RSI Names 2009 'Champions of Tennis'
Eric Babolat, the president and CEO of the French company Babolat, has been named “Person of the Year” by Racquet Sports Industry magazine in the publication’s January 2010 issue. Babolat led off the magazine’s ninth annual “Champions of Tennis Awards,” which honors people and organizations dedicated to improving the sport and business of tennis.
Eric Babolat is now the fifth generation of his family to run the company, which is based in Lyon and was started in 1875. It is the oldest tennis company in the world, having invented tennis strings a year after the game of tennis was itself invented. Under Eric’s leadership, the company has expanded its racquet and shoe lines and, in very short order, become one of the premiere racquet brands in the world. Among the stars who play with Babolat racquets are Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters.
“Eric and his company are completely dedicated to tennis,” says Peter Francesconi, the editorial director for Racquet Sports Industry (RSI) magazine, the world’s largest trade magazine devoted to tennis and other racquet sports (www.tennisindustrymag.com). “The company is not only involved in tennis at the highest levels, but also deep into the grassroots of the game. And importantly, Babolat is very supportive of tennis retailers.”
“Babolat has been really conscious of protecting their brand,” says Brad Blume of Houston-based retailer Tennis Express. “It’s done an amazing job in maintaining price and brand integrity and not going after the discount market.”
“A lot of retailers have a long relationship with our company,” says Babolat. “That’s important—we’re confident in their knowledge and passion for the game and their understanding of the product. Their professional advice is really the key for the support they can bring to the brand, and we want to provide them with product that is easy to sell with good marketing points.”
RSI also named winners in 16 other categories for its 2009 Champions of Tennis Awards:
- Private Facility of the Year: Reynolds Plantation, Greensboro, Ga.
- Stringer of the Year: Ron Rocchi, Chicago
- Builder/Contractor of the Year: DeRosa Tennis Contractors, Mamaroneck, N.Y.
- Tennis Sales Rep of the Year: Tracy Lynch, Charlottesville, Va.
- Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year: Tennis Express, Houston
- Tennis Advocate of the Year: Ellen Doll, Minneapolis
- Junior Tennis Champion of the Year: Dan Faber, Trenton, N.J.
- Grassroots Tennis Champions of the Year: Lisa Stone & Susan Chambers, Marietta, Ga.
- Municipal Facility of the Year: Reffkin Tennis Center, Tucson, Ariz.
- Wheelchair Tennis Champion of the Year: Dean Oba, Salt Lake City, Utah
- Public Park of the Year: Darling Tennis Center, Las Vegas
- Community Tennis Association of the Year: Western Wake Tennis Association, Western Wake County, N.C.
- PTR Member of the Year: Ken DeHart, San Jose, Calif.
- USPTA Member of the Year: Robert Greene Jr., Rangeley, Maine
- High School Coach of the Year: Rich Johns, Saratoga Springs, N.Y.
- USTA Section of the Year: Midwest
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