Tennis Industry magazine

 

Industry News

Prince Sports Files for Bankruptcy Protection

Prince Sports Inc. announced on May 1 that it filed voluntary petitions for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The filing, which includes Prince’s U.S. affiliates, also included a proposed plan of reorganization.

“After considering several business options, the Board of Directors and the senior management team firmly believe that the Chapter 11 filing is not only a necessary step but also the right thing to do to ensure a secure future for Prince,” said Gordon Boggis, president and CEO of Prince Sports. Prince says it will utilize the Chapter 11 process to develop a more competitive business model.

The proposed reorganization calls for Prince to be acquired by Authentic Brands Group LLC, which is now the single holder of Prince’s secured debt of more than $60 million. “As part of the bankruptcy process, an affiliate of Authentic Brands Group is expected to acquire 100 percent of the new equity in the reorganized company in exchange for its debt,” Prince told RSI.

The bankruptcy filing says Prince has a value of $54.2 million. In addition to the debt held by ABG, there’s another $12 million in debt to vendors and other payables. According to the bankruptcy filing, the tennis unit had $59 million in sales last year, or 83 percent of the company’s revenue. Just over half of Prince’s sales come from North America. Prince says subsidiaries outside of the U.S. are not subject to the bankruptcy proceedings and are expected to operate normally. Prince Sports’ portfolio of brands includes Prince (tennis, squash and badminton), Ektelon (racquetball) and Viking (platform/paddle tennis).

In answer to questions from RSI, Prince Sports says it is continuing to move ahead with product and distribution. “A formal restructuring will give us the time and resources we need to address our financial challenges while we continue daily operations,” Prince says. “We anticipate continuing to serve all of our customers globally during this process. Retailers can continue to place orders in the same way that they currently order product. The process remains unchanged.”

The company says it “anticipates to continue bringing innovative products to market on a regular basis. We have several innovative products in the pipeline and we are currently finalizing launch plans.”

Authentic Brands Group is a “brand development and licensing company,” according to its website, whose “mandate is to acquire, manage and build long-term value in prominent consumer brands.” Current ABG brands include Marilyn Monroe, Bob Marley, Iron Star and TapouT.

“We anticipate to emerge from this period as a more efficient, performance racquet sports brand with a more competitive model in the market, while eliminating the economic constraints that have prohibited the brand from achieving its potential,” Boggis says.

Prince has changed hands a few times over the last decade. Apparel company Bennetton Group sold Prince in 2003 to Lincolnshire Management Inc., which then sold it to Nautic Partners LLC in 2007. Over the last two years, there had been speculation that Prince was up for sale again.

USPTA Announces Plans to Move Forward

The USPTA will form a search committee as it seeks to hire a new executive director, to take over leading the staff of the teaching pro organization after longtime CEO Tim Heckler retires at the end of December.

In January, Heckler had announced his intent to retire at year’s end, after serving as CEO for 30 years. At a meeting in Houston April 13-14, the USPTA’s board of directors offered Heckler a one-year severance package, which was then ratified by the USPTA’s executive committee.

The organization says a search committee will be formed and the process to hire a new executive director will start by summer. The USPTA plans to announce a timeline and application process soon.

“The USPTA is indebted to Tim Heckler for taking USPTA to the next level, and his 30 years of service as CEO is a demonstration of his passion, his commitment to the association, and his endless hard work for helping and improving the well-being of tennis-teaching professionals,” said USPTA President Tom Daglis.

When Heckler, a USPTA Master Professional, was tapped as CEO in 1982, the organization had about 2,400 members and an annual budget of $700,000. Today, the group serves more than 15,000 members in 66 countries, with a budget of $6.5 million. The USPTA’s equity has grown from $60,000 in 1980 to $4.2 million today.

Heckler started his tennis-teaching career in 1970, the same year he joined the USPTA. He was elected president of the USPTA Texas Division in 1974 and served as national president from 1980 to 1982. The USPTA honored Heckler in 2000 by naming him a grand inductee in the Association’s Hall of Fame. He also received the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Tennis Educational Merit Award in 2002 and was inducted into the Texas Tennis Hall of Fame in 2005. In 2008, he received the USPTA’s highest honor, the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award.

4 Coaches Honored by USOC

Four members of the tennis community were honored with national awards as part of the USOC Coaching Recognition Program.

Dan James Named ITF Wheelchair Coach of Year

Dan James, the USTA manager of Wheelchair Tennis and the U.S. Wheelchair Tennis coach, has been named the 2011 Wheelchair Tennis Coach of the Year by the International Tennis Federation. James will be presented with a trophy during the 2012 BNP Paribas World Team Cup in Seoul, Korea.

