Tennis Industry magazine

 

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Tennis Media Company, Including TI Magazine, Sold to Tennis Channel Owner Sinclair

Sinclair Broadcast Group Inc. of Baltimore, Md., has acquired the assets of Tennis Media Company, the owner of Tennis.com, TENNIS magazine and Tennis Industry magazine. The acquisition creates a unified media platform with Tennis Channel, which Sinclair purchased in March 2016.

Tennis.com, with 25 million monthly page views and 2 million unique visitors per month, is the world’s most visited tennis website; TENNIS magazine, with 600,000 readers, is the sport’s most circulated print publication; Tennis Industry is the world’s largest tennis trade magazine. Sinclair acquired the properties for $8 million cash on hand, plus an additional $6 million earn-out potential based on contingencies.

“The acquisition of Tennis Media Company brings together tennis’ television, print and online platforms, with significant advantages in the tennis rights and stakeholder world,” says Sinclair President and CEO Chris Ripley. “We are committed to enhancing Tennis Channel’s role as the undisputed tennis-media hub, and this combination will lead to efficiencies that maximize all four platforms.”

“We’ve long been in the business of creating demand for and helping to grow the game of tennis,” says Tennis Channel President Ken Solomon. “Our ability to translate content across these platforms and elevate awareness for the sport is unprecedented.”

Tennis Channel is expanding its digital activity to complement on-air programming and further integrate with websites of other Sinclair stations around the U.S. Tennis.com is expected to play a major part in that integration.

“We’ve known Ken and his team for many years,” says Jeff Williams, managing partner of the Tennis Media Co. “In becoming part of the Tennis Channel family we are creating the kind of integrated media and marketing powerhouse that will better support our advertising and commercial partners, expand and enrich content for our highly coveted tennis enthusiasts globally and, ultimately, grow the sport.”

Ashaway: More Players Using ‘Zero Poly’ Strings

Ashaway’s Steve Crandall says more and more players are finding that “Zero Poly” tennis strings, such as his company’s MonoGut ZX and MZX Pro, are generating as much spin as polyester monofilaments and more power, but with less impact and shock.

“Low-impact, high-spin Zero Poly MZX monofilament strings benefit players at all levels,” Crandall says, “but we’re hearing the most from performance players … especially junior and senior players, who find monofilament polys the most difficult to play with.”

Crandall says newer materials like the high-performance Zyex polymer monofilament Ashaway uses will stretch and snap back, softening the impact and increasing power while still generating spin. Visit ashawayusa.com for more.

Revamped USTA.com Website Launches

The redesigned and improved USTA.com, described by USTA President and Chairman of the Board Katrina Adams as “a collective effort across the organization,” officially launched in mid-March.

“This new, personalized website experience will be the destination for tennis players,” Adams wrote in an email that circulated to USTA staff and volunteers. “With play opportunities, court info, improve-your-game content and news/social media served up based on your location, and in a much more consumer-friendly manner, we believe we can influence a dramatic shift in participation on all levels.”

All section web content will migrate over to the new USTA.com site. When visitors permit their web browser to access their location, they’ll see section-specific content along with material from USTA national. The first sections to be integrated into the site are Eastern, New England and Southwest.

Oracle to Aid Transition From College to Pros

Oracle Corp. has created the Oracle U.S. Tennis Awards, a pair of grants that will be awarded annually at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells to assist young American players as they transition from college into the professional tennis ranks. Two $100,000 grants will be awarded each year to a male and female player who have demonstrated exemplary sportsmanship and an aptitude for success on the professional tours. They must have played collegiate tennis prior to turning pro.

“We hope these awards will provide young players with support to develop their games and improve their mental and physical fitness,” says Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “Our goal is to grow the program and we invite input and support from other companies who are committed to U.S. athletics.”

The awards will be administered by the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the governing body of college tennis.

Recipients will be selected by the newly created Oracle U.S. Tennis Awards Advisory Council, whose inaugural members include Chris Evert, Ilana Kloss, Peggy Michel, Dr. Timothy Russell, Martin Blackman and Todd Martin.

