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USTA PlayDev Creates New ‘Team USA’ Department

USTA Player Development has created a new “Team USA–Pro” department that will be focused on providing American pro tennis players with coaching assistance, training and financial resources to help them reach the Top 100. USTA Lead National Coaches Tom Gullikson and Kathy Rinaldi have each been promoted to leadership roles in the new department and will lead its coaching efforts on the men’s and women’s sides, respectively.

The Team USA–Pro department was created to provide professional players ranked between 100 and 500 resources and assistance similar to what has been available to junior players since USTA Player Development first began to incorporate the Team USA philosophy into its junior development structure in 2014. Geoff Russell will assume a new role, as senior manager of Team USA–Pro, overseeing the department’s administrative operations.

“When players move quickly into the Top 100, they have a much better chance of achieving rankings in the Top 50, Top 20 or Top 10,” says USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “Team USA–Pro will better enable us to maximize this opportunity for our American pros and help them achieve a ranking that gets them into the main draw of Grand Slam events, where we eventually want to see them competing into the second week.”

Additionally, USTA Player Development has reorganized its structure of National Coaches, creating teams of coaches who will focus on distinct groups of players: juniors, collegiate players and professional players. Richard Ashby (girls) and Andy Brandi (boys) have each been promoted to lead the junior coaching teams. The overall coaching reorganization is a move to assemble teams of coaches that will better be able to meet the developmental and training needs of those specific groups of players.

“We are utilizing the expertise and commitment of our coaching staff to develop smaller and more sharply focused coaching teams in order to provide private-sector coaches and programs with a collective resource that specializes in a particular phase of development — junior, collegiate or professional,” Blackman says.

Babolat Introduces New, Lightweight JET Shoe

Babolat’s new, lightweight JET shoe is now available, weighing in at 11.46 ounces. The company says the shoe is made from the “lightest performance material ever put into a tennis shoe.” The shoe is “built for speed yet exceptionally supportive,” says Babolat, designed to help players move faster and more lightly on the court.

The unique one-piece upper uses “Matryx,” a patented, woven textile made with durable Kevlar and Polyamide woven into specific zones where players need it most, and creating areas of visible support amid the catchy design. The shoe also features an exclusive “S” pattern Michelin outsole that’s designed to allow for quick direction changes while providing traction and durability, says Babolat.

The shoe is designed for competitive players looking for lightness and support. It’s available in all-court men’s and women’s models, and a clay men’s model, in gray/red and light gray/yellow. Suggested retail is $135. Visit babolat.com.

USTA Awards Wheelchair Tennis Grants to Nine Programs

The USTA is awarding $62,550 in USTA Wheelchair Tennis Grassroots Grants to nine programs nationwide to promote and develop the growth of wheelchair tennis and use the sport of tennis to build stronger, healthier communities.

“Wheelchair tennis continues to grow in stature and popularity in the U.S.,” says Dan James, USTA national manager of Wheelchair Tennis. “These organizations positively impact wheelchair tennis and we know these grants will be a part of a continued effort in expanding programs that support the wheelchair community through tennis and foster growth and success in players.” Grants are being awarded to:

Since 2008, the USTA has given more than $450,000 to wheelchair tennis programs across the country.

Solinco Adds New Hyper-G Co-Poly

Solinco introduces a new string to its formidable lineup. The Hyper-G is a co-polyester string utilizing a newly developed chemical formula in combination with the high-powered polyester monofilament fiber that is designed and shaped to generate maximum power and control while amplifying spin, according to the company.

Hyper-G is available in four gauges — 16/1.30, 16L/1.25, 17/1.20, and 18/1.15 — in 40-foot packages and 656-foot reels. Visit solincosports.com.

Short sets

PeopleWatch

T.O.M. Conference Slated For March 23-25 in Miami

It’s not too late to sign up for the Third Annual Tennis Owners & Managers (T.O.M.) Conference, March 23-25 at the Hilton Miami Downtown during the Miami Open pro tennis tournament. Single-day rates are available for the T.O.M.

The conference will bring together leading experts in facility management, programming and other key areas to provide vital information to grow tennis businesses, in addition to a Tennis Tech Fair & Resource Center.

