Tennis Industry magazine

 

Industry News

Babolat Unveils New Play Pure Drive ‘Connected’ Racquet

The new Babolat Play Pure Drive — 10 years in the making — was unveiled to leading retailers in November, with distribution in the U.S. started in December. The Babolat Play Pure Drive is a “connected racquet,” meaning it gathers data to quantify a player’s game and skills.

“In tennis, as in other sports and in our daily lives, sharing and comparing experiences through digital tools is becoming the new normal," said Eric Babolat, president and CEO. “We’re adding concrete information to the sensations players receive. I believe that in the near future, all tennis racquets will be connected.”

Sensors integrated into the handle of the Babolat Play racquet allow players to have access to information about their game. Babolat Play collects data like shot power and ball impact location (sweet spot) along with number of strokes (forehand, backhand, serve, smash), spin level, total and effective play time, endurance, technique, consistency, energy and rallies.

When the player has finished playing, information is transmitted through a Bluetooth connection with a smartphone or from a USB to a computer, and is viewable on any type of device (including tablets). Players can share information with the Babolat Play community through a dedicated platform at Babolatplay.com and on a Babolat Play App.

Babolat’s challenge has been to integrate sensors in the handle of the racquet, without changing the specifications. The Babolat Play Pure Drive has the same physical specifications as a regular Babolat Pure Drive racquet. The racquet has a 100-square-inch head, weighs 10.6 ounces and has a suggested retail price of $399. Visit babolatplay.com.

USTA Announces TDM Web Enhancements

In an effort to provide enhanced resources to tournament directors and referees, the USTA has made available “Tournament Data Manager on the Web,” a software application designed to make tournament management easier. Beginning in 2014, all sanctioned tournaments must use the new online version.

The USTA says TDM on the Web provides enhanced technology with features users are familiar with, plus many enhancements to facilitate setting up an event, creating draws and scheduling matches. The software program is free for member organizations of the USTA.

“We are always looking at ways to enhance the experience for our tournament directors, referees and players, and TDM on the Web does just that,” said Jeff Waters, USTA managing director for Adult Tennis. “In 2014, all USTA tournaments will be run using this digital platform.”

Key benefits to using TDM on the Web include:

To learn more, visit usta.com/tdmweb.

PTR Week Set for February on Hilton Head Island

The PTR will hold its annual PTR Week in February at Van der Meer Shipyard Tennis Center and the Sonesta Resort Hilton Head Island in South Carolina. PTR Week has several elements, including the PTR Championships, Feb. 17-19; the International Tennis Symposium, Feb. 20-23; and Professional Development Courses conducted before and immediately following the Symposium.

PTR Week attracts tennis teachers and coaches from around the world, including some of the industry’s most notable speakers. Dr. Jim Loehr, Pat Etcheberry, Dennis Ralston, Anne Pankhurst, Leo Alonso, Lorenzo Beltrame, Doug Cash and Dr. Mark Kovacs will be among the 40 presenters who will conduct classroom and on-court presentations during the Symposium. Subjects will range from the tennis business to teaching tactics and techniques.

PTR Week also includes an Awards Banquet, Cardio Tennis and Tennis Trade Show. Visit ptrtennis.org for information and to register.

Ashaway named official string of PTR

Ashaway Racket Strings of Ashaway, R.I., has signed a three-year sponsorship agreement with PTR, making Ashaway the Official String of PTR.

“PTR is excited to sign with Ashaway,” says PTR CEO Dan Santorum. “The company produces high-quality racquet strings. In keeping with PTR’s emphasis on our family culture, it is apropos that we partner with a great family-owned and run company like Ashaway.”

Ashaway also produces braided twines for the textile industry, braided nylon cores for fly fishing lines, and many other custom-braided lines for a variety of applications, including medical. A world leader in the production of bulk medical threads used in a variety of medical devices, Ashaway uses the same stringent quality-control system that is required for medical thread production in all string production.

“Ashaway is delighted to partner with the Professional Tennis Registry and its 14,600 members worldwide,” says company VP Steve Crandall. "Ashaway has been making tennis string since 1949, and is the only U.S. manufacturer of racquet string. As the Official String, we’re happy to support the PTR’s mission to educate, certify and service tennis teachers and coaches around the world, and to help grow the game.”

