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Industry News

FCC Ruling Favors Tennis Channel Over Comcast

The Federal Communications Commission’s 3-2 ruling in July in favor of Tennis Channel over cable giant Comcast may have come just in time for US Open fans. Although at press time Comcast said it will appeal, for now it must add Tennis Channel to an additional 18 million Comcast households

“Tennis Channel has demonstrated that Comcast discriminated against Tennis Channel and in favor of Golf Channel and Versus on the basis of affiliation, and that this discrimination unreasonably restrained Tennis Channel’s ability to compete,” the commission’s ruling said. “By relegating the Tennis Channel to a more expensive sports tier, which reached only about 3 million Comcast homes, Comcast had effectively limited the channel’s reach and crimped its revenue prospects.”

Comcast has said it will appeal to the courts, but for now it must add the Tennis Channel to 18 million households, which also means that it will have to pay the network millions of dollars more each year for its programming. Tennis Channel is currently available in about 34 million homes nationwide. The FCC also levied Comcast with a $375,000 fine.

Judge Approves Prince’s Reorganization Plan

At the end of July, a U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge approved Prince’s plan for restructuring, which allows it to exit court protection in less than three months. Under Prince’s reorganization plan, lender ABG-Prince LLC will get all the reorganized company’s equity in exchange for its $67.2 million secured debt. Unsecured creditors, owed about $13.8 million if all claims are allowed, will get proceeds from lawsuits and $4 million cash in two installments for an estimated recovery of at least 29 percent.

Prince sought bankruptcy protection May 1 listing about $54.2 million in assets as of Dec. 31, court filings show. The company owed creditors more than $75 million.

Active Brands Co., which was formed in the spring by the principals of two Omaha-based companies, acquired exclusive rights to the Prince, Ektelon and Viking brands in North America, forming a wholly owned subsidiary, Prince Americas. Prince Americas will exclusively operate and manage the production and distribution of all products and services associated with Prince, Ektelon and Viking in North America, Latin America and South America. The CEO of Active Brands is Chris Circo.

USTA Promotes Free Tennis Play Days

On Sept. 1, the USTA, with the help of a “celebrity spokesperson,” will kick off National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month by encouraging parents and kids to attend one of more than a thousand USTA Free Tennis Play Days, held over the next month.

“Childhood obesity has become the No. 1 health concern among parents, as this epidemic has tripled in the last three decades,” said USTA President Jon Vegosen. “With our new rules for young kids and the overall safety of the sport, tennis can be the perfect prescription for a lifetime of fun and healthy activity.” The USTA is looking for tennis providers to register their Free Tennis Play Days at YouthTennis.com. The first 2,000 events to register will receive:

2013 PTR Symposium Moves to May on HHI

PTR CEO Dan Santorum announced in late July that the 2013 PTR Symposium will be May 2-5 on Hilton Head Island, instead of the traditional time around President’s Day in February. The change is due to an extensive renovation at the Sonesta Resort (the former Crowne Plaza) that won’t be completed until the spring.

The PTR Championships will begin on Tuesday afternoon, April 30. The Symposium will begin on Thursday morning, May 2, followed by the Parade of Nations at 1 p.m. and the PTR Banquet that evening. Friday will be the Trade Show. The Symposium continues Saturday and Sunday, ending with the Gamma/Head Casino Night Dinner/Dance Sunday evening. Professional Development Courses will be offered May 1, 6, and 7. The rate at the newly renovated Sonesta Resort will be $139/night with no resort fee.

For those who may have been planning on the February dates, the PTR will host its inaugural 10 & Under Tennis Conference Feb. 14-17 at the Marriott Resort–Palmetto Dunes on Hilton Head Island. The conference will include a PTR Junior Development (10 & Under) Certification workshop and testing. The 10U conference will end with a Youth Town Hall lunch.

Visit ptrtennis.org for more details.

