Join the ‘Try Tennis for Free’ Promotion
There’s a new promotion in tennis designed to bring in players and get them out on the courts. “Try Tennis for Free” is a joint effort by the Tennis Industry Association, the PTR, and USPTA’s Tennis Across America, and it will hit consumers starting in May.
Beginning and returning players will be encouraged by teaching pros, coaches, facilities and other providers to get into the game for free, so that they can then move them into lessons, clinics, leagues and other programs.
“One of the keys to ‘Try Tennis for Free’ is that pros and facilities make the rules — they simply agree to offer a complimentary introduction to tennis during the month of May, but then they can set it up in any way that works best for them and their business,” says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. For instance, providers can decide how many sessions or intro lessons may be offered for free, whether pre-registration is required, whether the free offer only applies during specific times or days, if it should apply to a Cardio Tennis session or a Play Day, etc.
“We want to make sure that whatever free offer the pro or facility provides, it works with their own schedule and business model,” de Boer adds. “The important thing is introducing this sport and what you have to offer to as many people as possible, then having them continue in revenue-generating programs.”
The PTR and USPTA have been pushing out the “Try Tennis for Free” messaging to their members and encouraging them to participate in the offer. Providers and facilities should register at PlayTennis.com/try-tennis-for-free/for-facilities. They’ll receive a free listing in the PlayTennis.com database so consumers can easily search and contact them. A national media and PR campaign will include messaging to consumers through social media channels.
In addition, the TIA is providing free marketing and promotion material to tennis providers. Logos, banner ads, fliers, email templates and more are available to download on the website, and many of the pieces can be customized with provider offers and information (see page 17 for more on “Try Tennis for Free” collateral).
USTA Plans Training Center
The USTA said in March it’s planning to build a national training facility at Lake Nona in Orlando. The project was mentioned to the 800 attendees at the USTA Annual Meeting in California, then revealed in stories in the Orlando Sentinel and Orlando Business Journal, among other outlets. The USTA said it has signed a letter of intent with Lake Nona Land Co. to construct a “state of the art” tennis campus, said the Sentinel in a March 25 story.
A statement by the USTA said the association “intends to create a model tennis facility to house its community tennis and player development divisions. The goal of creating such a facility is to better service and drive the USTA’s mission of promoting and developing the sport of tennis in the United States.”
USTA Managing Director of Communications Chris Widmaier told the Orlando Sentinel, “It would be a comprehensive facility that would provide court access, coaching and player development for virtually every level of the game.” He would not provide a timetable, cost, or the number of courts, as details remained to be worked out.
Net Tension Amendment Approved by USTA
The USTA Board of Directors, during the annual meeting in mid-March in California, approved an amendment to “Friend at Court” that recommends a net cord tension of between 400 and 450 pounds, with the tension of all nets at a facility to be within 25 pounds of each other. The amendment will take effect Jan. 1, 2015, and be in the 2015 edition of “Friend at Court.”
The amendment reads, in part, “Adjusting net cord tension is recommended before the day’s first match and before each match. … Use a net tension device when available. When a device is not available, tighten the net cord until the center of the net is approximately 39 inches (991mm) above the ground, and tighten the center strap until the center of the net is 36 inches (914mm) above the ground.”
“With the let cord serve now in play in men’s Division I tennis, our committee felt it was important to offer a recommendation that tournament directors, umpires and players can use to achieve a fair playability range for net tension,” said USTA Technical Committee Chairman Randy Futty, who presented the amendment. “Additionally, our efforts were supported by the recent publishing of an ITF recommendation to regulate net tension.”
ITF’s Tennis iCoach Offers Top Content for $30 a Year
Tennis iCoach, launched late last year, is the official coaching platform from the International Tennis Federation. The site, tennisicoach.com, is a coach education resource offering both practical information and tennis-specific sport science content on technique, tactics, biomechanics, psychology, sports medicine and coaching methodology, says the ITF.
“We see the iCoach as a good way of solving two important issues,” says Dave Miley, the ITF’s executive director of development. “Increasing tennis participation by improving the information to coaches who are working at the national level worldwide with recreational players, and providing a distance-learning tool for those working at high levels, especially on the international junior and professional tours.”
