Tennis Industry magazine

 

Industry News

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Wilson Racquet Sports Releases Three New [K]Factor Frames

Wilson Racquet Sports has made public three of its new [K]Factor racquets, which debuted for sale online in late January, timed to World No. 1 Roger Federer switching to one of the frames for the Australian Open. The company, however, has been keeping secret the technology behind the frames until its official “launch” in late February in Las Vegas, reportedly with about 500 dealers, staff, and media from around the world in what Wilson is calling the largest global racquet launch ever.

The new frames that hit the market in January are the [K] Six.One Tour, the [K] Six.One 95, and the [K] Six.One Team. Federer is using the [K] Six.One Tour, and the consumer version will have the same specs as what Federer uses, and it will be the only model to feature his signature. At press time, the company only released specs on these three frames. For more, visit wilson.com.

[K] Six.One Tour
Swing: Fast and long
Power: Low
Headsize: 90 sq. in.
Strung Weight: 12.5 oz.
Length: 27 in.
String Pattern: 16 × 19
Balance: 9 points head light
Cross Section: 17 mm. flat beam

[K] Six.One 95
Swing: Fast and long
Power: Low
Headsize: 95 sq. in.
Strung Weight: 12.3 oz.
Length: 27 in./27 in./27.5
String Pattern: 16 × 19/18 × 20/16 × 18
Balance: 9 points head light
Cross Section: 22 mm. flat beam

[K] Six.One Team
Swing: Medium
Power: Medium
Headsize: 100 sq. in.
Strung Weight: 10.5 oz.
Length: 27 in.
String Pattern: 16 × 19
Balance: 1 point head light
Cross Section: 21 mm.

Head Debuts New Rebranding Campaign

Head recently released its new “rebranding” campaign, which gives the global brand a new corporate identity that will be carried through to all products, point-of-sale materials, apparel, accessories and more. The campaign was unveiled to the sales staff at a meeting in mid-January.

Head rebranding

“We did a lot of research on where we were as a brand,” says Megan Costello, Head’s communications manager. “We’ve always been a competitive brand, but the perception was that we were lacking ‘emotion’ and ‘passion’ — those two words didn’t come up enough in the research. Now, we’ve given the Head brand a complete new look.”

The new branding campaign starts with a new, eye-catching flagship color: orange. “It will set us apart from the competition and make our brand stick out,” says Costello. “It’s activating, fresh, and spontaneous. When you see the color orange, you’ll think of Head.”

Also key is a revamped Head icon, sometimes called a “wishbone” or “ski tip.” The new image is shorter, thicker, and more solid. “It’s more dynamic, more visible, and more impactful,” says Costello, “and is designed to be instantly recognizable yet innovative at the same time.”

Costello says that research indicated consumers perceived Head as very masculine, technical, and discipline- and performance-oriented, but lacking in “contemporary emotive values,” such as spontaneity, adventure, courage, and individualism. The new rebranding campaign took shape after work with external brand consultants.

The new Head logo, icon, and color will carry through to all product packaging, such as for strings and grips, along with racquet header cards and stencils. All point-of-sale materials such as banners and display cards will also be revamped with the new image.

For dealers, Head has created a new website — headpenngallery.net — to download all the new logos and new product images.

Prince’s O3 Speedport Hits the Road

Players of all levels will have a chance to get on the court with the new O3 Speedport when Prince takes the racquet line on the road for a 24-city tour called the O3 Speed Challenge.

Players and members of the media will get the opportunity to try out O3 Speedport and receive personalized, on-court equipment advice. Prince teaching pros will be on hand to give players the same attention that touring pros receive to help them improve their games. All participants will receive a free gift from Prince at the event.

The O3 Speedport racquets (O3 Speedport Silver, Red, and Blue) hit retail in January. Prince says that they are up to 24 percent faster through the air than traditional frames due to deceased wind resistance because of the redesigned, larger string holes, or “speedports.” This allows players to get their racquets in position faster, make better ball contact, and hit cleaner shots, says the company.

