Tennis Industry magazine

 

Industry News

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Max Brownlee Leaves Babolat

Max Brownlee, the general manager of Babolat since 2000, and the person widely credited with boosting the company’s market share in tennis specialty retail from 0 to more than 16 percent, has left Babolat to pursue a new venture, the company said in a Sept. 26 statement.

Brownlee, who was named Racquet Sports Industry’s “Person of the Year” in 2005, oversaw the introduction of the Babolat Pure Drive racquet that became the top-selling racquet at pro shops and tennis specialty stores for nearly three consecutive years.

“It’s been a pleasure to be a part of something so special,” says Brownlee, who has more than 30 years of experience in the industry. “No tennis company has ever entered the U.S. market and achieved the success that Babolat has in such a short period of time. At this point in my career, I’m ready to take on a new challenge and look forward to the next chapter of my life.”

“We can’t say enough about what Max has done for the company over the last seven years,” says Olivier Bailliard, president and CEO of Babolat North America. “His passion for the game and expertise in the industry will serve him well in his continued career.”

Gordon Smith Named New USTA Executive Director

Gordon Smith of Atlanta is the new executive director and chief operating officer of the USTA. In his new position, Smith will oversee the operations of the USTA and the functioning of the USTA’s national office.

Smith will start in the position Nov. 1, upon the retirement of current USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer D. Lee Hamilton.

“I’ve been an avid fan and active participant in the sport of tennis for most of my life,” says Smith, who is a lawyer. “These are very exciting times for tennis and I look forward to leading the organization and our incredibly committed volunteers in creating more effective and new ways to attract people to the sport.”

Smith played competitively as a junior and captained a University of Georgia team that swept four straight Southeastern Conference titles from 1971 through 1975. He was the SEC doubles champion in 1975.

He’s been an active member of the USTA Southern Section since 1992, most recently serving as its president. He also has served on the boards of the USTA Tennis and Education Foundation, Southern Tennis Patrons Foundation and the Georgia Tennis Foundation. Smith began serving a second consecutive term as vice president of the USTA in January 2007. He previously served as a director at large.

“Gordon’s long-standing commitment to the sport, combined with business acumen and a keen understanding of the USTA’s organization and structure, make him the perfect person to lead the USTA,” says USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jane Brown Grimes.

Smith earned a bachelor of arts in Journalism and a law degree at the University of Georgia. Following law school, he clerked with the federal judiciary before joining the Atlanta-based international law firm of King and Spalding, where he was a senior partner in the 800-lawyer firm. He is a member of the American College of Trial Lawyers and has been listed in the publication The Best Lawyers in America for many years.

Prince Creates Custom Racquets for Nintendo Wii

Prince has partnered with Qualtech Global Ltd. to create scaled-down tennis racquets to house the Nintendo Wii remote, providing a more realistic video gaming experience for fans of the virtual tennis game.

“Prince is a performance tennis brand excited to aid in the enjoyment of anyone who is playing any form of the sport,” says Linda Glassel, Prince’s vice president of marketing and brand image. “We think this game and these racquets will encourage people, of all ages, to get out on a real tennis court and play some points there as well.”

Available in November at Circuit City stores and online at circuitcity.com, the custom racquets come in a variety of colors and retail for $14.99.

Sharapova Debuts Limited Edition Racquet Bags

The Sharapova Collection, which pro Maria Sharapova debuted during the Open in August, is a limited edition line of bags that Sharapova helped to design. Prince says her goal was to create fashion-inspired products that incorporate specifically constructed compartments designed to hold and organize everyday items many women carry to the court.

“Racquet bags don’t have to look like gym bags,” says Sharapova. “I wanted to bring a sense of style to the racquet bag, while at the same time make it completely functional and durable.” All pieces in the collection have an exterior comprised primarily of black patent leather with splashes of deep fuchsia velour in the Prince logo. The interior is made up of heavy-duty nylon to protect racquets and personal belongings.

The Sharapova Collection tour bag has four separate compartments designed to hold a cell phone; MP3 player and earphones; personal items such as jewelry or makeup; and string or grip tape, sweat bands or other items.

The collection includes a six-pack tour bag (retail price $70) and a triple bag ($50). Other pieces will be available starting in January. Visit princetennis.com.

North Carolina Facility Upgrade

Classic Turf Co. of Woodbury, Conn., recently completed recoating eight indoor courts at the Simpkins Tennis Pavilion in Greensboro, N.C. The company had installed the cushioned sheet-goods surfacing system five years ago, and the courts are in use about 40 hours per week. For more information, visit Classicturf.org or call 800-246-7951.