Higueras, Berger to Leave USTA Player Development

Jose Higueras has left his position as USTA Director of Coaching and will serve USTA Player Development as the “Master Coach Consultant-Development and Planning,” through the end of this year. Higueras will oversee training camps at the USTA National Campus in Orlando and the USTA Training Center-West in Carson, Calif.

In addition, Jay Berger will step down as USTA Player Development’s Head of Men’s Tennis. Berger has held the position since it was created in 2008 and has coached with the USTA since 2003.

The USTA says Berger informed USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman of his decision earlier this year and agreed to remain in the role until June, per Blackman’s request, to assist with the transition to a successor.

Ein, Luddy Buy WTT From Billie Jean King

Mylan World TeamTennis co-founder Billie Jean King sold her majority ownership of WTT to Mark Ein, founder and owner of the Washington Kastles, and Fred Luddy, owner of the San Diego Aviators.

King will retain a minority stake in WTT and continue as the majority owner of the Philadelphia Freedoms franchise. Ein will become chairman of WTT and Ilana Kloss will remain in her position as CEO and commissioner through 2017.

A statement from WTT says Ein and Luddy plan to invest in the league’s platform and expand franchises nationally, bringing tennis to key major markets. As a part of the transaction, LionTree Partners, the merchant banking arm of LionTree LLC, has invested in WTT alongside Ein and Luddy. LionTree will assist in attracting new franchise owners.

“After 42 seasons, Ilana and I feel this is the time to pass the baton to Mark Ein and Fred Luddy, and entrust the legacy of WTT as an innovative force in tennis to them and their team,” said King.

USRSA Explores Racquet Technician Conference

Bob Patterson, executive director of the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, says the USRSA is planning a world conference of racquet technicians for the fourth quarter of 2017.

“We’ve had many requests for workshops and educational opportunities from our members over the last few years,” Patterson says. “While we’re still exploring our options and opportunities, the plan is to host a conference this fall that offers a variety of workshops and seminars our members will find beneficial to their business.”

Patterson says the conference will likely span three days. It will include workshops for advanced racquet technicians and, depending on the level of interest, it may offer basic courses designed for less-experienced racquet technicians looking to improve their skills. “The plan is to keep workshops small and offer a lot of hands-on training,” Patterson adds.

Look for further details in upcoming issues of Tennis Industry and on the USRSA Facebook page.

Wilson, Federer Release ‘RF Legacy’ Tennis Balls

The Wilson RF Legacy is a high-performance, premium all-court ball tested and approved by Roger Federer himself. Each can contains four balls with the “RF” stamp and comes with a letter from Federer:

“The number one goal throughout my career is consistent excellence. This only comes from endless hours on the court and off, perfecting every aspect of my game, so I am at my best in the biggest moments. In that spirit, I’ve also worked directly with Wilson to perfect my equipment. The RF Legacy Ball is yet another product that lives up to that same expectation.”

USTA Awards $150,000 To 21 Wheelchair Programs

The USTA is awarding more than $150,000 in Wheelchair Tennis Grassroots Grants to 21 wheelchair tennis programs nationwide. Grants were awarded to local organizations that promote and develop the growth of wheelchair tennis and use the sport to build stronger, healthier communities.

Each organization will receive $5,000, along with a new sports wheelchair for their programming. Part of the grant also goes to funding USTA All Comers Camps. The annual camps for all skill levels are hosted in Salt Lake City, Indianapolis and Lakeland, Fla.

Since 2008, the USTA, together with the USTA Foundation, have given more than $600,000 to wheelchair tennis programs across the country. Organizations interested in starting a wheelchair tennis program or looking for more information can email wheelchairinfo@usta.com.

Katie Dellich Named PBI’s Pro of the Year

Katie Dellich, tennis director at the Silverado Resort in Napa Valley, Calif., has been named Professional of the Year for 2016 by Peter Burwash International. Dellich was recognized for her achievements and efforts in initiating new programs, contributing to the growth of PBI and offering guidance and assistance to fellow professionals.