Prince O3 Speedport Blue

The O3 Speed Challenge kicked off Feb. 2 at the Sea Cliff Country Club in Huntington Beach, Calif. The tour includes stops at the following:

Boca Raton, Fla. 2/23/07 Patch Reef Park
Burr Ridge, Ill. 3/2/07 Five Seasons Tennis Club
Mobile, Ala. 3/3/07 Mobile Tennis Center/Novak Tennis
San Francisco 3/10/07 Cuesta Park Tennis Center
Atlanta 3/10/07 North Fulton Tennis Center
Dallas 3/12/07 T Bar M
San Diego 3/12/07 Balboa Tennis Club
Raleigh, N.C. 3/17/07 North Hills Country Club
Manchester, Mass. 4/13/07 Manchester Athletic Club
Denver 4/14/07 Gates Tennis Center
Kansas City, Mo. 4/18/07 The Plaza Tennis Center
Eden Prairie, Minn. 4/21/07 Lifetime Eden Prairie
Rochester, Minn. 4/22/07 Rochester Athletic Club
Midland, Mich. 5/15/07 Midland Community Tennis Center
Cincinnati 6/7/07 Harper’s Point Tennis Center

Other cities still to be scheduled include Phoenix; Philadelphia; Seattle; Princeton, N.J.; Houston; Guilford, Conn.; Honolulu; and Chicago. Visit princetennis.com/o3speedport for more information.

Sampras Leads 2007 Hall of Fame Inductees

Pete Sampras, winner of a record 14 Grand Slam singles championships, and Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario, three-time French Open singles champion and the first Spanish woman to capture the US Open, have been elected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Also being inducted this year are Sweden’s first grand slam title winner, Sven Davidson, and the “dean” of tennis photography, Russ Adams.

Pete Sampras

The 2007 induction ceremony will be held Saturday, July 14, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. As part of Hall of Fame Weekend festivities, Sampras will participate in the Hall of Fame Classic tennis exhibition on July 15 prior to the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championship singles and doubles title matches.

For information or tickets, visit tennisfame.com or call 866-914-FAME (3263).

Classic Turf Adds Personnel

Classic Turf Co. of Woodbury, Conn., has expanded its engineering and sales/marketing staff, says company president Tumer H. Eren (center in photo). Joining the company recently are John Eren (far right), vice president/engineer, and Tom Tarantino (far left), sales and marketing manager.

Classic Turf

John Eren graduated from Northeastern University in 2005 with a degree in civil engineering and a minor in business administration. He previously worked for J.L. Marshall and Sons of Seekonk, Mass., as an engineer and project manager specializing in concrete design and construction. Tarantino joins Classic Turf from Liddell Brothers of Halifax, Mass., a construction company specializing in asphalt and concrete work.

Classic Turf produces a cushioned sheet-goods product for tennis courts and other sports applications that is designed to be waterproof, yet breathable. For more information about Classic Turf products, contact 203-263-0800, 800-246-7951 or visit Classicturf.org.

3rd Generation Righter Joins Nova Sports

Nova Sports USA of Milford, Mass., manufacturer of high performance, 100 percent acrylic recreational coatings and surfacing systems for tennis, basketball, in-line skating, track, and other sports, announces that Jacob Righter has joined the company as sales and marketing specialist. He will be in charge of developing new accounts and providing customer support.

Jacob Righter

Righter recently received a bachelor of science degree from the University of Iowa, studying communications, business, and sociology, and he comes to Nova with two years of sales and marketing experience with Nike Inc. of Beaverton, Ore. He also called on building contractors in eastern Iowa and has spent the last seven summers employed in Nova Sports’ acrylic manufacturing plant and as a customer-service assistant.

Jacob joins his father Rob and uncle Bill in the Nova Sports USA, which was started by his grandfather.

USTA Recognizes Outstanding Volunteers

The USTA has honored eight individuals and six organizations for their service to tennis and their communities at the 2007 USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop in Atlanta in February. The awards were presented in front of more than 600 community tennis leaders.

Carla O’Connor of Charlotte, N.C., won the inaugural Janet Louer National Organizer of the Year award, presented to a person who delivers USTA Junior Team Tennis to their community and has a positive impact on children. The new award is named for the late Janet Louer, who was instrumental in developing junior tennis in Georgia. She died last May after a long battle with cancer.

Also at the CTDW, Julie Jilly of Hilton Head Island, S.C., the PTR’s vice president and director of operations, received the 2006 USTA Adaptive Tennis National Community Service Award, for continued excellence, dedication and service in tennis for an adaptive tennis community.

Julie Jilly

The 2006 USTA Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award, presented to individuals who perpetuate the late Kraft’s selfless mission to bring the game to anyone who wants to play, went to: Peggy Tice, Cedar Park, Texas; Bonnie Sue Duncan, Greer, S.C.; Cassie Goodell, Brownsville, Texas; David Hartsek, Lexington, Ky.; Dee Henry, Norwalk, Calif.; and Emily Schaefer, Houston.