Key speakers include Dr. Jack Groppel, Cliff Drysdale, Gigi Fernandez, Emilio Sanchez, Jim Baugh and Dr. Gerald Faust, among other management and business consultants. Tennis industry speakers include Craig Jones, Dan Santorum, John Embree, Randy Futty, Pat Hanssen, Lee Sponaugle, Virgil Christian and Scott Schultz. Among facility owners and managers sharing their knowledge will be: Greg Lappin, Simon Gale, Mike Woody, Fernando Velasco, Jorge Capestany, Doug Cash and many others. To register and for more information, go to TheTOMConference.com.

State of Industry Forum in Miami

Held in conjunction with the T.O.M. Conference will be the State of the Industry Forum, from 10 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 23 at the Hilton Miami Downtown. The Forum is free to attend (but space is limited, so register at TheTOMConference.com) and will present the latest news and data about the state of the tennis industry, including research, trends and more.

PTR, Tennis Europe Partner to Boost TennisCoachEd.com

Tennis Europe and the PTR have a two-year partnership that will make PTR an “Official Continuous Learning Provider” partner of the Tennis CoachEd initiative. The partnership will provide PTR with additional opportunities to promote activities in Europe. TennisCoachEd.com is Tennis Europe’s project aimed primarily at providing new opportunities, information and services for the European tennis coaching community.

“PTR is looking forward to working with Tennis Europe and its National Tennis Federations to provide additional quality education for tennis coaches,” says PTR CEO Dan Santorum. “We are confident those Federations who choose to work with PTR will benefit greatly and see an increase in their overall tennis growth.”

Pound, Maule take on key roles at Wilson

Iain Pound has been promoted to national sales director for Wilson Racquet Sports and will lead the brand’s sales efforts in the specialty tennis channel in the U.S. Also, Wilson has hired Mickey Maule as its new regional commercial director for racquet sports in the Americas.

Pound — a former Division 1 college player, USPTA certified pro, club director and college coach — previously, he served as regional sales manager for Amer Sports Winter, Outdoor and Cycle sales organization, and prior to that, worked as a territory manager for Wilson in the Southeast.

Maule comes from Babolat, where he was national sales manager. At Wilson, he will focus on growing the brand in the U.S., Canada and Latin America. Maule was an ATP-ranked pro player in 1990-1993 and won the ITF Men’s 40 and over doubles World Championship in 2012. He led Northern Illinois University’s tennis team as head coach and served as assistant head coach at Northwestern.

New Edition Released for ‘Tennis Parent’s Bible’

Frank Giampaolo has come out with the Second Edition of his popular “Tennis Parent’s Bible,” written to help increase family harmony, decrease the game’s dramatic drop-out rate, and maximize a player’s potential at the quickest rate.

Unifying the player, parent and coach relationship holds many benefits, not only for the athlete and his or her parents, but also for tennis industry professionals, says the author. Improved team synergy will help build and maintain a healthy club bottom line, support a thriving junior development program, reinforce the lesson curriculum, organize parental accountability with actual job descriptions and strengthen parental commitment.

For more information or to order the new edition, visit maximizingtennispotential.com.

U.S. Fed Cup Team Plays in Australia

The U.S. Fed Cup Team will travel to Australia for the 2016 Fed Cup World Group Playoffs April 16-17 at a site to be determined. Australia is seeded No. 8, while the U.S. was unseeded. The U.S. advanced to the playoffs after winning its World Group II First-Round tie over Poland, 4-0, held in Hawaii in February.

Mitch Case is newest USRSA tester

Mitch Case, the director of tennis at Woodridge Lake in Goshen, Conn., is the newest USRSA tester. Case has been stringing racquets since 1995 and customizing frames since 2007. He’s a PTR-certified pro in both Adult Development and Junior Performance, teaching players of all ages at Woodridge Lake, as well as indoors at the Farmington Valley Racquet Club in Simsbury, Conn.

Case, who played college tennis at Western Connecticut State University, is also an Etcheberry certified coach, a No-Cut High School coach, and is a member of Tennis Magazine’s Playtest Panel.

SCTA Presents Awards

Several individuals and organizations were honored recently at the Southern California Tennis Association’s Annual Meeting & Awards ceremony held at the Los Angeles Tennis Center-UCLA.