This is James’ second ITF Wheelchair Tennis Coach of the Year Award, with the first coming in 2007, where he served as the head coach at the Parapan American Games.

“I am truly honored to be recognized with this award once again by the ITF,” said James. “Without the USTA staff, coaches, and especially our exceptional players, this would not be possible.”

This summer, James will serve as the head coach for the 2012 London Paralympic Games. James was the men’s head coach at the Sydney, Australia, Paralympic Games (2000), and head coach at the Athens, Greece (2004) and Beijing, China (2008) Paralympic Games.

New Edition of Tennis Court Construction Manual Available

The seventh edition of “Tennis Courts: A Construction & Maintenance Manual” is now available from the Americans Sports Builders Association and U.S. Tennis Association. The book is designed for anyone involved in building, maintaining and/or repairing/renovating tennis courts and facilities, and it has been considered an indispensable guide in the industry.

A joint effort of the ASBA and USTA, every two years the book’s manuscript is reviewed and updated by a Joint Editorial Board (JEB) with representatives from both organizations. The JEB for the seventh edition is Mark Brogan of Devon, Pa.; David Clapp of Knoxville, Tenn.; David LaSota of Johnstown, Pa.; and Richard Zaino of Orange, Calif. RSI Editorial Director Peter Francesconi worked with the JEB and edited the edition.

“For the seventh edition, we’ve made the book much more user-friendly,” says Clapp, who chaired the JEB. “First, we’ve reorganized the information into a more logical flow — from conception to construction to completion — and included extensive chapters on maintenance and repair and renovation. But also, we’ve broken out information into many more chapters, and we’ve included ‘tabs’ so users can quickly and easily find the information they need.”

For more information and to obtain a copy of the seventh edition of the “Tennis Courts” construction manual, visit sportsbuilders.org.

Tennis Show Planned for August 24 in New York City

Last August, Hurricane Irene swept up the East Coast and canceled the inaugural Tennis Show in New York City, just before the start of the US Open. But the show will go on.

The Tennis Show 2012 will take place on Friday, Aug. 24, from 3 to 9 p.m. on the ballroom level at the Grand Hyatt in New York, the day before the start of the USTA’s popular Tennis Teachers Conference (which starts at 9 a.m. the next day).

For the one-day Tennis Show, plans call for an exhibitor area with more than 35 industry exhibitors, along with a demo court. From 6 to 7 p.m. in the same space, the TIA Tennis Forum will take place and include the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame induction ceremony for Nick Bollettieri. Following the Forum, the exhibitor area will re-open and include a cocktail reception and prize drawings.

For information, including the current schedule, visit TennisShow.com. For those interested in exhibiting, call (843) 686-3036 x.223 or email brian@tennisindustry.org.

TGA Awards 12 Youth Tennis Franchises

TGA Premier Youth Tennis (TGA) announced that it has 12 new youth tennis franchises across the country. TGA partnered with the USTA to help introduce tennis to kindergarten through eighth-graders.

The new franchise territories include Rockland County, NY; Bergen County, Essex County and Morris County, NJ; Los Angeles, Beach Cities, West Valley, Peninsula Valley and Placer County, CA; West Wake County, NC; Denver, CO; and Hamilton and Boone County, IN. Six additional franchises are also scheduled to open in the next few months.

“To be able to launch this new franchise opportunity and have this many franchises come on board so quickly is a testament to the top-notch program we’ve put together with the USTA and the successful business model our team has developed at TGA,” said Steve Tanner, chief operating officer of TGA. “We are thrilled to be able to offer another youth based sports program that enriches kids’ lives while creating business ownership and job opportunities within the industry.”

For more information on TGA, visit playtga.com.

Register for Tennis Teachers Conference

The morning after the Tennis Show, the 42nd Annual USTA Tennis Teachers Conference is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. at the Grand Hyatt New York. The TTC will run from Saturday, Aug. 25, through Aug. 27 and bring together hundreds of tennis teachers, coaches, tennis advocates and industry partners. World-class speakers will provide current, cutting-edge educational opportunities for all tennis providers. For more information and to register, visit usta.com/ttc.

Three USOS Events Sign Title Sponsors

Three financial institutions have cut sponsorship deals with tournaments that are part of the US Open Series of summer events leading up to the US Open.

Citigroup is sponsoring the ATP event in Washington, D.C., and at the same time merging it with the smaller WTA Tour event held in that area, which was already sponsored by Citi. The Citigroup deal is for five years and replaces Legg Mason, which sponsored the ATP event for 18 years.

BB&T announced that it will be the new title sponsor of the ATP event in Atlanta in July, for the next three years. And Western & Southern is renewing as title sponsor of the men’s and women’s combined tournament in Cincinnati.

