THIS MONTH

 

Call for Ideas on Growing Tennis

 

JANUARY 2020

How To Grow Tennis

 

We older, experienced pros know that the key to growing the game is the delivery system, to have one passionate, enthusiastic person in a city or an area.  That’s what’s happened throughout our history resulting in the 60’s boom through the ’80s.  Players who learned during those years became the champions and dominated tennis most of the years between 1974-2006.  We ruled.  Some like Serena are still at the top of the game.  What happened to US dominance in tennis? What caused the declining years that followed?  Could it be that clubs and the USTA got more involved? Some of us older pros are still at it, growing tennis in our own little area despite the ineptitude of the USTA.

 

Overall the current crop of USTA TSR’s doesn’t know how to grow the game.  I feel the USTA had the right idea with the TSRs, attempting to get that one person in a community or area to grow the game.  Unfortunately, they didn’t set requirements for this position.  First of all, the majority of them are from a younger generation and they don’t have the burn, passion, or the experience that is required to grow the game.  Their “training” consists of programs, numbers, and dashboards.  None of which really grows tennis. 

 

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Tennis is a one on one sport, very personal and needs to be taught and presented that way, through the love of the game.   If the USTA would hire “retired” tennis professionals to mentor this group or hire them as TSRs.  That experience and passion need to be passed along to those that haven’t seen or experienced it.  

Put pressure on the NCAA to restrict foreign players on college teams.  Because a large number of foreign players are recruited to play in the US, many of our juniors have given up on the dream of playing college tennis.  Yeah, I know that some say that our players are not good enough.  But, if everyone came from the same system this would create a level playing field and not who could recruit the better,  more experienced, older foreign players.  In addition, most of these foreign players have the advantage of being trained and financially supported by their national tennis federations. Why should our US tax dollars pay for a foreigner’s education and take a spot away from an American player whose family supports education through their taxes?

 

Tennis clubs’ primary goal is to serve their members, not grow tennis. After all, they are in the business to make money.  That said if tennis doesn’t grow their business will lose members and profits will drop.  If every club would start and partially subsidize an outreach program the results could change our decline.  This should be supported by the USTA since their mission statement is to grow the game.   

 

Encourage the National Federation of State High School Associations to require their state associations to mandate coach training combined with a certification.  High school players as a group have a huge impact potential on the growth of tennis and could create more lifetime players if they had a good experience.  Unfortunately, many coaches don’t’ possess the knowledge or skill sets to produce a quality learning situation for the players.  For many, it is just a job.  The school may spend months recruiting and hiring a football coach but when they need a tennis coach many times it results in just finding a warm body.  Smart high school coaches take their job seriously and participate in USPTA or PTR workshops and continuing education opportunities.  It would help if the NFHS would organize to increase the level and quality of high school tennis coaches.  As an alternative, the NFHS could partner with USPTA and PTR on a program to have a certified tennis professional assist and mentor a high school coach.

 

Anonymous Tennis Professional

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Hi Rich,

 

This is, indeed, a very difficult issue for all of us in the tennis world.  We are encountering a very strong circumstance here in America that is, and will, affect all sports growth.  The birth rate in the US is lowest it has been in 4 decades.  Couple that with the fact that all of us, young and old, have so many options for our discretionary time and dollars. 

 

Unfortunately, tennis is expensive to learn and to maintain as compared to other sports, perhaps with the exception of golf.  Secondly, all other sports, except golf and tennis, are taught by parents and/or volunteers to begin their experiences.

I firmly believe if tennis is to make a comeback, even in the world of large expense outlays, the health benefits have to be emphasized to an even greater extent than they are now.  No other sport, except squash, gives the physical benefit of tennis.

 

In addition, the social and emotional well being of tennis players, in my opinion, a huge advantage for our sport. School PE programs, after school programs, Y's, Boys and Girls Clubs should be recipients of greater USTA sourcing.  If we continue to support the exceptional player, day in and day out, we will deter growth.  A greater weight of resources to those aforesaid groups, I would think, would give a good growth spurt in a few years.

 

Denny Schackter

Tennis Priorities Company

Rich,

 

Here ya go again…on thoughtful ideas to enhance participation.

