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Industry Loses Former USPTA Chief Tim Heckler

Tim Heckler, the former chief executive officer of the USPTA, passed away Feb. 4 in Houston after suffering a heart attack. He was 71 years old.

“We are shocked and saddened by this loss,” said USPTA President Tom Daglis. “He will be sorely missed in the industry as the single largest contributor to the USPTA in its entire history. Our deepest condolences go out to his wife, Renee, his children, and the rest of his family.”

Heckler retired from his position as CEO of the USPTA in December, after 30 years in the position. He began playing tennis at age 3, attended Lamar University in Beaumont, Texas, on a tennis scholarship and played on the international circuit, including Wimbledon in 1959 and 1961, and the U.S. Open in 1960. He started his tennis-teaching career in 1970, the same year he joined USPTA. He was elected president of the USPTA Texas Division in 1974 and served as national president of the organization from 1980 to 1982, when he was tapped to be CEO of the organization.

“Tim had a major impact on the game throughout his life, and this reached into every area of tennis,” said TIA President Greg Mason. “His leadership and passion made the USPTA into the organization it is today. Anyone involved in tennis has been impacted by Tim’s commitment to both the game and the organization he loved.”

 “Tennis has known very few who were more dedicated or committed to its growth and long-term health than was Tim,” said USTA President Dave Haggerty. “He was truly one-of-a-kind and will be sorely missed by his many friends and by the sport to which he dedicated so much of his life.”

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.

“His passion and commitment to tennis and the USPTA were inspiring,” said current USPTA CEO John Embree. “The industry has lost a true giant.”

Arrangements were still pending at press time, but to make a donation in Heckler’s name, visit EarthmanBellaire.com.

Wilson Launches ‘Spin Effect’ Demo Tour

Wilson announced its nationwide “Spin Effect Tour” that will visit retailers and consumers in more than 200 venues, showcasing the brand’s Spin Effect Technology. Taking place through June, the Spin Effect Tour targets avid players and will also be featured at leading junior developmental programs.

Wilson’s Spin Effect Technology racquets are the Steam 99S and Steam 105S. The company says they both increase spin for consumers of all levels, enabling players to add more than 200 RPMs on their shots without needing to change their swing.

On the Spin Effect Tour, Wilson will take players through the “TrackMan” experience, which tracks ball rotation, height and arc of shots and was used in the development of Steam S racquets. Players who participate will have an opportunity to win an autographed Roger Federer racquet and Victoria Azarenka racquet. For more information about hosting a Spin Effect Tour event, contact wilsontour@wilson.com.

Davis Cup Legacy Program to Renovate Jax Courts

The USTA will refurbish courts at the Clanzel T. Brown Park tennis facility in Jacksonville, Fla., as a part of the USTA’s Davis Cup Legacy program. The program, begun more than a decade ago, is designed to leave a permanent tennis legacy in the communities which host Davis Cup ties in the United States.

To further develop Youth Tennis in Jacksonville, which hosted the Davis Cup World Group First Round against Brazil, one court at Clanzel T. Brown Park will be converted into four permanent 36-foot courts with fencing, nets and center straps. Seven other courts will be resurfaced and have 60-foot blended lines placed on them. The $42,000 projected is jointly funded by the USTA, the USTA Florida section and the City of Jacksonville.

“We are pleased with the way the community has embraced tennis and the Davis Cup,” said David Haggerty, USTA Chairman, CEO and President. “The USTA’s mission is to grow tennis and give all people of all ages access to the game. We are proud to work with the City of Jacksonville to achieve this goal and leave a permanent footprint with the Davis Cup Legacy.”

“This is a great example of how investing in sports and entertainment can create a lasting investment for our community,” said Jacksonville Mayor Alvin Brown. The U.S. team defeated Brazil in the first round in early February.

Five New Frames Hit Market From Dunlop

Dunlop has unveiled five new frames in 2013 — three for the 5.0 Series and two in the 2.0 Series. The company says it’s made significant design and technology changes to the new frames in an effort to “boost control and spin potential” without sacrificing feel.

“The new 5.0s are powerful frames that add significant control,” says Hunter Hines, director of marketing and product for Dunlop Racquet Sports. “Starting with the F5.0 Tour, which Nicolas Almagro will begin using this year, we went back to the drawing board with these three new frames and built something from the ground up, delivering a brand new experience to players.”