New Ideas From Tennis Tease

Tennis Tease, launched by player and enthusiast Patti Berg, features gear for the player “who enjoys attention on and off the court.” Tennis Tease gear includes women’s T-shirts, tank tops with self-adjusting straps and shelf lining, jackets, and bikini and thong style panties.

Clothing features sassy sayings such as “Which part of ‘out’ do you not understand?” and “Love means nothing to a tennis player.” Fabrications are 95 percent cotton/5 percent spandex and packaged in a “court-ready” clear tennis ball can, making a clever merchandising display. Caps and visors are also available.

Visit tennistease.com, email info@tennistease.com or call 651-983-6969.

HEAD Steps Into Tennis Footwear

Head says its new performance tennis footwear line for men and women will launch worldwide in January. The launch will consist of five models: Prestige, Extreme, Tour, Fire and All Court. “We have the engineering skills, the marketing, product expertise and worldwide distribution systems in place to enter this market in a quick and efficient manner,” says Johan Eliasch, chairman and CEO of Head N.V. Head will introduce four new technologies in its new footwear lines:

Head says the Extreme, Tour and Fire models are also available with a clay-court outsole.

USPTA Honors Standouts

The USPTA recognized outstanding tennis coaches, players, managers and volunteers during its annual awards breakfast at the 80th USPTA World Conference on Tennis in September at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla.

The award ceremony included the induction of Bill Tym and Alex Gordon into the USPTA Hall of Fame. Tym, a USPTA Master Professional and past USPTA national president, has been a coach, player and administrator for half a century. Gordon, who was inducted posthumously, made lasting contributions to the game as a coach, player and USPTA member. In fact, his legacy is so great that the USPTA Alex Gordon Professional of the Year award was named in his honor. Both join the ranks of only seven other grand inductees into the USPTA Hall of Fame.

Other honorees are:

USPTA divisions receiving awards are:

Also during the World Conference, Rosemary DeHoog, the head tennis pro at Drumlins Tennis Club in Syracuse, N.Y., earned recognition as a USPTA Master Professional, the highest professional rating in the organization. DeHoog has been a member of the USPTA for 34 years.

Head Picks Radical Fan

The winner of Head’s “Are You Radical Enough?” promotion is John Du of Canada, who produced a rap video devoted to the game of tennis called “Our Game is Radical.” Du will face Andre Agassi on the tennis court in Las Vegas in November.

For nearly six weeks this summer, fans submitted one- to two-minute videos showing off their radical tennis game or their loyalty as a fan to the sport and to radical player Agassi. “I’ve been a fan of Andre Agassi and Head for years,” says Du. “I look forward to spending time with Agassi and learning from a real radical pro.” In addition to a day on the court with Agassi, Du will receive round-trip airfare for two and a two-night stay in Las Vegas.

Second-place winner John Matthieu Cloitre of France will receive a new Head MicroGel Radical racquet signed by Agassi. Four runners-up, Nicholas Pison and Bodie Quirk of the U.S., Paul Tiberiu of Romania, and David Jobert of France, will receive a Radical Supercombi bag. Videos of the top 5 winners can be viewed at head.com.

USRSA member classifieds

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.

HELP WANTED: Full time position available for MRT Stringer at Samuels Tennisport in Cincinnati, Ohio. Send resume to: Samuels Tennisport, 7796 Montgomery Rd., Cincinnati, OH or email to tennisport@aol.com Phone: 513-791-4636.

FOR SALE: Gamma 5003 Stringer with Wise 2086 tension head. Good condition. $650. Call Russ Sheh @ (209) 465-9283.

Peoplewatch

Shortsets

Nautic Partners, Management Acquire Prince

Nautic Partners LLC of Providence, R.I., has joined with the Prince management team as the racquet brand’s new investment partner. Nautic is a private equity firm focused on providing growth capital to middle-market companies.

“Along with the success we’ve had in the last few years comes the obligation of stepping things up and becoming an even better company,” says Prince CEO George Napier. “[Nautic has] the expertise and financial strength to help us tap the major growth opportunities facing us and I am confident they will be great partners for years to come.”

Four years ago the Prince management team and Lincolnshire Management acquired Prince Sports Inc. (the parent of the Prince and Ektelon racquet sports brands) from the Benetton Group.

Industry Loses Frank McDavid

Femco Corp. founder Frank McDavid died Aug. 5 as a result of colon cancer. He was 61. McDavid was an avid tennis player in the Richmond, Va., area and founded Femco 30 years ago to manufacture and distribute tennis court equipment. McDavid also served as commissioner and chairman of the Chesterfield County Parks and Recreation Advisory Board.

Donations may be made to ?$ Which Dollar Inc., 235 Arcadia St. Richmond, Va. 23225 or whichdollar.org.

