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Asics Debuts BZ 100 Performance Racquet

Asics America announced Dec. 9 the introduction of the BZ 100, the company’s first-ever performance tennis racquet designed to give competitive players controllable power.

“With the launch of the BZ 100, we are introducing to the market racquet technology options that have never been available, and we strongly believe it will positively impact players’ performance,” says Kevin Wulff, president and CEO of Asics America Corp. “The tennis category is a key focus for Asics globally as we move into 2015. We’ve seen great success with our tennis footwear and expect this innovative racquet will follow in the same footsteps.”

The BZ 100 features Asics’ new patent-pending Bending Zone technology, which adjusts the flex distribution in the frame, giving players the ability to better control the ball without sacrificing power, says the company. Asics says it reduced the height of the throat by 30 percent compared to an average player racquet, resulting in a substantial reduction in the stiffness of the frame and a larger “sweet spot.” The optimized flex, says the company, will also result in a reduction in vibrations and less drag in the head.

The BZ 100 is 27 inches, 11.2 ounces strung with a more rounded 100-square-inch head shape. Suggested retail is $189. Visit AsicsAmerica.com.

K-Swiss Unveils New Brand Identity

K-Swiss has introduced a new brand identity that celebrates its place as the only heritage American tennis brand. The new look brings the brand back to its founding roots in 1966 and is characterized by a directional logo, classic 1966 typeface and signature Brunner Blue colorway inspired by the blue color on U.S. tennis courts.

“With the resurgence of K-Swiss and our brand positioning around heritage American tennis, it was time to refresh the elements of our brand identity,” says Barney Waters, CMO of K-Swiss Inc, which is based in Westlake Village, Calif. “We’ve managed to modernize the symbols while retaining the elements that have long-term equity, such as the color combination and the shield.”

The new minimalist shield logo retains the classic K-Swiss Five Stripes trademark, though the orientation of the stripes has changed — the stripes now point upward.

The red, white and blue K-Swiss logo has long signified America as the place where the brand was introduced, but now a new color has been introduced, Brunner Blue. Named for K-Swiss’ founders, brothers Art and Ernie Brunner, the color matches the shade of blue found on America’s tennis courts, including at the US Open. The color will be introduced into all K-Swiss branding elements, including the logo, packaging, retail displays and website.

The company’s signature “Classic” shoe, the first all-leather tennis shoe, made its debut at Wimbledon, and almost 50 years later, is still considered a style staple. K-Swiss relaunched its brand in 2009 and it is now distributed in more than 80 countries.

WTT Celebrates 40 Years

Mylan World TeamTennis commemorates its 40th season with a yearlong marketing and promotional program that includes special events and fan engagement initiatives. The 2015 WTT season will run July 12-Aug. 2, with finals that will air live on ESPN2. ESPN 3 will also broadcast a number of matches throughout the summer.

“As we celebrate our 40th anniversary, Mylan World TeamTennis maintains its pioneering spirit and commitment to push the boundaries of our sport in the name of fan entertainment,” says founder Billie Jean King. “Throughout our rich history, Mylan WTT has been a showcase for world-class competition as well as the fundamental values of gender equity, access, and community.”

Gerflor Buys Connor Sport Court

Gerflor, a global leader in the design and manufacture of resilient flooring, has acquired Connor Sport Court International. In a statement, Gerflor said the two companies’ combined resources will enhance their ability to offer more innovative solutions and improved services to customers, including worldwide sport associations.

“The acquisition of Connor Sport Court International is an extremely exciting development for Gerflor, as it brings a world-class organization into the Gerflor family to strengthen our position as a world leader in sports surfaces. It is also a major step to strengthen our Group sales footprint in North America,” says Bertrand Chammas, CEO of the Gerflor Group.

“We look forward to being part of the Gerflor Group,” adds Ron Cerny, CEO of Connor Sport Court International. “It provides the unique opportunity to further expand our sales throughout the world and provide truly complementary solutions to our customers.”

Gugel Honored at IART Symposium

Master Racquet Technician John Gugel, the 2012 Tennis Industry Magazine Stringer of the Year, received the “Lifetime Achievement” award during the 2014 IART Symposium, held at the end of September at Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Fla. “John has done it all in our industry, from tournament stringing to designing racquets,” said IART Executive Director Tim Strawn. “He’s the consummate professional who is long overdue recognition for his contributions to the racquet sports industry.”

