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Industry News

Information to help you run your business.

Babolat Introduces ‘Interactive’ Play & Connect Racquet

At the French Open in May, Babolat presented the prototype of what it says is the world’s first interactive racquet, Babolat Play & Connect. The demonstrations featured amateur and professional players including Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The racquet “is a major innovation that will create a before and after reference point,” says Babolat Chairman and CEO Eric Babolat. “Babolat Play & Connect is taking on the challenge of changing the way tennis lovers play and live the game of tennis. This is a connected and communicating racquet that will give players information they can use to improve performance or just have fun sharing with other passionate tennis players.”

The company says the racquet, which won’t be available until sometime in 2013, is for all levels of player, whether beginners, advanced or professional, who can use the frame to obtain information about their game, such as: the types of strokes they’re hitting, ball spin, position of the ball on the string bed, power during play, serve speed, and length and intensity of play.

The racquet handle is equipped with sensors that record the data. Once the training session or match is over, players can transfer and read the information on a computer, tablet or smartphone with a wireless connection or USB. The primary objective, the company says, was to create a racquet identical to a standard model, with no change to the sensations during play.

Babolat says players and coaches can then analyze games, set goals, and follow and compare data daily, weekly and monthly. “The range of possible data collection is very large,” says the company. The data also can be posted and shared online, to show, compare, challenge, and receive advice with others.

“The Babolat Play & Connect racquet is a tremendous tool. Having this new technology to capture information from my matches will mean a new way of analyzing my game,” says Nadal.

Babolat’s technological partner is Movea, a company that specializes in capturing and analyzing movements. Visit babolat.com.

Prince Sports Reaches Licensing Agreement

Prince Sports, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May, has entered into a deal to license its products to Battle Sports Science. The six-year agreement provides guaranteed minimum royalty payments of $15.1 million between 2013 and 2017.

The agreement, if approved by a Delaware bankruptcy judge, allows Battle Sports Science the right to source, market, and distribute Prince products in the U.S. through the end of 2017. The U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware was scheduled to hold a hearing on the proposed licensing agreement after the May 31 deadline.

“We’re excited to be involved in a great brand,” Battle Sports Science CEO Chris Circo told RSI. “There are some great innovative things coming in the next six to 18 months. We want to make sure we have the right product at the right time, in the right place.”

Battle Sports Science (battlesportsscience.com) was started in 2009, making products to address sports safety challenges. The company markets innovative helmets, face shields, mouth guards and more to help prevent injuries in sports such as football, hockey, baseball, lacrosse, and more.

“R & D remains a mainstay in the business. We need to get the Prince brand back in the game and deliver great products,” Circo added. “We’re committed to this long-term. We have a group of people committed to re-energizing the brand and taking it to the next level. I think you’ll see some changes in motion that will really broaden out our commitment to the brand, and I think everyone will be pleased.”

Tennis Show Slated for Aug. 24 in New York City

“The Tennis Show 2012: Celebrating the Sport of Opportunity,” will be Friday, Aug. 24, on the ballroom level at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. The one-day celebration of tennis will run from 3 to 9 p.m. and is free to industry attendees.

The Tennis Show, a prime networking opportunity for all involved in the industry, will include the Tennis Forum and the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony for Nick Bollettieri, in addition to an exhibitor area with more than 35 industry exhibitors and a demo court, allowing attendees to try out products. The Tennis Show will be followed the next morning with the opening session of the 42nd Annual USTA Tennis Teachers Conference.

The show’s industry exhibitor area will be open from 3 to 6 p.m., then will close from 6 to 7 p.m. for the TIA Tennis Forum, held in the same area. The Forum will include an update from the TIA on the state of the industry, then Bollettieri, who was named the next inductee into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame last year, will be formally honored. Following the Forum, the Tennis Show will re-open and include a cocktail reception and prize drawings.

For more information, including the current schedule, visit TennisShow.com.