The Montgomery County Tennis Association of Montgomery County, Md., was named the 2006 National Community Tennis Association of the Year. (The MCTA also received RSI’s Community Tennis Association of the Year award in 2006.)

Additionally, five USTA/NJTL chapters received 2006 “Chapter of the Year” honors: the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation; the Greater Miami (Fla.) Tennis Foundation; Capital Region Youth Tennis Foundation of Albany, N.Y.; Net Results Junior Tennis of Denver; and Vamos! of Albuquerque, N.M.

U.S. Fed Cup Team to Meet Belgium in Florida

The Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla., will be the site for the 2007 Fed Cup quarterfinal match-up with Belgium, April 21-22.

The City of Delray Beach hosted the last home Fed Cup match, in 2005, which coincidentally was also a quarterfinal tie against Belgium. The city also hosted the 2004 Davis Cup quarterfinal between the U.S. and Sweden. This is the third straight year that the U.S. and Belgium will have met in Fed Cup. Overall, the U.S. leads the series with Belgium, 4-1.

“We are excited to be playing Fed Cup at home and anticipate another energetic crowd in Delray Beach,” says U.S. Fed Cup Captain Zina Garrison. “We expect to field a very strong team and have our sights on winning the Fed Cup title this year.” Garrison, who will continue as captain of the U.S. team through 2007, led the team to the semifinals in 2006.

Tickets for the two-day, best-of-five match series can be purchased by calling 888-334-USTA.

Bolle Growth Means New, Larger Facility

Bolle Tennis Wear reports that its business has grown 20 percent from a year ago, and that growth has prompted the apparel maker to move into a new, 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art facility. The move to the new building, in Hanover, Md., will be completed in May.

Team wear has accounted for much of the growth, says Bolle’s Mary Gibb. She also credits “our outstanding customer service team. The team business requires a lot of attention, and we take care of that better than most.” For more information, visit bolletenniswear.com or call 888-977-7272.

PTR Releases New Educational Material and Course

The PTR has published a new educational supplement and Professional Development Course, “Growing Kids, Growing the Game, a Developmental Approach to Teaching Under 10’s.”

The 72-page supplement, written by Mike Barrell, a British tennis coach who has spent his career studying the nuances of teaching tennis to children, is available to PTR members for $8. It covers every aspect of teaching tennis to youngsters, from understanding the physical, emotional, and mental development of each age to structuring lessons specifically for each age group.

Growing Kids, Growing the Game

PTR has also developed a Professional Development Course with Barrell to correspond with the supplement. The course covers the essential skills needed for working with children, including age relevant coaching methodology, appropriate use of courts, equipment, and balls. It is a developmental approach to building essential skills to get kids playing the game quickly and develop fundamentals to maximize long-term potential. The course debuted in February at the PTR International Tennis Symposium on Hilton Head Island, S.C.

Junior Conference Draws Parents, Coaches

More than 160 players, coaches and parents gathered at the 10th Annual National Junior Tennis Conference in November at the Libertyville and Lincolnshire tennis clubs near Chicago to hear presentations and take part in discussions about junior and college tennis.

Organized by Mark Bey, the director of the CARE Academy, the featured presenter was longtime Stanford Coach Gould. Other speakers for the weekend included ESPN analyst and Syracuse Coach Luke Jensen, Notre Dame coaches Bobby Bayliss and Ryan Sachire, Northwestern coaches Claire Pollard and David Mullins, Dennison Coach Peter Burling, Illinois Coach Kent Kinnear, and junior tennis developers Craig O’Shaunnesy, Jorge Capestany and Bill Clark.

Recent NCAA champion Alexis Prousis, Easter Bowl and National Winter titlist Evan King (both CARE Academy students) and No. 1 nationally ranked junior Brennan Boyajian were among the players participating. One of the highlights was a panel discussion between parents and experts on junior tennis, led by Jon Vegosen, chairman of the USTA Collegiate Committee. There was also a High Performance training camp that included 48 players.

— Marcia Frost

USTA Members Gain Benefits With Active Network

The USTA’s new partnership with The Active Network Inc. will bring more benefits to USTA members, including discounts on travel, hotel reservations, sports gear, entertainment, and dining. Members will be able to access the new benefits through USTA.com.

