Tennis Industry magazine



Improving Participation

In the May issue, I enjoyed reading many terrific thoughts and suggestions concerning how we can improve tennis participation levels. For me, three concepts in particular are interconnected and crucial toward increasing the popularity of tennis.

First, in “Our Serve,” Peter Francesconi suggested we need to get “out there” more. We must reach people who are not currently or have never played tennis. Most tennis communications are to current players, which will never result in acquiring unique players.

Second, in the Tennis Summit summary (“Industry Addresses Major Issues and Concerns”), Tom Cove of the SFIA was quoted as saying, “Parents want a good experience for the whole family” when it comes to recreation. He is spot on. All people love their families and want activities they can do together. The message that people should play tennis as a family could resonate with millions of parents, grandparents and siblings — if they were to get the message….

Third, Ellen Miller’s “Your Serve” piece discusses the importance of using low-compression balls to help players rally, which is essential for player development. But the value of “rallying” goes further than that. Rallying is what makes every racquet sport fun. Time spent playing versus picking up balls is a decisive factor in determining whether new players stick with tennis, and using low-compression balls can make all the difference.

If we were to do a better job of reaching the non-tennis playing public with the message that they could enjoy tennis as a family, and that using low-compression balls will help them rally and have fun, we could create an upsurge in the number of people who get hooked on tennis.

Kevin Theos
Tennis Service Rep, Alabama

Appreciates String Info

I enjoyed the excellent article by Bob Patterson (“The Evolution of Poly Strings”) in the May issue. It did a great job of clearly explaining string types and benefits, as well as pitfalls for each.

It can be a struggle to work with customers in matching their game to strings they will be happy playing with. I avoid getting overly technical and confusing, and the concise info from this article discusses each type in a manner that all can easily appreciate. The illustration was also an excellent visual to demonstrate ball and string interaction.

Keep up the great work!

Ken Fisher
Cleveland, OH

Getting Pros ‘Up to Date’

Ellen Miller’s “Your Serve” was right on. A great tennis player feeding balls to students does not make a good teacher. I call it “pro-centered teaching,” vs. student-centered teaching.

I am a USPTA elite-level pro who recently left the industry, disillusioned with club owners who require only that their "pros" be great players. Sure, that doesn’t hurt, but there is so much more that should be required. When will the USPTA, PTR and USTA send representatives to each club in the country and sell them on the value of having a certified teaching pro at least lead their classes?

I’ve seen many head pros at clubs who, while they may be great players, have no teaching credentials, don’t go to conferences, don’t get involved with local USTA initiatives, and basically teach the same way they were taught. Sometimes decades ago. Schoolteachers don’t enter the class unprepared and without up-to-date information and neither should tennis teachers.

Please, follow what Ellen wrote about and keep this subject going. Maybe some of the independent, family-owned clubs will pay attention.

Chris Sanford, USPTA Toledo, Ohio

I enjoyed and totally agree with Ellen Miller’s “Your Serve” in the May issue.

Nigel O’Rourke
Director of Tennis
Toscana Country Club
Indian Wells, Calif.

Wisdom of Lessons Past

I’m writing to say how much I liked Mark Rearden’s column in the April issue, “Respecting the Wisdom of a Lesson Taught Years Ago.” Not only was it well written, but Rearden tells a great story and makes an excellent point.

I had a similar experience as a college student in the 1980s, working as a summer counselor at the Allen Fox Tennis Camp at Pepperdine. Like Rearden’s friend, Mr. Charlie Fortune, Dr. Fox consistently revealed hidden truths that still astonish me with their profound simplicity — truths I still share with my own students today.

I love a good memoir, and it frustrates me that most tennis magazines don’t publish much of it anymore. Bravo.

Keith Hayes,

USPTA. Marin County, Calif.

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