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USTA Awards $500,000 in Grants

The USTA announced that it is awarding more than $500,000 in Recreational Tennis Grants to 54 organizations across the country.

The Recreational Tennis Division has pooled together financial resources to create a new series of grants to be distributed on a bi-annual basis to non-profits committed to increasing tennis participation, supporting tennis programming and fostering diversity among participants. In total, the USTA will award more than $1 million in Recreational Tennis Grants to qualified applicants in 2009.

Any non-profit organization was eligible to apply for these grants, regardless of affiliation with the USTA. Winning organizations include Parks and Recreation agencies, YMCA’s, USTA NJTL Chapters and school districts.

“We are thrilled to be able to invest over $500,000 to organizations all over the country that believe, as we do, that tennis can be the vehicle to improve the quality of life and education for both children and adults alike,” says Kurt Kamperman, chief executive of Community Tennis for the USTA.

Grant awards ranged from $2,500 up to $50,000. Organizations that weren’t awarded grants during this cycle can apply for funding during future cycles. Applications for the second 2009 cycle are due by May 15. For more information, visit USTA.com/grants.

Head’s New ‘YouTek’ Adapts Frame to Each Shot

Head says its new YouTek racquet technology, launched in April in four Tour Series frames and one junior racquet, is designed to “adapt to each shot you hit.” In Head’s Tour racquets, YouTek features something called “d3o,” described as a “smart material” in the shaft that changes its behavior under dynamic loading or impact. The molecules in d3o “react to the needs of a player in nano seconds,” says Head.

The material stays soft during slow hits, providing a softer touch and better feel on slow-speed impacts, like slices and drop shots. But on harder strokes, the molecules “lock together” and increase the frame’s stiffness, creating power on high-speed impacts, such as on serves and passing shots, according to Head.

“If your game is aggressive and adventurous or consistent and smooth, YouTek will adapt to your game,” says Kevin Kempin, Head’s v.p. of sales and marketing.

YouTek also features Head Grommets with Teflon friction-reducing polymer, which allows minimal string friction for less energy loss and more power, says the company. There are four YouTek racquets in the Tour Series:

Head Youtek

For younger players, there’s the Speed Jr. ($120) with YouTek, at 102 square inches and 8.6 ounces, with a 24 mm beam. For more information, visit head.com.

Schedule Set for Tennis Club & Facilities Conference

The PTR has set the schedule for its inaugural Tennis Club & Facilities Conference May 13-15 at PTR Headquarters on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The three-day event has been designed for tennis club owners, facility managers, and directors of tennis.

Opening presentations on the afternoon of May 13 will include PTR CEO Dan Santorum and COO Pat Decker, as well as Jolyn de Boer, TIA executive director. Doug Cash will facilitate discussions Wednesday evening, Thursday and Friday, covering such topics as: Facility Management and Maintenance; Successful Practices Everyone Should Use; Managing Expenses; Payroll; Hiring and Launching Tennis Directors and Staff Pros; Programming; Additional Revenue Areas — Pro Shop, Food and Beverage, Spa; Software and Websites.

With opportunities to network with other club owners/managers, the event also features Beach Tennis, a round robin, yoga and dinner parties.

The $325 cost includes all workshops, meals and social activities. For more information or registration, contact 800-421-6289 or visit ptrtennis.org and click Upcoming Events.

Babolat and Michelin Launch New Shoe Line

Babolat launched its new spring/sum-mer footwear line in March during the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. The shoes, a product of the partnership between Babolat and Michelin, include new models in the Propulse and Team ranges and a new Drive range, designed to provide improved flexibility with reinforced padding for comfort.

Babolat says that since 2001, its arrangement with Michelin has keyed on the fact that car tires and shoe soles perform similar functions — ensuring contact with the ground and safe, efficient movement and traction.

Thomas Otton, Babolat product group marketing manager, says his team considered four designer trends for the spring/summer line: lower-to-the-ground soles, details in the layering, removal of material for better ventilation and lightness, and repetition of key graphic elements.

Two tour pros recently signed shoe endorsements with Babolat. Nadia Petrova, ranked No. 9 in the world, wears the Babolat Propulse Lady and Ivo Karlovic, No. 29 in the world, wears the Team All Court 4.