Dual Layer Fiber TechnologyHelps Drymax Socks Stay Dry

Drymax says its tennis socks are designed with two different fiber technologies interwoven to form a dual-layer sock that keeps feet drier, no matter how much the player sweats.

On a molecular level, moisture doesn’t stick to the inner Drymax fiber terry loops, allowing them to squeegee sweat off the skin into the outer moisture-attracting fiber layer, says the company, to keep feet dry and comfortable and to help prevent blisters. “Drymax socks need no drying time; they dry at the speed of sweat,” says Gus Blythe, founder and president of Drymax Sports.

Suggested retail prices are $10 to $12. Visit drymaxsports.com.

Ashaway Offers UltraKill R-Ball Strings

Ashaway’s UltraKill family of racquetball strings offers players a full range of playing characteristics, allowing them to choose the precise combination of power, durability and feel that is right for their game, says the company. The strings are available in 16, 17 and 18 gauge thicknesses, and each is built on a specially constructed Zyex polymer core engineered to provide specific performance characteristics while maintaining tension for longer string life. Ashaway says.

People watch

Participation in Outdoor Recreation Reaches Five-Year High

In 2011, participation in outdoor recreation reached a five-year record in the U.S. More than 141 million Americans, or 49.4 percent of the U.S. population, participated in outdoor activities last year, an increase of 3 million compared to 2010 and continuing a five-year trend.

In addition, Americans made a total of 11.6 billion outdoor outings in 2011, which is 1.5 billion more than the previous year. Annually, participants averaged 82 outdoor outings – from hiking to biking, skiing to paddling. The findings are part of the 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report, the leading report tracking outdoor participation trends in the U.S. published by The Outdoor Foundation.

“This report shows that Americans are getting up and getting outside — a great trend for the outdoor community and the country,” said Christine Fanning, executive director of The Outdoor Foundation. “We are encouraged by the growing population of active young people, which reflects recent efforts to re-engage and re-inspire America’s youth to get outdoors.”

The research shows increases in youth and young adult participation, continuing an encouraging, yet modest, trend over the last few years.

The 2012 Outdoor Recreation Participation Topline Report is available for free at outdoorfoundation.org.

ITPA Formed to Certify Trainers, Coaches

The new International Tennis Performance Association (itpa-tennis.org) has been formed as an education and certification organization for trainers, coaches and specialists involved in tennis-specific performance enhancement and injury prevention

“Over 100 million people play tennis worldwide and the ITPA was established to ensure that these players receive the best training from ITPA-certified individuals using the latest evidence-based practical information to improve on-court tennis performance while limiting the likelihood of injuries,” said Dr. Mark Kovacs (right), ITPA executive director.

The ITPA offers three levels of tennis-specific certification: Tennis Performance Trainer (TPT), Certified Tennis Performance Specialist (CTPS) and Master Tennis Performance Specialist (MTPS). The educational curriculum is competency based, which ensures individuals who become certified have the knowledge, skills and abilities to effectively train tennis athletes at all levels.

“An organization like the ITPA has been needed for many years in the tennis industry,” said Todd Ellenbecker, founding chair of the ITPA Certification Commission. “Training tennis players requires specific knowledge about the unique movements and demands of tennis, which is different to most other sports.”

TennisResortsOnline Lists Top 100

TennisResortsOnline.com published its 2012 list of the Top 100 Tennis Resorts and Camps worldwide on May 1. Issued annually, this compilation bases its rankings on the evaluations of those in the best position to assess a tennis property: tennis vacationers themselves.

More than 3,000 avid players participated in the survey. Taken as a whole, the Top 100 reflects not only their wide-ranging opinions about what constitutes a great resort but also the broad diversity of the tennis landscape. For the complete list, visit tennisresortsonline.com.

Top 10 Tennis Resorts

  1. Kiawah Island Golf Resort, South Carolina
  2. Topnotch Resort and Spa, Vermont
  3. La Quinta Resort & Club, California
  4. Wild Dunes Resort, South Carolina
  5. Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Tirol, Austria
  6. Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hawaii
  7. Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort, Florida
  8. Four Seasons Resort Nevis, Nevis, West Indies
  9. JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa, California
  10. Wintergreen Resort, Virginia

Top 10 Tennis Camps

  1. Roy Emerson Tennis Weeks, Switzerland
  2. John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, Texas
  3. Saddlebrook Tennis, Florida
  4. New England Tennis Holidays at Sugarbush, Vermont
  5. Wintergreen Tennis Academy, Virginia
  6. PBI Tennis Camp at Bio-Hotel Stanglwirt, Tirol, Austria
  7. Topnotch Tennis Academy, Vermont
  8. Cliff Drysdale Tennis School at Stratton, Vermont
  9. Reed Anderson Tennis School, California
  10. Vermont Tennis Vacations, Vermont

Nominate for 2012 USTA Facility Awards

Nomination forms are due June 29 for the 31st Annual USTA Outstanding Facility Awards program, which recognizes outstanding tennis facilities under the jurisdiction of park & rec departments, educational institutions, nonprofit corporations, and private and/or commercial operation.

