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TIA ‘Future of Tennis Summit’ in Indian Wells

Former world No. 1 and current TV tennis analyst and Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier will be a featured guest at the inaugural Tennis Industry Association “Future of Tennis Summit,” to be held March 11-12 in Indian Wells, Calif., during the BNP Paribas Open.

The Summit will include discussions and speakers that take a top-level view of the industry, define goals and benchmarks, and help to chart a path that will ensure a profitable tennis marketplace and an image of tennis attractive to both recreational tennis players and tennis fans. The conference brings together experts from many segments — including pro tennis, youth sports, health and fitness, media, technology, etc. — to generate ideas and discussions that can help get consumers to play more, watch more, and buy more, putting this industry on a sustainable path for growth and helping to reach the goal of 10 million frequent players in the U.S. by 2020.

Speakers and panelists were still being confirmed at press time, but presenters will include top executives from the USTA, WTA, ATP and ITF, tennis media, research experts, marketing experts and youth tennis experts.

The Future of Tennis Summit will be at the Renaissance Esmeralda Indian Wells Resort & Spa. Additional details are available at FutureofTennis.com or email meetings@tennisindustry.org.

Drysdale to Highlight Owner/Manager Meeting

Cliff Drysdale, a 2013 International Tennis Hall of Fame Inductee, will be the keynote speaker for the 2014 TIA Tennis Facility Owners & Managers Conference in Charleston, S.C., April 3-4, during the Family Circle Cup women’s tennis tournament.

The conference will also feature some of the industry’s leading experts in tennis facility operations and management, who will present sessions and highlight resources on a variety of business topics including staffing and compensation, marketing, retailing, programming, and technology. The event will also provide attendees with networking opportunities to share their experiences and best practices.

Conference participants also will attend a VIP reception and watch the matches at the Family Circle Cup on April 3. For more information and to register for the conference, which will take place at the Charleston Marriott, visit TheTOMConference.com or call the TIA at 843-473-4504.

Grow Your Business by Hosting a Play Event

Tennis providers looking to grow their business have an opportunity in the month of March to host a Play Event and get more kids — and families — playing. The USTA is providing Play Event organizers with resources to host a successful tennis event and ensure a positive first experience for kids. Providers need to register their event by March 31 at YouthTennis.com or by calling 800-990-8782.

Play Events are happening across the country throughout the month, in celebration of World Tennis Day on March 3 at Madison Square Garden in New York and at sites in London and Hong Kong.

Tennis providers can choose the type of event that works best for them, whether it’s an event for kids and families new to the game, or a Play Day to introduce kids to tennis. Registered Play Events and Play Days taking place in March receive a Celebration Pack with a YouthTennis.com banner, 50 YouthTennis.com bracelets, and 50 copies of Bounce magazine for kids.

To help promote registered Play Events locally, providers also receive marketing resources from the USTA, including a sell sheet, web banners, a timeline checklist, customizable poster and flyer, press release and media advisory templates, newsletter copy and graphics. Organizers also will be featured in the searchable database on YouthTennis.com.

According to the USTA, March is the No. 1 month nationally when parents begin registering their children for spring programs. By hosting a Play Event, tennis organizers — whether at facilities, parks or municipalities — have the opportunity to showcase their junior tennis programs and attract new players, and consumers, to the sport.

Expanded Indian Wells Facility to Enhance BNP Paribas Open

Tennis fans will notice an expansion at the BNP Paribas Open men’s and women’s tournament, which takes place at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California March 3 to 16. The tournament recently completed Stadium 2 (above), a permanent structure with 8,000 seats, and which will house three gourmet restaurants — Nobu, The Chop House and Piero’s Pizza Vino — on the concourse level overlooking the on-court action and the grounds.

In addition to the new Stadium 2 and the restaurants, the site expansion includes a new East entrance with a new box office, a Walk of Palms, an additional 19,000-square-foot shade structure with video walls, four additional practice courts, additional concessions, more grass parking space for up to 2,000 cars, enhanced landscaping, additional seats on some outside courts, and more.

The Indian Wells Tennis Garden will unveil Stadium 2 on March 1, when it will host the McEnroe Challenge for Charity, a free-admission special event that will feature John McEnroe, Jim Courier, Peter Fleming and Rick Leach. The new restaurants in Stadium 2 also will be open during the charity event.