Babolat Launches New Pure Strike Frames

Babolat says its new Pure Strike is designed for players who have an attack-based game and take the ball early. The racquet offers “reactivity and precision,” thanks to a hybrid frame construction (both square and elliptic) with specific technologies.

The Pure Strike is designed for players Babolat calls “first strikers,” who take the ball on the rise from primarily inside the baseline, using the speed of their opponent’s ball to help generate power. “Thanks to a new hybrid frame construction (square and elliptic), the Babolat Pure Strike offers more reactivity at ball impact than any other racquet in this segment,” says Gael Moureaux, Babolat’s racquets product manager. “‘First Strikers’ will find the perfect balance between reactivity and precision.”

The Babolat Pure Strike, in carbon gray with neon red, for sale to consumers in mid-January, will come in four versions:

Visit babolat.com.

USTA Board of Directors Application

Interested in serving on the USTA Board of Directors or USTA Nominating Committee? Applications for the 2015-2016 term are available on USTA .com. The application deadline is Feb. 1, 2014.

For a complete listing of details, position descriptions, and the application form, visit usta.com/About-USTA/Organization/Committees/ApplicationInstructions/.

Head Graphene Speed Pro Wins ‘Best of What’s New’ Award

The editors of Popular Science magazine have named Head’s Graphene Speed Pro racquet a 2013 recipient of the publication’s “Best of What’s New” Award in the recreation category. Head launched the Graphene Speed and Instinct lines in early 2013.

Each year, the editors of Popular Science review thousands of new products in search of the top 100 technology innovations of the year. These products are considered breakthroughs that represent a significant leap in their individual categories. The winners of each category are included in the December issue of Popular Science. The Graphene Speed Pro is among the 100 new products and technologies awarded in 2013.

LSI Supplies LED Lights for Residential Court

LSI Industries of Cincinnati recently installed an LED lighting system for a residential court in Alton, Ill. (below). The company says the homeowner was looking for a “more innovative option” to light his home tennis court.

Typical lighting for outdoor tennis courts required metal halide systems because of the high light levels required. The eight-pole, LSI solid-state LED fixtures reduced the total connected electrical load more than 50 percent, vs. traditional 1000w metal halide fixtures, the company says. The LED system “provides vivid illumination with uniform lighting levels across the playing surface. … The forward throw reflector system of the LED fixtures provides sharp cutoff behind the fixtures, eliminating spill light to the area surrounding the court.”

LED systems provide years of maintenance-free operation with little lumen depreciation over the life of the system. Also, LED fixtures operate at full brightness immediately when they are turned on, as opposed to the gradual warm-up time required for metal halide fixtures. McConnell Sports of St. Louis installed the lighting system on the Alton court.

Murray Introduces New Head Graphene Radical

Andy Murray and Head recently announced the launch of the Graphene Radical. “It gives me the power I need without compromising on my creativity on court,” the 2013 Wimbledon champion says.

Head says the new generation of the Radical racquet series now combines the best features of the Radical concept with the latest material innovation: Graphene. Graphene is extremely lightweight but with a breaking strength 200 times greater than steel, which allows for an optimal redistribution of weight for the best playability, according to the company. Weight is shifted to the grip and tip, providing easier handling while letting players swing with more power. The colorful design of the frame is inspired by street art.

While the Graphene Radical Pro is the top model and most aggressive one, the Radical series also includes the MP, REV and the S models to match the different needs and levels of players.

The introduction of the new racquet will be supported by a campaign featuring Andy Murray, to launch in January and mainly be driven through social media channels. For more information, visit head.com/tennis.

Dunlop Adds Three New Frames to 2014 Lineup

Dunlop recently introduced three racquets to its lineup for 2014: the S2.0 Lite, S7.0 Lite and S6.0 Lite in a pink version.