The USTA’s facility awards program in intended to encourage high standards for the construction and renovation of tennis facilities. Nominations are evaluated on criteria such as: quality of court area and surface; quality of the court enclosure and lighting; overall layout; accessories and amenities; evidence of good and green maintenance; tennis programs that include USTA tournaments and programs, 10 and Under Tennis programs, and more. Winners receive a wall plaque and large lexan sign to mount at their facility and a one-year membership to the USTA. Visit usta.com/facilityawards for more information and to nominate.

Short sets

Blue Clay at Pro Event in Madrid Draws Mixed Reactions From Players and Fans

The blue-colored clay courts at the Mutua Madrid Open in May was the source of much chatter recently. The tournament, a combined ATP and WTA tour event that is a tune-up to the French Open, had used red clay since 2009. But tournament owner Ion Tiriac said switching the color of the clay to blue improves the visibility of the ball, for both players and spectators — and importantly, improves how the yellow ball shows up on television.

Reaction to the blue clay was mixed, by both players and spectators. However, there is plenty of scientific evidence to support the fact that a yellow ball does show up better against a blue background than a red one. To make the blue clay, traditional red clay goes through a process that introduces a blue dye.

Using blue as a court color is not new — when the US Open changed its courts to blue, that became the dominant court color in the U.S., and now, in fact, the vast majority of ATP hard-court events take place on blue courts.

Will blue clay courts catch on? Tennis is steeped in tradition, and change doesn’t come quickly. Chances are Roland Garros will never switch from red clay, but who knows, we may see blue clay courts popping up here and there, as players realize there actually is a benefit to seeing the ball better.

13 Sections to Hold US Open National Playoff Events

There is still time to register for sectional qualifying tournaments for the US Open National Playoffs.

In January, the USTA announced today the return of the Playoffs for the third year. The event includes both men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles and provides an opportunity for all players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs men’s and women’s singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, held the week prior to the US Open. The US Open National Playoffs mixed doubles champions receive a main draw wild card into the 2012 US Open.

The Playoffs begin as a series of sectional qualifying tournaments and will be held in 13 USTA Sections. The entry deadline for the last sectional qualifying tournament, Southern, is June 18.

The 13 men’s, women’s and mixed doubles champions from each sectional qualifying tournament will advance to the US Open National Playoffs, which will be held in conjunction with the New Haven Open at Yale in August. For information and schedules visit USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs.

HJTEP Celebrates 40 Years

The Harlem Junior Tennis & Education Program (HJTEP) celebrated its 40th anniversary in May with an all-star lineup at an event held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. The daylong event featured a celebrity pro-am with stars that included tennis players Mary Joe Fernandez, Zina Garrison, Gigi Fernandez, Chanda Rubin, James Blake, Thomas Blake and Patrick McEnroe, along with George Martin of the New York Giants and former NBA stars Allan Houston and John Starks of the New York Knicks. Katrina Adams is the executive director of HJTEP.

Industry numbers

Tennis Racquet Performance

Specialty Stores: January-March, 2012 vs. 2011

Units 2012 138,764
2011 121,297
% change v. ‘11 14%
Dollars 2012 $19,477,000
2011 $17,462,000
% change v. ‘11 12%
Price 2012 $140.36
2011 $143.96
% change v. ‘11 -3%

Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan-Mar 2012

Best Sellers

  1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT (MP)
  2. Babolat Pure Drive GT 2012 (MP)
  3. Babolat Pure Drive GT (MP)
  4. Wilson BLX Juice (MP)
  5. Babolat Pure Drive Lite 2012 (MP)

“Hot New Racquets”

(introduced in the past 12 months)

  1. Babolat Pure Drive GT 2012 (MP)
  2. Wilson BLX Juice (MP)
  3. Babolat Pure Drive Lite 2012 (MP)
  4. Wilson BLX Pro Staff 6.1 90 (MS)
  5. Wilson BLX Pro Staff 6.1 95 (MS)

Top-Selling Tennis Shoes at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan-Mar 2012

  1. Prince T22
  2. Adidas Barricade 6.0
  3. Nike Air Breathe 2K11
  4. Babolat Propulse 3
  5. Nike Air Breathe Free 2

Top-Selling Tennis Strings at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date units, January-March 2012

  1. Prince Synthetic Gut Duraflex
  2. Wilson NXT
  3. Babolat RPM Blast
  4. Wilson Sensation
  5. Prince Lightning XX

(Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys)

 

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