New shoes are the Propulse 2 (suggested retail $109), Propulse Lady ($104) and Propulse Junior ($59); Team All Court 4 ($89), Team All Court White 4 ($89), Team Lady 3 ($85) and Team All Court Junior 4 ($49); and the Drive ($70) and Drive Lady ($70).

Babolat tennis shoes

The three Propulse shoes all feature Michelin “Optimized Cell System” technology, designed to increase grip and resistance to abrasion, and Babolat’s “Foot Belt” support technology for a secure fit. In addition, they come with “Exact Pro” technology, designed to improve a player’s acceleration when pushing off the forefoot. The Propulse 2 is worn by Andy Roddick.

Babolat says the Team range is for competitive players and that the new Team shoes have added comfort and are lighter in weight. The new Drive range was designed to improve flexibility with reinforced padding for comfort. For more information, visit babolat.com or call 877-316-9435.

Chat With Prince Racquet Experts

Want to try to stump the racquet development experts? Or find out why and how racquets find their way into production? Visit Prince’s new EXO3 blog site, to chat with Prince’s product development team. The site will have weekly blog entries from Prince Performance Racquet Director Tyler Herring. You also can start your own discussion topics, and find answers to all those racquet questions you’ve wondered about.

Lee Serves Up ‘Play the Clay’ Site

Lee Tennis Court Products recently launched a new website, “Play the Clay,” to link tennis players, coaches and teaching pros who have a shared interest and passion for clay courts and clay-court tennis. The interactive site, playtheclay.com, is dedicated to sharing information about the benefits of playing tennis on clay.

“The purpose of ‘Play the Clay’ is to teach site visitors about the clay court experience, and provide the information and, hopefully, the inspiration they need to go experience it for themselves,” says Lee Director of Sales Pat Hanssen.

Establishing connections with others who love tennis and sharing stories and experiences about clay court tennis is an important feature of the site. A “Join the Movement” section is dedicated to sharing information about clay’s pivotal role in developing the next wave of U.S. champions.

The site also highlights photos from various events, a blog, industry news, tips and tricks on playing tennis on clay, and a directory of facilities that offer clay courts.

Houston Club Chooses Classic Turf

Classic Turf of Woodbury, Conn., this summer will begin work on four indoor courts on top of a parking garage for the Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa in Houston, Texas, using Classic Turf’s exclusive cushioned court surface.

“The client played on one of our courts in Houston and loved it,” says John Eren of Classic Turf. “They decided to go with Classic Turf based on its soft, comfortable and consistent playability. For more information, visit classicturf.org, or contact 800-246-7951 or sales@classicturf.org.

Cardio Tennis Workshops Offered

Cardio Tennis workshops, which include both on-court and classroom training, are being offered around the country. The workshops are for teaching pros who both currently conduct Cardio Tennis or are looking to get started.

Attendees will learn about CT drills, how the CT program can generate revenue, how to use heart-rate monitors effectively to raise the fitness profile of CT participants, and more. To register visit growingtennis.com and click on “workshops and training.” The workshop schedule is:

May 8: Bluegrass Yacht and CC, Nashville, Tenn.

May 9: Fort Sanders Health & Fitness, Knoxville, Tenn.

May 15: Atlantic Coast Athletic Clubs, Midlothian, Va.

May 31: YMCA, Kalamazoo, Mich.

June 1: Bill Barber Park, Irvine, Calif.

June 12: Midtown Tennis Club, Chicago

June 19: Longfellow Tennis Club, Wayland, Mass.

USTA Seeks Outstanding Facility Nominations

The USTA is looking for nominations for the 2009 Outstanding Tennis Facility Awards. Deadline for the awards application to be submitted is June 12.

The awards, now in their 28th year, are given to outstanding public tennis facilities under the jurisdiction of a parks and recreation department, an educational institution, a non-profit corporation, or a private and commercially owned and operated facility with USTA and other growth programs open to the public. Award criteria include overall layout, court surface and lights, ease of maintenance, aesthetics, amenities and programming.

Awards will be announced in July and presented during the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting in New York in September, during the US Open. Visit usta.com/facilityawards for more information and the application. For questions, email facilityawards@usta.com.