Q1 Racquet Sales Up in Units, Dollars

March capped off a promising first quarter in the tennis specialty market, posting increasing racquet unit and dollar numbers not seen in 2011. The 2012 first quarter saw racquets increase 14% in units and 12% in dollars compared to Q1 in 2011.

For just the month of March, racquet units were up 15% and dollars up 12% compared to March 2011. The TIA Specialty Store Retail Audit details unit and dollar share of racquet sales at pro/specialty stores of the leading tennis racquet brands and analyzes the market by price point, racquet type and size. The Specialty Store Retail Audit is produced monthly by the TIA’s research partner, Sports Marketing Surveys USA.

Register for Tennis Teachers Conference

The 42nd Annual USTA Tennis Teachers Conference is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 25, at the Grand Hyatt New York and will run through Aug. 27. The event brings 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.

Also, if you’re planning to attend the TTC, make sure you arrive on Friday, Aug. 24, in time to attend the free, one-day Tennis Show 2012, also held at the Grand Hyatt. The Tennis Show will start with an industry exhibitor show at 3 p.m. Aug. 24 and will include the Tennis Forum at 6 p.m., then the exhibitor show and cocktail reception will start again at 7 p.m. Visit TennisShow.com.

Denver Set for 86th Annual NPPTC

For players participating in the 86th Annual National Public Parks Tennis Championships, July 21-29, the city of Denver has lined up some fun, free benefits, including tickets to a Colorado Rockies baseball game (vs. Cincinnati Reds), passes to the Denver Zoo, and weeklong passes to one of 28 area recreation centers. Entries for the tournament will be accepted up to July 14, but to receive these benefits, participants must enter by June 30.

Tournament officials say they’re extremely pleased with the host city’s commitment to adaptive and wheelchair tennis divisions for the NPPTC. Adaptive tennis divisions are men’s and women’s singles and doubles and unified doubles, held July 23-25; wheelchair tennis divisions include men’s and women’s singles and doubles and junior singles, held July 27-29. There also will be a 10 and Under Tennis PlayDay on July 22 for all youngsters (USTA membership is not required).

NPPTC play will take place at Denver City Park and Gates Tennis Center. For more information and to register, visit denvergov.org/parksandrecreation.

GSS Symposium to Offer Special Bag Promotion

The GSS Symposium will again offer a special bag promotion to attendees. “Last year, several major companies participated in our bag promotion, in which attendees each received a triple racquet thermal back, a premium racquet, and 12 sets of premium string,” says Tim Strawn, founder of the GSS Symposium. “That bag, along with other items from various sponsors, offsets the cost of registration for the event.”

For the 2012 event, to be held Sept. 22-26 at Saddlebrook Resort in Florida, Strawn says Babolat, Gamma, Wilson and Yonex have so far committed to participate in the bag promotion.

This year’s seminar line-up includes several new topics, including a Cardio Tennis session plus a review of Dartfish presented by Master Racquet Technician Ben Porter, who is a territory manager for Prince Sports. Dave Bone, executive director of the USRSA, also returns and will be conducting USRSA certification testing on the last day of the symposium.

For more information go to grandslamstringers.com, call Strawn at 540-772-4418 or email crazydiamond23@cox.net.

SGMA’s Wholesale Study Tallies $77 Billion in Sales, a 4.2% Increase

According to SGMA’s Manufacturers Sales by Category Report (2012 edition), manufacturers’ (wholesale) sales of sporting goods equipment, fitness equipment, sports apparel, athletic footwear, and sports licensed merchandise in the U.S. totaled $77.31 billion in 2011 — a 4.2 percent increase over 2010 when wholesale sales were $74.19 billion.

“For the most part, sales in the sports and fitness industry continue to be a mirror image of the U.S. economy,” said SGMA President Tom Cove. “As the economy begins to improve, Americans are more likely to spend more money on fitness equipment, sports gear, athletic clothing, and footwear. Overall, sports participation remains strong and solid in the U.S., though there is room for growth.”