As part of Dunlop’s new racquet naming convention, the Dunlop 500 name has been dropped and the new racquets are called 5.0s. The 5.0 Series includes the F5.0 Tour, M5.0 and S5.0 Lite. The new 2.0 Series, formerly the 200 Series of frames, includes the F2.0 Tour and M2.0 (the M2.0 has a 16x19 string pattern).

Changes to the frames include a new, rounder head shape and a new tapered beam which, according to Dunlop, reduces drag and produces faster swing speeds, for more power on serves and groundstrokes.

The frames also have new Biomimetic technologies, such as a reconfigured surface texture to help reduce drag and a new dampening system, BioFibre, comprised of natural fibers woven throughout the throat and handle to more widely distribute shock at impact, says Dunlop. Another new technology is the use of molybdenite particles in an all-new grommet system, enabling easier string movement and reduced string friction.

For 2013, Dunlop has renamed all its new racquets to help make the selection process easier. The main change is the addition of a letter prior to the racquet number. Each racquet name starts with either an F, M, or S, signifying a player’s swing speed and style: Fast/Full, Medium/Moderate or Short/Slow. The numbers have been changed from hundreds to a decimal system to signify the new molds.

For more information, visit dunlopsports.com.

LoveAll Apparel Offers New Catalog

LoveAll Apparel, based in Arlington, TX, was started in 2009 by avid tennis players Kim Cleary and Shelia Bishop and specializes in uniquely designed clothing for all ages. The company, which recently updated its catalog, prints its shirt designs on acid-washed, burnout fabric.

The 50/50 cotton/poly blend T-shirts are double-dyed, double-needle-hemmed and finished with 3/8-inch ribbed collars. Pre-shrunk ladies’ pants are designed with stretch to flatter curves. For guys, there are 100 percent microfiber tees that feature moisture wicking and covered seams for a smooth feel. The company also has produced “Strong is Beautiful” shirts for the WTA Tour that pros such as Samantha Stosur, Li Na and Caroline Wozniacki have worn.

Bishop says LoveAll has about 150 accounts in the U.S., Canada and Europe and continues to grow (the company recently moved offices from a 300-square-foot space to 900). She adds that the company is also looking to expand its sales rep force. Visit LoveAll.com or email info@loveall.com.

New Nadal Tennis Academy App Available

The new Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy App, powered by Vstrator and available at the iTunes App Store, is for all recreational players and allows them to learn directly from the 11-time Grand Slam champion. The App offers exclusive, in-depth tennis tutorials of Rafa’s strokes, along with Vstrator’s easy-to-use video coaching tools so players can instantly capture their strokes, analyze their games, and compare their technique side-by-side with Rafa’s.

Fans, players, and coaches simply open the App, record or import video from their smartphone’s camera, then “Vstrate” it using the drawing tools, which allows them to highlight the video so they can zero in on any part of their game. They can then frame the video forward and back, and compare their technique to Rafa as well as other players. Then the Vstrator video can be shared via social media, email or text with friends, family, coaches and other players.

The Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy App features 9 tutorials of the tennis champion’s serve and returns with a host of future tutorials of all Rafa’s strokes, along with exclusive insights from Rafa himself on what makes him one of the world’s best tennis players. Members also can upload their own videos as well as their own Vstrated coaching sessions to the Rafael Nadal Tennis Academy on Vstrator.com.

People Watch

USTA Offers NJTL Regional Training Sessions

The USTA is offering two-day NJTL Regional Training sessions that combine tennis, education/life skills, and organizational development and feature experts and partners from NJTL National staff, USTA Serves, USTA Player Development, and USTA section staff.

The USTA/National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) invites all NJTL and CTA/NJTL Chapters to attend the comprehensive sessions. The first will be held at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta on Saturday, March 9 and Sunday, March 10.

The training sessions include a USTA Player Development Workshop open to coaches and volunteers who work with youth players; the ACE Curriculum and Organizational Development Workshop, which focuses on creating and funding sustainable year-round tennis and education programming for underserved youth; and USTA Serves, which will demonstrate fundraising, grant-writing, and best practices for organizations. Attendees also will have the opportunity to receive focused assistance and obtain tools needed to increase their impact and reach.

