year, at least one scholarship will be awarded in each of the USTA’s 17 sections throughout the country. The program builds upon MassMutual’s current association with the USTA as a USTA Corporate Champion sponsor of the US Open.

Through all organization-wide educational initiatives, MassMutual and the MassMutual Foundation are providing nearly $900,000 in scholarship funding to students in 2005.

Wilson Offers Crossfire Two Shoe

Wilson’s latest tennis shoe for men, the Crossfire Two, includes Wilson’s DST 3X technology, which the company says offers three times the cushioning comfort in the core and forefoot for maximum shock absorption and to aid quick-moving players on the court. The Crossfire Two is designed for all-around tournament players. It retails for $199.99 in a white/black/silver color combination. Visit Wilson Tennis on the web.

Wilson Crossfire Two

WTT to Use Hawk-Eye Instant Replay

Hawk-Eye will provide instant replay technology for the World TeamTennis Coaches Challenge for selected regular season WTT Pro League matches as well as the WTT Finals. WTT officials selected Hawk-Eye as the official instant replay technology of the World TeamTennis Pro League following several months of research and testing.

WTT Advanta

The WTT Coaches Challenge allows teams to challenge calls during a match utilizing the Hawk-Eye system. Established in 2001, Hawk-Eye uses a refined image processing technique that converts the tennis action, recorded by on-court cameras, into a highly detailed computer-imaging model. Unique to the computer-generated model of Hawk-Eye is the ability to analyze a shot from various angles and varying speeds.

Although instant replay has been tested in tennis and used in exhibitions, the WTT Pro League presented by Advanta will be the first time a challenge can be issued from the court in pro tennis competition.

In other WTT news, the Houston Wranglers have named John Lucas as their new head coach. Lucas, a former player and coach in the NBA, played WTT with the Golden Gaters from 1976 to ‘77 and with the Sun Belt Nets in 1978. The Hartford FoxForce have named Aleco Preovolos as its 2005 head coach. Preovolos was a four-year All-American and Hall of Fame inductee at the University of California-Davis.

Agenda Set for USPTA World Conference

USPTA

Nick Bollettieri, Mary Carillo, Allen Fox, Jack Groppel, Tom Gullikson, Rodney Harmon, Rick Macci, and Brenda Schultz-McCarthy are among the featured speakers at the 2005 USPTA World Conference on Tennis. Also featured are Jim Baugh, Jill Fonte, Brett Hobden, and Luis Mediero.

The conference will be held Sept. 17 to 24 at the Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Marco Island, Fla. Most major events — including night-time parties, national awards presentation, buying show and silent auction — are Wednesday through Saturday, Sept. 21-24. The $30,000 International Championships begin Sept. 17. In addition, more than 50 seminars and specialty courses will be presented.

“We have been able to strengthen our agenda the past few years by holding more general sessions, with the help of outstanding speakers focused on modern tennis and because of feedback from members,” says USPTA CEO Tim Heckler.

USPTA members and nonmembers are welcome. Registration fees before Sept. 1 are $285 and $325, respectively. Special rates are offered for spouses and children. Registration includes seminars and general sessions, dinner parties, the awards breakfast and buying show entry. For more information, visit USPTA on the web or call 800-877-8248.

USTA Creates New Community Tennis Development Position

Virgil Christian

Virgil Christian has been named director of Community Tennis Development for the USTA. In this newly created position, he will be responsible for strategic planning of community tennis development at schools, parks, colleges, Community Tennis Associations and the nationwide network of 2,800 Tennis Welcome Centers.

In addition, Christian will further develop partnerships with national organizations as well as the USTA’s 17 sections. He will report to Scott Schultz, the managing director of recreational tennis.

“Virgil is highly regarded for his proven ability to develop and grow tennis in communities by establishing partnerships with local agencies and constituencies,” says Schultz. “His expertise in community development will help support all 17 USTA sections in their efforts to create effective and self-sustaining Community Tennis Associations.”

Most recently, Christian served as director of tennis for the Cary Tennis Center in Cary, N.C., where he was responsible for tennis programming and teaching at over 50 courts citywide. He also directed several major events including the USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 Women’s Challenger. Prior to joining the Cary Tennis Center, Christian served as executive director of the Development Authority in Peachtree City, Ga., and director of tennis for the Peachtree City Tennis Center.

Short Sets

Prince Introduces New O3 Blue

Prince O3 BluePrince Sports’ O3 Blue is the fourth addition to the Prince O3 family of racquets. The new frame is 110 square inches and, says the company, offers “the ultimate combination of more power and enhanced maneuverability and comfort for players looking for a soft, velvety feel.”