The S2.0 Lite is designed for intermediate to advanced players looking for a maneuverable, midsized, head-light racquet. It has a 16x19 string pattern and features Dunlop’s latest Biomimetic technologies: AeroskinCX, BioFibre and MoS2 grommets. The S7.0 Lite, with a 110-square-inch head, is slightly head-light and more flexible and arm-friendly than most oversize racquets, plus more maneuverable at net, says Dunlop. In addition to AeroskinCX, BioFibre and MoS2 grommets, the S7.0 also adds the 3Dom grommet system to enhance power, along with “Anatomic” construction for stability.

According to Dunlop, AeroskinCX, which resembles the skin of a shark, reduces drag by up to 36 percent and enhances swing speed. BioFibre are natural fibers used in Dunlop’s dampening system throughout the throat and handle. The company says BioFibre dampens shock by 18 percent. MoS2 uses Molybdenite in a grommet system that enables easier movement between the strings and grommets, decreasing friction by 27 percent and adding more power to shots.

“The S2.0 Lite is perfect for players who have a big game, but are looking for a lighter weight, more user-friendly option,” says Hunter Hines, director of marketing and product. “The S7.0 Lite gives players who like oversize racquets a great alternative to the traditional stiff, head-heavy frames. And we’re happy to bring back a pink version of the racquet Dominika Cibulkova plays, the S6.0 Lite.”

People watch

Project Green Ball Honored in Massachusetts

On Nov. 5, Project Green Ball, started by a Massachusetts son and father to recycle dead tennis balls, was honored with the MassRecycle Institution Innovation Award at a ceremony in Worcester. The nonprofit is on pace to collect 200,000 used tennis balls (about 14 tons of landfill) that will be shredded for equestrian turf.

Inspiration for Project Green Ball began with a simple question. “We play a lot of tennis and have a lot of tennis balls around the house,” remembers technology attorney Scott Soloway. “We had a bucket of balls and were about to dump them out and my son Ben [a senior and varsity tennis player at The Rivers School in Weston, Mass.] said, ‘Isn’t there any way to recycle tennis balls?’”

Ben researched the few ball-recycling programs around the world, but then noticed the mix in the turf where his sister did her riding. That led to a discussion with IGK Equestrian of Weedsport, N.Y., and a deal to include the balls in a new turf — the first one was recently installed at Dana Hall in Wellesley, Mass. As part of the agreement, for every 200,000 balls delivered, IGK will donate a free turf to a therapeutic riding center. Wilson recently donated 20,000 balls to Project Green Ball, and tens of thousands have come from clubs and teams primarily in the Northeast.

The constant challenge of logistics, the need to keep the website (projectgreenball.org) and social media sites updated, fielding calls and emails from across the U.S., as well as inquiries from abroad about one project, would seem to be enough for two people who have to work around commitments to school and a profession. Yet there is no endgame in sight, even as college looms for Ben and the organization takes more of Scott’s time.

Their shared passion continues: There are millions of used balls from landfills, more green construction to encourage, and more who can benefit. The answer to a simple question continues to evolve. — Kent Oswald

‘Get America Moving’ Contest to Honor Local Programs

Do you have a program that increases sports and fitness participation in your community? Submit your program for consideration and enter the new SGI Get America Moving Challenge contest.

To show support for PHIT America, SGI Weekly Intelligence is launching the inaugural Get America Moving Challenge. For more information on this program and how to enter, contact SGI at 610-459-4040 or getamericamoving@sginews.com. Entries must be submitted by January 10. Entry forms are at sgiweekly.com.

“Our goal is to identify the top sports and fitness programs produced by retailers, manufacturers, professional sports teams, coaches, community service organizations, and entrepreneurs in local communities,” said SGI Weekly Intelligence publisher John Horan. The winners will be featured in the SGI Get America Moving series of articles to be published in April 2014, honored by PHIT America, and promoted on PHITAmerica.org.

Cardio Tennis Schedules 2014 Training Courses

The TIA continues to add to its 2014 schedule of Cardio Tennis and TRX Cardio Tennis training courses for tennis teaching and fitness professionals.

