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‘Champions’ Program Partners with HEAD Penn

The Junior Tennis Champions Center, a not-for-profit junior development program in College Park, Md., announced an official partnership with HEAD Penn Racquet Sports. The three-year agreement will see Penn become the official ball of the Junior Tennis Champions Center, and Head racquets become an official program racquet sponsor.

“Our players love Head racquets, and Penn is a great ball,” says Martin Blackman, director of the Champions program. “A partnership with an industry leader like HEAD Penn brings us one step closer to our goal of establishing our program as the best in the world. Whether it is on the court or in the classroom, our program is all about excellence.” The partnership will give students access to new Head equipment and product testing.

“It’s great to be associated with a boutique academy that works with nationally ranked junior players and helps juniors that may not normally have the financial capabilities to play tennis,” says Amy Wishingrad, HEAD Penn’s national promotions manager.

The Junior Tennis Champions Center began in 1999 and has produced 10 national champions in all junior age groups. More than 40 of its players have gone on to play tennis at top universities and four former Champions Centers students are currently competing on the pro tours. The center also offers free clinics and financial aid for underserved families. This year, the program awarded more than $200,000 in financial aid to kids in the program.

Gimelstob Headlines Tennis Teachers Conference

Do you teach or coach tennis? Stay up on the latest techniques shaping the sport and be a part of the changing U.S. approach to teaching tennis to thousands of youth and adult players by attending the 38th annual USTA Tennis Teachers Conference.

The TTC will be at the Grand Hyatt in New York City from Aug. 23 to 26, just as the 2008 US Open begins. Special on-court demonstrations will be at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

More than 600 teaching pros and coaches from across the country and internationally are expected to attend. Greg Patton, Ken DeHart and Pete Collins will lead the American contingent of speakers, while international faculty include Dave Miley from the ITF, Steve Martens from the LTA and Wayne Elderton from Tennis Canada. The sessions offer a full array of topics including drills, mental skills, film analysis of strokes, team practices, conditioning, injury prevention, nutrition, singles/doubles, and a look at QuickStart Tennis. In addition, there will be a resource center where attendees can talk one-on-one with the top experts, manufacturers and suppliers in the industry.

Justin Gimelstob will open the conference as the keynote speaker on Sunday, Aug. 24. Gimelstob retired from the tour in 2007 after winning 13 doubles titles and now is a tennis TV commentator and writer for SI.com. On Aug. 25, the conference will open with a special session, the TIA Tennis Forum, presented by Tennis Magazine, and will conclude with a reception at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on the opening night of the US Open.

Registration this year will include an audio recording of all TTC sessions that will be sent to all registered attendees. For more information or to register, visit usta.com/ttc. (Early bird registration ends Aug. 4.)

Wilson Celebrates 30 Years as Official US Open Ball

This is Wilson’s 30th year as the official ball of the US Open, and in honor of the anniversary, the company has changed the design of the US Open label, featuring a new, sleek black image. Each year during the Open, about 72,000 Wilson balls are used.

In conjunction with the anniversary, Wilson also is offering a chance to “Win a VIP Trip to the US Open.” The grand prize winner will win an all-expense-paid trip for two to the 2008 Open, which is played from Aug. 25 to Sept. 7 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. For details, visit wilson.com/usopentrip.

This year, the Wilson US Open Tennis Ball also will be the official ball for the tennis competition at the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, China. It’s the second consecutive Olympics to use the US Open Ball. (The Olympic tennis venue in Beijing also is using the same DecoTurf surface that is used at the US Open.)

Wilson is also the official ball of the Australian Open, the Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, as well as more than 50 ATP and WTA events.

Prince Debuts O Series Performance Footwear

After months of design and validation trials with competitive players, Prince is launching its new O Series of performance footwear. Prince says the O Series builds on the original M Series line by delivering improved Precision Tube technology, which rounds the tubes for maximum energy return, providing quicker acceleration and improved footwork.

This second-generation Precision Tube technology also provides greater shock absorption for a smoother, more stable ride, says the company. O Series is available in two versions: the OV1 for a slightly firmer ride while optimizing ventilation and breathability, and the OC1 with lighter gauge Precision Tubes for a softer, more cushioned ride.