Registration is $49 per person, which includes all workshops, materials, and lunch on both days. Contact the USTA for more information. The current schedule for NJTL Regional Training is:

K-Swiss Sold to South Korean Company

South Korean apparel distributor E Land World Ltd. agreed to acquire footwear company K-Swiss in January for $4.75 per share in cash. K-Swiss was founded in 1966, went public in 1990, and saw solid growth, especially between 2000 and 2006, when shares rose from about $3 to $35.

Revenue, nearly $500 million in 2005, fell to $216.8 million in 2010, before rebounding to $268.4 million in 2011. But the company was unable to regain its niche and has not had a profitable year since 2008. In recent years, K-Swiss was frequently trading below its net current asset value.

Nominate for RSI’s ‘30 Under 30’ Honors

Nominate now for RSI’s “30 Under 30” honors, recognizing some of the young movers and shakers in the tennis industry. The 30 individuals we pick will be featured in an upcoming special section.

Anyone can nominate potential honorees (you can even nominate yourself), and nominees can come from any segment of this industry. Nominees can even be volunteers in tennis; they don’t have to be employed in this industry. The only restriction is that the nominee cannot have turned age 30 before June 1, 2013.

To nominate, send us a brief email by April 1 describing your choice for “30 Under 30” honors. Also include the nominee’s birthday (month and year is fine) if you know it, and contact information for both you and the nominee. Put “30 Under 30” in the subject line and email info@tennisindustrymag.com.

GSS Announces Name Change to IART

Grand Slam Stringers officially became the IART, International Alliance of Racquet Technicians, on Jan. 1. “We are a global organization with a primary focus in hands-on training for racquet technicians of all levels,” says founder Tim Strawn. “Re-branding the organization to better reflect our global initiative was a natural progression in the growth of the company. We’re also working with industry manufacturers on an ongoing basis to provide discounts to our membership.”

IART now has a worldwide membership of nearly 150 racquet technicians from 18 countries who participate on the website at gssalliance.com. In 2012, the organization completed its sixth training symposium at the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa.

During the symposium a new sponsorship was announced by Ashaway Racket Strings. Vice President Steve Crandall revealed the new program that would give IART members a 10 percent discount on all strings purchased from the company. “Ashaway is delighted to work with the IART to help them fulfill their mission” said Crandall.

IART’s most recent member sponsorship comes from Alpha Racquet Sports based in Austin, TX. Members can get a 10 percent discount on all Alpha/Topspin strings as well as a 5 percent discount on all stringing machines and diagnostic equipment priced above $750.

IART is planning its seventh Symposium, to be held in September in Florida. For more information, visit gssalliance.com or call Strawn at 540-632-1148.

Short Sets

Tennis Court Hat Now ‘Tournament Quality’

The Tennis Court Hat, which came out in 2007, has been updated and is available in a moisture-control microfiber. The hat has an embroidered “classic” emerald “centre court,” mesh insert, high-performance sweatband, contrast binding and adjustable looped Velcro strap. For information, call Centre Court Tennis at 203-770-5355 or tenniscourthat@aol.com.

World TeamTennis Season to Start July 7

The 2013 schedule for Mylan World TeamTennis will start on July 7, with 59 matches scheduled throughout the month. The 38th season of WTT concludes with the Mylan WTT Finals on July 28.

Eight teams will compete in two conferences during the regular season; the top two teams from each advance to the Conference Championships July 25. The 2013 Mylan WTT Finals will be contested on the home court of the Eastern Conference Champions.

Team schedules for the three-week regular season will be announced in early March. The three-time champion Washington Kastles, who won their second consecutive WTT title last summer with back-to-back undefeated 16-0 seasons, will be taking a 32-match win streak into their 2013 season opener.

Each of the eight teams will play 14 matches — seven home, seven away. Eastern Conference teams are the Boston Lobsters, New York Sportimes, Philadelphia Freedoms and Washington Kastles. Western Conference teams are Orange County Breakers, Sacramento Capitals, Springfield Lasers and the yet-unnamed Irving, Texas-based team, which recently relocated from Kansas City. For more information, visit WTT.com.

