Martin Blackman to Head USTA Player Development
The speculation on who would replace Patrick McEnroe at the helm of USTA Player Development ended in early April when the USTA tapped coach and former pro tour player Martin Blackman.
As general manager, Blackman will oversee the Player Development staff and “partner with the U.S. tennis community to identify and develop the next generation of world-class American tennis players,” the USTA said in a statement. He’ll report to USTA Executive Director and COO Gordon Smith.
Blackman will oversee both the USTA’s Player Development staff and Training Centers — including its Regional Training Center network and the Player Development facilities at the soon-to-be created USTA National Campus in Lake Nona, Fla.
As a junior player, Blackman trained with Nick Bollettieri alongside future greats Andre Agassi and Jim Courier. He won the USTA Boys’ 16s National Championship in 1986 and reached the Boys’ 18s final two years later, then went on to become a member of two NCAA Championship teams at Stanford. He played on the ATP Tour from 1989 to 1995, reaching a career-high of No. 158.
Blackman was head men’s tennis coach at American University in 1998, where he was named conference coach of the year three times. In 2004, he became director of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md.
Blackman was hired by the USTA in 2009 as senior director of talent identification and development. He left the USTA in late 2011 to found the Blackman Tennis Academy in Boca Raton, Fla.
Blackman, who has an economics degree from George Washington University, also served two terms on the USTA Board of Directors, from 2003 to 2006.
USTA Breaks Ground in Florida
The USTA broke ground April 8 for what is now being called the USTA National Campus at Lake Nona in Orlando, Fla. The facility will have more than 100 courts and is expected to be completed in late 2016. It will house the USTA’s Community Tennis and Player Development divisions.
When completed, the facility will feature red and green clay courts, hard courts, and youth tennis courts. The site, which will be open to the public, also will house a collegiate tennis center capable of hosting a number of college events and will serve as the home for the University of Central Florida’s men’s and women’s varsity teams.
The groundbreaking was attended by senior USTA officials, officials from Tavistock Group and Lake Nona, along with City of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and Orlando County Mayor Teresa Jacobs, as well as a number of state and regional partners. The USTA facility will serve as a cornerstone for Lake Nona’s Sports Innovation & Performance District, an athletic district with a focus on research, design, innovation and technology.
N.C. Sportswriter Wins 2015 Tennis Media Award
Scott Fowler, a sports columnist for The Charlotte (N.C.) Observer, is the winner of the 2015 Tennis Media Award, presented by the TIA in conjunction with the National Sportscasters and Sportswriters Association (NSSA). Fowler will be recognized at the NSSA’s 56th annual Awards Weekend in Salisbury, N.C., June 6-8.
Fowler’s story, which was published in August, is about his attempts to return the serve of tour pro John Isner. A recreational player, Fowler managed to get his racquet on two of the eight serves Isner hit. For his winning entry, he will receive a cash award and travel expenses to the NSSA Awards Weekend.
Two other journalists will receive runner-up awards. Chuck McGill of the Charleston (W.Va.) Daily Mail, who won the inaugural Tennis Media Award last year, is a runner-up in 2015 with his story on a recreational player who delayed a critical transplant of his stomach and intestines so he could play tennis, something doctors told him he won’t be able to do after the surgery. Another runner-up is Jack Thompson, whose story about “overly involved tennis parents” appeared in the PTR’s TennisPro magazine.
PTR Expands Education With Senior, Junior Programs
The PTR is expanding its educational offerings with a new Senior Development Certification pathway and Level 3 Junior Development Program. By the end of 2015, PTR will have 1,000 hours of education available to its members.
The Senior Development Certification provides on-court training workshops to help coaches prepare for teaching senior players. The Level 3 Junior Development Program is for coaches who wish to progress their coaching skills and knowledge beyond basic certification. It’s the first program of its kind in the U.S. that provides advanced coaching education from the red to yellow court.
For more information, visit ptrtennis.org.
Sport Court Named USPTA Official 36’ and 60’ Courts
Connor Sport Court International’s Sport Court is now the official 36-foot and 60-foot court of the USPTA. In addition, CSCI will also contribute a percentage of sales to participating members’ USPTA Retirement Gold+ accounts on Sport Court purchases for their clubs and facilities.
Sport Court will provide the surface for the on-court demonstrations at the 2015 USPTA World Conference in New Orleans in September. Also, CSCI will donate two courts during the USPTA’s annual convention: One will be donated to the USPTA’s Division of the Year award winner, and another will be donated to be sold at the annual silent auction for the USPTA Foundation.
“Sport Court is excited to partner with the world’s largest association of tennis-teaching professionals,” said Ron Cerny, Connor Sport Court President and CEO. “The USPTA is helping lead the charge along with Sport Court to ‘Reimagine Tennis,’ where their members can teach longer and players can play tennis longer on Sport Court’s engineered safe surfaces.” Visit sportcourt.com.