The five-day IART event focuses on those in the racquet sports industry who work in the service side of the business. “We added new speakers this year and covered some new ground, all of which was well received,” Strawn said. “Classes on successful Pro Shop Management, a new class presented by Babolat’s Lucien Nogues on “Ball Effect,” and a new and improved six-hour racquet customization class were included in the program.”

This was the organization’s eighth conference and plans are under way for 2015. Strawn also announced that Ron Rocchi of Wilson, a participant from the symposium’s start, will be the new creative director of the event. For more information, visit gssalliance.com.

U of Florida wins TOC Fall Invitational

The University of Florida became the first repeat winner at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational as the Gators defended its 2013 title with a 25-18 win over Auburn University at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center in Hilton Head Island, S.C. By reaching the final, both Florida and Auburn qualify for the 2015 Tennis On Campus National Championship in Cary, N.C., April 9-11, 2015.

NYJTL Honored by Bronx Chamber

New York Junior Tennis & Learning (NYJTL) President and CEO Dr. Deborah Antoine accepted the inaugural Bronx (N.Y.) Builder’s Award from the Bronx Chamber of Commerce in October. The NYJTL was honored for its work in building a new $26.5 million tennis, community and educational center in the heart of Crotona Park, called the Cary Leeds Center for Tennis & Learning, the result of a public/private partnership with the City of New York. The grand opening of the 10 indoor/10 outdoor court facility is scheduled for April.

In addition, Todd Martin, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, and Doug Conant, Chairman of Avon Products and Founder & CEO of Conant Leadership were honored by the NYJTL at its 29th annual Leadership Awards Luncheon recently. The luncheon also raised $1.7 million to complete the Cary Leeds Tennis & Learning Center.

Tecnifibre Partners With ProWorld Tennis

High-performance tennis equipment brand Tecnifibre has partnered with ProWorld Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, Fla., which is now the exclusive training center for Tecnifibre’s ATP program in the Southeast U.S.

ProWorld coaches and pros have groomed the likes of Andy Roddick, Jennifer Capriati and Ryan Sweeting. The academy’s program is directed by former ATP Top 50 player Cyril Saulnier, ATP/WTA coach Horacio Rearte and world-class former player Sebastien Grosjean as consultant and ambassador. The fitness program is directed by ATP/WTA Fitness Coach Carlos Aranda. ProWorld Tennis has 15 hard and three Har-Tru courts.

Ashaway’s MonoGut ZX Now Available in Black

Ashaway’s popular MonoGut ZX and MonoGut ZX Pro are now available in black. At 17 gauge (1.22 mm), MonoGut ZX Pro is a thinner, lighter string, designed to provide better elongation, snap-back and playability for players who do not require the added durability of the 16L (1.27 mm) gauge MonoGut ZX string.

Both strings are of 100% Zyex monofilament construction, which provides exceptional dynamic stiffness and arm-friendly gut-like playability, says Ashaway. The total lack of polyester increases elongation and decreases stiffness for comfortable soft power.

USTA Honors Grassroots Tennis at TDW

The 2014 Tennis Development Workshop, held in Atlanta in November, celebrated grassroots heroes and organizations that have gone above and beyond to make the game accessible to everyone.

“Celebrating the outstanding work of our peers raises the bar for all of us,” said USTA President Dave Haggerty during this year’s awards presentation. “The USTA is proud to honor individuals and organizations who have exceeded expectations in delivering positive experiences in physical activity, social connection and opportunities for bright futures.” Award winners include:

USRSA Announces New MRTs/CSs

Master Racquet Technicians

Michael Alexiou - Toronto, Canada

David Darling - Alpharetta, GA

Eric Ferrazzi – Lyon, France

Scott Gates - Cumming, GA

Susannah Hill - Toronto, Canada

John Koenig, Maynard, MA

Devin Leal - Toronto, Canada

Michael Pournaras - Charlotte, NC

Michael Sims - Lilburn, GA

Thomas Staub - Charlotte, NC

Mike Stephens - Soddy Daisy, TN

Steven Struck - Surprise, AZ

Raymond Wendeln - Sun City, AZ

Certified Stringers

Matthew Collura - Richmond Hill, Canada

Anthony Nazzaro - Somers, NY

Jeffrey Charles Stanford - Rancho Mirage, CA

Jeffrey Zhou - Wynnewood, PA

Correction to USRSA Fall Digest

Instruction notes in the Fall 2014 Stringer’s Digest are incorrect for the Dunlop iDapt 98, Dunlop iDapt 100 and Dunlop iDapt 105.

