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Wilson Launches Innovative ‘Baiardo’ String Machine
Wilson Racquet Sports has come out with a new stringing machine that uses Wilson’s “B.E.S.T.” system, which stands for Biomechanically Efficient Stringing Technology — an ergonomic system that automatically adjusts the machine height and tilt to suit the stringer.
The new “Baiardo” machine will automatically adjust height and tilt three times during the stringing process: when mounting the frame, stringing the mains and stringing the crosses. The machine puts the string bed “in a biomechanically perfect position for each individual user, based on their height,” says Wilson, so stringers experience less stress to their lower back, shoulders, neck and arms.
After years of research and development, Baiardo was tested at the 2008 US Open. Stringers said they were less fatigued at the end of the day and were able to produce extremely consistent stringing for the pro tour players. Wilson, the official stringer for the 2009 Australian Open, used the Baiardo there, too.
“Baiardo” was the name of a mythical European horse that had the ability to adjust its size to its riders., Wilson’s Baiardo machine remembers 13 personal settings for up to six different stringers and functions with a unique and easy-to-use touch-screen.
“We researched how stringers work — how they bent forward and twisted throughout the process — which leads to fatigue and discomfort at the end of the day,” says John Lyons, global business director of accessories. “We implemented a total ergonomic design unlike any other machine on the market. Baiardo is the first stringing machine designed completely around the stringer.”
Baiardo machines will be available for dealers in limited supply beginning in April 2009. Visit wilson.com/baiardo.
Baiardo Demo Events
Wilson is conducting demonstration events this spring for the Baiardo stringing machine. Visit wilson.com/baiardo for specific dates and locations.
The Baiardo tour is expected to stop at: Boston; New York; Philadelphia; Washington, D.C.; Chicago; Dallas; Hilton Head, S.C.; Birmingham, Ala.; Key Biscayne, Fla.; Tampa; Atlanta; Baton Rouge; Charlotte, N.C.; Indian Wells, Calif.; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; San Diego; Orange County, Calif.; Denver; and Seattle.
Champions to Meet at MSG; ‘Tennis Night’ to Debut
Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic will face off in the inaugural “BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup,” which will be March 2 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The one night only single-elimination event will be broadcast live on HBO beginning at 7:30 p.m. E.T. It will mark the return of women’s tennis to Madison Square Garden and the return of the sport to HBO.
In partnership with the USTA, March 2 will also be “Tennis Night in America,” one the largest ever grassroots initiatives in the sport. The USTA will make this event a major component of its first-ever National Youth Registration Night, where kids and teenagers all over the country can begin signing up for spring and summer league play.
Seles, Dell to Enter Hall of Fame
Nine-time Grand Slam singles champion and former World No. 1 player Monica Seles will lead the 2009 induction class in July at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
Joining Seles is one of Spain’s most prominent tennis players of the 1960s, Andres Gimeno, who has been elected in the Master Player category. In addition, elected in the Contributor category are Donald L. Dell, an industry pioneer and leader in sports marketing, professional sports management and sports television and founder of ProServ; and the late Dr. Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson, founder and director of the American Tennis Association (ATA) Junior Development Program, who worked tirelessly for decades assisting in the development of young African-American tennis players while helping to break the barriers of racial segregation.
The Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009 Induction Ceremony is slated for Saturday, July 11, in Newport during the final weekend of the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. In addition, tennis legend Rod Laver will also be honored that weekend. With the addition of Seles, Gimeno, Dell and Johnson, the Hall of Fame will now include 211 champions of tennis representing 18 countries.
Another Top Exec Leaves USTA
Michelle Wilson, chief marketing officer of the USTA’s Professional Tennis division, resigned in February. Wilson managed all US Open and Olympus US Open Series advertising.
She was hired by and worked closely with Arlen Kantarian, the former chief executive of Pro Tennis who left the USTA at the end of 2008. Before joining the USTA in 2001, Wilson had senior management positions with Nabisco, the NBA and the XFL.