USPTA World Conference Sept. 16-21 in CA

The USPTA’s World Conference on Tennis will be Sept. 16-21 at the Hyatt Regency Monterey Hotel & Spa in Monterey, Calif. More than 1,500 tennis-teaching professionals, industry leaders and representatives, media and manufacturer representatives are expected to attend, participating in educational sessions both on- and off-court, networking, and more.

The seminars address current issues and future challenges facing all tennis teachers. Attendees also can participate in morning Cardio Tennis sessions. Also, USPTA players can compete for prize money and ranking points, and players who would like to represent their divisions may also compete in the USPTA Team Championships.

On Sept. 19, USPTA will hold its Tennis Buying Show. Exhibitors include equipment, apparel and footwear companies, video analysis, teaching aids, court surfacing and more. In addition, the USPTA Silent Auction will be held during the buying show, which benefits the USPTA foundation.

For more information, visit usptaworldconference.com.

PTR Offers Deal for ‘10U Tennis Month’

The PTR’s Junior Development (10 & Under) Workshops have certified more than 1,000 tennis coaches since February 2011, and to honor that milestone, the PTR has announced that August is PTR 10 & Under Tennis Month.

During August, anyone who joins PTR as a full member can take advantage of two special offers that will save them a total of $220: 1) PTR will waive the $100 membership initiation fee, and 2) Free registration for a PTR Junior Development (10 and Under Tennis) Workshop, a $120 savings, provided you attend the workshop in 2012.

“The USTA is providing grant funds to assist with delivering these 10 and Under educational workshops,” says PTR CEO Dan Santorum. “This is a great deal for people who have been thinking about joining PTR and getting their tennis teaching certification. PTR membership has always been a terrific value, but this August, it’s even better.”

“The USTA is excited that PTR is helping build a larger pool of well-trained teachers and coaches for this very important age group,” adds USTA Chief Executive of Community Tennis Kurt Kamperman. To take advantage of this offer, call the PTR at 843-785-7244.

Ashaway Introduces MonoGut ZX Red for Tennis

Ashaway Racket Strings has added a new member to its growing line of Zyex-based tennis strings. Colored bright red, MonoGut ZX Red is made from the same non-polyester 100% Zyex material as its sister product, MonoGut ZX, and plays more like natural gut, says Ashaway.

In recent blind playtests conducted by both the US and European Racquet Stringers Associations (USRSA and ERSA), Ashaway’s MonoGut strings were found to have much reduced stiffness and improved elongation, providing more power and control, and a softer feel, than leading polyester brands.

Ashaway says MonoGut ZX Red is designed for players seeking both gut-like playability and superior durability in a solid monofilament string, as well as those using monofilament strings in hybrid stringing patterns. The 1.27 mm (16 gauge) MonoGut ZX Red is available in 40-foot sets and in both 360- and 720-foot reels. Recommended stringing tension is up to 60 lbs. Visit ashawayusa.com.

Dunlop, Gosen Join Sponsors at GSS Symposium

Dunlop is the latest company that will take part in the 2012 GSS Symposium at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Sept. 22-26, joining Babolat, Gamma, Wilson and Yonex. “We’re happy to be part of the 2012 Symposium,” says Hunter Hines of Dunlop.

“Over the past 18 months we’ve built some strong momentum with strings like Silk and Black Widow,” adds Hines, “and we hope being a part of the Symposium will serve to build our brand and grow our presence in the string segment.”

This will be Dunlop’s first time at the GSS Symposium, which is now in its sixth year. “We’re pleased to add Dunlop to the list of industry leaders that help make this event possible each year,” says GSS Symposium founder Tim Strawn. “These five companies will contribute to our major gift bag that will see each attendee walk away with a triple racquet thermal bag, 12 sets of premium string, and a premium racquet. This, along with gifts from other sponsors, will more than offset the cost of registration to attend the event.”