“In our continued effort to enhance the BNP Paribas Open experience we are very excited that we will now be able to offer this unique dining experience that all of our patrons can enjoy while taking in the matches, the spectacular mountain views and the numerous activities that are available throughout the tournament grounds,” says tournament director Steve Simon.

Prince Introduces ‘Racquet Selector,’ New Frames

Prince — which recently introduced a number of new frames in its Premier, Warrior, Tour and LS lines — has rolled out a new “Racquet Selector” on its website that, through answers to a series of six questions ranging from level of play to importance of power, leads players to a unique “power level” number that corresponds to the right Prince racquet for them.

“With the introduction of all these racquets, it is essential that our consumers can easily identify the right racquet for their game,” says Peg Connor, director of global marketing for Prince Global Sports. “Our new racquet selector is a unique, interactive web app that makes the racquet selection process fun and easy.”

In addition to the Premier, Warrior and Tour racquets that were in Tennis Industry’s “Outlook” story in the February issue, Prince recently unveiled its LS Series, which features a new cosmetic design with historic Prince racquet names designed for club players looking for performance at a more economical price point. The frames use Prince’s O3 Technology to help enlarge the sweetspot, says the company. The LS models will come in four racquet head sizes and five different weights (Silver LS 118, Blue LS 110, Red LS 105, Pink LS 105, and White LS 100). Top 10 WTA Tour player Jelena Jankovic is now using the Red LS 105.

For more information, and to check out the Racquet Selector, visit princetennis.com.

Antigua Offers 2014 Women’s Line

The Antigua Group Inc., which will be celebrating its 35th year in business in 2014, recently debuted its new line of women’s tennis apparel, split into Performance, Essentials and Outerwear collections. The company says the lines feature both active, contemporary looks and classic, traditional designs.

“We’ve revamped our women’s line for 2014 with seven new styles and some great new colors,” said Antigua Group CEO Ron McPherson. “Each piece features one of our two performance fabrics, Desert Dry or Desert Dry Xtra Lite (D2XL), which enable the apparel to stand up to competitive play in the heat or cold.”

The Performance collection includes 14 items, ranging from polos to skorts to jackets, with most in at least five color options. The Essentials collection is made up of 10 tops, some available in as many as 22 colors. The Outerwear collection has five tops, including hoodies, half zip fleeces and long sleeve full zip jackets. Some are available in as many as 26 colors. Antigua also offers custom embroidery. Visit Antigua.com.

Florida One-On-One Doubles To Lead to National Championship

One-On-One Doubles, a unique half-court serve-and-volley singles competition played on a doubles court and created by college tennis guru Ed Krass, returns to Florida with four events, leading to an all-expenses paid trip to New York City in November to play in the national championship at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Each tournament offers $4,000 in prize money.

One-On-One Doubles is a fast-paced game played cross-court — each player covers half the court, from the baseline to net, and from center line to outside doubles line. The format requires players to use the full arsenal of shots, but emphasizes serving and volleying.

“It give players the opportunity to play a game that we always used as a drill,” says former world No. 1 doubles player Kelly Jones. “It’s great for young players to start serving and volleying again. It helps creativity and feel.”

Piloted by the USTA Florida Section, One-On-One Doubles tournaments will be held March 7 at the Kiwi Tennis Club, Indian Harbour Beach; April 5 at Hawks Landing Tennis Club in Plantation; May 3 at Buckhorn Springs Tennis and Swim Club in Valrico; and Oct. 25 at Avila Golf & Country Club in Tampa. Each tournament integrates “rockin’ blues music” throughout the three- to four-hour event. Players win points at each event that determines who goes to the national championship.

“One-OnOne Doubles Tournaments are a natural addition to any tennis clubs’ schedule — both for regular play and special events,” says Whitney Kraft, tennis director at the USTA BJK NTC.

For more information, contact Krass at oneononedoubles@yahoo.com or call 813-684-9031 or 813-478-3384, or visit oneononedoubles.com.

Prince Opens ‘Hub’ in Melbourne

To kick-off the first Grand Slam of 2014, Prince opened a customize “Hub” at the Tennis Live Site at the Crown Entertainment Complex in Melbourne for tennis fans and visitors. Throughout the Australian Open, the Prince Hub featured a ground-floor merchandise store that showcased Prince’s 2014 product line and gave tennis enthusiasts the opportunity to find a racquet using Prince’s latest racquet selector.