“Prince continues to succeed in footwear by understanding what tennis players need,” says John Embree, president of Prince Americas. “We are excited to introduce O Series as we look to bring the best quality products to players and continue to grow our footwear category.”

O Series saw immediate on-court success when Nikolay Davydenko, laced up a pair of OV1s for the Sony Ericsson Open, then went on to capture the biggest title of his career. And at the start of this year’s French Open in May, about 20 ATP and WTA players wore O Series footwear.

The men’s and women’s OV1 and OC1 have a suggested retail price of $110; the OC1 for juniors is $60. For more information, visit princesports.com or call 800-2-TENNIS.

USPTA Offers ‘Junior Circuit’ for Novice Players

The USPTA Junior Circuit provides an opportunity for older children to have fun and stay active while competing with peers. The USPTA circuit is a series of tournaments created to introduce less experienced junior players, ages 10 to 18, to competition and allow them to prepare for higher-level tournament play.

This year, the USPTA Junior Circuit is tied into “Tennis — for the health of it!”, the USPTA’s newest initiative, which strives to make the general public aware of the health, fitness and psychological benefits of tennis and encourage people to get out and play the sport as a part of their regular fitness regimen.

The majority of local or regional tournaments are typically designed for players with competitive experience, and they draw the area’s top tennis athletes. Being matched against one of these players may make for a negative experience for a novice. The USPTA Junior Circuit’s flexibility places no requirements or restrictions on tennis teachers or on the beginner competitor and helps build positive tennis experiences for junior players and enthusiasm for the sport throughout the community.

USPTA Junior Circuit tournaments target lower-level competition or recreational players with a consistent tourney format. It also provides a “series” of events, in one city or metro area. A points system rewards all participants, even if they don’t win a match, and let’s them track their standings. There could also be “masters” tournaments or divisional playoffs.

Junior circuits are run by individual USPTA members. Visit uspta.com for more information.

Sportsmanship Survey Available

Dr. Robert Heller has compiled a “Sportsmanship Tennis Quiz” as an aid to developing character and sportsmanship in players. Heller, a sport psychology consultant and tennis teaching pro, recently presented a seminar at the USPTA Florida Division’s annual conference on the topic of sportsmanship and character development. Free copies of the survey are available by emailing rheller2007@comcast.net.

Trion:Z Introduces Broadband Line

New from Trion:Z is the Broadband line of ionic/magnetic wristbands. The Broadband line has a more traditional sports wristband look than the dual-loop Trion:Z bracelets. But the new line has the same technology of minus-ion producing minerals and twin 1000-gauss magnets. The wider band provides extra moisture absorption.

The company says the Broadband line was developed from feedback from tennis champion and avid golfer Ivan Lendl, who endorses the product. “I’ve worn Trion:Z for over two years,” says Lendl, “and it’s helped me enjoy my active lifestyle.”

Broadband wristbands are hand-washable and will maintain their ion-producing power after repeated washings or use in water sports, says the company. It’s available in five colors. For wholesale and other bulk pricing, and to learn about custom logos, contact the company. Visit trionz.com or call 760-496-1048 for more information.

Henin Goes Out On Top

Top Wilson athlete Justine Henin announced her retirement from pro tennis in May, leaving the game with the No. 1 world ranking. Henin left with a record that includes 41 titles and 493 wins in her 10-year professional career. She’s won seven Grand Slam singles titles. She’s been with Wilson for the past 11 years.

USPTA Hosts Clinic with Garrison, Partners with Sports Medicine Group

The USPTA hosted a free Tennis Across America clinic in May with the theme of “Tennis – for the health of it!” at Zina Garrison’s All Court Tennis Academy at MacGregor Park in Houston. The clinic, which was open to the public, officially kicked off USPTA’s 19th annual Tennis Across America.

Zina Garrison (below), U.S. Fed Cup captain, former WTA touring pro and president of the Zina Garrison All Court Tennis Academy, accepted a $5,000 donation from the USPTA foundation, presented by Randy Mattingley, vice president of USPTA board of directors.

