Fighting the Fight
Each issue, Editorial Director Peter Francesconi writes a column called “Our Serve” in which he often begs, pleads and cajoles the tennis industry to keep its eye on the participation ball. Please, keep serving.
Participation is the only engine that will drive tennis forward. Participation drives racquet sales, ball sales, shoe sales. Participation fills pros’ lesson books. Participation fills courts. Tennis can only do well when people are driven to consume our sport.
Pete, keep fighting the good fight. Keep using your platform to demand participation initiatives. Keep serving. You are the conscience of our sport.
& Chief Operating Officer
Editor’s Note: Jill, thank you for your kind words and support. In this way-too-political industry, you pinpointed another key issue: This shouldn’t need to be a “fight” at all — we all must have tennis participation and the growth of this game as our top priorities.
‘Because We Allow It …’
In reference to the editorial “Eye on the Ball” in the September/October issue, we as volunteers allow our organization to be manipulated ineffectively by paid national leadership. Where are the results for spending millions on staffing year after year? Have we ever seen a business plan? What is our current marketing strategy to meet our mission: “To promote and develop the growth of tennis”? I learned to play tennis at a park and recreation department 60 years ago — where is the support for the largest aggregate of tennis courts in the U.S.?
These are just simple questions to those we pay to grow the game. Perhaps I just haven’t seen the answers to these questions. If they’re out there, please share!
Past President, USTA New England
Business Model Needs to Change
I just read John Embree’s “Tennis Directors of The Future” in the September/October issue and I thought he hit the nail on the head. This topic is rarely discussed in our industry. The business model as a whole of how directors are compensated as well as their job descriptions needs to fundamentally change for the longevity of this career path.
I’ve just recently been fortunate to have been promoted from a Tennis Director to General Manager for two clubs that are owned by the same family in Buffalo, N.Y. My time on court as a TD ranged from 20 to 30 hours a week, but now that I’m overseeing two clubs, it no longer is the best use of my time to be grinding away that many hours on court.
The challenge I’m having is finding a way to pull back my hours from clients I’ve taught over the years that still want my time on court. I’m getting the sense they feel I am abandoning them to a degree. Any feedback or suggestions that could help my clients understand this transition would be appreciated.
ROG Enlarges the Talent Pool
I’d like to point out a few flaws in logic in the letter Bill Pantsari sent in for the August issue regarding the potential value of the ROG progression in developing tennis players.
1. Despite the increase in the number of players now participating in tennis because of ROG balls, Pantsari remains skeptical of the overall quality. The tennis industry is making use of the Law of Large Numbers. We are competing against other sports and activities in our efforts to attract the best youth athletes to tennis. It is the tennis professional’s job to recognize the best talent and cultivate it. I would rather be selecting talent from a large pool than a small one.
2. Pantsari states, “It is sad … to watch 10- and 11-year-olds who have never hit a ball above their shoulders.” No. What’s sad is watching 15-year-olds who are married to a Western grip forehand because that is what worked best for them at age 10 or 11, when 70 percent of all balls hit to them were over their shoulders.
3. Pantsari invites us to a Little Mo tournament being played by 8- to 10-year-olds with yellow balls to see the amazing results. The world is littered with tennis players who were young phenoms who never developed beyond that early flowering. I am more interested in what kind of player my student will be when he or she is 17. How well developed are all the skills needed to hit a tennis ball?
A more important observation is that the U.S. Junior Davis Cup teams have not only performed well, but dominated in international competition for the last 20 years. Where have all those players gone? Certainly not into the Top 10 on the ATP tour.
The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result. Tennis professionals who persist in denying the potential benefits of training our youngest players on ROG balls are skating on the thin ice that separates us all from the cold pond of insanity.
USPTA Elite Professional/
Praise for TI’s ‘Champions’
Thank you for printing the “Champions of Tennis Honor Roll” in the July issue. Looking back at all the people, places and organizations you’ve honored over the last 14 years makes me realize just how special this sport, and the people in it, truly are. It’s inspiring to see how many of the winners from the early days of the awards are still so dedicated to helping this sport grow. Keep up the great work in bringing these true grassroots tennis “champions” to light.
Hilton Head Island, S.C.
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