 

Remember, in your May Issue you published my “MVP” options for the new, recreational and senior players. In July Pam Shriver suggested a similar approach to an ‘ease” of gameplay.

 

Once again, the industry/sport should look “within" the game to grow our game. As you well know, PickleBall thrives because of easy access of skills regardless of ability, age or whatever. Former tennis players drive PB with their background of swings and movements. Introduce something new to keep them on the tennis court...

 

I really believe our sport needs an option…Pam Shriver sees it as well.

 

Thanks, 

Leo Estopare

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Let’s get America playing tennis (again).

 

Contact all of your local large corporations (human resource) department and invite employees that played in high school or college to a fun on-court reintroduction to tennis!

 

It’s good for their health.  They will meet new people.  And we will increase TENNIS participation!

Adeline Arjad Cook

“I LOVE MY DOUBLES PARTNER” 

www.ILMDP.com

Rich,

  • At public courts across the country during summer vacation, have Parks and Rec offer free tennis lessons 8-10 am every Tuesday and Thursday to local kids 8-17. If Parks and Rec cannot do this, maybe a local tennis facility teaching pro can do it for a minimal fee or free. Make an announcement at the local grade schools and high schools. Appoint two ambassadors of older students to run drop-in on Wednesdays for practice. Have a tournament at the end.

  • Give a gift to the ambassadors for their help.

  • If a player brings a friend or friends to the sessions award a ribbon or gift to the players who brings the most friends. Create a list of players.

  • During the winter see if there is a facility or armory that can be used on a Saturday or Sunday, bring a net, have drop-in play.

  • Getting back to access to drop in maybe USTA players would become ambassadors to promote the sport.

 

Barbara Wintroub

 

Not since Agassi and Sampras have the US developed great tennis champions.  Andy Roddick was good but not the other two's class.  The USTA does not know what they are doing.  I witnessed that in Boca Raton several years ago watching the USTA Instructors.  We need to go back to the Harry Hopman and Perry Jones days to learn how to make champion players again.

Even USTA employees have no idea how to make Tennis Great in the US.  No leadership at the top.   Perry Jones and Harry Hopman never let their national associations run the tennis.

 

Dale Jensen

Hi Rich,

 

It’s been a busy week for me although it will slow down soon for the holidays.  I’ve created a website (www.TennisMatrix.net) which allows Pros/Directors to create & customize their own seasonal, singles challenge ladders for all levels of players both male & female as well as all ages.  This has really increased the level of play in our area & grown the game of tennis by bringing many more players into an active, organic tennis community!  Players not only improve their game but meet new friends and practice partners the more they play.  We now have 6-7 active Pros/Directors in SoCal.  My goal is to build & expand TennisMatrix.net beyond locally/regionally to nationally.  I just need to get the word out to more Pros/Directors across the country as this idea has already turned into a successful reality!

 

TennisMatrix.net is an efficient, turn-key site that allows coaches, pros, and tennis directors to create and run their own tennis ladders while allowing tennis players to meet new players and improve their game through match play.  This is an opportunity for coaches to build grassroots tennis in their area via seasonal match play and provides off-court income to them based on their number of participants.  Please see the attached flyer. 

 

TennisMatrix.net events run quarterly which keeps them alive & vibrant and focuses on singles play for all ages, all levels, both male & female combined vs. the tendency to separate events for age or sex.  As the founder, I’m happy to guarantee the success of all Pros/Directors by walking them through the start-up process, customize their events and continually help them along the way.  Please feel free to contact me for any questions: bennets@TennisMatrix.net or tel: (310) 766-2466. 

 

Thanks!

 

Bennet Slusarz

Founder: TennisMatrix.net

Tennis Pro, LOP Manhattan Beach, CA.

 

Hi guys, ideas for growing tennis from grassroots to everyday weekend worriers!

 

As a kid, that fact that we spent all weekend at the club, playing early morning Junior matches and when you were a little older and stronger been asked to play in the adult competition (Saturdays).

Sunday rocks up, tennis mid-morning training or a hit, or it was home/ on your bike for the morning and after lunch down at the club hitting or the coach sets up round robbin events!

 

Get your coach/club/ social group activated again in club weekends/activities, even clean up around your club and BBQ days round robbin events.