The Hub also hosted Prince player signing sessions and was a prime location for viewing the action and live entertainment around the area. Player appearances included WTA No. 8 Jelena Jankovic and doubles champions Mike and Bob Bryan.

Industry Loses Henry Talbert

After a long and courageous battle with cancer, former USTA Southern California Section Executive Director Henry Talbert passed away on Jan. 12 at his Pacific Palisades home, surrounded by his wife, Fran, and sons, Eli and Ethan.

Talbert joined the USTA national office in 1974 as tennis programming director, before moving in 1990 to the Princeton, N.J., office where he focused on recreation programming and research, and then back to the national office in White Plains, N.Y., in 1993, where he supervised the USTA National Recreation Program staff.

He returned home to California in 1997 to become executive director of the Southern California Tennis Association and remained in that position for 16 years until he retired in 2013. Talbert received the prestigious Gussy Moran Humanitarian Award in 2013 for his achievements and contributions to tennis in the U.S.

Sony Unveils ‘Smart’ Racquet Sensor

Sony revealed a prototype “Smart Tennis Sensor” at the Consumer Electronics Show in January that is installed in the end of the racquet handle and equipped with vibration and gyroscopic sensors to track where the ball strikes the strings. The sensor also records swing speed and spin you put on the ball. Bluetooth sends the data to a paired mobile device. Battery life when the Bluetooth is turned on is about 90 minutes.

The device weighs 8 grams and measures 31.3 mm in diameter and 17 mm in height. PC Pro magazine says the sensor will be released in Japan in May, for a price of about $170. At launch, the sensor will only be compatible with six Yonex racquets: the VCore Tour G, VCore Xi 98, VCore Xi 100, EZone AI 98, EZone Ai 100, and EZone Ai Lite. Players also need to download the free app for Android or iOS.

Tecnifibre Offers 2 New Frames

Tecnifibre, the official product sponsor of the ATP, introduces two new frames for spring, the TFlash 300 and the TFlash 315. Both graphite racquets offer a 100-square-inch head and 16 x 19 string pattern. The TFlash 300 weighs 10.6 ounces while the 315, designed for power and spin, checks in at 11.1 ounces. For more information, visit tecnifibre.com.

TMC Launches Digital Magazine ‘Tennis Tuesday’

In early January, the Tennis Media Co. launched a new weekly digital magazine, “Tennis Tuesday,” that the company says serves as a stand-alone product for desktop computers, tablets and mobile phones.

Available at TennisTuesday.net, the new publication replaces the twice-monthly digital magazine Tennis 15-30, but with some key differences. Besides the increased frequency, the technology of Tennis Tuesday is driven by Ceros, a platform that allows publishers to create highly interactive user experiences to be delivered via web, tablet and smartphone.

“Each issue of Tennis Tuesday will continue to offer the latest insight on the pro circuit, as well as tips for the frequent players among our audience to be able to improve their games,” said Robert Miller, managing partner of the Tennis Media Co., which also publishes Tennis magazine and Tennis.com. “The weekly offering will not only do all of this with twice the frequency of Tennis 15-30, but it will do so with an enhanced user-friendly experience that works as well on a phone as it does on a desktop — and devices of all sizes in between.”

USTA Considers Plan to Move South

In an email to USTA staff in mid-January, Executive Director Gordon Smith relayed a message from USTA President Dave Haggerty about “a major new initiative” to create a state-of-the-art tennis facility in Orlando, Fla., to “showcase American tennis and provide an unprecedented opportunity to further the USTA’s mission of growing and developing the sport of tennis in the United States.”

While Smith said plans are not final, the concept, which would be completed in 2016, is to build a tennis facility and complex that would house the USTA Community Tennis division and include a new Collegiate Tennis Center. The facility would also become the exclusive national headquarters of USTA Player Development.

USTA Serves Awards $1.6 Million

USTA Serves, the national charitable foundation of the USTA, recently awarded $450,000 in grants to 40 organizations that provide tennis and education to underserved youth and people with disabilities, bringing the total awarded during the 2013 grant funding cycle to more than $1.2 million. Combined with scholarships, USTA Serves awarded a total of $1.6 million in 2013.