Jack Groppel, Ph.D., vice president of USPTA board of directors, and Adrian Hutber, vice president of the American College of Sports Medicine’s Exercise is Medicine, were also in attendance to announce a partnership between the USPTA and ACSM. The partnership ties together major initiatives from the field of medicine with the arena of sport.

For more information on “Tennis — for the health of it!” visit uspta.com. For more information on Exercise is Medicine, visit exerciseismedicine.org.

California Club Chooses NGI Sports Surface

After abnormal winter freezes cracked the asphalt courts at the Livermore Valley Tennis Club in Livermore, Calif. (below), over the past 18 years, the club has chosen to resurface the 11 courts with NGI Sports’ Nova’ProXtreme synthetic surface.

The surface will go on top of the existing base and the courts, according to Kim Fuller of the LVTC, will have limited downtime, with no damage to current landscaping and fencing. “The fact that NGI Sports could renovate two courts at a time was a real bonus,” says Fuller.

The Nova’ProXtreme surface is softer than asphalt and will be the only synthetic surface in the area, says Fuller. Rick Burke, president of NGI Sports, says the product is an environmentally friendly solution.

For more information on NGI Sports and Nova’ProXtreme, contact 800-835-0033 or visit NGISports.com.

PTR Kids Tennis Launched

The PTR has launched a new set of tools and resources designed to help tennis teachers work with children under age 10. PTR Kids Tennis updates the organization’s Munchkin Tennis, adding new elements to create a methodology that ensures success when teaching tennis to youngsters.

PTR Kids Tennis Workshops introduce tennis teachers to the key concepts of understanding physical development, communicating with and organizing young players, maximizing learning in children, and developing key skills like rallying, serving and scoring. Also covered is using modified courts and equipment.

Workshop participants will receive the new “PTR Kids Tennis Instructor’s Manual,” designed to complement the workshop. The manual includes progressions for teaching more skills, formats for organizing and competing, and more than 60 drills and games designed for children. It also comes with a CD with logos and other graphics, along with editable certificates to use in any PTR Kids Tennis program.

PTR Kids Tennis Workshops are being scheduled around the country. For more information, visit www.ptrtennis.org or call 800-421-6289.

Palmer Wins with Black Knight, Ashaway

The fourth time was the sweetest for squash great David Palmer. The fifth-seeded Palmer beat England’s James Willstrop in an epic final to claim his fourth British Open men’s squash title in Liverpool. Palmer uses racquets from Canadian manufacturer Black Knight, which he helps to design. In September, Black Knight will introduce a high-end line of David Palmer signature squash frames. All the new racquets will be strung with Powernick 18 from Ashaway.

For information on Black Knight, contact 800-663-8636 or visit playbk.com. For Ashaway info, call 800-556-7260 or visit ashawayusa.com.

2008 GSS Symposium

Behind the Scenes: How Racquets Are Made

One of the most popular presentations at last year’s Grand Slam Stringers Symposium, presented by the USRSA, was a behind-the-scenes look at the racquet manufacturing process presented by Wilson. Ron Rocchi, Wilson’s principal designer and Global Tour equipment manager, will once again lead the seminar at this year’s GSS Symposium in October.

“I plan to expand the presentation for this year with even more hands-on involvement by the participants,” says Rocchi. The presentation starts with ideas and concepts being developed for a racquet model and tracks the development process all the way to the finished product. Participants will see an idea turn into a concept and then into detailed drawings and a prototype. After a vigorous research and development process, the prototype is ready to manufacture and market.

The presentation includes a video tour of one of the Wilson manufacturing plants showing the entire manufacturing process. It’s a rare opportunity to see the complex and labor-intensive process of manufacturing a premium racquet. But it gets better. In the seminar, participants will be able to feel the raw materials as Rocchi provides examples of the racquet at various stages of production.

Attendees will see materials such as raw carbon fiber evolve through many stages to become a tennis racquet. Then the racquet is drilled, painted and graphics applied. They will see the handle, grommets and bumper added and finally strung and ready for play. “It is truly a unique process that most people in our industry never get to see,” says Rocchi.