The 7-hour Cardio Tennis Training Course (CTTC) teaches the fundamentals of Cardio Tennis and how to make it a success. Participants learn how to create a healthy curriculum; the six components of Cardio Tennis; importance of heart-rate monitors and how to use them; proper warm-up activities, CT games and drills, cool-down activities and cardio blasts; drill-based vs. play-based exercises; how to market and make money with Cardio Tennis; and more. Upon completion, participants will receive complimentary CT Authorized Provider status for one year. For information or to register, visit CardioTennis.com or email brian@tennisindustry.org.

The 8-hour TRX CT Training Course, which requires teaching pros to have taken the CTTC course within the last three years or within three months of TRX CT course completion, combines TRX Suspension Training bodyweight exercise and Cardio Tennis, for an on-court, cutting-edge program that improves strength, power, flexibility and balance for overall tennis performance. With four lesson plans and more than 30 TRX exercises, the TRX CT course provides pros with everything they need to build their business. Upon completion, participants join the official TRX directory of trainers and facilities. Visit trxtraining.com or call Dorian Adam at 925-788-2748.

The CTTC is $150 and the TRX CTTC is $295. Register for both courses combined at CardioTennis.com for $350 (a $90 savings).

New courses continue to be added, so check CardioTennis.com for updates. The current schedule includes the following locations and dates. (CT means Cardio Tennis Training Course; TRX CT is the TRX CT course.)

Austin, Texas — May 18 (TRX CT)

Birmingham, Ala. — April 19 (CT)

Clearwater, Fla. — May 3 (CT)

Columbus, Ohio — Feb. 27 (CT)

Denver, Colo. — May 16 (CT) & 17 (TRX CT)

Fayetteville, N.C. — Oct. 9 (CT)

Hilton Head Island, S.C. — Feb. 24 (CT) & 25 (TRX CT)

Honolulu, Hawaii — March 9 (CT)

Kansas City, Mo. — Feb. 20 (CT)

Marina del Rey, Calif. — Jan. 11 (CT) & 12 (TRX CT)

New York, N.Y. — June 14 (CT)

New York, N.Y. — Nov. 8 (CT) & 9 (TRX CT)

Palm Desert, Calif. — March TBD (CT & TRX CT)

San Francisco, Calif. — March 2 (CT ) & 3 (TRX CT)

San Jose, Calif — Feb. 7 (CT)

USTA Honors 8 at TDW

The USTA honored eight award winners at the Tennis Development Workshop held in Denver in early November.

TIA Quarterly Report on the Tennis Retail Market

Tennis Racquet Performance

Specialty Stores, January-September, 2013 vs. 2012

Units 2013 534,492
  2012 574,650
  % change vs. ’12 -7%
Dollars 2013 $77,826,000
  2012 $80,221,000
  % change vs. ’12 -3%
Price 2013 $145.61
  2012 $139.60
  % change vs. ’12 4%

Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan.-Sept. 2013

Best Sellers

  1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive 2013 (MP)
  2. Babolat Pure Drive GT 2012 (MP)
  3. Wilson BLX Juice (MP)
  4. Wilson Steam 99S (MP)
  5. Babolat Aero Pro Team 2013 (MP)

“Hot New Racquets”

(introduced in the past 12 months)

  1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive 2013 (MP)
  2. Wilson Steam 99S (MP)
  3. Babolat Aero Pro Team 2013 (MP)
  4. Wilson Steam 105S (OS)
  5. Head Graphene Speed MP (MP)

Top-Selling Tennis Shoes at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan.-Sept. 2013

  1. Prince T22
  2. Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour
  3. Asics Gel Resolution 5
  4. Nike Air Max Cage 2013
  5. Adidas AdiPower Barricade 7

Top-Selling Tennis Strings at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date units, Jan.-Sept. 2013

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

(Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys)

Short sets

New Head Hawk String Features New Technology

Head has introduced “Crystal Core technology,” a newly developed string manufacturing process that the company says “opens the door to a whole new era of co-polyester strings.” The new technology, which the company says provides the ultimate combination of power and feel, is introduced in the new Head Hawk tour string, which was developed together with some of Head’s top pro players.

The new, innovative manufacturing process is a complex multistep heat treatment, which controls the molecular crystal structure within a monofilament string and allows for engineering different material properties into its outer and core regions. According to the company, a “highly orientated molecular structure” on the outside of the string generates more energy efficiency, releasing more power on shots, while a more crystalline core adds dampening and touch to the string. As a result, says Head, the string offers a unique combination of energy efficiency for explosive power with optimized control and touch in every shot.