New benefits include dining discounts at thousands of restaurants nationwide; rental car savings with Enterprise, Avis and Budget; hotel discounts at 19 major brands, operated under the Choice Hotels and Wyndham Hotel Group properties; savings on movie tickets at AMC/Loews theaters and Regal/Edwards/United Artist theaters; online savings on purchases at Barnes & Noble, Circuit City, GNC, and more.

For questions regarding member benefits provided in the partnership with Active, email memberservices@usta.com or call the USTA toll-free at 800-990-8782.

USPTA Marks 80th Anniversary

With its mission to “elevate the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches,” the USPTA celebrates its 80th anniversary this year as a leader in tennis education and certification. Founded in 1927, the organization now has approximately 14,500 members worldwide, providing them with more than 30 professional benefits, including certification and professional development.

“I am thrilled and honored to be part of an association that has truly been the pioneer in tennis-teacher certification and education for the past 80 years,” says USPTA CEO Tim Heckler.

“As we head into the next 80 years, our goal is to continue to provide tennis-teaching professionals with the most comprehensive and current tennis education and certification so that our tennis-teaching professionals are well-rounded and have all the necessary tools to teach effectively and continually create interest in the game.”

Recent developments include using the USPTA’s multimedia department to expand the association’s educational opportunities, with DVDs and videos. Currently, the department has produced about 100 educational DVDs and in 2003 began producing “On Court with USPTA” for The Tennis Channel.

For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit uspta.com.

Ashaway Champs Win World Titles

For Ashaway Racket Strings, 2006 was a year of champions. Four of the company’s sponsored players won three world championships in three different sports, all using Ashaway strings. The Ashaway champs are racquetball great Jack Huczek, squash legend David Palmer, and the badminton mixed-doubles team of Gail Emms and Nathan Robertson.

Jack Huczek
Nathan Robertson and Gail Emms

“Four champions in one year sets a record even for us,” says Ashaway Vice President Steve Crandall. “We’re grateful that our string technology can meet the diverse needs of so many players in all these different sports. We offer our congratulations to all of these fine champions and wish for their continued success in 2007.”

Ashaway strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. of Ashaway, R.I., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway is the Official String of USA Racquetball, the International Racquetball Tour, the Professional Squash Association and the Women’s International Squash Players Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications. For more information, contact 800-556-7260 or visit ashawayusa.com.

Peoplewatch

New Guide to College Tennis Available

Do you have high-school players ready to graduate, but who would like to continue playing tennis in college? The USTA has recently released its new USTA Guide to Tennis on College Campuses. It’s a comprehensive resource for locating varsity and recreational tennis programs at more than 2,000 colleges and universities across the U.S. It even provides information on careers in the tennis industry. The guides are being distributed by the USTA’s 17 sections. A PDF version of the guide can be found at USTA.com, along with information about obtaining copies.

HEAD’s Extreme Frames Feature New ‘MicroGel’

HEAD’s new Extreme and Extreme Pro both feature a new technology called “MicroGel,” which the company says will allow aggressive players “ultimate control.”

On ball impact, the MicroGel uniformly distributes the impact load around the frame, says Head, to provide “a rock-solid feel and unique touch for ultimate control, without compromising power.”

“Extreme Pro is a direct result of studying a racquet’s pysical reaction to ball impact,” says HEAD N.V. CEO Johan Eliasch. The company says pro player and world No. 5 Ivan Ljubicic, who signed on with HEAD in January, was instrumental in the development of the frame. Ljubicic won the 2007 Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha playing with the Extreme Pro, and last year, he’s reached No. 3 in the world.

The Extreme Pro is 100 square inches, weighs 11.1 ounces, and is 27 inches long. The Extreme is also 100 square inches, weighs 10.4 ounces, and is 27¼ inches long. For more information visit head.com or call 800-289-7366.

Staples Honored with USTA ‘Trainer of the Year’

Butch Staples, head tennis pro at Chicago’s Midtown Tennis Club, has been recognized as the first-ever USTA Recreational Coaches Workshop “Trainer of the Year.” The award recognizes associates that go above and beyond to train beginning coaches and promote the recreational sport of tennis.

“Butch is one of 10 master trainers in the country and has been with us since the program began in 2000,” says Kirk Anderson, USTA director of recreational coaches and programs. “He has been a big proponent and supporter of the RCW. Even with a busy schedule, he always takes time to give back and train those who are just starting out.”