Petr Osusky, PBI’s tennis director at the American Club Hong Kong, was named runner-up for Professional of the Year.

Other honors announced by PBI President Rene Zondag include:

USTA Foundation Giving Reaches $25 Million

The USTA Foundation, the national charitable organization of the USTA, has reached the $25 million mark in total giving to grassroots tennis and education programs since its inception, including $10 million over the last three years. As a result, the USTA Foundation’s investment has helped the growth and development of hundreds of National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapters across the United States.

In 2016, the Foundation awarded more than $2.8 million in grants and scholarships. That included the Foundation’s year-end funding cycle of $1,108,515 in adaptive, capacity-building and program grants to 61 organizations.

The Foundation’s capacity-building initiative helped 29 NJTL chapters increase youth participation from just over 74,000 in 2014 to close to 80,000. Moreover, 32 NJTL chapters also grew in 2016. Go to USTAFoundation.com for more info.

Bollettieri, Blake Among ITA Hall of Fame Inductees

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has announced its 2017 ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame induction class. Contributor Nick Bollettieri (Spring Hill College) and players James Blake (Harvard University) and Matias Boeker (University of Georgia), will join coaches Francis Baxter (University of Central Oklahoma) and Bill Otta (Saddlebrook College) and enter the ITA Hall of Fame in May.

“The five inductees showcase the very best of the breadth and depth of college tennis — an incredible array of talent, dedication and commitment to our sport,” says ITA CEO Timothy Russell, himself a 2015 ITA Men’s Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame inductee.

The Hall of Fame Enshrinement Banquet will be May 25 at the Georgia Center during the NCAA Division I Men’s and Women’s Championships, May 18-29, at the University of Georgia in Athens.

Lucy Garvin, Mary Pierce Elected to PTR Board

The Professional Tennis Registry announced that Lucy Garvin and Mary Pierce have been elected to serve three-year terms on the PTR Board of Directors. Both are expected to add their expertise and experience to continue PTR’s international growth.

Garvin is a past president of the USTA, USTA Southern and USTA South Carolina, and served two terms on the International Tennis Federation Board of Directors. She was also unanimously elected as an ITF Honorary Life Counselor. Pierce is a four-time Grand Slam singles and doubles champion, reaching a WTA career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world in 2000. In 2013, Pierce was a featured speaker at the ITF Worldwide Coaches Workshop in Mexico and now works as a touring pro coach.

In related news, PTR President Roy Barth has named Stefan Tzvetkov as a Presidential Appointee to the PTR Board. Tzvetkov is on the ITF Board of Directors and is chairman of the ITF Women’s Circuit, vice president of Tennis Europe and president of the International Lawn Tennis Club of Bulgaria. He has been PTR certified since 1996.

Short Sets

Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa Bay, Fla., was selected as the site for the April 22-23 Fed Cup World Group Semifinal between the United States and the Czech Republic. The U.S. reached the semifinals by defeating Germany in the first round in Hawaii.

Tennis Channel added 7.8 million homes in its most recent Nielsen universe estimate, making it the fastest growing network in all of television from the February-to-March universe calculations. The additional subscribers in the new universe estimate for the month of March bring the channel’s overall distribution reach to just above 52 million homes around the United States.

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association has created the Ann Lebedeff Leadership Award, to honor a recent college graduate who played college tennis and demonstrated excellence on and off the court, leadership on his or her team, as well as on his or her college campus and in his or her local community. The award honors Pomona-Pitzer College Head Women’s Tennis Coach and Professor of Physical Education Dr. Ann Lebedeff, and is endowed by Billie Jean King.

International Tennis Hall of Famer and two-time Olympic Gold Medalist Gigi Fernandez is the new head coach of the New York Empire for World TeamTennis. In its second season, the Empire will play its home matches on Court 17 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Fernandez is the only female coach currently in World TeamTennis.