The GSS Symposium, presented by the USRSA, will be Oct. 11-14 in Orlando, Fla., at the Regal Sun Resort in Walt Disney World. Cost is $495 per person (register online on or before July 10 and receive a 10 percent discount). Group lodging rates start at $115 per night.

To learn more about the GSS Symposium, including information on other seminars and presentations, seminar leaders, and the trade show, or to register, visit grandslamstringers.com.

Prince Unveils O3 Speedport Squash Frames

Prince Sports had come out with two squash racquets in its new O3 Speedport line — the O3 Speedport Tour (right) and Black (below). The company says the new frames deliver a key component to a squash player’s game: extra speed.

Prince’s O3 Technology, introduced in 2005, uses oversize string holes called “O-Ports” to improve aerodynamics. Prince says O3 Speedport racquets are up to 24 percent faster through the air than traditional frames.

“By refining the size, location and shape of these ports, we have been able to increase racquet speed dramatically, which improves the ability for players to get their racquet in position, making better ball contact and hitting cleaner, more precise shots,” says Roberto Gazzara, director of research and development at Prince.

The string holes, called Speedports, are sculpted like the air intake ducts on fighter planes and high-performance sports cars. They allow more air to pass through the frame more quickly. In addition, Gazzara says the sweetspot is “up to 59 percent larger than traditional racquets.”

The O3 Speedport Black, used by world No. 1 player Nicol David and No. 3 James Willstrop, is for players looking for more power and control in an aerodynamic and lightweight frame. The Speedport Tour, used by former No. 1 Peter Nicol, is designed for advanced players looking for a crisp hitting feel and more control. Visit princesports.com.

New Book Hits the Stands for Players Over 50

Available in July is a new book from tennis industry veterans Kathy and Ron Woods, “Playing Tennis After 50: Your guide to strategy, technique, equipment and the tennis lifestyle.” Whether you have older players just starting out in tennis, players who have been competing for decades, or players who are returning to the game after an extended break, the book will help them improve their play and enhance both the on-court and off-court experience. The book is published by Human Kinetics (hkusa.com) and sells for $17.95.

Congratulations To the Following For Achieving MRT and CS Status

New Master Racquet Technicians — MRTs

Matt Zeldin, San Diego, CA

New Certified Stringers — CSs

Alex Henthorn, Vacaville, CA

ESPN, Wimbledon Extend Deal

ESPN and The All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club have finalized a six-year agreement for continued coverage of the Wimbledon Championships through 2013 featuring enhanced digital and international rights. ESPN has televised an extensive Wimbledon schedule on its networks since 2003, plus Spanish-language coverage in the U.S. via ESPN Deportes.

“Wimbledon is a special place in the sports world, and we are proud to extend and expand our terrific relationship with the All England Club,” says John Skipper, ESPN executive vice president of content. “We believe tennis fans will actively pursue and enjoy the offerings that this new agreement makes possible on ESPN’s growing multimedia and wireless platforms.”

USPTA Accepting Nominations For Annual Awards Program

The USPTA is accepting nominations for its 2008 national awards program. Each year the USPTA seeks nominations for deserving USPTA Professionals who go above and beyond their call of duty as tennis-teaching pros. The national awards recognize members who have winning strokes, who teach tennis’ many life lessons, who build businesses that spur the industry, and who serve the sport and their communities with distinction.

The deadline for nominations is July 3. Recipients will be honored during the annual awards breakfast on Sept. 18 at the La Quinta Resort & Club in La Quinta, Calif., during the 2008 USPTA World Conference. All Professional-level USPTA members are eligible. The award categories are:

Award nomination forms and guidelines are available at uspta.com, or call 800-877-8248 or email pr@uspta.org.

Tennis Mag Company Beefs Up Digital Side

The Tennis Company, which owns Tennis.com and Tennis and Smash magazines, has named Dave Morgan as chairman and partner. Morgan, an expert in digital media, is the founder of Real Media and Tacoda, the world’s largest and most advanced behavioral targeting advertising network.

“Bringing Dave on board signals our shift from being just a magazine company with a website to a true multi-platform sports enthusiast media company,” says Tennis Company principal Bob Miller. “Tennis.com will no longer just be a site to complement our magazine. It will be the primary driver of our business and will lead us into a future that will be driven by digital video on a global basis, always keeping tennis enthusiasts first.”