The biannual grant process was established to award organizations that successfully combine tennis and education for underserved youth as well as people with disabilities to gain an opportunity to play tennis and improve their academic skills in a structured format. These programs also strive to help combat childhood obesity by promoting healthy lifestyles.

To date, USTA Serves has awarded more than $17 million in grants and scholarships to standout players and programs.

Aussie Open, By the Numbers

There are always some interesting stats and facts that come out of each of the Grand Slam tournaments. This year’s Australian Open was hit with four days of intense heat, which tournament officials say affected the overall attendance, which was 643,280 fans vs. the record set in 2012 of 686,006. Some other interesting numbers provided by the tournament incude:

College MatchDay to Highlight 22 NCAA Div. 1 Team Matches

The USTA announced that College MatchDay, the nationwide series spotlighting college tennis, will feature 22 matches on 18 different campuses in 2014, 10 of which will be delivered by ESPN3. The series kicked off in early February in Tallahassee, Fla., with the Florida State men hosting Oklahoma.

College MatchDay is a weekly series highlighting marquee team matches featuring the best programs, players and coaches around the country. In addition to the ESPN3 coverage, eight College MatchDays will feature a 53-foot, interactive Fan Experience trailer on site, where fans can engage in a number of activities before and during the match.

“College tennis is such amazing and exciting competition, and College MatchDay is a way to shine a light on schools, teams, players and coaches,” said Virgil Christian, the USTA’s director of collegiate tennis. “We hope that College MatchDay can change the landscape of viewing college tennis both in person and at home.”

Every MatchDay carried on ESPN3 will follow a unique, experimental format, as proposed by an advisory group of NCAA Division I athletic directors: All six singles matches will be played first, best of three tie-break sets, with each singles match worth one point toward the team total (four points are required to win the team match). Once one team reaches four points and clinches the match, the remaining matches will not be completed. In the case of a 3-3 tie after the singles matches, three doubles matches — played using 10-point super tiebreakers — will be used to determine the winner. The team that wins two of the three doubles matches wins the team match.

Ashaway Extends Crossfire Line of Hybrid Strings

Ashaway Racket Strings has extended its well-known Crossfire line of hybrid tennis strings to include its popular 100 percent Zyex monofilament strings. Additions to the line include Crossfire ZX, which combines Ashaway’s 17-gauge braided Aramid/PTFE Kevlar+Plus mains with MonoGut ZX Pro cross strings; and Crossfire ZX Tour, which includes Ashaway’s co-polymer string, MonoGut Original, mains with MonoGut ZX for the crosses. For more information visit ashawayusa.com.

Nominate for TI Hall of Fame

The Tennis Industry Association is accepting nominations for the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame for 2014, which honors individuals who have made a significant impact on the sport of tennis. Nominations, which are due by June 21, can be in any of four categories: Inventors, Founders, Innovators or Contributors. Criteria for nominating and a short nomination form are at TennisIndustry.org/HOF.

The Tennis Industry Hall of Fame was created in 2008 and currently has eight inductees: Howard Head (2008), Dennis Van der Meer (2008), Alan Schwartz (2009), Billie Jean King (2010), Nick Bollettieri (2011), Howard Gill Jr. (2013), Walter Montenegro (2013) and Sheldon Westervelt (2013). Plaques of Tennis Industry Hall of Fame inductees are on permanent display at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

USRSA Announces New MRTs

Julian Ayala - Weston, FL

Eric Engelsgjerd - Frisco, TX

Richard Marks - San Diego, CA

Daniel Marongiu - Miramar Beach, FL

Joseph Sisco - Brooklyn Center, MN

ACEing Autism Honors Duchess of York

The Duchess of York recently was honored by ACEing Autism for her interest in tennis and developing recreational opportunities for kids with autism. ACEing Autism has 30 tennis programs in 10 states serving the needs of about 500 children with autism on a weekly basis, who represent a variety of cognitive, special and physical abilities. Each child is paired with one or two volunteers based on his or her needs. This past fall ACEing Autism launched new programs in Tampa; Charlotte; Encinitas, Calif.; and Riverside Park, N.Y., with plans to expand to nine new areas in 2014. Visit acingautism.com.

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