The mission of the USTA RCW program is to get teachers trained to introduce tennis in a fun way and help retain interest in playing the sport. Staples has taught 28 workshops in the past six years. He is responsible for training many of the estimated 23,000 coaches that have gone through the program.

National Co-ed Campus Championship in North Carolina

The 8th Annual USTA Campus Championship will be held April 26 to 28 at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C., and will feature 64 college co-ed tennis teams from across the country competing for a national title. Cary Tennis Park was the 2006 winner of the RSI Municipal Facility of the Year Award.

The Campus Championship, a joint effort by the USTA, National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, Intercollegiate Tennis Association, and World TeamTennis, is the culmination of the Tennis On Campus program and 17 USTA Campus Championship section events.

The Tennis on Campus recreational program has grown extensively over the last two years, from programs at 196 colleges in 2004 to more than 365 colleges in 2006. For more information about the championship or collegiate recreational tennis programs, visit USTA.com or NIRSA.org.

Classifieds

HAR-TRU®/Lee Tennis - luckstone.com Lee Tennis, an affiliate of Luck Stone Corporation, is the world’s leading clay tennis court company. Well-known for our HAR-TRU clay courts, quality maintenance equipment, technical expertise and relentless passion for the health of the game, Lee Tennis is growing. Currently we are looking for a New Market Sales Associate to join our team. For more information or if interested, please apply online at luckstone.com or call 804-784-8245.

FOR SALE: Alpha Edge Electronic Stringing Machine. Turntable upgrade to New Gamma 5800 6 point Quick Mount System and Action clamps. Also included: Original turntable, string clamps, tools, machine stand, manual, and shipping cartons. Well maintained & calibrated. $1250 plus shipping. Please contact John Zednick USRSA Certifier @ 919-859-6788.

Court Drying Machine Now Available

E Zee Dri Corp. of Phoenix is now selling its patented, state-of-the-art court drying machine. The unit combines features that include suction, blowing, and heating to allow for safe, rapid court-surface drying. The unit is ideal for tournament sites, tennis camps and academies, tennis clubs, and colleges and universities. For more information, and to view an on-court demonstration, visit ezeedri.com, or email info@ezeedri.com.

E Zee Dri

Save Your Players!

As more players over age 50 hit the courts, it’s important that tennis pros, coaches, facility managers, and even other players know the basics of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and, ideally, how to use an AED (automated external defibrillator).

CPR, which consists of mouth-to-mouth respiration and chest compression, allows oxygenated blood to circulate to vital organs and can keep a person alive until more advanced procedures can treat cardiac arrest. CPR started by a bystander doubles the likelihood of survival for victims of cardiac arrest.

An AED is a device about the size of a laptop computer that analyzes the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, directs the rescuer through voice prompts to deliver an electrical shock to the victim, to help the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm of its own.

To learn more about CPR or using an AED, check with your local Red Cross Chapter or hospital for training.

Short sets

Cardio Tennis on the Road

TThe Cardio Tennis tour is on — providing step-by-step details on how the program can boost participation and revenue at your facility. (For info, visit CardioTennis.com.) The Tour will make stops at the following:

March 2-4: McCormack-Nagelson Tennis Center, Williamsburg, Va. (USPTA Mid-Atlantic)
March 3: Arthur Ashe Center, Philadelphia, Pa. (PTR/USPTA/USTA Middle States)
March 31: Isleworth Country Club, Orlando, Fla. (USPTA)
May 5-6: Dallas Convention Center, Dallas, Texas (Better Your Body event)
May 18-20: Ocean Edge Resort, Brewster, Mass. (USPTA New England)
May 29: Naples Grand Resort, Naples, Fla. (USPTA Florida)
Sept. 29-30: Navy Pier, Chicago, Ill. (Better Your Body event)
Nov. 3-4: Nassau Coliseum, Long Island, N.Y. (Better Your Body event)

Therapeutic Bracelet Targets Tennis Players

Trion:Z therapeutic bracelets have been garnering praise for years by professional baseball players and golfers, who say the “minus-ion” producing minerals help them focus and promote energy. And the bracelets have made the jump to NBA and NFL players, along with Nascar drivers. Now, Trion:Z bracelets, along with the recently released necklaces, are being put through their paces by recreational tennis players.