“Tennis is an underleveraged sport with amazing numbers,” Morgan says. “Enthusiasts are international, affluent, active, passionate, loyal and most importantly, are growing. The Tennis Company has great assets thanks to Bob’s visionary leadership. The company is poised for future growth with cross-platform delivery of premium branded content and digital media growth around the world.”

Peoplewatch

USTA Foundation Awards Grants, Scholarships

The USTA Tennis & Education Foundation awarded $312,260 to 19 programs across the U.S. through its Spring 2008 “Aces for Kids” grant cycle. The grant recipients included 12 NJTL programs.

“Aces for Kids” is a national initiative that strives to promote healthy lifestyles by combating childhood/adult obesity by providing disadvantaged, at-risk children the opportunity to learn to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format. The USTA T&EF also has committed an additional $300,000 to the Ford Foundation/USTA NJTL “Community Building Through Tennis” initiative.

Also, the USTA T&EF awarded $287,000 in scholarships to high school seniors this year. In addition to the scholarships listed below, 37 College Educational Scholarships of $6,000 each and 10 Textbook Awards of $1,000 were awarded.

Student recipients include: Marian Baird Scholarship, $15,000 — Alison Krantz, Sugar Grove, Ill.; Dwight Mosley Scholarships, $10,000 — Tonique Merrell, Newport News, Va. and Grace Johnson, Naples, Fla.; Dwight Davis Scholarships, $7,500 — Max Nelson, Cheney, Wash., and Marissa Kelley, West Harwich, Mass.; Eve Kraft Scholarships, $2,500 — Nelson Iginla, Minneapolis, and Chelsea Whitehurst, Aiken, S.C.

Short sets

College Tennis News

Georgia, UCLA Capture NCAA Titles

The Georgia men and UCLA women captured the NCAA Division 1 team titles in May, and both teams finished the season at No. 1 in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association Collegiate Tennis Rankings. The NCAA title was Georgia’s second straight and sixth overall. UCLA won its first national title while making its sixth final appearance

In the individual tournament, Virginia’s Somdev Devvarman (right) repeated as men’s singles champ and Georgia Tech’s Amanda McDowell (right, below) captured the women’s title. UCLA’s Riza Zalameda and Tracy Lin and Southern California’s Robert Farah and Kaes Van’t Hof claimed the doubles titles. (Van’t Hof’s father, Robert, won the 1980 NCAA singles title while at USC.)

Following the Georgia men’s team in the Top 10 is: Virginia, Ohio State, Texas, UCLA, Mississippi, Southern California, Baylor, Tennessee and Florida. Following UCLA in the women’s Top 10 is: Northwestern, California, Baylor, Florida, Georgia Tech, Stanford, Georgia, Duke and Vanderbilt. Visit itatennis.com.

ITA Announces Division I All-Americans

NCAA singles champions Somdev Devvarman of Virginia and Amanda McDowell of Georgia Tech highlight the 2008 ITA All-America Teams for Division I men’s and women’s tennis. This is the third-straight year senior Devvarman has earned ITA All-America honors and the first year for sophomore McDowell. Devvarman also finished the season at No. 1 in the ITA singles rankings, while McDowell finished at No. 3.

Georgia senior Travis Helgeson is the lone male player to have earned ITA All-America honors each of the past four seasons. On the women’s side, five seniors from five different schools are being honored as All-America for the fourth time in their careers: Susie Babos of California, Kristi Miller of Georgia Tech, Megan Moulton-Levy of William & Mary, Zuzana Zemenova of Baylor and Riza Zalameda of UCLA. Also highlighting this year’s teams are NCAA doubles champs Tracy Lin and Zalameda from UCLA, and Robert Farah and Kaes Van’t Hof from Southern California.

ITA National Award Winners

Division 1 — Women

Division 1 — Men

Division II — Women

Division II — Men

Division III — Women

Division III — Men

NAIA — Women

NAIA — Men

Junior/Community College — Women

Junior/Community College — Men

 

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