Other executives who have left the USTA since the end of the US Open in September include chief diversity officer Karlyn Lothery, Alan Gold, who ran the US Open Series; Ronnie Tucker and Gary Jacobus, both in sponsorship; and Tandy O’Donoghue, the managing director of business affairs.
In January, the USTA announced a replacement for Lothery, naming Kevin Clayton as chief diversity officer. Clayton will be dedicated to increasing diversity initiatives throughout the organization, including at the sections and CTAs, as well as business relationships. He most recently served as national vice president of diversity and inclusion at the American Cancer Society. He’ll report to USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith.
New Indoor Facility Opens in Vegas
A $10 million state-of-the-art tennis facility, located minutes from the Las Vegas Strip, opened in January. The 90,000-square-foot International Tennis Centre features eight indoor Deco Turf II courts, broadcast-quality lighting, a climate-controlled environment, pro-shop, rental racquets, an espresso bar and gourmet food service (starting March 1), luxury lockers/showers and flat-screen televisions.
“For years, Las Vegas was a popular spot for tennis enthusiasts,” says Jim Ahearn, CEO of ITC Las Vegas, LLC. “Over time, people started turning to other recreational sports because of the city’s desert climate and lack of indoor facilities. The opening of the International Tennis Centre is bringing tennis back to Vegas for visitors, residents and pros.”
Services at the ITC include hourly court bookings, private and semi-private lessons, clinics, Junior Academy, Cardio Tennis classes and corporate events. ITC also provides complimentary transportation to and from major hotels. Visit itclasvegas.com or call 877-ITC-5975.
Azarenka Signs with Tourna Grip
Unique Sports and WTA Tour Top 15 pro Victoria Azarenka signed a multi-year deal recently. Azarenka uses the new high-performance overgrip Tourna Tac, from the makers of Tourna Grip. “Tourna Tac really performs in all playing conditions and doesn’t slip out of my hand,” says Azarenka, who is featured on the pink and the white Tourna Tac packages. Visit uniquesports.com.
James Blake, Fila to Collaborate on Apparel, Footwear Collection
ATP Tour pro James Blake and Fila will develop a collection of men’s apparel and footwear in a collaborative agreement. The yet to be named collection will target “today’s active male” and will be the basis for a long-term licensing business for Blake, Fila says.
The company says Blake will collaborate with Fila’s design team to create the co-branded collection, which will incorporate Fila heritage with Blake’s signature style. The collection will include tennis, golf, fitness and lifestyle apparel, performance and lifestyle footwear, and accessories for men. It will debut with a limited collection of tennis and fitness apparel that will be unveiled just before the 2009 US Open, and the collection will officially launch for the Spring-Summer 2010 season.
Blake will wear Fila branded or co-branded apparel and footwear exclusively on court and will be featured in Fila’s worldwide marketing efforts. He is the first Top 10 American male in more than 10 years to sign with Fila. He debuted in Fila’s Collezione Apparel Collection and the Fila Alfa shoe at the Australian Open in January.
“Ever since Bjorn Borg graced the courts of Wimbledon in Fila, I have always been attracted to the Italian style, grace and sophistication of the Fila brand,” says Blake. “My collaboration with Fila is much more than an endorsement arrangement. It will serve as the foundation of a business venture that I will continue to build for years to come.”
PTR Sets SoCal Coaches Workshop
The PTR will hold a Coaches Workshop titled “PTR Kids Tennis, Beyond QuickStart” on March 13 and 14 at Rancho Las Palmas Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif. The two-day event, geared to those teaching youth tennis, is open to everyone and is especially recommended for tennis teaching pros, coaches, physical education teachers, and students who will be teaching tennis this summer.
Experts in the field of coaching youth tennis will conduct presentations, including Jason Jamison and Karen Ronney, as well as Master Professionals Kirk Anderson, Jorge Andrew and Don Henson. Each afternoon, attendees will go to Indian Wells to enjoy the tournament’s matches. The entire weekend, including the tournament, is $149.