Cookson, Harmon Honored by Hall of Fame

Elizabeth “Betty” Cookson of San Mateo, Calif., and Rodney Harmon of Miramar, Fla., were honored in March by the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Cookson received the prestigious Samuel Hardy Award, while Harmon received the Tennis Educational Merit Award. The awards were presented in California during the USTA’s Annual Meeting.

The Samuel Hardy Award is presented annually to a USTA volunteer in recognition of long and outstanding service to the sport. The Tennis Educational Merit Award is given to individuals who are U.S. citizens that have made notable contributions in the tennis education field at the national level.

TIA Adds Francesconi to Head Up Industry Communications

Peter Francesconi, editorial director for Racquet Sports Industry magazine, has joined the Tennis Industry Association’s support team to head up communications/public relations for the industry.

“I’m very excited about my role with the TIA,” Francesconi says. “I’ve always felt that my experience and relationships are well-suited to promoting the sport and contributing to that spirit of collaboration that has helped tennis to grow — exactly what the TIA is all about. I’m happy to be joining the TIA’s support team.”

Francesconi’s experience in the tennis publishing business spans 22 years. In addition to his current role with RSI, the world’s largest trade magazine for tennis, he recently was named editor of Tennis Life magazine, the second largest consumer tennis publication in the U.S.

“Pete’s experience and relationships really help round out our communications efforts,” says Jolyn de Boer, the TIA’s executive director. “The fact that he is involved in both the trade and consumer sides of the business is a great asset to what our mission is here at the TIA.”

“Peter has an excellent reputation in this business,” adds TIA President Jon Muir. “I’m excited that he’s joining us and expanding his role, both for the TIA and for tennis overall.”

PTR Loses Photographer Ken Mak

Dr. Kin-Yee “Ken” Mak, a fixture at all PTR events for the last decade, died suddenly in March at age 75. He practiced internal medicine for 30 years in Lima, Ohio, and had retired to the Hilton Head area in 1995, where he developed a passion for photography. It was that hobby that led to his association with the PTR, volunteering to serve as the official photographer for PTR events.

Ken Mak

“I don’t think there has been an issue of TennisPro magazine without a Ken Mak photo in it for the last 10 years,” said Peggy Edwards, the PTR’s director of communications. “He was a true gentleman — thoughtful, kind and talented. His generosity to PTR was a great gift.” He is survived by his wife of 44 years, Kristine, four children and six grandchildren.

Tennis Across America Celebrates 20 Years

The USPTA’s 20th annual Tennis Across America Day will be May 9. Teaching pros will provide opportunities for people eager to play by offering free Tennis Across America clinics in more than 350 cities nationwide, and then provide follow-up programming.

The Tennis Across America program consists of three major elements. First, free clinics are held at public and private facilities around the nation. Second, multicultural clinics introduce the sport to various groups and give everyone the opportunity to experience tennis. Third, follow-up programs are created to provide players with an opportunity to pursue their new enthusiasm for tennis.

While Tennis Across America Day will officially be celebrated May 9, it is not limited to just that day. More than 1,500 USPTA professionals and recreational coaches, along with volunteers, offer free clinics to the public throughout the spring and summer months. Clinics can be directed toward adults, children or both, and may include new, current and former players returning to the game. Visit uspta.com for more information.

Former USTA President Les Snyder Dies

Les Snyder, who served as USTA president from 1995-‘96, died April 8 in Tempe, Ariz. Snyder was an instrumental figure in the planning and construction of Arthur Ashe Stadium and the expansion of the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Formerly a professor of psychology at Arizona State University, Snyder advocated for the development of a strong national staff for the USTA, and advanced the notion that professional tennis ought to incorporate an element of entertainment, in order to increase its appeal. He was a longtime volunteer in the USTA Southwest Section, serving as its president from 1980 to 1982. In 1997, he was elected to the Southwest Hall of Fame.

Donations may be made to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) “In Memory of Lester Snyder,” 5665 Oberlin Drive, Suite 106, San Diego, Calif. 92121, or by calling JDRF at 858-597-0240.

UC-Davis Club Team Honored by USTA

The University of California-Davis Club Tennis Team has won the inaugural Club of the Year Award for the USTA Tennis On Campus program for the 2008-09 season. In addition, the Lone Star College-Cy-Fair Club Tennis Team, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Club Tennis Team and UCLA Club Tennis Team received honorable mentions.