World TeamTennis Pro League To Start July 12
Mylan World TeamTennis announced the schedule for the 2015 season, which is highlighted by the return of world No. 1 Serena Williams to WTT action for the first time since 2011. This summer, Mylan WTT becomes only the fifth major professional team sports league in the U.S. to reach the 40th season milestone when the season kicks off on July 12.
The 52-match schedule runs July 12-29, with conference championships scheduled for July 30 and the Mylan WTT Finals on Aug. 2 on the home court of the Eastern Conference Champion.
Williams will take the court on July 21 in Washington D.C. for the defending Mylan WTT champion Washington Kastles, which are looking to become the first team in league history to win five consecutive titles. The Kastles’ lineup also includes returning marquee players Martina Hingis and Venus Williams and American standout Sam Querrey.
After finishing at the bottom of the standings in 2014, the Boston Lobsters this year added world No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard. The top-ranked doubles team in the world, Bob and Mike Bryan, will play for the new Sacramento-based California Dream, and John Isner was picked up by the Springfield Lasers. Visit WTT.com for the full schedule and ticket info.
Legendary Coaches Honored At Team USA Coaching Event
Legendary tennis coaches Jimmy Evert, Dennis Van der Meer and John Wilkerson were honored as Team USA Coaching Legends at the second annual Team USA Coaching Awards reception held April 6 at the ASICS Easter Bowl junior tournament at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California.
In addition, Lynn Nabors-McNally, coach and mother of 2014 USTA National Champions John and Caty McNally, was recognized as the 2014 Team USA Developmental Coach of the Year, and the Tucker Tennis Academy in Tulsa, Okla., was named the 2014 Team USA Developmental Program of the Year, part of USTA Player Development’s Team USA initiative to work collaboratively with developmental coaches and programs across America.
“Jimmy, Dennis and John have been synonymous with coaching excellence for decades, and we’re honored to be able to recognize them as Team USA Coaching Legends,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe. “On top of that, Lynn and the team at the Tucker Tennis Academy have done outstanding work this past year and deserve to be acknowledged for setting such a high standard for coaching success.”
Oncourt Offcourt Distributes Start Rite Grip Trainer
The Start Rite Grip Trainer will now be distributed by Oncourt Offcourt. Formerly distributed by another company as the Yippee Grip Trainer, the training aid was invented by tennis industry veteran Rod Schroeder.
“This is the first racquet sport grip aid that is easy to use, durable, and works quickly,” Schroeder says. “One of the biggest challenges for players and coaches is to start with the Continental grip on the serve. All tennis players know that holding the right grip allows for the fastest improvement. The Start Rite Grip Trainer meets this challenge.”
The Start Rite Grip Trainer is available for under $3 each and sells in packs of one dozen. Visit OncourtOffcourt.com or call 888-366-4711.
USOS Tix On Sale June 8
Tickets for the 2015 Emirates Airline US Open Series go on sale across the nation, beginning June 8. Now in its 12th season, the Series serves as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking eight summer tournaments to the US Open.
The eight USOS tournaments run from July 27 to Aug. 29, stopping in Atlanta; Stanford, Calif.; Washington, D.C.; Toronto; Montreal; Cincinnati; New Haven, Conn.; and Winston-Salem, NC.
To purchase tickets, and to find out more information on all the tournaments, visit emiratesusopenseries.com
VA Partners with USTA Foundation
The USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the USTA, is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to make tennis more readily available to VA patients. With more than 8 million veterans enrolled, VA operates the largest integrated health care delivery system in the U.S.
The three-year partnership will include organizing tennis clinics for VA medical facilities, linking VA medical facilities with community resources, and providing consulting and design services for VA facilities interested in upgrading or building tennis courts. The USTA Foundation will support VA in the form of coaching, instruction, equipment, use of courts and other technical assistance needed to sustain a tennis clinic.
In addition, the USTA Foundation recently developed the Warrior Tennis Curriculum, an electronic manual that provides rehabilitation therapists, tennis professionals and volunteers guidance through text, pictures and videos on how to use tennis as a therapeutic option to help veterans stay fit and active.
For more information on facilitating or starting a program, getting connected to a VA facility in your community, or to obtain a copy of the Warrior Tennis Curriculum, contact email@example.com.
‘Ad-In Bin’ Collects Used Tennis Balls for Recycling
Retour Tennis introduces the Ad-In Bin, the first tennis ball collection bin designed to attach directly to court fencing to make recycling balls at public courts and clubs compelling and easy. Designed with input from parks and rec staff for easy maintenance and collection, the Ad-In Bin begins tennis ball recycling at the source: When players walk off the court with balls they will not play with again.