Henry Talbert Lifetime Achievement: Franklin Johnson

Evelyn Houseman Junior Sportsmanship Award: Brandon Holt and Ena Shibahara

Member Organization: Marguerite Tennis Pavilion

LA84 Foundation/NJTL: Mike Casarz

Long Ellis Intercollegiate Award: University of California, Santa Barbara

Curt Condon Spirit Award: Hank Lloyd

Eugene Jung Multicultural Award: Jay Diaz

Service Awards were presented to Dave Nowick, Junior Tennis; Mahlone Becker, JTT; Ron Marquez, Cathedral Catholic H.S., San Diego, High School Tennis Coach; University of California–Santa Barbara, Tennis On Campus; Bryan East, Wheelchair Tennis; Pete Brown Scholarship Fund, Los Angeles; Scott Cleere, Central Coast; Alvin Alaman, Orange County; Amy Ellison, Adult Leagues (Inland Empire); Richard Chang, Volunteer.

US Open Pickleball Chps. Set for Naples, Fla.

The inaugural US Open Pickleball Championships is set to take place in Naples, Fla., April 26-May 1, and it is already so explosively popular that its organizers are beyond excited.

“We’re going to sell out on mixed doubles; it’s the most popular event,” says Terri Graham, president of Spirit Promotions, the group responsible for organizing the event. “We have 48 courts. They’ll all be busy.”

Paddletek LLC of Niles, Mich., developed a custom paddle for the tournament, and Curtis Smith, CEO, says it is selling out as fast as it can be produced — “and we haven’t even officially announced it yet.” Wilson has produced the official balls for the tournament and DecoTurf is the official surface; in fact, local officials in Naples fast-tracked construction proceedings in order to have all the facilities ready for the event. The event has a title sponsor, home builder Minto, as well as sponsorship support from more than a dozen other companies and charity partners.

The event is filling room nights in hotels in and around Naples, and also bringing in traffic in local condos. And, says Graham, once pickleball players get a look at the facilities — either in person or by being one of the estimated 50 million who will see the finals on CBS (which has signed a multi-year deal to televise the finals) — they’ll want to come back to Naples and play there.

“This place is going to attract visitors long after we leave here,” she says.

— Mary Helen Sprecher

iTPA to Hold 2nd Annual World Tennis Fitness Conf.

The Second Annual World Tennis Fitness Conference, presented by the International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA) will be July 30-31 in Atlanta. The conference focuses on techniques and evidence-based information to help participants to more effectively train tennis players.

About 140 people from six countries attended the inaugural event last year, including tennis coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, personal trainers, athletic trainers, physicians, healthcare providers and other tennis-specific specialists. Faculty included some of the world’s leading tennis-specific fitness education experts.

For information, on the 2016 World Tennis Fitness Conference, visit itpa-tennis.org.

USRSA Announces New MRTs and CS

Master Racquet Technicians

Albert Juliano - Farmington, CT

Jeremy Reeve - Melbourne, VC Australia

Hernan Chaves-Posse - Vancouver, BC Canada

Certified Stringer

William Milne - Fort Wayne, IN

By the numbers

Tennis Racquet Performance

Specialty Stores

January-December, 2015 vs. 2014

Units 2015 669,914
2014 677,842
% change vs. ’14 1%
Dollars 2015 $98,637,000
2014 $100,171,000
% change vs. ’14 -2%
Price 2015 $147.24
2014 $147.78
% change vs. ’14 0%

Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan.-Dec. 2015

Best Sellers

  1. Babolat Pure Drive 2015 (MP)
  2. Babolat Aero Pro Drive (MP)
  3. Wilson Pro Staff 97 (MP)
  4. Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Auto (MP)
  5. Babolat Pure Aero (100) 2016 (MP)

“Hot New Racquets”

(introduced in the past 12 months)

  1. Babolat Pure Aero (100) 2016 (MP)
  2. Wilson Blade 104 2015 (MP)
  3. Head XT Instinct MP (MP)
  4. Wilson Blade 98 18x20 2015 (MP)
  5. Wilson Burn 100 S (MP)

Top-Selling Tennis Shoes at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date dollars, Jan.-Dec. 2015

  1. Asics Gel Resolution 6
  2. Prince T22
  3. Asics Gel Solution Speed 2
  4. Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour
  5. Nike Zoom Cage 2

Top-Selling Strings at Specialty Stores

By year-to-date units, Jan.-Dec. 2015

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

(Source: TIA)

 

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