Access to all the content is $30 a year, Miley adds. Currently, the library has more than 1,500 educational articles, videos and conferences, including exclusive access to videos of ITF Worldwide and Regional Coaches Conferences where members can learn about cutting edge developments in the game from the world’s top coaches and coach education experts.
There are many reasons to become a Tennis iCoach member, Miley says, including being able to keep up to date with all the latest trends in tennis coaching techniques, constantly updating and expanding tennis knowledge, gaining insider secrets and tips from world-renowned experts, and unlimited access to all the information on Tennis iCoach.
New Balance Launches National High School Championship With USTA
Global athletic brand New Balance announced the creation of the inaugural New Balance High School Tennis Championship presented by the USTA, an event that will offer young tennis athletes a new, elite level of competition on the national stage. The tournament will be held at the Beren Tennis Center at Harvard University in Boston, July 21-25.
New Balance developed the event with the goal of supporting and recognizing all high school tennis players and coaches and the dedication they bring to the game. “New Balance believes the high school tennis player will be a tennis player for life, and we are proud to recognize the commitment these athletes have to the game,” said Bruce Schilling, General Manager of Tennis for New Balance. “We are also excited to build relationships with the high school state athletic associations through this event.”
Boys’ and girls’ singles events will unfold in a 64-player compass draw format, giving players the opportunity to play many matches. Winners of the New Balance High School Tennis Championship will be awarded wildcard spots in an ITF junior event held in the U.S. prior to the 2014 US Open Junior Championships.
Other event supporters include Harvard, SJX, and Home Team Marketing. More than 355,000 boys and girls participate in high school tennis in the U.S.
Wilson Celebrates 100 Years
Wilson Sporting Goods Co. is celebrating a Century of Sport with the launch of its “100 Venues in 100 Days” contest, in which sports fans are invited to commemorate the last 100 years of accomplishment with a chance to win daily prizes and a Grand Prize trip to the 2014 US Open in New York.
Sports enthusiasts can play by identifying sporting venues for 100 days through June 24. Each day a new sporting venue will be featured with new prizes available, including an official Wilson Super Bowl game ball, a Wilson A2000 baseball glove or a premium Wilson tennis racquet, with the Grand Prize opportunity to win a trip to the US Open.
“Wilson celebrates athletes at every level, from the backyard to the professional player,” said Tom Gruger, VP of marketing. To enter the “Wilson 100 Venues in 100 Days,” visit wilson.com/100 through June 24.
TTC Registration Now Open
Registration is open for the 2014 Tennis Teachers Conference, to be held Aug. 22-25 in New York City as the US Open gets under way. For information, visit usta.com/ttc.
IART Symposium Set for September
The International Alliance of Racquet Technicians will hold its eighth annual Symposium Sept. 20-24 at Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla.
“If you are in the business of racquet sports, string racquets, or want to learn how to string and customize racquets, there is no better way to improve your skills while interacting with many industry leaders than the IART Symposium,” says Ron Rocchi, Wilson Sporting Goods Senior Designer and Global Tour Manager. “The entire symposium is designed to educate through dynamic presentations and real-life training, regardless of your current skill level.”
Wilson has been a sponsor of the event since its creation in 2006, and this year will host an upgraded World Speed Stringing contest. For detail on the IART Symposium, visit gssalliance.com.
New USTA Tennis Ads Aim for ‘Quirky’ Side
“Quirky” and “offbeat” are the words many are using to describe the new “Tennis Makes You” ad campaign by the USTA, which targets millennials. The USTA hired DDB New York for the campaign, which then enlisted Jared Hess, who directed the movie “Napoleon Dynamite,” for the ads.
Five short spots communicate the benefits of the sport — “tennis makes you” smarter, stronger, happier, more attractive and invincible — with quirky visuals and short, simple facts. The video for “tennis makes you … stronger,” for instance, is of a rail-thin young man, with a bulging, muscle-bound racquet arm.