The correct note should read: “If stringing 1-piece, short side must be installed on side of frame with “S” marked near bottom of grommet strip. If stringing 2-piece, starting knot must be tied on side of frame with “S” marked near bottom of grommet strip.”

WTA Signs Largest Media Right Deal

The WTA Board of Directors approved a ground-breaking 10-year media agreement with Perform of more than $525 million, the largest live media rights and production venture in the history of the WTA and in women’s sports.

“This is a game-changing and historic moment for our fans and for women’s sport,” says WTA Chairman and CEO Stacey Allaster. “Our new broadcast strategy to produce all 2,000 main draw singles matches in partnership with Perform will deliver exponential global exposure for our players, tournaments and partners.”

The agreement introduces WTA Media, a joint endeavor between both organizations that will deliver unprecedented premium content to tennis fans worldwide. WTA Media, together with tournaments, will produce all main-draw singles matches and the semifinals and finals of all doubles matches from 2017. Furthermore, WTA Media will increase its production of news content by 40 percent. It will also deliver additional magazine shows and significant off-court content to support the WTA’s mobile, digital and social media strategy.

Aussie Open Series Uses Plexicushion Prestige

California Sports Surfaces has announced that the Australian Open and Australian Open Series of tournaments will once again be played on Plexicushion Prestige. Plexicushion Prestige was first installed in Melbourne in 2008 and has since expanded to the series events across Australia.

The Hopman Cup, Brisbane International, Hobart International, Apia International and the World Tennis Challenge all lead up to the Australian Grand Slam, so tournament organizers and Tennis Australia wanted the court surfaces to be consistent.

Plexicushion Prestige is a resilient acrylic system, consisting of SBR and EPDM granules, which has been rated as a Category 4 Medium-Fast surface by the ITF, meaning all the courts across the series should have a similar bounce and similar footing.

Like the USTA with its US Open color in 2005, Tennis Australia created its own original color scheme, utilizing a two-toned blue combination called Velocity Blue and True Blue. For more information, visit plexipave.com.

Adidas Introduces New Barricade 2015

Adidas’ newest shoe is the Barricade 2015, which has the most design updates since the shoe’s inception 15 years ago. The Barricade 2015 is lighter and more flexible, says the company, and available in new colorways.

The shoe provides stability and durability, and features a synthetic-mesh toes shell for maximum flexibility, says Adidas.

“Analyzing our player’s on-court performance was an essential part of the design process,” said Thomas Weege, VP for Heartbeat Sports Design. “By redesigning some core elements of the shoe, we have managed to create a design that is a real departure from previous Barricade designs, while still retaining the core qualities of absolute stability and durability.”

The Barricade 2015 will be available in January for $140.

Mason Promoted to President of Head USA Racquet Sports

Greg Mason has been named president of Head USA Racquet Sports. Mason, who previously was vice president of sales and marketing for Head USA, also serves as the president of the TIA.

“Greg has been the driving force behind the incredible success of our racquet division in the U.S. over the last five years,” said Kevin Kempin, Head North America’s CEO and president. “Both the Head and Penn brands have achieved record growth due to the efforts of Greg and his team.”

Mason joined Head USA in August 2000 and has held a variety of key positions in the sales and marketing groups. He also continues to serve as TIA president, a position he has held for the past two years.

By the numbers

Tennis Racquet Performance Specialty Stores

January-September, 2014 vs. 2013

Units 2014 514,600
2013 534,492
% change vs. ‘13 -4%
Dollars 2014 $76,241,000
2013 $77,826,000
% change vs. ‘13 -2%
Price 2014 $148.16
2013 $145.61
% change vs. ‘13 2%

Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars

Jan.-Sept. 2014

  1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive 2013 (MP)
  2. Babolat Pure Drive GT 2012 (MP)
  3. Babolat Pur Drive Lite 2012 (MP)
  4. Babolat Aero Pro Team 2013 (MP)
  5. Head Graphene Radical MP (MP)