Benedict, O’Brien Named to Wilson Racquet Sports Posts

Andy Benedict is the new national promotions manager for Wilson Racquet Sports, and Sean O’Brien is the new global footwear director for Racquet Sports.

Benedict will focus on the administration and day-to-day execution of Wilson’s tennis industry and grassroots initiatives, including the management of Wilson’s WTeam Advisory Staff as well as association, event and strategic partnerships. O’Brien will be responsible for all aspects of Wilson’s footwear development and marketing on a global level.

Lindsey Moves to Tennis Warehouse

Crawford Lindsey is the new director of research and development for Tennis Warehouse. Lindsey was the editor in chief and webmaster of the USRSA and Racquet Tech Publishing, including Racquet Sports Industry magazine, for the last 10 years. He is the coauthor of “The Physics and Technology of Tennis” and “Technical Tennis: Racquets, Strings, Ball, Court, Spin, and Bounce.” In his new position, he will be responsible for product testing and the development of interactive web tools and content to help consumers make informed buying decisions.

PTR, MotionExpert Join Forces

PTR and MotionExpert have joined forces to provide PTR tennis teachers and coaches with video analysis software to help their players improve more quickly. MotionExpert technical analysis software offers a number of tools that provide coaches with a way to analyze their player’s technique, allowing coaches to demonstrate important technical points.

PTR members will receive a 25 percent discount on the video analysis software. The software also comes with a free 300-shot DVD, with video clips of the world’s top tennis players.

Head Sportswear, Set To Launch In April, To Feature ‘InFiber Technology’

Head Tennis and Golf Sportswear will feature a proprietary fabrication called GCool InFiber Technology, says Nex-Lvl Golf Inc., the exclusive licensee of the apparel, which is scheduled to launch in pro and specialty shops in April. The company says the fabrication can provide wearers with superior moisture-management, UV and antibacterial protection, and more.

Nex-Lvl Golf Inc. says it’s bringing the GCool InFiber Technology to apparel with the slogan “Head has ‘IT,’” which will be featured on hangtags and promotions displays. InFiber Technology gives GCool moisture-management and wicking capabilities, says Nex-Lvl Golf Inc. President Robert “Bob” Fenton.

“These inherent properties are part of the fiber itself and therefore never wash out,” Fenton says. The construction of the high-twist proprietary filament yarns enable perspiration to be wicked away from the body, keeping wearers dry and comfortable, he adds. The wash and quick-dry ability also help maintain shape and color for the life of the garment.

Additionally, GCool fabrics — created without the use of chemical treatments or finishes — can offer UV absorbent properties, Fenton says. “This same InFiber Technology can also provide antibacterial properties that effectively stop bacteria from forming on the fabric fibers, preventing stains and odors.” Nex-Lvl Golf Inc. Founder Gidon Fisher, a 35-year textile veteran, invented GCool.

Also, GCool can be blended with organic/natural fibers, such as bamboo. Fenton says Head Sportswear will introduce these and other eco-friendly fibers blended with GCool in 2008. For information, visit gcooltech.com. To inquire about distribution, contact Fenton at 231-223-8880 or email bfenton.headsportswearusa@gmail.com.

USPTA Installs New Board

The USPTA installed a new national board of directors that will serve the association until September 2009. The new board took office during the USPTA World Conference on Tennis in September and includes:

RSI Offers New Marketing Opportunity

Racquet Sports Industry magazine is offering a new marketing opportunity in 2008 called the “RSI.com Site Block.” The Site Block is an exclusive sponsorship of RSI’s official website, TennisIndustryMag.com, for one-month intervals.

Site Block sponsors will receive exclusive advertisement opportunities on every page of TennisIndustryMag.com. On the home page, sponsors will receive a banner ad across the top of the page. On subsequent pages, they will get a skyscraper ad running down the left side of each page, as well as a footer ad at the bottom of each page.

RSI redesigned and re-launched its website in May 2007. Since the re-launch, traffic to the site has increased steadily each month, and by August, traffic had increased more than five times. For more information about advertising or RSI.com Site Blocks, contact Advertising Director John Hanna at 770-650-1102 x125 or Hanna@KnowAtlanta.com.

Bob Larson Tennis Launches Junior Tennis News Website

Veteran tennis publisher Bob Larson has launched juniortennisnews.com, a free website of news, information and advice for and about globally competitive junior players seeking a collegiate or pro tour future. The website is a sister site of Larson’s tennisnews.com.

The junior website includes news, results and information of international and national junior events 10s to 18s, updated throughout the day. There is advice from experts on how juniors can reach their goals. Also included are lists of resources of goods and services for juniors, such as training academies, training and traveling coaches, stringers and other advisers.