Ferris State Club Team Honored by Tennis on Campus
The USTA has named Ferris State University’s club tennis team as the 2013-14 Tennis On Campus National Club of the Year. The award is presented annually to the college or university club tennis team that has achieved a level of sustained excellence, while also demonstrating a commitment to giving back to their local community. The honor brought an automatic bid to the 2014 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, which was held in April in Surprise, Ariz.
The members of the FSU club team have built a robust community service program around Mecosta County, Mich. The club has supported Big Rapids CROP Hunger Walks, Project Starburst, the Big Rapids Grow Tennis Initiative and started their own free after-school youth tennis program for local children at the FSU Racquet & Fitness Center. Club President Newlyn Wing said the club also started its own scholarship program in conjunction with the Professional Tennis Management Student Association at FSU and Big Rapids Community Tennis Association.
Keller Promoted to PTR Director of Education
Steve Keller has been promoted to Director of Education for the PTR. Keller, who held the position of Director of Development since 2008, is now responsible for the educational direction and content of the organization’s four pathways to certification, as well as all aspects of the Master of Tennis programs.
A PTR member since 1986, Keller will oversee PTR clinician training to ensure continuity of content delivery, and design and develop professional development courses to create opportunities for certified members to fulfill the new continuing education requirements. He will also serve as the staff liaison to the USTA coaching education department.
“With his knowledge, passion and dedication, Steve is one of the top tennis clinicians in the country,” said PTR CEO Dan Santorum. “He continues to conduct PTR workshops throughout the U.S., and is widely requested as a clinician. In his new role, Steve will ensure the caliber and excellence of our education offerings.”
Ashaway Adds Pro Tour Design Hybrid String
The newest addition to Ashaway’s line of Crossfire hybrid tennis strings is an all-pro combination of 100 percent co-polymer monofilament mains and 100 percent Zyex monofilament cross strings. Designed for hard hitters who like firm monofilament string beds for maximum spin, 16-gauge Crossfire ZX Tour also provides outstanding power with a soft touch and gut-like playability, says the company.
US Open Nat’l. Playoffs Return for Fifth Year
The US Open National Playoffs will be held for the fifth season, providing the opportunity for players 14 years of age and older to earn a berth into the US Open. The Playoffs include men’s and women’s singles and mixed doubles.
The singles champions earn a wild card into the US Open Qualifying Tournament. The mixed doubles champions receive a wild card into the main draw of the 2014 Open. The Playoffs begin as a series of 13 qualifying tournaments held in USTA Sections across the country.
Registration is at USOpen.org/NationalPlayoffs. Entry fee for each of the sectional qualifying tournaments varies slightly. All players competing must have a current USTA membership valid through August 25, 2014.
ITA Expands Partnership with Universal Tennis Ratings
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has expanded its partnership with Universal Tennis and its Universal Tennis Rating System (UTR). UTR, which includes players across the spectrum of singles competition, rates players independent of age, gender, section, level of education or country. Weekly results from the ATP, WTA, ITF, ITA and USTA are fed into the UTR system, which includes ratings of more than 120,000 players worldwide.
Dave Fish, who is heavily involved with UTR, says it removes the guesswork from measuring abilities, improvement and competitiveness. "While UTR’s international ratings have obvious recruiting value, the widespread use and understanding of Universal Tennis Rating’s approach to tournament play could have a transformative effect on player development in America.”
The ITA’s expanded partnership follows three years of testing by coaches, during which time UTR received strong reviews for accuracy and usefulness, the ITA says. Visit universaltennis.com.
USTA Honors Members
The USTA announced annual awards at a dinner during the 2014 USTA Annual Meeting at La Costa in mid-March. Among those honored:
- Seniors’ Service Award: Dick Walther of Summit, N.J.
- NJTL Founders’ Service Award: Christine S. Beck of Newtown Square, Pa.
- Organization Member of the Year: Centercourt Athletic Club of Chatham, N.J.
- Family of the Year Award: The Stingley Family of St. Paul, Minn. (Tony, Ronda, David, Marc, Lisa and Langston)
- Brad Parks Award: City of Mission Viejo, Calif.