For more information or to register, call 800-421-6289 or visit ptrtennis.org.
USTA Invests in World TeamTennis
The USTA announced that it will become a 25 percent owner of Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League, the team format co-founded by Billie Jean King.
The Advanta WTT Pro League is a professional co-ed sports league featuring top tour players from more than a dozen countries. The League showcases three generations of tennis standouts, including legends, current tour players and up-and-coming tennis pros, competing on teams throughout the U.S. each summer.
One of the main goals in the new partnership is to provide an expanded marketing platform for the USTA’s Jr. Team Tennis Program through the Advanta World TeamTennis Pro League teams and players.
In each of the 11 franchise markets, Advanta WTT Pro League teams and USTA sections will work together on youth initiatives to broaden the reach of QuickStart and Jr. Team Tennis programs. These recreational efforts are becoming integrated with the WTT professional franchises to encourage more young children to take up tennis as a team sport.
“By working with the USTA, we will take World TeamTennis to the next level in the U.S.,” says King. “We’ve been looking for an opportunity like this for a long time and I can’t think of a better partner than the USTA. I’m excited about what the future holds for our partnership.”
In related news, Bill Mountford, the former director of tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, has entered into an agreement with World TeamTennis to serve as a consultant. His role will be divided between the USTA and WTT.
Tennis Health Campaign to Name Advisory Council
The USPTA has formed a “Tennis — for the health of it!” advisory council designed to ensure that all components of the campaign are health-enhancing, developmentally appropriate, safe and fun. The advisory council will be chaired by Michael F. Bergeron, director of the National Institute for Athletic Health & Performance and Center for Youth Sports & Health, and Jack Groppel, co-founder of Human Performance Institute.
The rest of the advisory council will be selected and named within the next month and is expected to include tennis coaches, physical educators, clinicians, and applied sport scientists. Council members will specialize in pediatric to geriatric medicine, wellness, development, training, injury risk, and behavior, with a special emphasis on those who have experience and recognized expertise in tennis-related development, clinical care, and research, says the USPTA.
“This is an invitation to all groups within the tennis industry to get involved and this council is an attempt to help grow the game for the betterment of tennis all around,” says Groppel.
Advisory council responsibilities will include working with the American College of Sports Medicine and its supporting partners to prompt the medical and fitness communities to recognize the health-enhancing benefits of tennis, along with recommending the sport as a desirable way to increase physical activity and develop a long-term healthy lifestyle.
The council also will collaborate with the National Physical Activity Plan leadership and supporting organizations to promote “Tennis — for the health of it!” to policymakers, health professionals, and the public; publish position papers and recommendations; and call for research and partner with others in support of the mission and objectives.
Gardiner’s Tennis Resort Closes
After 51 years, Gardiner’s Tennis Resort in Carmel Valley, Calif., has closed its doors. Founded by the late John Gardiner in 1957, the original John Gardiner’s Tennis Ranch became a getaway for tennis enthusiasts the world over. High-profile business leaders, Hollywood celebrities, politicians and touring tennis pros played at the beautiful and exclusive resort.
Gardiner sold the property in 2000, shortly before his death, to Pristine Development LLC of Houston. A spokesman for Pristine Development said the economic situation forced them to shut, however, he did leave open the possibility that if Pristine is able to reorganize in the future, they would consider reopening.
The 25-acre property has eight tennis courts and a specialized teaching court, six individual guestrooms and five two-bedroom homes, a spa and a restaurant, which had recently opened its doors to the public. The closing affected more than 20 staff members.
ITA Coaches Meet in Florida
Nearly 300 men’s and women’s college tennis coaches from all divisions met in Naples, Fla., in December for the 24th annual Intercollegiate Tennis Association Coaches Convention. Among the clinicians at the four-day event were tennis legend Stan Smith, renowned tennis coach Nick Saviano and former No. 1 in the world in doubles Kelly Jones. Several of the nation’s top collegiate coaches were also on hand for instructional clinics.