“Our goal with this new website is to bring families, players, industry people and valuable information together in our free, easy to use, up-to-date, interactive hub, which has not existed anywhere until now,” says Larson. For more information, contact bob@juniortennisnews.com or 952-920-8947.

New Book on Club Programming

“Successful Programs for Fitness and Health Clubs: 101 Profitable Ideas,” by Sandy Coffman, offers advice on how to take your club to new levels of success with innovative programming and ideas. The always-enthusiastic Coffman provides program examples with variations for different types of clients, along with tips for increased participation, greater retention, more referrals, less downtime, and improved staff productivity. The book is priced at $39 and available from Human Kinetics at humankinetics.com.

Top 8 Players Cast as Terracotta Warriors

French sculptor Laury Dizengremel works on a Roger Federer Terracotta Warrior. The ATP commissioned Dizengremel to create life-size warriors of the best eight tennis players in the world to mark the Tennis Masters Cup, the circuit-ending championship held in Shanghai, China, beginning on Nov. 11. Players in contention to qualify for the tournament met with the artist at the ATP Masters Series event in Montreal, where they were measured and photographed ahead of their casting. The Terracotta Warriors are symbolic of China’s history and internationally recognized around the world.

Kantarian Expands Role at USTA

The USTA has named Arlen Kantarian chief executive officer, Professional Tennis, broadening his role to oversee the development of a new USTA elite player program to identify and develop American champions. Kantarian will continue to lead the USTA’s Professional Tennis operations, overseeing the USTA’s involvement in the pro sport, including the US Open, US Open Series, USTA Pro Tour events, U.S. Davis Cup, Fed Cup, and Olympic teams, and the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

“I couldn’t be more pleased to acknowledge Arlen Kantarian’s many contributions to the USTA,” said Jane Brown Grimes, USTA chairman of the board and president. “With the USTA’s commitment to developing strong American competitors and Arlen’s proven track record of success, we are pleased that he will now oversee the elite player development program, and a pipeline to future American champions.”

Kantarian will assume responsibility for this new program effective Dec. 1 and has initiated a worldwide search for the head of the elite player development program.

Dunlop Teams Up for Corporate Wellness

Dunlop Sports Group Americas is participating in Fluor Corp.’s development of an internal Tennis Wellness Program at Fluor’s Greenville, S.C., campus. As a corporate sponsor, Dunlop will contribute products and other materials to the effort. With two newly resurfaced tennis courts on its campus and over 2,500 employees, Fluor hopes to develop a complete tennis program that will eventually compete with other local corporations. The USTA has also granted money to fund the program. At left, Ron Dottorelli (left), the Fluor Team Tennis coordinator, meets with Dunlop’s Steve Hall, director of marketing for Racquet Sports.

U.S. to Face Russia in Davis Cup Final

The U.S. Davis Cup team will host the 2007 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas final against Russia, Nov. 30-Dec. 2 at Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Ore. It will be the first time the U.S. has hosted the Davis Cup final since 1992 and marks the U.S.’s first appearance in the final since 2004.

The U.S. defeated Sweden 4-1 in the semifinals in September in Sweden, while Russia, the defending champion nation, advanced to the final with a victory over Germany. The U.S. is 2-1 all-time against Russia, including a victory in Moscow in the 1995 Davis Cup final to earn its last Cup championship. The U.S. leads all nations with 31 Davis Cup titles.

Including the semifinal victory in Sweden, Andy Roddick, James Blake and the world’s No. 1 doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan have now played in seven consecutive ties for the U.S. For ticket information to the final, call 1-888-484-8782.

New Squash String from Ashaway

Ashaway says its new SuperNick XL Micro squash string has increased linear density resulting in superior durability for an 18-gauge string. The new textured surface allows for optimum shotmaking and excellent ball control, says the company. For more information, visit ashawayusa.com.

Letters

Helping Grow Racquet Sports in Canada

To the Editor:

I continue to get great tips from your magazine that I immediately apply to my own racquet sports business. Challenge Network Calgary (challengenetwork.com) in Canada brings tennis, squash, badminton, racquetball and table tennis players/pros/ facilities together into a single racquet sports network.

Our network has already revitalized one tennis club (from 0 to 200 members in three years) and one squash club (from 0 to 100 members in three years) here in Calgary. We are now in the process of revitalizing a second squash club. What started just over three years ago as two squash players is now a network of about 250 racquet sports players across the city. Over the next 12 months, we will be expanding to Toronto and Vancouver. The following year we will be expanding into the U.S. market.

Much of the network’s success is built on tips I’ve discovered in RSI magazine. Thanks to your advice, our network is putting the following elements together into a single package: lessons, practice times, people to play/practice with, competitive programs/tournaments, recreation and enjoyment.

Without question, your advice is sound. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Brent Johner,
Calgary, AB, Canada

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

 

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