Isospeed Introduces Black Fire String

Isospeed, the Austrian manufacturer of premium synthetic tennis strings, introduces Black Fire, a co-polyester string that provides excellent spin and control for maximum precision, says the company. For a limited time, Tennis Warehouse is offering a “Get 3, Pay for 2” special on Black Fire.

Isospeed is a division of Isosport, which was founded in 1969 to manufacture materials for skiing and snowboarding. Using its experience in manufacturing and post-processing synthetics, Isospeed began producing tennis strings in 1990. Tennis Warehouse is the U.S. distributor for Isospeed strings.

PTR, Head Continue Long-Standing Partnership

Professional Tennis Registry and Head announced the extension of their long-standing partnership. 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the Head and PTR relationship, which is one of the longest sponsorships in tennis.

“We’re proud to be a part of PTR’s rich history and even more excited to be a part of their exciting future,” says Greg Mason, Head’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The teaching pro is still the best ambassador of tennis and we’re proud to help PTR as they continue on their successful path.”

Along with being the official racquet of PTR, Head will also gain exposure through advertising and trade show exhibit space through its sponsorship. PTR members will also get to take advantage of the contract extension with access to the PTR Team Head Program.

“PTR and Head are both on an upswing so the timing of our contract renewal could not have come at a more perfect time, “ says PTR CEO Dan Santorum.

Evolution Teaching Conference Slated for Florida

Evolution will hold its Evolution Tennis Teaching Professional Conference March 25-26 at the Midtown Athletic Club in Weston, FL. Presentations explore the needs and development of junior players at different ages and stages, explaining the priorities at each stage.

The international lineup of speakers includes: Leo Alonso, Argentina; Mike Barrell, United Kingdom; Wayne Elderton, Canada; Craig Jones, U.S.; Diego Moyano, Argentina; Ronald Pothuizen, Holland; Nick Saviano, U.S.; Butch Staples, U.S.

Rates are $195 for the full two days or $119 for one day, and include lunch. Contact mail@evolve9.com or 786-778-3654, or visit evolve9.com.

PTR and GPTCA Sign Partnership Agreement

The PTR announced a partnership agreement with the Global Professional Tennis Association (GPTCA) at a meeting held during the Australian Open. The GPTCA, founded in 2010 by 49 tour-level coaches, is an international organization dedicated to improving tennis coaches through education, interaction and networking. PTR Board Member Leo Alonso (second from left) and CEO Dan Santorum (second from right) met with GPTCA officials Dirk Hordorff (left) and Giorgio Di Palermo. Further details will be released in March during the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami.

USPTA Holds ‘Open Houses’ for Tennis on Campus Participants

The USPTA and USTA have partnered to host open houses to connect USTA Tennis on Campus participants with career opportunities as tennis-teaching professionals. The program kicked off in January during the USPTA Northern, Southwest, California and Hawaii division conventions.

A major objective of the alliance is to get USPTA pros to partner with local TOC chapters. As such, every USPTA division will invite registered local TOC club participants to attend the division convention free of charge. At these conventions, TOC participants will get a glimpse into what the tennis-teaching profession has to offer and will be introduced to the benefits of becoming a certified USPTA Pro. They also will have the opportunity to sit in on all of the educational seminars at the convention, network with USPTA members who have made a successful living from teaching tennis, and socialize with other attendees.

“Tennis on Campus represents fertile ground for the tennis professionals of the future. This collaboration is vital for USPTA to tap into a network of passionate players who might very well want to make teaching tennis a career choice,” says USPTA CEO John Embree.

The coordinated efforts between the USTA and USPTA also will include honoring one male and one female TOC player at the USPTA annual awards ceremony with the TOC Teaching Award. In addition, the partnership includes sharing editorial produced by both organizations that will be featured in the TOC newsletter and USPTA’s ADDvantage magazine, as well as providing the tools and resources for USPTA pros to connect with local TOC clubs and participants, so that the pros can help mentor those who are enthusiastic about a career in tennis, and help them prepare for USPTA Certification Exams when they are ready to take the next step.

Congratulations To the Following For Achieving MRT Status

Tim Gibson, Eagle, ID

Host a Kids ‘Tennis Festival’ in March

It’s not too late to boost your business by hosting a Tennis Festival in the month of March, designed to get kids active and excited about tennis. Tennis Festivals are a way for tennis facilities, parks, and municipalities to introduce tennis to kids and provide a platform to register children for spring and summer programs. The events provide an opportunity for kids to experience a variety of tennis activities and games designed for all ages and skill levels.