Discarded tennis balls enter American landfills at the rate of up to 125 million a year, but there are now companies that grind up balls to be recycled into alternative surfaces, says Bill Dermody of Retour Tennis. The Ad-In Bin, which hangs at eye level, installs in 10 minutes and adjusts to fit any fencing. It can hold 200 balls and weighs 40 pounds when full. The bottom swings open for easy ball collection, and the unit unlocks and empties in seconds. It is made of a durable, weather-resistant composite and is virtually maintenance-free.
For more information, visit retourtennis.com or call 608-218-3688.
USRSA Names New MRTs, CSs
Master Racquet Technicians
Alex Belote - Springfield, MO
Nathaniel Helmkamp - Big Rapids, MI
Nate Pagel - Berrien Springs, MI
John Radcliffe - Chandler, AZ
Daniel Rhoades - Springfield, MO
RJ Rumsey - Roswell, GA
David Terzaghi - Big Rapids, MI
Kyle Wartick - Springfield, MO
Steven Rifkin - New York, NY
Support For Military Families
ThanksUSA, in partnership with USPTA, is appealing to tennis professionals and enthusiasts to donate or to host a fundraising event to benefit ThanksUSA and its mission of providing need-based post-secondary scholarships for college, technical and vocational school to the children and spouses of military men and women.
Visit uspta.com or ThanksUSA.org.
USTA Presents Annual Awards
The USTA honored its annual award winners at the Annual Meeting and Conference April 10-13 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Florida. The honorees were recognized for their dedication to growing the game.
Brad Parks Award: Harlon Matthews of McDonough, Ga. — The award honors an individual or organization that has been instrumental in the development of wheelchair tennis around the world through playing, coaching, sponsoring or promoting the game. The award was named after Brad Parks, a pioneer of wheelchair tennis.
USTA NJTL Founders’ Service Award: MaliVai Washington of Ponte Vedra, Fla. — Created by USTA Diversity in 2011, the award recognizes an individual NJTL chapter founder who is committed to positive youth development through tennis and education and provides free or low-cost tennis, education and life-skills programming to thousands of underserved children each year.
USTA Member Organization of the Year: DC Department of Parks and Recreation, Washington D.C. — Instituted in 1981, this award recognizes the outstanding services of a USTA member organization through its commitment to the tennis community, the organization’s members and the game of tennis.
Ralph W. Westcott USTA Family of the Year Award: the Ponwith Family of Scottsdale, Ariz. — Created in 1965, the award emphasizes the theme that “Tennis is a Family Game” and is given annually to the family that has done the most to promote amateur tennis, primarily on a volunteer basis.
Seniors’ Service Award: Connie Ebert of Abington, Pa. — Established in 1958, the award goes to the person most deserving of the respect and honor of all senior players. It is awarded on the basis of the recipient’s willingness, cooperation and participation, either in play or organizational work, for the betterment and furtherance of senior competition.
Young American Frances Tiafoe has turned pro and signed with the Roc Nation Sports agency.
Australian tennis great Thelma Coyne Long passed away April 14. She was 96. Long captured her first major title in 1936 and her last, an impressive 22 years later, in 1958. Over that span, she won a total of 19 Grand Slam tournament titles, including championships in singles, doubles, and mixed doubles. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.
Nicole Jeter West, the USTA Managing Director of Ticketing and Digital Strategy, has been named to Sports Business Journal’s 2015 “Forty Under 40” list.
For the fifth time in six years, Tony Larson won the men’s open singles division at the $5,000 USPTA Indoor Championships in March at the Racquet Club of Memphis. Ashley Murdock of Memphis won the women’s open singles division title.
Jason Joseph is the new tennis director at the Rhinebeck (N.Y.) Tennis Club.
Adidas Introduces Y-3 Roland Garros Collection
Adidas has introduced its Roland Garros Collection by Y-3, which will be worn at the French Open by Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Ana Ivanovic. The collection will also be worn by the tournament’s ball boys and girls.
The range includes functional accessories such as socks and wristbands in classic Adidas designs, while footwear utilizes the brand’s ultra-light Adizero concept, designed to maximize clay court use. The collection’s colorways are firmly rooted in the classic Y-3 look, offering both Yohji Yamamoto’s signature stark black-and-white as well as vivid, electric, ultra-bright Hawaiian floral prints that reference Y-3’s Spring/Summer 2015 collection. Visit adidas.com.
Correction to Stringer’s Digest
Due to incomplete information supplied to the USRSA for the 2015 edition of the Stringer’s Digest, we’re printing here the correct specifications for the Tecnifibre T Fight Dynacore frames. Please copy or cut out this information and insert it into page 99 of the Stringer’s Digest.