In addition to offering clinics, panel discussions, an awards banquet, a trade show and a chance to exchange ideas, the ITA Coaches Convention served as the venue for the association’s annual meetings.
Among the convention highlights was the ITA Welcoming and Awards Banquet honoring the 2008 Wilson/ITA National Coaches of the Year and the USTA/ITA National Community Outreach and Campus Recreation Award winners. Zina Garrison was this year’s featured speaker.
USTA Names Award Winners
The Larry and Susan Kline Family of Prospect, Ky., is the winner of the Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award. Also, Lise J. Frank of Danville, Calif., has won the Barbara Williams Leadership Award from the USTA. Both awards will be presented during the USTA’s Annual Meeting, which will be held in Palm Springs March 13-15.
Four winners were named for the Bill Talbert Junior Sportsmanship Award: Jeremy I. Efferding of Lake Worth, Fla.; Ryan Lipman of Nashville; Ryan Thacher of Studio City, Calif.; and Gary Wang of Chesterbrook, Pa. The four winners will be honored during the Enshrinement Ceremonies at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in July.
Hall of Famer Sidney Wood Dies
Hall of Famer and 1931 Wimbledon singles champion Sidney B. Wood died in early January in Palm Beach, Fla. Wood, formerly the oldest living Hall of Famer, was 97.
Wood, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1964, also is credited with inventing, designing and patenting Supreme Court, a portable synthetic playing surface used for indoor courts. It was used by the World Championship Tennis tour from 1973-1978.
Sundling, Mar Win Winter Nationals
JT Sundling of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and Hanna Mar of Burr Ridge, Ill., captured the 2008 USTA Boys’ and Girls’ 18s Winter National Championship singles titles on New Year’s Day at the Phoenix Tennis Center. The nation’s top junior players competed in eight USTA Winter National Championships. The singles champions at the 18s events will be given wild cards into a USTA Pro Circuit Futures event (men) and a women’s $10,000 event, to be determined.
Other singles winners at the USTA Winter National Championship are: Boys’ 16s: Jack, Sock, Lincoln, Neb.; Girls’ 16s: Kyle McPhillips, Willoughby, Ohio; Boys’ 14s: Trey Daniel, Leawood, Kan.; Girls’ 14s: Coy Jones Hunter, Los Angeles; Boys’ 12s: Christian Garay, Columbus, Ga.; Girls’ 12s: Kimberly Yee, Las Vegas.
David Sullivan, Murietta, GA
Zachary Greer, Snellville, GA
Allen Lee, Victoria, BC CANADA
Matt Bennett, Victoria, BC CANADA
Chris Maragozis, Victoria, BC CANADA
Wesley Fry, Fitzroy, Victoria AUSTRALIA
Andrew Kotnik, Fitxroy, Victoria AUSTRALIA
Help Wanted: Full time stringer position available contact Brett Snyder @ Tennis Express 713-781-4848.
For Sale: Prince P-200 pneumatic stringing machine. Maintained well, runs in excellent condition, all accessories included. Pics available. Asking only $400+shipping cost. Price Negotiable. Call 419-788-0142, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The U.S. vs. Switzerland Davis Cup first-round match, to be held in Birmingham, Ala., March 6-8, has sold out. The competition is expected to feature World No. 2 Roger Federer, No. 8 Andy Roddick and No. 10 James Blake as well as the doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan.
- T Bar M Racquet Club in Dallas has been selected the 2008 USTA Texas Section Organization of the Year.
- Plexicushion Prestige was again the surface of choice for the Australian Open, and for the half dozen pro tournaments leading up to the Grand Slam event.
- The Comcast Family of Companies will serve as 2009 principal sponsor for the Rodney Street Tennis and Tutoring Association (rodneystreettennis.org), located in Wilmington, Del. The agreement will also provide RSTTA with significant additional in-kind cable, telephone and internet services, which will enhance administrative operations and supplemental educational services.