The launch of these Tennis Festivals coincides with the annual “Tennis Night in America” celebration at New York’s Madison Square Garden, which this year will feature Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin del Potro, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka. Be one of the first 1,200 registered tennis festivals and receive an event pack including a YouthTennis.com banner and giveaway items for event attendees. Last year, more than 2,000 youth tennis events took place across the country. To host an event, visit YouthTennis.com.

Cardio Tennis Helps Drive Play in Australia, UK

Cardio Tennis is fast becoming a worldwide brand — receiving prominent play by Tennis Australia (TA) during this year’s Australian Open and officially relaunching/rebranding in Great Britain with new initiatives and a new spokesperson.

“Tennis Australia is using Cardio Tennis as one of its main programs to increase tennis participation in that country,” says Jolyn de Boer, the executive director of the TIA, which created Cardio Tennis with the USTA and manages the program in the U.S. “In Great Britain, the Lawn Tennis Association (LTA) recently relaunched Cardio Tennis and committed significant resources to the program.” Through partnerships and other agreements, the TIA has helped more than 30 countries launch Cardio Tennis programs.

TIA Cardio Tennis Manager Michele Krause worked with both TA and the LTA to train their coaches and set up their Cardio Tennis programs. “Tennis Australia launched Cardio Tennis last year at the Australian Open, and they’ve been seeing tennis participation increase,” she says. “This year, there was even more visibility at the Aussie Open, including signage on Rod Laver Arena itself. And TA is reaching out across Australia.”

On the other side of the world, England’s governing body of tennis, the LTA, officially relaunched Cardio Tennis throughout the country on Jan. 19 with “three days of madness at London’s largest and busiest inner city shopping centers” along with other malls throughout the country, according to the LTA’s Sam Richardson.

The LTA is delivering the Cardio Tennis message, along with the overall message to help more people play tennis, through a national campaign driven by the website allplaytennis.com. The LTA also has a “new face of Cardio Tennis” — Kirsty Gallacher, who is a well-known TV sports personality in England.

Cardio Tennis was created in 2005 by the TIA and USTA and now has more than 1.3 million participants in the U.S. As the program has expanded around the world, it also continues to grow in the U.S., with enhancements that include Cardio Tennis Interactive; TRX Cardio Tennis, a total body workout that incorporates the TRX training system; a Cardio Tennis “Authorized Provider” program; new tools and resources for providers; and more. For more information, including Cardio Tennis training schedules, visit CardioTennis.com.

PHIT America Launches Consumer Fitness Campaign

In January, leading sports and fitness industry companies and organizations, as well as other corporate partners, launched PHIT America, a year-round, educational, advocacy, and social media marketing campaign designed to reach millions of Americans to help combat the obesity and sedentary activity crisis.

PHIT America is a new non-profit which has 118 Alliance Sponsors, including eight “founders,” including the USTA. The Tennis Industry Association and many tennis equipment manufacturers also are Alliance Sponsors.

The consumer website — PHITAmerica.org — covers topics including the obesity and sedentary crisis, benefits of being active and playing sports, why physical education is so important, ways to get active and healthy, and U.S. legislation that PHIT America is supporting. PHIT America will work with its 118 Alliance Sponsors by asking them to send two or three “news flashes” a month about various important topics.

The “news flashes” will link to PHITAmerica.org, where there will be three main “calls to action”:

  1. Advocate — to help pass key legislation (PHIT Act and PEP Program) that will help Americans become more active, play more sports, and become healthier.
  2. Participate — use the Participation Database to get active or fit in local communities for more than 50 sports or activities.
  3. Donate — funds will be invested as grants to support local sports grassroots and PE programs.

Clay Court Conditioner Available

Rejuvenate and renew fast-dry courts with Smith 3C Clay Court Conditioners, the next generation in highly engineered/powered equipment to keep fast-dry courts in like-new condition, says the maker. Manufactured in the U.S., and starting under $3000, they’re available for immediate shipment. The unit can scarify a light top-dressing, mill 5/8-inch, loosen hard-packed sub-surface watered courts, and remove algae. 805-550-0149 / mkohlman@tcsn.net

 

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