Also participating in the Symposium will be string company Gosen. “Gosen is recognized as a world leader in the manufacture of racquet strings, so they’re a perfect fit for this group,” Strawn says. “Our attendees love the opportunity to test new strings as soon as they’re released. In 2011 Gosen provided free sets of their new Sidewinder polyester, and I still hear from last year’s attendees who continue to have great success with that string.”

For more info on the GSS symposium, visit gssalliance.com and click on the “Symposium” link. For questions, contact Strawn at 540-632-1148.

Peoplewatch

Har-Tru Sports, USTA Northern California Host Clay Court Workout for Juniors

Har-Tru Sports teamed up with the USTA Northern California Section in July to provide some of California’s top juniors the unique opportunity to train on clay courts. Har-Tru’s NorCal Clay Court Workout events were open to players who had qualified for the Clay Court Nationals, and Northern California players who ranked in the top 20 of each age division.

The two-day event took place at two facilities: Napa Valley Country Club and the Flora Vista Inn. About 20 young players ranging from ages 12 to 16 attended, where they learned clay-court strategy, tactics and footwork. Topics included movement and balance, learning to slide, using depth and spin versus power, controlling the point, playing offense versus defense, how to get your opponent out of position, and shot selection.

“The level of talent in Northern California is tremendous,” said Pat Hanssen, Director of Sales & Marketing for Har-Tru Sports and a former player and coach. “These kids are extremely intelligent and have access to some of the best coaches I have seen. Our goal was to provide young players with clay-specific training and coaching — something they sorely lack out West — that will have a positive impact on their game, and give them experience to draw on as they head East for the biggest tournaments of the year.”

Har-Tru says providing juniors with more training opportunities and competition on clay will lead to more well-rounded players. The company says clay courts have served as a training surface to 88 percent of male players who have reached the top 10 in the world since rankings were kept.

PTR Holds Wimbledon Symposium

TThe Professional Tennis Registry hosted its inaugural PTR Wimbledon Symposium, June 28-29, in London. Presenters included Judy Murray, LTA Fed Cup captain; Roger Draper, LTA chief executive; Anne Pankhurst, world renowned coach educational expert; Jez Green, fitness coach of Andy Murray; and Claire Pollard, head women’s tennis coach for Northwestern University.

PTR President Jorge Andrew and PTR CEO Dan Santorum told the mostly British audience that PTR is dedicated to revitalizing PTR membership in Great Britain. “Holding the Wimbledon Symposium was the first step in that direction,” Santorum said. The PTR says the two-day Wimbledon Symposium will be an annual event that hopes to attract an international audience.

Fila Picks Winner in Tennis Dress Design Contest

Fila announced that Samantha Swank, a recent fashion design graduate from Art Institute of Philadelphia, has won its tennis dress design contest, which was held via the brand’s Facebook page, Facebook.com/ FilaAmerica. The contest was a twist on the designer/celebrity collaboration trend, says Fila, which gave real people the opportunity to become a star in the specialized world of performance tennis fashion.

The final round, between Swank and co-finalist Annabelle McDonald, a film and television producer living in Brooklyn, N.Y., was held in Fila’s New York office, where they presented their ideas and inspiration to a panel of judges.

Swank remained in New York to begin the product development process for her design and oversee production alongside Fila Vice President of Apparel Danny Lieberman. She will return to New York the first week of September for a fitting of the dress on a professional tennis player. Then in March 2013, Swank will watch courtside as her dress debuts in a tournament match by a Fila-sponsored WTA Tour tennis player at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

PTR to Host Tennis Directors Conference

The PTR’s inaugural Directors of Tennis Conference will be Oct. 16-18 on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The inaugural conference will be limited to 75 attendees and will be on a first-come first-served basis.

A variety of topics relevant to directors (indoor, resort, country club and private facility) will be addressed by the faculty, which includes directors of tennis and consultants Doug Cash, Jorge Andrew, Roy Barth, David Brouwer, Michael Mahoney, Mark McMahon and others. The conference also will feature vendor displays to showcase products and services. To register, call the PTR at 843-785-7244.