- The website for the USTA Eastern Pennsylvania District was awarded website of the year honors by the USTA Middle States Section. EPD president Jack Monick used TennisConnect for the district’s site (EPDTennis.com). “It’s been such a useful tool for us so far and has allowed me to easily communicate with players all over the Eastern District,” he says.
- DecoTurf’s 100 percent acrylic tennis surface, DecoColor, was the surface selected for the Fed Cup quarterfinal match agasint Argentina held in early February at the Surprise Tennis and Racquet Complex in Surprise, Ariz. The complex, which received the 2008 USTA Outstanding Facility Award, also was RSI’s Municipal Facility of the Year.
- World No. 19 Anna Chakvetadze has signed a long-term agreement with Wilson Racquet Sports. She debuted her Wilson [K] Blade Team racquet and Eco Pro Tour Super Six bag at the Australian Open in January.
- Sixteen-year-old racquetball phenom Veronica Sotomayor has extended her contract with Ektelon through 2011. She plays with the Ektelon O3 RG racquet and is currently ranked No. 11 in the world.
- Five-time US Open champ Jimmy Connors will be Tennis Channel’s lead analyst during the network’s inaugural coverage of the US Open telecast in September. Connors, who most recently worked as a part of the BBC’s Wimbledon on-air team and coached top American player Andy Roddick, has not appeared in a televised tennis booth for a U.S. network since 1991. Connors will team with Martina Navratilova, primary commentator for all Tennis Channel Grand Slam telecasts, as well as veteran sportscaster and 19-year US Open anchor Bill Macatee.
- Head has signed a long-term agreement with Novak Djokovic of Serbia, who currently ranks third in the South African Airways ATP ranking.
- Adam Helfant recently was named ATP executive chairman and president, based in London. An MIT and Harvard Law graduate, Helfant brings a wealth of global sports, business and legal experience following 12 years as a senior executive with Nike, three years with the NHL as an attorney and four years as an associate at the international law firm Cleary, Gottlieb, Steen & Hamilton.
- India’s Yuki Bhambri beat Jarmere Jenkins of College Park, Ga., for the Boys’ 18 singles title at the 62nd annual Orange Bowl International Championships in December. Wild-card entry Julia Boserup of Boca Raton, Fla., beat Christina McHale of Englewood Cliffs, N.J., for the Girls’ 18 title. In the 16s, Denis Kudla of Arlington, Va., took the boys’ title and Chanelle Van Nguyen of Miami won the girls’.
- George MacCall, a former Davis Cup captain and owner of one of the first professional tennis leagues, died in December at the age of 90. He was a captain in the 1960s and had teams that featured Arthur Ashe, Dennis Ralston and Marty Riessen.
- Serena Williams, playing with a Wilson [K] Blade Team, returned to the World No. 1 ranking by winning the Australian Open. She also teamed with Venus Williams, playing with the same frame, to take the doubles title. Men’s runner-up Roger Federer plays with a Wilson [K] Six.One tour.
- Four members of the tennis community were honored with national awards as part of the USOC Coaching Recognition Program. Manuel Diaz of Athens, Ga., head coach of the University of Georgia’s men’s tennis team was named the 2008 USOC National Coach of the Year for Tennis, Frank Salazar of Chevy Chase, Md., director of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., was named USOC Developmental Coach of the Year for Tennis, and Rita Gladstone of Port Orange, Fla., was named USOC Volunteer Coach of the Year for Tennis. In addition, the USTA nominated Anne Smith, Ph.D. of Dallas, for the “Doc” Counsilman Science Award for her contributions in the areas of sports psychology and mental training.
- Pete Sampras will join the six-player field at the Del Mar Development Champions Cup to be held March 18-22 at the Palmilla Tennis Club in Los Cabos, Mexico. The Del Mar Development Champions Cup is a first-year event on the 2009 Outback Champions Series, the global tennis circuit for champion tennis players age 30 and over.