The Manufacturers Sales By Category Report is an industry overview that gives topline wholesale market size data by category, which is derived from industry submissions and survey data. Sporting goods equipment sales rose slightly — up 2.5 percent — from $20.37 billion in 2010 to $20.87 billion in 2011. The five largest categories of sporting goods equipment are: firearms/hunting ($2.9 billion); golf ($2.5 billion); fishing ($2.0 billion); camping ($1.80 billion); and optical goods ($1.3 billion).

Wholesale sales of sports apparel were $31.4 billion in 2011, a 6.1 percent increase from $29.6 billion in 2010. Athletic footwear sales increased 4.5 percent — from $12.61 billion in 2010 to $13.18 billion. Running topped the category, increasing 7.6 percent to $3.89 billion.

Exercise equipment is a $4.49 billion business and treadmill sales account for 25.5 percent of that category, followed by elliptical machines ($1.06 billion) and exercise cycles ($484 million). Consumer/retail spending for exercise equipment accounts for just over 75% of the entire exercise equipment category.

TNT Net Tension System Used at NCAA Championships

The TNT Gauge system, which measures the tension on a net cord, was used for the first time on all courts at the NCAA Division 1 Championships, held in May at the University of Georgia in Athens.

In the first full year of the system’s availability, the courts at the University of Georgia’s Magill Tennis Complex have joined all the courts at the upcoming 2012 US Open, several US Open Series and World TeamTennis venues, three SEC schools, and many high-end clubs in utilizing the TNT Gauge system to remove the last remaining variable from the courts.

The TNT Gauge, manufactured in Knoxville, Tenn., was developed in cooperation with the University of Tennessee’s tennis program in early 2011. “Tennessee has been fortunate to use the TNT Gauge all season,” said Vols’ Head Coach Sam Winterbotham. “I believe it is the first time we have been able to say confidently that the nets are all the same tension. In men’s tennis we play let cords, so knowing that the bounce off the net will be uniform really helps.”

The gauge is available with club or team logos imprinted and made in models that ensure compatibility with nearly all net posts. Visit tightcable.net.

‘State of the Industry’ Report Available

The 2012 edition of the “State of the Industry” is now available from the TIA. The 16-page SOI is an analysis of the more than 70+ reports produced each year by the TIA and identifies key trends and research that can affect your business. The State of the Industry narrates the story of the tennis industry from the past year by focusing on four key segments — the economy and tennis, tennis supply, tennis demand, and media & pro events. “Industry”-level members of the TIA and above have access to the report. For information, or to obtain a copy, contact the TIA at research@TennisIndustry.org.

Congratulations To the Following For Achieving MRT and CS Status

New MRTs

Michael Goolsby, Atlanta, GA

Bryan Hodge, Williamson, NY

Kurt Robinson, Hickory, NC

Jamie Stevenson, Bonita Springs, FL

New CSs

Ivo Ljubibratic, Manchester, VT

People watch

Har-Tru Website Honored by Webbys

Har-Tru Sports’ website, hartru.com, has been recognized as an Official Honoree in the 16th Annual Webby Awards. Presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the Webbys honor excellence in design and content on the internet. Out of the 10,000 sites submitted this year, less than 15 percent were given nominations or honoree awards.

Designed and developed by Baltimore-based advertising agency Planit, the Har-Tru website was honored in the Professional Services category. Websites are selected for recognition based on excellence in criteria that include, but are not limited to: content, structure and navigation, visual design, functionality, interactivity and overall experience.

The Webby honor isn’t the first industry praise the Har-Tru website has received from the online community. The American Advertising Federation of Baltimore awarded Planit with a Gold ADDY Award in the Interactive Media category for its work on Hartru.com.