ASBA Leaders Visit at Wimbledon, Meet With ITF

ASBA Executive Director Fred Stringfellow (left) and Tennis Division President Pete Smith represented the Association in June in London during the Championships at Wimbledon. Stringfellow and Smith participated in the ITF Foundation’s Court Surface Technical Meeting at ITF’s headquarters in London on June 28. Participants discussed such initiatives as ITF Recognition, ITF’s Court Pace Classification Program, Shoe Surface Interaction research and Net Tension considerations. The ITF Foundation includes corporate and non-profit association sponsors.

Short Sets

GripScholar Offers Logoed Grips, Wraps

GripScholar specializes in custom sports grips, wraps, and tapes, working with individual tournaments, charities, athletic departments, bookstores, individual sports teams, and a variety of retailers and corporate partners.

“Our tennis grips are comprised of our own custom material, providing the perfect combination of feel and durability,” the company says. Images on the grips “do not run, wear, or degrade when introduced to sweat, water, and competitive/repetitive use.” The company can place almost any logo or image on the grips. Some of their clients include Harvard, Yale, MIT, Northeastern, Boston College and the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Two of the most popular products are GS Premiere and GS Performance Grips. The company says GS Premiere is a super tacky, sweat absorptive, soft yet durable overgrip most often used for tennis, squash, badminton, cycling, golf, and baseball/softball. GS Performance is a thinner, tougher, stockier material most often used for hockey, field hockey, and lacrosse. For more information, visit gripscholar.com.

Congratulations to these new MRTs and CSs

New MRTs

Ian Campbell, Lake Oswego, OR

New CSs

Justin Gallagher, Antioch, TN

Ivo Ljubibratic, New London, NH

Market numbers

Tennis Racquet Performance

Specialty Stores, January-June, 2012 vs. 2011

Units 2012 336,728
2011 309,667
% change v. ‘11 9%
Dollars 2012 $47,055,000
2011 $44,517,000
% change v. ‘11 6%
Price 2012 $139.74
2011 $143.76
% change v. ‘11 -3%

Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, January-June 2012

Best Sellers

  1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT (MP)
  2. Babolat Pure Drive GT 2012 (MP)
  3. Wilson BLX Juice (MP)
  4. Babolat Pure Drive GT (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. Babolat Pure Drive 107 2012 (OS)
  5. Wilson BLX Juice (OS)

Top-Selling Tennis Shoes at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, January-June 20122

  1. Prince T22
  2. Adidas Adipower Barricade 7
  3. Asics Gel Resolution 4
  4. Babolat Propulse 3
  5. Nike Zoom Breathe 2K11

Top-Selling Tennis Strings at Specialty Stores

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

  1. Prince Synthetic Gut Duraflex
  2. Babolat RPM Blast
  3. Wilson NXT
  4. Wilson Sensation
  5. Luxilon Alu Power

(Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys)

BJK Supports Juniors at Adopt-A-Unit Packing Party

Billie Jean King was on hand at the World TeamTennis Junior Nationals in San Diego in early August to help with a “packing party” the junior players held to collect and send donated supplies to an Army unit in Afghanistan, as part of the USTA’s Adopt-A-Unit program. Players also wrote personal notes of appreciation to accompany the six full packages.

The tournament, held at the Barnes Family Junior Tennis Center, also hosted a presentation by a recovering serviceman from the San Diego Balboa Medical Center and other Armed Forces personnel, who talked to the players about the role tennis has played in military as well as the rehabilitation of wounded soldiers.

“The purpose of the presentation was to inform the players of the service and sacrifices made by military families, and ways the tennis community can support them,” says volunteer coordinator Kathy Willette. Willette worked closely with U.S. Navy Capt. Steve Kappes (ret.), a member of the USTA’s Community Tennis Association Committee, to plan the event.

 

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