Newcombe Tennis Fantasies To Celebrate 30 Years

The 30th edition of Tennis Fantasies with John Newcombe and the Legends will take place Oct. 15-20 at the John Newcombe Tennis Ranch in New Braunfels, Texas.

Tennis Fantasies was created in 1988 by Steve Contardi, a Cincinnati-based tennis-club manager. He had attended a baseball fantasy camp and decided to apply the concept to tennis, joining forces with three-time Wimbledon singles champ Newcombe, who operated one of the world’s pre-eminent tennis facilities.

The men’s-only event takes place one week a year and draws about 80 campers, who play under the watchful eyes of tennis legends such as Rod Laver, Fred Stolle and Roy Emerson, who combined own more than 150 Grand Slam titles. In addition to coaching matches, campers receive technical instruction and spend time with the legends. Visit tennisfantasies.net for more info.

People Watch

At the start of the BNP Paribas Open in March, Tennis Channel and on-air analyst James Blake agreed to a two-year broadcast extension that will widen his role for 2017 and 2018 events. Blake first appeared on Tennis Channel in 2013. Tennis Channel also added Hall of Famer and network commentator Martina Navratilova to its March telecast for the first time, as well as injured American star Sloane Stephens.

Madison Keys, Evian’s newest spokesperson, recently helped the natural spring water brand launch its new 750 ml sports cap. Keys is Evian’s first American brand ambassador and will be featured in the company’s advertising in North America.

U.S. player Taylor Fritz has signed to play with Head racquets. He uses the Head Graphene XT Radical frame.

Lee Sponaugle has left Sport Court. The position of interim sales manager for the U.S. will be filled by Joe Ure, who has been with the company since 2005. In 2011, Sponaugle was named Tennis Industry’s Sales Rep of the Year.

Claire Bartlett is the new USTA Southern Section Tennis Service Representative for Tennessee.

Doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan reached a deal to wear Izod clothing. The duo, who have won 112 tour titles, will wear Izod Advantage Performance apparel as official brand ambassadors.

John Patrick McEnroe Sr., father of John, Mark and Patrick McEnroe, passed away Feb. 18 at the age of 81.

Athletic DNA Announces Contest to Design Clothing

Apparel brand Athletic DNA has partnered with Tennis Now and retailer Tennis Express for a contest to design an Athletic DNA Men’s Match Crew and Women’s Match Tank. The winner will have their design featured in the brand’s 2018 Spring Collection.

The Athletic DNA Shirt Designer of the Year contest runs through September and is free to enter. For more information, visit AthleticDNA.com.

California Products Now Known as ICP Construction

California Products Corp., which includes California Sports Surfaces and the brands DecoTurf, Plexipave, Premier Court and Rebound Ace, is now known as ICP Construction. In 2015, California Products was acquired and merged with two other manufacturing companies to form Innovative Chemical Products (ICP).

“Within ICP Construction, our athletic products division will continue to be known as California Sports Surfaces and the sales team will remain the same, under the continued leadership of Managing Director John Graham,” says Marketing Manager Tom Magner. “Our brands and distribution channels are not changing.“

“The long-standing commitment to innovation, quality and overall service that you are used to from these trusted paint and coatings brands continues as they become part of the ICP Construction family,” adds Scott DeLeo, VP of marketing for ICP Construction.

USTA to Host ‘All-American College Combine’

USTA Player Development will host the inaugural USTA All-American College Combine, a national collegiate tennis scouting event for American juniors, as well as the USTA/ITA Collegiate Coaches Workshop, on June 14-16 at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

The All-American College Combine is designed to give U.S. junior players additional exposure, knowledge and information to help their recruitment by college tennis programs from around the country. Participants will engage in a variety of evaluations both on and off the court, including tournament match play in front of college tennis coaches.

The tournament will be considered a Tennis Recruiting “National Showcase,” so results will count toward each participant’s Universal Tennis Rating. Tournament winners will come away with a main-draw wild card into a USTA Pro Circuit $15,000 event.