Trion:Z

The “technology” behind Trion:Z is relatively simple: Negative, or minus, ions replenish the body. But the problem in today’s world is that people are constantly bombarded by positive ions, through the sun’s UV rays, electronic equipment, cell phones, physical stress, etc. The excessive positive ions are associated with fatigue, lack of concentration, and muscle and joint aches.

Trion:Z puts the body back in balance, says Bob Gotfredson, the vice president of sales and marketing. “The minus ions come from a mineral and are woven into the fabric of the bracelet and necklace, so it won’t wear out,” he says.

“What these do is soften the tissue around blood vessels to allow for more volume to go through,” says Gotfredson. “This increased blood flow brings more oxygen to damaged tissues.”

The double-loop bracelet ($19.95) has two magnets; the necklace ($29.95) has eight magnets. Both have negative ions in the bands. For more information, including sizes and colors, visit trionz.com.

New TWC Update Online

The TIA recently published its first “Tennis Welcome Center Update” newsletter online, which goes to all TWCs and Cardio Tennis sites, and others in the industry. The newsletter will come out eight times a year and includes news about TWCs and Cardio Tennis, offers tips to improve the delivery of TWC and CT programs from peers, and introduces the people making the programs happen. For more, visit GrowingTennis.com.

Symposium For Stringers Offers PTR, USPTA Credits

Stringers and racquet technicians attending the inaugural GSS Racquet Stringers Symposium April 1 to 4 in Texas will be able to earn continuing education credits from both the PTR and the USPTA.

Educational seminars at the event will be presented by some of the most knowledgeable racquet stringers and technicians in the business. The Symposium will be at the T-Bar-M Resort and Conference Center in New Braunfels, Texas.

The cost of the symposium is $350, but discounts may apply when you register. Visit www.gssalliance.com, or to register directly, visit www.reg online.com/104378.

HEAD Penn Honors Three

Trevor Lavelle of Florida was named to the HEAD Penn Hall of Fame at the company’s sales meeting in January. Honored for providing exceptional sales and service, Lavelle (pictured below with HEAD Penn’s Greg Mason at left and Kevin Kempin at right) recently was promoted to the South regional manager.

Trevor Lavelle

Also singled out for praise was Hunter Hines (middle) of Atlanta, who was named Sales Rep of the Year for exceeding all goals in every category. And Ray Stewart received Rookie of the Year honors.

Hunter Hines

Letters

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading Colette Lewis’ article, “An International Flavor” (Your Serve, February 2007), and agree with many of her points. However, on the main point of this issue, which she glossed over in her second to last bullet point on maturity, I take strong objection.

First let me say that I have knowledge on this issue, having coached college tennis for 17 years (13 as a head coach, in the Southeastern Conference). And as a member of the NCAA Men’s Tennis Committee, working with the ITA, I have debated it often. The crux of the matter is the age of the international player.

Don’t believe for a minute that “age restrictions in tennis aren’t relevant after 18,” as Ms. Lewis suggests. Just go back to the 2004 NCAA Men’s Championship match between Baylor and UCLA. More than half of the 12 players representing both teams were internationals who were older as freshman than I was when my collegiate eligibility expired! If memory serves me correctly, only three Americans participated in that match.

Age and experience do matter a great deal at the collegiate level. There are only a select few, so talented at 18 or younger, to be able to offset that experience, and most of those American players go pro. (You would have to go back to John McEnroe or maybe MaliVai Washington to find an American of that talent level who attended college.) Most of the international players who enroll in college at 21 or 22 have played pro tournaments since they were 15.

Our U.S. system largely separates the juniors from pro competition or competing with adults in general, which stunts their development. The result is that most American collegiate players are forced to compete on an uneven playing field when facing many of their international counterparts. It would be like taking our best 14-and-under players and playing them in the 18’s at the Orange Bowl. How do you think they’d do?

The solution must come on two fronts. First, the NCAA needs to establish an age ceiling for students receiving athletic scholarships in collegiate tennis. Second, the USTA needs to find more ways to integrate junior and collegiate players into smaller pro events and adult competition in general. As I continue to coach the game, I notice the many young kids involved in tennis who have a parent who played junior and collegiate tennis. We need to cultivate more of these tennis families for the future of the game.

There are many positives to having an influx of international talent and perspective on college campuses, but the age discrepancy issue must be addressed for the betterment of the collegiate game and American tennis as a whole.

John Kreis, Director of Tennis
Norfolk Yacht & C.C., Norfolk, Va.

We welcome your letters and comments. Please email them to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

 

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