USTA Serves Awards $1.2 Million
“USTA Serves — Foundation for Academics. Character. Excellence.,” the philanthropic and charitable entity of the USTA, announced that under the “Aces for Kids” umbrella, it has awarded 39 grants, 17 in conjunction with the USTA Public Affairs Committee, for a total of $574,700. The funding source for the 17 grants is the U.S. Department of Justice. The number of program grants awarded in 2008 was 58, for a total amount of $886,960. Combined with scholarship awards, the Foundation distributed almost $1.2 million in 2008.
USTA Serves awards “Aces for Kids” grants to programs that successfully combine tennis and education and help children pursue their goals and highest dreams by succeeding in school and becoming responsible citizens. The nonprofit organizations selected for funding offer a curriculum designed to address school truancy, poor academic performance, gang activity, underage drinking and drug abuse.
“It is extremely rewarding to see how programs across the country are using USTA Serves funding to help children improve academically and learn positive life skills,” says Karen Martin-Eliezer, chief executive, USTA Serves.
Deadline March 1 for Top 50 TWC Nominations
Looking for more recognition for your Tennis Welcome Center? Nominate your facility, park, school, resort or organization for “Top 50 Tennis Welcome Center” honors.
The TIA, USTA and RSI are looking for the country’s best TWCs, those that are leading the charge in t he growth of the sport by providing well-rounded programs to new and current players of all ages and abilities. Nominations close March 1. To nominate, visit GrowingTennis.com and fill out a quick survey. Categories are: private facility; public/park & rec; resort; school, college or university; commercial facility; and Community Tennis Association.
Wilson Launches New FX Technology
Wilson says it has incorporated a new technology in its [K] Factor line of frames for 2009. The next generation of [K] Factor racquets, called FX, features a “Quad Shaft” construction in the throat area that the company says improves on the distribution of weight.
In [K] Factor FX frames, the throat has four shafts, versus the conventional two, which means up to 23 percent more “torsional” stability, says Wilson, and a more evenly distributed mass resulting in added control.
The FX line also has four key technologies: [K]arophite Black, [K]onnector, [K]ontour Yoke and [K]ompact Center, which Wilson says results in three key benefits: increased feel, more strength and stability, and a bigger sweetspot, contributing to 64 percent more control.
“The new FX line offers what every level of player needs: stability,” says Cory Springer, global business director of racquets for Wilson. “We added this technology to seven specific models, which we are confident will enhance their performance.” This feature can be found in the new [K] One.FX, [K] Three.FX, [K] Four.FX, [K] Zen Team.FX, [K]obra Team.FX, [K] Pro Team.FX and [K] Tour Team.FX.
Wilson is hosting a sweepstakes that will award one winner per month an FX racquet of their choice. To enter the sweepstakes, visit wilsontennis.com/fx. For more information on the racquets, visit wilson.com.
K Zen Team FX
K Cobra Team FX
K Tour Team FX
K Four FX
K Three FX
K One FX
K Pro Team FX
Serena Williams Tops WTT Draft
Serena Williams was the first pick in the Advanta WTT Pro League Marquee Player Draft in early February. Williams will return for her fourth WTT season and her second with the Washington Kastles.
The Advanta WTT Pro League, co-founded by Billie Jean King, is a professional co-ed sports league playing in a team format in 10 U.S. markets. The 2009 season is July 2 to 26, concluding with the Advanta WTT Championship Weekend.
The WTT lineup also will include Venus Williams playing for the Philadelphia Freedoms. Bob and Mike Bryan will again play for the Kansas City Explorers, and Anna Kournikova will play for the St. Louis Aces.
Other marquee players include John McEnroe (New York Sportimes), Martina Navratilova (Boston Lobsters) and Michael Chang (Sacramento Capitals).
Hinding Completes Private Indoor Court
Hinding Tennis of West Haven, Conn., recently completed a private indoor court in a Boston suburb for former top-ranked college player Tina Smith. The surface is Hinding’s patented Cushion Extreme System, a resilient, poured-in-place cushion system that can be installed indoors, outdoors and on cracked courts. “The court plays fantastic,” says Smith. Contact (203) 285-3055 or visit hindingtennis.com.