Like the entire O3 line of racquets, O3 Blue utilizes Prince’s proprietary O-Port technology. Prince re-engineered traditional small string holes into giant O-Ports, providing a livelier response across the entire string bed, says the company, and expanding the sweetspot up to 54 percent. O-Ports also act as “wind tunnels,” says Prince, to reduce aerodynamic drag, creating a quick and maneuverable frame that produces a faster swing speed for more aggressive play.

“The addition of O3 Blue will allow players of all levels and skills to find the perfect racquet to enhance their game,” says Howard Lay, vice president of product development at Prince. “Feel is the best part about O3 Blue. The curved shaft of this racquet provides just enough flex to soften any off-center hit.”

For more information, contact 800-283-6647 or visit Prince Tennis on the web.

ATP Picks Gerflor Taraflex Surface

The ATP announced a three-year partnership with Gerflor, manufacturer of indoor sports surfaces. Under the agreement, Gerflor’s Taraflex will become the “Official ATP Court Surface.” The ATP also has selected Taraflex as the court surface for the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai from 2005 to 2007.

Gerflor has supplied indoor surfaces for the Olympic Games and many indoor World Championships. Taraflex, an indoor synthetic surface, has been the official surface used at the BNP Paribas Masters for the past 15 years, the Grand Prix de Tennis de Lyon for 18 years, the Kremlin Cup in Moscow since 2001, and, since last year, the St. Petersburg Open.

The ATP, in a statement, says its selection of Taraflex was “motivated by the technology used to manufacture the Taraflex surface. The technology provides an ideal compromise between comfort, shock absorption and high performance, allowing players to perform at a world-class level while preserving their physical condition.”

Penn Introduces New Pro Penn Encore

Pro Penn Encore

Penn introduces its new Pro Penn tennis ball, featuring Encore Technology, which the company says makes it last 33 percent longer, and Smart Optik felt, for greater visibility.

Encore Technology is Pro Penn’s new core compound that maximizes longer-lasting playing properties, says Penn. By using a proprietary blend of natural and man-made polymers, ball softening is limited and the core stays fresher longer, the company says.

Penn says its tests show that after 30 minutes of play, new Pro Penn shows significantly less ball softening than original Pro Penn, and after five weeks of being out of the can, new Pro Penn Encore is just as lively as the original Pro Penn was after just 30 minutes of play. In addition, new Pro Penn Encore features Smart Optik felt, which Penn says measures 19 percent brighter than a standard tennis ball for greater visibility, enhanced accuracy, and set-up time.

“Tennis balls that play like new longer and are easier to see will make tennis more fun and successful for players of all levels,” says Jennifer Parker, business manager for Penn Tennis Balls. “Our clear goal remains offering tennis players a ball that will help them play their best tennis.”

For more information, visit Penn on the web.

Osborn Named Regional V.P. at Prince Sports

Charles Osborne

Charles Osborn is the new regional vice president for the Northeast Division of Prince Sports, responsible for leading the region’s sales team. Osborn joins Prince after nearly 20 years at Wilson Sporting Goods, where he was the director of national sales for the racquet division.

“Charlie’s energy, commitment and follow-through make him an exceptional addition to our team,” says Doug Fonte, president of Prince Sports, USA. “We look forward to using his expertise to strengthen the Prince brand and continue the company’s successes.”

Early in his career, Osborn served as a teaching professional at various clubs throughout New England. He has also been a top-ranked singles and doubles player in both the USTA New England Section as well as at the national level.

Mary Pierce Wins With Lejay

Wearing a two-piece outfit from Lejay, Mary Pierce powered her way to the French Open final in June. She also wore Lejay outfits at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. For more information on Lejay and its apparel products, contact 800-932-7535.

Mary Pierce

US Open Men’s Winner to Receive New Lexus

The USTA and Lexus signed a multi-year worldwide marketing partnership that designates Lexus the “Presenting Sponsor of the US Open Men’s Singles Championship” and the “Official Vehicle of the US Open.”

The new three-year agreement includes a significant on-site presence at the US Open, national TV media commitments, an extensive presence on USOpen.org, and all transportation services for the more than 250 athletes participating in the US Open. Lexus is the USTA’s sixth Corporate Champion.

Lexus will award an all-new 2006 Lexus GS 430 to the men’s singles champion of the US Open — -a US Open first. The same vehicle won by the champion will be on display during the two-week tournament with other Lexus vehicles on the grounds of the USTA National Tennis Center.

Prince Launches New Quiktrac GT Shoe

Prince Sports debuts its new performance footwear, the Quiktrac GT, which the company says is designed to compliment its O3 engineered racquets.

Prince Quiktrac GT

“Just as the O3 racquets are top of the line, the GT shoe offers the best in performance and stability — with a stylish design to perfectly coordinate with the O3 racquets,” says Gary Wakley, senior director of footwear and apparel at Prince.

The Quiktrac GT has the stylistic features of Prince’s O3 racquets, displaying the unique visual cue of the racquets, the O-ports, in the upper of the shoe and color-coordinating with the racquets. The shoes provide extreme comfort and support, the company says.

