Our Serve: Common Goals
At the TIA Tennis Forum, held in New York City just before the US Open, TIA President Jon Muir presented a slide to the 300-plus industry leaders, teaching pros, manufacturers, retailers and others in the room that said the TIA will be working with the USPTA and PTR to form a task force to look into forming a more unified teaching pro network “that can strengthen the position, economic growth, and industry impact overall for coaches and tennis professionals, as one organization.”
Finally, someone decided to put aside politics and say publicly what many in this industry have been thinking and talking about privately for years: Let’s get together and look into how we may be able to have one unified teaching pro organization. A single organization has been the elephant in the room for decades. Politically, all of us in this industry, myself and RSI included, have tended to tread a fine line, not taking a stand publicly one way or another.
But let’s open our minds for minute. For teaching pros and coaches, a unified organization may well provide them with the credibility they deserve for the hard work and dedication they put in. It can provide a clear pathway to education and certification that is understandable by the public and that this entire industry can endorse and promote.
For consumers and recreational players … I don’t think most know enough about each of the two teaching organizations to really care. Worse, though, two separate entities probably are confusing to most players (and especially to beginners), who can’t make sense of different terminologies, methods and definitions — and can’t figure out which is “better.”
From a manufacturers’ and organizations’ point of view, there are a lot of advantages to dealing with and supporting one, rather than two, teaching pro groups. In fact, here’s a direct comparison: In 2003, manufacturers were supporting two industry magazines: Racquet Tech (the publication of the USRSA) and Tennis Industry. At the urging of the major manufacturers and others in the industry, we merged to form Racquet Sports Industry. Manufacturers continued their reach into the industry audience, but with greatly reduced costs; we benefited from pooling our resources. It was the right thing to do and formed a stronger publication all around.
The USTA has shown great restraint in not stepping in years ago and — like every other country in the world — certifying pros on their own and running a teaching pro organization. I’m sure from a USTA viewpoint, they’re thinking about how much further along important initiatives would be if there weren’t the confusion, entanglements and duplicate efforts of different organizations looking for their slices of the pie.
Muir said the goal of the Task Force is to have recommendations for next steps by the end of this year, adding, “This is a great opportunity for us to initiate something that can be very positive for the industry and strengthen the delivery system.” It’s time now for healthy, constructive, politics-free conversations.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.