New Pojie Designed to Increase ‘Dwell’

The Pojie compression core by String Advantage is a racquet accessory installed outside the hoop in the throat of the racquet, elongating the main strings. The manufacturer says the resulting increased “dwell time” on the strings improves spin, stroke consistency, and power transfer and helps to dampen vibration.

Stringers simply add the four Pojie units to the normal stringing process. The Pojie has a fiber-reinforced high-strength nylon body, polyurethane and ABS engineered compression core. Each unit sits against the racquet frame, over the stock grommets, and are held in place by the main strings.

Pojie is distributed by Fromuth. For more information, visit stringadvantage.com.

Life Time Opens Colorado Tennis Destination

Life Time has opened its newest tennis destination at Life Time Athletic Centennial in Colorado. The new tennis complex features 10 indoor climate-controlled courts and 10-lighted outdoor courts (six hard courts and four clay). The new complex marks a significant addition to the existing, nearly 130,000-square-foot Life Time Athletic Centennial property, one of four Life Time destinations in Colorado.

The Centennial tennis center also features amenities such as video analysis rooms for coaching, a pro shop, locker rooms and indoor viewing lounge. Certified Life Time Athletic tennis pros will lead programming, including lessons and leagues for both adults and juniors at all levels. Members also can take advantage of USTA league play, private and group lessons, tournaments, weekly drills, tennis assessments, social programming including mixers and leagues, as well as a 10 and under junior program.

“The anticipation for our new world-class complex has been building and we’re excited to offer a destination of this caliber to the community, highlighted by unmatched tennis courts, instruction and programming,” says Terri Goldman, general manager at Life Time Athletic Centennial.

Second Annual World Tennis Day Set for March 3

The International Tennis Federation and StarGames announced that the second annual World Tennis Day will take place on Monday, March 3. World Tennis Day will center around a series of high-profile special events, produced by StarGames, featuring current and former professional players. In 2014, cities hosting the special events will include New York, London, Bangkok and Hong Kong.

In New York, the 2014 BNP Paribas Showdown will once again take place at Madison Square Garden and be part of a USTA promotional push for recreational tennis. The MSG event will feature Novak Djokovic playing Andy Murray, as well as Bob and Mike Bryan taking on John and Patrick McEnroe.

World Tennis Day was staged for the first time in 2013 with 55 nations hosting participation events. In addition, BNP Paribas Showdown events were held in New York and Hong Kong.

USRSA Announces New MRTs and CSs

MRTs

Brian Axelrod - Lakewood, FL

Brian Bulla - Oshawa, ON CANADA

Alvin Macasinag - Riverview, FL

Patrick Martin - Athens, GA

Cesar Morales - Naperville, IL

Amir Rangnekar - Sunnyvale, CA

Benjamin Simon - Hyattsville, MD

CSs

Savannah Johnson - Stillwater, MN

Dunlop to Distribute Diadora Tennis Shoes in U.S.

Diadora is re-launching its tennis shoe line in the U.S. and Dunlop Sports Group Americas will be the exclusive distributor of the Italian company’s premium tennis footwear.

Diadora’s 2014 tennis line will consist of five models of men’s shoes and four of women’s, all featuring Diadora’s latest technologies and designed for players looking for performance, durability, and comfort, says the company. The Dunlop tennis sales team has been presenting the product range for pre-sale, with delivery scheduled for mid-January 2014.

“The Diadora brand is legendary in tennis,” said Kai Nitsche, vice president and general manager of Dunlop Sports Group Americas. “We are excited to bring the Diadora performance tennis line back to the U.S. market and look forward to players re-engaging with the brand. Adding Diadora footwear to our Dunlop equipment ranges and Antigua apparel line gives our customers a head-to-toe offering backed by industry-leading service they have come to rely on.”

State of Connecticut Buys New Haven Open

The State of Connecticut will buy the rights to the women’s New Haven Open for $618,000. The WTA event has been suffering from declining attendance and was in danger of leaving the state.