Following its 3-2 Fed Cup World Group Playoff loss to Italy in April, the U.S. Fed Cup team will be relegated to World Group II play for 2016. In the decisive doubles match, Serena Williams, partnering for the first time with Alison Riske, lost to Sara Erranni and Flavia Pennetta. It was Williams’ first loss in Fed Cup singles or doubles; she now has a 17-1 record overall. The 2015 Fed Cup final will be contested Nov. 14-15 between Russia and defending champion Czech Republic.
The PTR’s Wheelchair Tennis Championships has been designated an International Tennis Federation Grade A Junior Tournament. The event is one of only seven events in the world awarded this designation for 2015. Grade A events offer more points than other Junior tournaments. The PTR Wheelchair Championships, which draws players of all level from around the globe, has been on Hilton Head Island, S.C., for more than 20 years and has seen the world’s best players compete. This year, the event will be Oct. 1-4.
Cliff Drysdale Tennis has launched The Cliff Drysdale Foundation, a donor-advised fund with a mission to provide support through the game of tennis to organizations and programs that enhance the lives and well-being of others.The Foundation will raise funds through the tennis endeavors of Cliff Drysdale Tennis and its partners.
Italian coffee company Lavazza has signed a multi-year agreement to sponsor the French Open. Lavazza sponsors Wimbledon and recently signed to sponsor the US Open.
PlayYourCourt, which introduces tennis lessons and programming at “dead” or underutilized facilities, has entered into a partnership with the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section to “grow the accessibility of tennis” throughout Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, and Washington D.C. The company says that with its full-service software and nationwide staff of tennis professionals, it makes tennis more accessible to players in their local community.
Entrepreneur Magazine, in its March 2015 issue, has recognized TGA Premier Youth among its Top New Franchises. The magazine makes its selections from companies that have been franchising for the last five years. In related news, TGA has established a second chapter in the Raleigh/Durham, N.C. area.
The USTA has launched a nationwide online audition as part of its ninth annual US Open casting call. A select number of submissions will be chosen to participate in a call-back that will be held at the Queens Theatre in Flushing Meadows Corona Park on June 30, with those selected earning the chance to perform “America the Beautiful” live in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2015 US Open. Children 14 and under are eligible.
The ITF announced that the UNIQLO Wheelchair Doubles Masters will continue to be held in Mission Viejo, Calif., through 2016. The 2015 event, which is the ITF’s flagship wheelchair tennis doubles tournament, will be at the Marguerite Tennis Pavilion Nov. 3-7. The season-ending event currently features the world’s top eight men’s pairs, top six women’s pairs and top four quad pairs.
Gamma Sports continued its sponsorship of Tennis Recruiting Network by becoming the title sponsor of "Countdown to Signing Day" and "Signing Week" featured content areas of TRN’s website.
U.S. Pros Attend Cardio Tennis Trainer Summit
Thirty select tennis and fitness professionals from across the U.S. took part in the Cardio Tennis Trainer Summit in April, held at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla. At the two-and-a-half-day event, attendees learned the skills and knowledge required to be a TIA Cardio Tennis Trainer.
“We trained the trainers,” said TIA Cardio Tennis Manager Michele Krause. “These 30 tennis and fitness professionals are qualified to deliver official Cardio Tennis education to tennis and fitness professionals around the country, so that those pros can bring quality Cardio Tennis programs to consumers and players.”
The CT Summit kicked off with a welcome from IMG Academy founder and tennis Hall-of-Famer Nick Bollettieri. Then David Thompson of Polar USA talked to the group about the use of heart-rate monitors for Cardio Tennis participants, to make sure they’re receiving maximum benefit from their on-court activity.
Over the course of the weekend, the CT Trainers were coached and evaluated on feeding technique, delivery of Cardio Tennis games, warm-up and cool-down activities, as well as personal fitness. Other speakers included Cassiano Costa, the head tennis fitness trainer at IMG; Jeff Smith from Rapid Force; and Krause.
Also during the weekend, there was a Cardio Tennis “Triples” tournament, in which 36 professionals participated. In addition, there were TRX Cardio Tennis workouts and IMG protocol pro training sessions.
The third day of the Summit included a seven-hour Cardio Tennis course delivered to 45 participants by multiple members of the CT Trainer Team.
"It was an incredible weekend of learning, bonding, teamwork and personal growth,” Krause said. “The members of the TIA Cardio Tennis Team are the best in the business, and their passion and energy over the weekend was off the charts. As an educational team, we are now that much stronger and evolved to continue providing some of the very best education in the tennis industry.”
For more about Cardio Tennis, including training for tennis providers, visit CardioTennis.com.
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