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Attack on Lake Nona

A short story


By The Commish

Orlando- AP   An insurrection mob has attacked - the second in less than a month. This time on the National Tennis Campus in Lake Nona, Florida.  Dubbed the “home of American Tennis,” an angry mob of thousands descended on the monolithic facility causing chaos as rioters, some shouting, “grow the game” overwhelmed USTA security – a mop wielding maid, a couple of court washers and an elderly night watchman.  

The rioters were armed with what appeared to be graphite clubs - measuring 27 inches in length and carrying oversized heads. Some wore a mysterious white ointment covering their noses while other were spotted wearing red-white-and-blue headbands and bandanas. At least two of the rioters carried rolls of white athletic tape, conceivably, to tie-up USTA officials. Others strung up a noose - although some of the protesters were seen gleefully smacking a multi-colored ball strung from the cross-bar.

Some of the angry mob sported a “TA” insignia, an obvious tie to a notorious tennis organization founded in  1927 with the audacity to attempt to raise standards and increase awareness. The crazed insurgents, many looking wrinkled from sun damage and some sporting knee braces, carried signs saying, “Accreditation Sucks” and others saying, “We Alone Certify Tennis Pros.”

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Another group of dissidents wore a “TR” patch which surprisingly, was founded by a tennis coach and actually has ‘grow the game’ in its mission statement. Rioters in this group held signs that said, “It’s All About the Money,” an obvious reference to this ridiculous position of being sensitive to coaches of lower socioeconomic backgrounds. While these protesters were inciting violence, a breakout group from the “TA” faction was seen engaging in a game of butts-up. While still another appeared to be laying a ball on a top of a tennis court net and laughing as it was dinked back and forth. A reporter from PNN pulled aside one rioter to ask what this takeover represented, “We don’t believe the USTA is representing tennis and promoting the game the way it should,” was the reply.


Still another group made up primarily of women, most clad in Lululemon leggings and toting picnic baskets were storming the campus. While most were affluent suburbanites, they were protesting the high cost of league play. “When you play in about ten leagues a year the costs get astronomical,” one screamed. When the reporter questioned the contents of the basket, fearing bombs or other weapons, the women replied, “After the rally we’ve planned a social. We have California chardonnay, fresh strawberries and finger sandwiches.”  


Another distinct group of males was among the throng of activists. This faction carried backpacks, each with two clubs. They also carried beer and potato chips, some even appeared to be barbeque chips. When confronted about their attentions they claimed they didn’t really have any, their wives dragged them to the insurrection. But they did say that with so many leagues they were having a hard time fielding a team. “Maybe if they cut back a bit we could actually field a team without having to forfeit a match.”

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Then there was a group of what look like high school teachers with signs blaring, “What have you done for ME lately?” Another, a loosely organized group of rag-tag club owners, reps, manufacturers, writers and fans yelling  in unison, “Where is the money going” and “This is our house.”


As the angry mob descended on the USTA’s gigantic white clubhouse - with end to end glass windows and framed by palm trees, a hostile group of manager types emerged. “Give us one, Give us one,” they shouted – an obvious demand to be paid by the USTA one dollar for each tournament participant - not the other way around.  They were flanked by some fashionably dressed men and women holding “Close it down” signs and shouting . “No more close the door.” This deranged group was stopped by a curious reporter. Why are you here? What are you after? “We want them to stop stealing our players and to close the player development program.”  That’s un-American the reporter thought to herself but would not dare question further.


The rioters had now converged on the clubhouse and were breaking windows and entering the compound. Terrified national staff, defenseless, had barricaded themselves in a conference room and hid under desks. A quick thinking intern led the mob down a hall and away from the holed up execs. The national staff was in a dire situation. If the angry insurrectionists broke down their barriers they would string them up by their necks with 16 gauge co-poly which they had in reels. It was chaos inside the offices of the National Campus. The league men were cracking beers. The Lululemon ladies were taking selfies. The pros were smashing racquet displays to take back a trophy for their office walls. What could the national staff do? Was tennis doomed? Finally the USTA staff did the only thing they could do… they called on the Magic Kingdom. In what seemed like an eternity but was only a matter of moments, Mickey, Minnie and Pluto were mobilized. Doc and the Seven Dwarfs appeared and although short in stature, presented a formidable force.  Aladdin swooped in on his magic carpet. Cinderella took of the gloves and prepared to throw down. Winnie-the-Pooh even mounted Eeyore and they joined the fray. And when Hercules and the Beast arrived it was all over but the shouting.


Faced with such an insurmountable force the rioters backed down and retreated. The pros were no match. The Lululemon team while gallant, withdrew. The coaches, owners and reps all turned tail and ran. The USTA campus was saved. A bit battered, but not destroyed.


The national staff emerged, shaken by what had occurred, but steadfast. Unwavering in their belief that they are promoting the game. That big picture changes are not necessary. That this crazed bunch of lunatics are a fringe element not worth worrying about. That they can go back to business as usual. But what happens next time USTA National Staff…when Disney World is actually open?

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Tennis Club Business is the only tennis business newsletter that calls out the failed policies and programs of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), the 17 USTA Sections, the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), and the International Tennis Federation (ITF).