- 25 Years of Volunteer Service: Lisbeth Ross Blum, Todd Ellenbecker, Lucy Garvin, Robert Ingersole, William Ben Kibler, Dan Santorum, Jonelle Smith, Randy Stephens
- 30 Years of Volunteer Service: Nancy Alfano
Oncourt Offcourt Offers ‘Jingles Bell Balls’
Oncourt Offcourt has released a new sound-producing foam ball for tennis called “Jingles Bell Balls,” says PTR and USPTA Master Pro Joe Dinoffer, the company president. Dinoffer says the softball-sized 100 percent density foam balls that have a number of benefits. For the sight-impaired player, the noise when the ball bounces or strikes the racquet allows for auditory recognition (samples were tested at the 2014 Blind Tennis Conference held in Texas.) Also, since tennis is a rhythm-based sport, the sound will help beginning players develop their rhythm skills subconsciously. Visit OncourtOffcourt.com.
WTT Sets 2014 Schedule
The 2014 Mylan World TeamTennis regular season will be July 6 to 23 with a 52-match schedule. The conference championships will be July 24 and conclude with the WTT Finals on July 27. Last season ended with the Washington Kastles winning a third consecutive King Trophy and setting a new mark for most consecutive wins by a major U.S. pro sports team. This year, the Kastles will try to tie the league record of four consecutive championships set in 2000.
The WTT season begins with Boston hosting Texas, and Philadelphia traveling to Springfield. Opening week action also includes the launch of two new teams in San Diego and Austin, Texas. The San Diego Aviators, featuring former world No. 5 Daniela Hantuchova, host the Andy Roddick-led Austin Aces on July 7.
Nominate for USPTA Awards
June 17 is the deadline for nominations for the USPTA 2014 National Awards Program, honoring members who are committed to excellence as tennis teachers and as ambassadors using tennis to impact people and communities. All Professional-level members are eligible. Recipients will be recognized during the Tennis Teachers Conference Aug. 22-25 at the Grand Hyatt New York. Visit uspta.com for more information and to nominate.
USTA Outstanding Facility Nominations Due May 30
Do you know an outstanding tennis facility in your local area — one with great courts, a great design, impressive construction and excellent tennis programs? Nominate it for a USTA Outstanding Facility Award, which is a great way for a facility to receive local and national recognition, and to help in fund-raising goals.
The deadline to nominate is May 30. Winners will receive their award at the USTA SemiAnnual Meeting in September in New York. Last year, 19 facilities from around the country were honored as “outstanding” by the USTA, and one was chosen as a “featured” facility. Nomination forms for 2014 are available at USTA.com/facilityawards.
ASBA Facility Awards Applications Due June 2
The American Sports Builders Association, in conjunction with Tennis Industry magazine, is accepting applications through June 2 for its prestigious Facility Awards Program. Winners will be featured in TI magazine in 2015 issues.
Photos of award-winning projects in all categories are often featured in articles ASBA writes for various magazines, and in its publications. Also, the awards have been used successfully in the marketing and advertising programs of ASBA members, and ASBA presents all award winners with a free publicity kit to help them spread the word about their win. Visit sportsbuilders.org for more information and for entry forms.
USRSA Announces New MRTs
Richard Jakiel — New Britian, CT
Robert Schneider — South Glastonbury, CT
Steven Schriver — Ladera Ranch, CA
- Head announce changes to its sales management team. Joe Keenan has been promoted to National Sales Manager in charge of all Head Penn USA’s sales efforts. Replacing him as Western Regional Manager is Erik Lange, who will report to Keenan. Lange, new to Head, was with Prince for nearly six years. The changes came about as a result of Trevor Lavelle retiring after 18 years at Head.
- Jason Bernstein, senior director of programming and acquisitions at ESPN, is the newest member of the Tennis Industry Association’s board of directors. Bernstein oversees digital media programming content acquisitions and scheduling for ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, ESPN3, and its authenticated networks service, WatchESPN. He is also responsible for the content acquisition and scheduling strategy for ESPN’s tennis business.