“Economic development for our urban environments, and the state as a whole, is a fundamental component of the state’s agenda and we view the New Haven Open as another chapter in bolstering this effort," Gov. Dannel Malloy said. "We know that Connecticut is a great state for women’s sports, and this is another fantastic way to ensure that continues to be the case in 2014 and beyond.”

The USTA, which owns the tournament, had reached an agreement to sell it and move it to Winston Salem, N.C., where the ATP holds a men’s event during the same week in August the women play in New Haven. But the ATP rejected plans for a combined tourney and Connecticut was given a chance to buy the WTA sanction and keep it at the Connecticut Tennis Center, which was built with state funds.

"In this case, we’re making a relatively modest investment, given the size of the economic development return that this brings to the community," said state budget director Ben Barnes.

An economic impact study conducted in 2008, when the event combined both men’s and women’s tournaments, found that the tournament generated approximately $26 million in regional economic impact, including almost 300 jobs and $1.1 million in state tax revenue. While economic impact most likely is substantially less now, the tournament still helps the local economy. The tournament also announced that it has received renewals from its top five sponsors, Aetna, American Express, First Niagara, Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale University.

USTA Names No-Cut Coach All-Star Team

The USTA recently recognized 12 middle and high school coaches for the 2013 No-Cut Coach All-Star Team. The coaches implement a “no-cut” policy, which welcomes all interested students to be a part of their school’s tennis team. Coaches are nominated by their USTA sections.

“These recipients embody what it means to be an advocate for our sport,” says Jason Jamison, national manager for USTA Schools. “We are proud to recognize their efforts to ensure players of all levels are part of a team.” Since 2006, more than 4,000 tennis coaches nationwide have made a commitment to offering a no-cut policy, with some programs including more than 100 team members on a high school team. Visit usta.com/no-cut.

The 2013 No-Cut Coach All-Star Team is:

Showcase Your Programming at a USTA Tennis Play Event

In March, the USTA and the tennis industry will host USTA Tennis Play Events in celebration of World Tennis Day on March 3. Tennis Play Events are designed to introduce kids to tennis and provide a platform to register children for spring programs. Sports industry studies have shown that an early, positive experience in sports creates a lifelong commitment to an active lifestyle.

World Tennis Day on March 3 is a celebration of tennis around the world that includes professional matches in New York City, Hong Kong and London.

By hosting a Tennis Play Event in the month of March, tennis organizers can showcase their junior programs and attract new players to the sport. The events welcome kids and families of all skill levels and Tennis Play Event hosts receive a Celebration Pack that includes special giveaways for attendees.

Organizers will have access to customizable marketing materials and be featured in the searchable database on YouthTennis.com, the one-stop destination to register all year-round junior events and programs and where millions of parents are searching for activities for their kids. To host an event, visit YouthTennis.com.

Babolat Introduces Origin Monofilament

Babolat, which invented the first tennis racquet string in 1875, has introduced its latest innovation, the Babolat Origin, a synthetic string made with “Pure Combo,” a new material the company says provides “an unrivaled level of power and comfort.”

Pure Combo is an organically-sourced polyamide, integrated into the monofilament construction to provide Babolat Origin with an unmatched level of elasticity and flexibility for a monofilament string, Babolat says. Origin is available in 125, 130, and 135 gauges, with a suggested retail price of $21.95

ITHOF Names New Directors

Nine individuals have been elected to the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum.

The new board members are: USTA First Vice President Katrina M. Adams; Vijay Amritraj, a former world top-20 player; David Bell, Chairman Emeritus of the Interpublic Group; Laurie Erlandson, a CPA formerly with Arthur Andersen & Co; David B. Ford, president of DBF Associates and Senior Advisor to Gatemore Capital Management; David I. Goulden, president and COO of EMC Corporation; Hall of Famer Charlie Pasarell; Barbara van Beuren, manager director at Anbau Enterprises; and Stewart Wicht, president and CEO of Rolex Watch U.S.A., Inc.

In addition, longtime tennis industry supporters and Hall of Fame board members Rosalind Walter, Peggy Woolard, and John Reese have been named Life Trustees of the organization.

 

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