Ashaway Adds Dynamite 17 Natural Tennis String

Ashaway Racket Strings has fine-tuned its Dynamite line of tennis strings with the addition of Dynamite 17 Natural, designed to provide an optimum combination of power and durability. Dynamite 17 Natural’s Zyex multifilament core balances toughness and touch with exceptional tension holding characteristics to offer a string that plays and feels more like natural gut, the company says.

“Recent advances in material technology have produced Zyex filaments that are even finer and stronger than before,” says Steve Crandall, Ashaway’s vice president. “We’ve been able to use these to customize our core packages, and fine-tune our Dynamite string line to maximize specific playing characteristics for different gauges. Overall, Zyex core packages produce thinner, stronger, lighter-weight strings that provide superior feel, more power, and improved ball control.”

Optical green in color, Dynamite 17 Natural is a 1.25 mm string (17 gauge) available in 40-foot sets and 360-foot reels. Ashaway recommends stringing Dynamite 17 Natural at approximately 10% to 15% less than normal tension, up to a maximum of 60 lbs. Visit ashawayusa.com.

Classifieds

Wanted: “Babolat Star 4” stringing machine. Please contact Jim at jtierney@myboca.us

Short sets

PayPal Accounts Seized in Counterfeit Victories

In a key development in anti-counterfeiting, two apparel brands recently won millions of dollars against websites selling counterfeit products and were awarded the money from the defendants’ PayPal accounts, a practice previously not possible. The action gives a boost to all anti-counterfeiting campaigns, including those by the Tennis Industry Association (visit tennisindustry.org/alert) and the SGMA. Previously, it was nearly impossible to recover money from defendants.

UGG’s parent company, Deckers Outdoor Corp., won $686 million in lawsuits against more than 3,000 China-based websites selling counterfeit UGGs. Hermes won $100 million and permanent injunctions against websites selling counterfeit bags online.

The seizure of funds from PayPal accounts was done in accordance with Operation In Our Sites, an initiative by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations and the National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center.

Post Open Jobs for Free

Tennis businesses and organizations have the opportunity to post an unlimited number of open job positions free on the CareersInTennis.com job site. One of the industry’s largest and most active job sites, CIT has more than 1,300 registered job-seekers. Employers can set filters and criteria so they receive only the most qualified applicants for their specific jobs.

In 2011, more than 1,000 jobs posted on the site received over 30,000 job views. Posting jobs online is a simple process for employers. For job-seekers, registering on the site and posting your resume is free, too. Visit CareersInTennis.com to get started.

BRD Sport Offers Orthopedic Braces

A new line of orthopedic braces may be just what some of your ailing players may need. BRD Sport, a family-owned company based in New Jersey, developed a proprietary three-dimensional knitting process that it says can provide added compression, support and therapeutic relief for athletes.

“Most recreational athletes undervalue the importance a brace can make in their performance and recovery,” says Dr. Daniela Walsh, a physical therapist specializing in sports injuries.

BRD Sport’s braces — for ankles, knees and elbows, all made in the U.S. — come in black with orange striping, in seven sizes. The braces are flexible, latex free and made from high-quality fibers including medical-grade silicone. They can be hand-washed with warm water and mild soap. For more information, including an easy-to-use size guide, visit BRDSport.com.

Host a Veterans Day Tennis Play Day

Looking to increase tennis participation in your community while honoring our veterans and military service men and women and their families? Consider hosting a “Tennis Play Day,” in conjunction with the USTA’s military outreach initiative.

The USTA’s Tennis in the Parks Committee, working with other USTA committees and departments, is urging park & rec agencies, CTAs and other tennis providers to host a Play Day on or near Veterans Day, which this year falls on Sunday, Nov. 11.

“A lot of communities around the U.S. have Veterans Day activities, and this is a great add-on,” says Mary Henderson, chair of the Tennis in the Parks Committee. “A Veterans Day Play Day is open to all, not just military, but importantly, it will honor our veterans and military men and women and their families for their service to the country.”

For more information and to register your Veterans Day Play Day event, visit usta.com/veteransday.

 

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