The USTA Tennis On Campus Club of the Year Award honors a club for significant improvements in their program and how it commits time and resources to benefit its community. UC-Davis is a close-knit, 90 percent self-financed, and diverse club of more than 250 recreational and competitive players whose goal is to spread the joys of tennis through volunteering and mentoring.

For its impact on the Davis community at large, the UC Davis Club holds a number of charitable events per year and has strong partnerships with local businesses. For example, the club partners with the USTA to provide a free clinic to over 400 underprivileged kids every year. In addition, the team offers a membership card that allows for discounts at local Davis merchandisers.

“It is remarkable to see how many of these student-led programs commit their time, energy and resources to improving their local communities,” says Glenn Arrington, USTA Tennis On Campus National Program Manager.

ITA/USTWA Writing Contest

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association and the U.S. Tennis Writers Association have formed a partnership and are sponsoring the ITA/USTWA Writing Contest this spring. Entries will be accepted in two categories: college students and sports information directors. The winners will be selected in early May, and the plan is to announce their names at the annual luncheon that is held during the NCAA Tennis Championships.

Contest specifics can be found itatennis.com. For further information, contact Mark Winters at okram@earthlink.net

Shortsets

Head Introduces ‘Perfect Match’ String Matrix

Head’s “Perfect Match” hybrid stringing program is designed to help players find the right main and cross strings using a simple matrix to recommend combinations of Head string to achieve specific performance benefits.

Players select two benefits — the primary benefit for the main strings and the secondary benefit for the crosses. Then the matrix shows the recommended Head strings for mains and crosses to achieve those specific benefits.


For instance, if a player primarily wants more control with the additional benefit of more touch, the matrix recommends Head FXP for the mains and Head Natural Gut for the crosses. Visit head.com for more information.

Peoplewatch

PTR $25,000 Championships Results

The PTR $25,000 Championships were held in conjunction with the PTR International Tennis Symposium in February. The big winners in the prize-money event for PTR teaching pros were Zbynek Mlynarik of Chatsworth, Calif., and Nicola Slater of Hilton Head Island, S.C., both capturing the Gamma Open Singles divisions.

Slater later teamed with Mia Bobrowski of Charlotte, N.C., to win the Gamma Women’s Open Doubles crown. Mlynarik and his partner, fellow California Julien Heine, the #1 seeded Gamma Open Doubles team, were taken down by Christophe Bonadona and Julio Cirimbelli, both of Hilton Head. For complete results, visit usta.com/tennislink Tournament #704102409.

USTA Presents Awards at Annual Meeting

Several individuals and an organization were recognized in March at the USTA’s Annual Meeting held in Desert Springs, Calif., for their contributions to tennis:

Ratkovich Takes Over as HEAD/Penn Ball Manager

Jeff Ratkovich is the new senior business manager of Penn tennis balls, succeeding Jennifer Parker, who has held the position for the past five years. Parker is leaving to devote full time to her family.

Ratkovich has been involved in the tennis industry in various capacities for over 25 years. Since joining Head/Penn he has held the key positions of customer service manager, e-commerce manager, and Penn worldwide operations manager.

New CSs

Neil Tjon Hing, Abilene, TX

Kevin Hu, San Diego, CA

Alejandro Vasquez, San Diego, CA

Chicago Teaching Pro Creates ‘Hop-A-Razzi’ Rolling Ball Basket

The new “Hop-A-Razzi” ball hopper rolls on built-in wheels, making ball pickup quick and easy. The baskets are sturdy, colorful and stackable, with an adjustable handle to allow players of all ages to retrieve balls quickly.

Hoparazzi

The design was created by USPTA-certified pro Christi Turdo of Chicago, whose more than 30 years in tennis include competing at the collegiate level and working as a club manager and owner.

“I was on the court teaching a lesson to a 7-year-old girl. It was a very hot day and she was picking up balls,” says Turdo. “I heard her scream, ‘The basket’s too heavy, I can’t pick it up!’ That night I took the basket home and started working on a design that would make it pleasurable for all ages to pick up tennis balls.”

The name is a play on “paparazzi,” the term for the photographers who follow celebrities around. The Hop-A-Razzi, says Turdo, “follows you wherever you go.” The 90-ball capacity basket may be purchased in a variety of bright colors at HopARazzi.com.

 

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