- Dunlop’s new territory manager for the Southwest region is Hassan Humayun, who is based in Las Vegas. He’ll handle sales and promotion of Dunlop tennis, squash, and racquetball as well as the Carlton badminton brand and Diadora footwear. Humuyan has been in the industry for 13 years, most recently as Tennis Director, Athletic Director, and Head Professional at the Anthem Country Club in Las Vegas. Currently Hassan is the President for USPTA Las Vegas Division.
- Head has renewed its partnership with Maria Sharapova until at least 2016. Also, Australian Bernard Tomic has signed a long-term contract with Head and will endorse the new Graphene Radical racquet. And Sloane Stephens, the current No. 2 woman in the U.S., will remain part of the Head family until at least 2017.
- The International Tennis Hall of Fame has appointed former Swedish tennis pro Ingrid Lofdahl-Bentzer as Vice Chairman of the Enshrinee Nominating Committee. The committee is chaired by 5-time major champion Stan Smith and is comprised of 22 individuals from all aspects of the sport.
- The USPTA has extended its partnership with Fromuth Tennis an additional five years through August 2021 to be the exclusive provider of Nike footwear and apparel. In addition to the extended agreement, Fromuth Tennis will participate in the USPTA’s Retirement Gold + program. For any USPTA Professionals who purchase more than $750 per year of Nike footwear and apparel for their pro shops (not for personal use), Fromuth will contribute 5 percent into those participating professionals’ Retirement Gold + accounts.
- The Dunlop Grand Prix ball was again the Official Ball at the 2014 Family Circle Cup tournament in March.
- The USPTA has announced it is a sponsor of the 2014 ITF Seniors World Championships, one of the largest international amateur tennis events in the world and will feature 195 teams from 38 different countries. It returns to Florida for the first time since 2002 this spring.
- The $50,000 women’s USTA Pro Circuit event in Las Vegas is closing because it can’t find a new title sponsor. The Party Rock Open had been sponsored by singer Redfoo, the boyfriend of Victoria Azarenka.
- The USPTA added a fourth tournament to its 2014 National Surface Championship Series schedule, which will now cover all four court surfaces. The 2014 USPTA Grass Court Championships will be held at the Desert Highlands Racquet Club, Sept. 11-14, in Scottsdale, Ariz. USPTA Professionals will have the chance to compete for $6,000 in total prize money among eight men’s and women’s events: open singles and open doubles, 45 and over singles, and 45 and over doubles. Visit usptaplayer.com.
- “Court Confidential: Inside The World of Tennis,” by tennis writer Neil Harman of The Times of London, is now available in paperback in the United States, on Amazon.com.
- “Macci Magic: Extracting Greatness From Yourself and Others,” is the new book by Rick Macci, written with longtime tennis journalist and publisher Jim Martz. The book, available for sale and download on Amazon, includes many anecdotes and “Macci-isms” that exemplify his teaching philosophy and the role positive thinking can play.
- The 47th annual Easter Bowl junior tournament was held at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in April.
- The 2014 ITF Wheelchair Doubles Masters will return to Mission Viejo, Calif., for the second successive year, taking place Nov. 5-9. The ITF’s season-ending flagship wheelchair tennis doubles event, first staged in 2000, currently features the world’s top eight men’s pairs, top six women’s pairs and top four quad pairs.
Vegosen, Davis, Norris Honored by Hall of Fame
The International Tennis Hall of Fame presented the 2013 Samuel Hardy and Tennis Educational Merit Awards on March 15, in conjunction with the USTA Annual Meeting in Carlsbad, Calif. Hall of Fame President Stan Smith presented the awards, which are given annually to recognize great volunteers and leaders in the sport of tennis.
Jon Vegosen of Chicago, past Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA, received the Samuel Hardy Award. The Tennis Educational Merit Awards were presented to Anne Davis of Tallahassee, Fla., who has been active in community tennis and currently serves as USTA Manager of Play Days, and Bill Norris of Boca Raton, Fla., who has served tennis in the areas of athletic training and sports medicine since the early 1970s.