The USTA National Campus will also host a USTA/ITA College Coaches Workshop at the same time, with more than 100 collegiate coaches from NCAA Division I, II and III, NAIA and Junior College programs expected to be in attendance.

USPTA Announces Schedule For 2017 Surface Championships

The USPTA’s 2017 National Surface Championship Series, now in its 12th year, kicked off in March with the USPTA Indoor event. The national tournaments are open to Professional-level USPTA members. The remaining events for the year are:

Rebo, Head Announce Global Licensing Deal

Tennis practice wall manufacturer Rebo and Head Sport GmbH announced a multi-year global licensing partnership that will allow U.K-based Rebo to develop and market a range of Head-branded Rebo walls.

Like all Rebo walls, the Head line will be free-standing with a unique angled face designed to give a realistic ball trajectory. The first two walls in the Head Rebo line are the Head Monster Speed Rebo Wall, designed for children, and the Head Laserbeam Speed Rebo Wall. Both walls are inflatable, can be transported in a bag and are ready to use in minutes. They also can be used in non-traditional spaces indoors and outdoors.

“We are thrilled that an iconic brand like Head has chosen to team up with Rebo to support our mission,” says Rebo CEO and Founder Adrian Hutchins. “We cannot wait to work together to get more people playing and enjoying the sport.”

The new range of Rebo walls are available now. Visit Rebowall.com for additional information.

Pickleball Court Manual Published by ASBA, USAPA

The first edition of Pickleball Courts: A Construction & Maintenance Manual has been released by the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) and the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA).

The 108-page manual details the design, construction and maintenance of courts for pickleball, which is one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. with more than 2.5 million participants, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Pickleball is played on a court that is approximately the dimensions of a badminton court, using a modified tennis net. The sport uses a solid paddle and a seamless, perforated plastic ball about the size of a baseball.

The manual, complete with detailed construction drawings, includes chapters on planning a court or facility, building courts, fencing and lighting, accessories and amenities, care and maintenance, and courts and facilities for adaptive/wheelchair pickleball.

To order, visit sportsbuilders.org/publications.

NGI’s ProBounce Chosen For Rockford Schools Project

NGI Sports ProBounce was the court surface of choice for the award-winning Auburn High School tennis court renovation in Rockford, Ill. The engineering and environmental firm Fehr Graham received the 2017 Engineering Excellence Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Illinois for the project.

Fehr Graham worked with NGI Sports to reconstruct and resurface the high school courts using the company’s ProBounce, a patented overlay system that creates a “floating system.” NGI also contracted the services of consultant Fred Kolkman of Kolkman Sport Surfaces. Installation was performed by Ace Tennis Surfaces and Sean Barry, a licensed NGI surfacing specialist. For more information, visit ngisports.com.

USRSA Adds Two Certification Testers

The U.S. Racquet Stringers Association has added two new certification testers — Mike Stephens of Soddy Daisy, Tenn., and Alvin Ng of Singapore.

Stephens is a Master Racquet Technician (MRT) and owner of String Sensation LLC in Soddy-Daisy, Tenn.

Ng became Singapore’s and Southeast Asia’s first MRT in 2015. He moved from a home-based stringing operation to joining a staff at a large retail store.

66% of Paddle Tennis Players Sustain Injuries, Study Says

The first-ever national study of platform (paddle) tennis injuries revealed that 66 percent of paddle tennis players have sustained an injury from playing the game. The study also found that of players reporting an injury, more than half sustained at least two.

The most common injuries reported were those to the shin/calf (21 percent), knee (16 percent), elbow (16 percent), ankle (13 percent) and shoulder (10 percent). More than 1,000 players responded to the survey.

The study, which involved an online survey of American Platform Tennis Association players nationwide, was coordinated by Dr. Leda Ghannad, a sports medicine physician at Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush in Chicago, Ill., with approval from the internal review board at Rush University Medical Center.

 

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