The new shoe is part of the QT Series, and Prince says it’s ideal for players who demand lightweight comfort. The shoe is built on Goodyear Max outsoles, with DSS (Dynamic Suspension System) that the company says provides exceptional support, traction, and durability for all players.

The GT comes in a low- and midcut for both men and women and is available in white with silver or blue accents for women and white with red, navy or black accents for men. For more information, visit Prince Tennis on the web.

Penn Racquet Sports Named Tops in Arizona

Penn Racquet Sports has been named No. 1 in the eighth annual edition of Ranking Arizona: The Best of Arizona Business. More than 5,000 Arizona businesses, in more than 200 business and leisure categories, are included in The Best of Arizona Business, which is the largest business opinion poll taken in the state.

The results were determined by Arizona residents who cast their votes online at azbusinessmagazine.com. Penn shared the category of “Manufacturing: Non-Electronic” with companies such as Ping, Shamrock Foods, Watson Pharmaceuticals, and Holsum Bakery Inc. Last year, Penn, which is based in Phoenix, was ranked fifth in the poll.

Gamma Sports Teams With Slinghopper

Gamma and SlinghopperGamma Sports will be the exclusive distributor for SlingHopper Drill Bags. “We have a long history of supporting tennis professionals and players with innovative teaching and training aids,” says Gamma President Matt Ferrari. “SlingHopper is another extension of that support.”

“We believe that Gamma is the right company to get SlingHopper Drill Bags on the court,” says Slinghopper President Paul Tobin.

The products include the SlingHopper Pro Drill Bag, which holds 40 balls and is designed for conducting active drills, and the SlingHopper Rally Ball Bag, which holds 20 balls and is designed to allow the pro more mobility. Both bags are available in right-hand and left-hand models.

For more information, contact Gamma at 800-333-0337 or visit Gamma Sports or Slinghopper on the web.

Diadora Acquires Kaelin License

Diadora America Inc., based in Kent, Wash., recently acquired the Kaelin license from Ermine Investments of California. Under the licensing agreement, Diadora now has the worldwide license (excluding Japan) for the Kaelin brand.

Diadora President Bill Nuttall says that Diadora can now produce product under the Kaelin name while consolidating its already established sourcing, customer service, account-base and other operational functions. “Kaelin has a great reputation in the tennis business,” he says. “And it’s a reputation we will live up to by adhering to the quality and performance standards Kaelin customers expect.”

Peoplewatch

Wilson Debuts New Line of Tour Bags

Wilson Racquet Sports debuted a new line of Tour bags at Wimbledon, which features an updated look and new technology to better protect players’ equipment, says the company.

Wilson Thermoguard Tour bags

The new Tour line features the classic Wilson red with additional touches of black and white incorporated into the design. The new Tour bag is used by Justine Henin-Hardenne, Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and others. All ATP and WTA Wilson touring professionals will be upgraded to the new version.

The Tour bag features Wilson’s patented Thermoguard, which insulates the bag to protect racquets from extreme heat, and Moisture Guard, which keeps equipment safe from moisture. Bags feature no-slip shoulder straps, padded carry handles and a variety of compartments, including a shoe and wet pocket compartment.

The Tour line is available in several different models including the Pro ($79.99), Super Six ($74.99), Six Pack ($59.99), Court ($49.99), Triple ($39.99) and Backpack ($39.99).

Dunlop Launches New I.C.E. Squash Frame

Dunlop’s new I.C.E. Elite Jonathon Power Signature squash racquet debuts in August. It’s the same racquet that Canadian Jonathon Power used in stringing together a winning streak that returned him to world squash prominence.

Power, who finished the season No. 4 in the Dunlop PSA World Squash Rankings, has not lost since he started playing with the I.C.E. Elite Jonathon Power Signature racquet prior to capturing the Bermuda Masters title. He went on to win the Canadian Nationals and defeated No. 1-ranked Thierry Lincou of France at the Brit Insurance Super Series Finals in London.

“The I.C.E. Elite Jonathon Power Signature racquet features a forgiving 500-square-centimeter head that allows great control while providing added power at the same time,” says Stephen Hall, director of Racquet Sport Sales for Focus Golf Systems Inc., the exclusive licensee for Dunlop golf and racquet sports in North America.

Power’s strong finish highlighted a season that also saw Dunlop competitor Alana Miller take the No. 2 spot in the women’s Canadian Squash Championships and junior players Keith Pritchard and Stephanie Edmison claim the No. 1 ranking in Canada’s men’s and women’s under-19 championships, respectively.

In addition to Power, Lee Beachill of England, who plays the Dunlop I.C.E. Tour racquet, is at No. 2, according to recent Dunlop PSA World Squash Rankings.

 

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