“Hot New Racquets”

(introduced in the past 12 months)

  1. Head Graphene Radical MP (MP)
  2. Wilson Juice 100 S (MP)
  3. Babolat Pure Strike 100 (MP)
  4. Head Graphene Radical Pro (MP)
  5. Wilson Juice 100 2014 (MP)

Top-Selling Tennis Shoes at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan.-Sept. 2014

  1. Asics Gel Resolution 5
  2. Prince T22
  3. Nike Air Max Cage 2013
  4. Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour
  5. Babolat Propulse 4

Top-Selling Strings at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date units, Jan.-Sept. 2014

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

(Source: TIA)

‘Pickup Wall’ Keeps ‘em Hitting

What’s one of the most common complaints from players hitting on a ball machine or in a lesson or clinic? “I hate picking up the balls.” A new product, the Pickup Wall by Tennis Tech, can help eliminate that complaint.

The PickupWall attaches to the court fence and automatically collects and returns balls hit over the net to the ball machine or a teaching cart, enabling nearly continuous hitting. It requires 3 feet of space from the back of the fence, thereby allowing the court to be used for regular play as well.

The patented, one of a kind product is backed by a full two-year warranty, and the all-season design allows the unit to remain in place year round, although it can be easily disassembled and installed in the event of severe weather. Visit pickupwall.com or call National Sales Manager Mike Puc at 561-315-2158.

Paul Kid Named Volkl U.S. Sales Manager

Volkl Tennis has announced that industry veteran Paul Kid has joined the company as the U.S. national sales manager. The announcement was made at the company’s annual sales meeting in San Diego recently, where four new racquets were introduced.

The four new frames, all Super G updates, are the Super G 1 with Power Arm, Super G V-1 MidPlus, Super G V-1 Oversize, and Super G 7.

Head Introduces New Graphene XT Speed Line

Head has introduced its new Graphene XT Speed racquet line, endorsed by World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and combining “an iconic new design and the improved Graphene XT technology into one speedy package,” says the company.

The line is based on the use of graphene, the strongest yet lightest material in the world, and Head says with the updated technology, Graphene XT now features a 30 percent stronger material structure that has been “engineered to optimize the racquet’s weight distribution to where players need it most. As a result, racquets with Graphene XT feature a 10 percent better energy transfer for a higher ball speed and faster game.”

Graphene XT Speed models are the Pro, MP A, S and Rev Pro. New to the Speed line are the Rev and MP A models, which feature Adaptive String Pattern (ASP) technology that allows the player to exchange the grommet strips and choose between a 16/16 pattern for more spin or the 16/19 pattern for more control. Three models (MP A, Rev Pro, S) are available now; the Pro will be available Jan. 12.

Pro: Tour version with highest weight at 11.1 ounces, 100-square-inch head size, 22-mm constant beam, 18/20 string pattern.

S: 10.1 ounces, 100-square-inch head, 22-mm constant beam, 16/19 string pattern.

MP A: 10.6 ounces, 100-square-inch head, 22-mm constant beam, adaptive string pattern of either 16/19 or 16/16.

Rev Pro: 93 ounces, 27.4-inch length, 98-square-inch head, 25/22.5/24 mm beam, adaptive string pattern of either 16/19 or 16/16.

USTA’s Gordon Smith Honored By University of Georgia

USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith, an SEC champion and former captain of the Georgia men’s tennis team, is the 2014 recipient of the UGA’s Bill Hartman Award. Smith was recognized in November at the Georgia-Auburn football game and will receive the award during the UGA Circle of Honor Gala on Feb. 6.

Named for the late Bill Hartman, Georgia’s long-time kicking coach and chairman of the Georgia Student Educational Fund, the Hartman Award, presented annually since 1992, is one of the highest honors given to a former UGA student-athlete. Only former varsity athletes who have received a baccalaureate degree from Georgia can be considered for the award.

A native of Rome, Ga., Smith won a state title at Darlington School, and later earned a scholarship to play for Dan Magill at UGA. He served as captain of a Bulldog team that swept the SEC title each of his four years from 1972 to 1975. He was a two-time all-SEC selection and, as a senior, won the conference doubles championship with current head men’s tennis coach Manuel Diaz. Smith graduated magna cum laude in 1975 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and he earned his juris doctorate with honors from UGA in 1978.

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