The bigger clubs had a caretaker, a pro shop or restaurant and a bar setup. You had a core group of players social and comp training or having a hit weekdays and weekends.

 

To get your club out of the Red and into the Green – activate the oldies !!!! Get them to feel wanted to feel that they can do and assist around the club from bbq events to hitting partners to social mid-morning activates. A social scene is a start. Then juniors, Mums and Dads will bring the kids for a hit, a run around or just a social outing.

 

BBQ events- Social dress up tennis games playing in your dress-up outfit- Dad and daughter / Mum and son round robbin events-  Age events? Son 9yrs and Granddad 65 = 74yrs together vs similar. etc

 

Fundraiser, logoaball , build your club.

Thanks

Jim Kavadas

Rich

Rich,

 

Little Idea -- I know that it is not what you are looking for but--

 

You already read recent copies of Tennis Magazine -- Leave them in Dentist, Doctors or other waiting rooms-- Tennis is rarely on TV anymore -- Keep the names and information in front of players that might not be on the USTA mailing list.  I get many copies as I am sure others do.

 

Donate a USTA membership or Tennis Magazine subscription to school libraries and public libraries.

 

Vicki


 

 

Rich

 

We need better and new programs for grassroots programs and changes.

 

I am in NorCal- San Jose area and provide grassroots opportunities to all players Red, Orange, Green.  We run www.benchmarktennis.org. That is close to what you are proposing.

 

Thank

 

David Panconi

PTR Master of Tennis - Junior Development PTR 10U Clinician USPTA Elite Professional Tennis Professional
Los Gatos SRC

Tennis could adopt the ambassador concept that pickleball uses. Always welcoming and helpful to beginners, advocates for more courts, etc. 

Alice Tym

 

Rich,

 

We need a USTA that would redirect their financial power to where tennis grows.  Tennis only grows where there is someone who loves tennis, a tennis court, a basket of balls, and a couple of rackets.  Here is a quick list of a life long tennis veteran.  Change is constant and it needs to be soon.  All changes listed here that reduce costs would redirect the funds to the sections to maintain existing programs, supporting new novice programs for all ages, and increasing recreational teams and events.  The USTA needs to be turned upside down on how it spends its US OPEN dollars. 

1.  Sell the New York office and distribute staff to the US OPEN or Florida.

2.  Eliminate all national meetings for staff and volunteers and allow staff and volunteers to contribute the savings directly to growing tennis.  Travel expenses are not required.

3.  Close all sectional offices and go virtual, it is 2020.

4.  All seats held at the US OPEN for staff and volunteers would be sold.

5.  Sections would be redesigned so that sectional operational budgets would be 1/3 of their total expenditures with the remainder 67% distributed to creating more players.

6.  Promote tennis as fun, healthy fitness, and inexpensive for all.

7.  Develop 3,000 FREETENNISUSA sites.  Eight-week programs run by volunteers.

8.  Do not spend any more money on renaming programs, creating new logos, or buying tennis facilities and moving USTA events to USTA facilities. 

9.  Simplify player development.  Run two events per year.   Players who get to the round of 16 (men and women) would be on the national team and given support for travel, coaching, and daily practice sessions.  All players would have to try out again in six months.  Pro tennis is a cruel battleground.

10.  Each section would do the same for junior divisions qualifying for nationals.   Performance under pressure should be emphasized.

11. Scrap points per round for junior rankings.  Return rankings to head to head results so if a player defeats a highly ranked player first round they get rewarded instantly.  Youth need incentives and need to want to play higher-ranked players.

12. Decrease team size in local leagues so players would play a larger variety of opponents.    What if players could fit into one car?

13. Local leagues would select an all-star team to represent their league.  The drama and work that goes into super all-star teams hinder participation locally.

14. Subsidize and support 2.5 teams!

15. Start all National events at the club level to give local clubs the opportunity to promote the nationals in their home town.

16. Accept all teaching organizations into the USTA.  Front line tennis soldiers should be supported.  There are never enough instructors or tournament directors.

17. Junior Team Tennis should be limited to recreational players as it was designed to be the stepping stone to encourage youth to enjoy the competition.  Eliminate the national event.   If sections wish a sectional event, select an all-star team from each league, which would discourage super teams from developing.

18. Loosen the match per day rules and mandate doubles for most junior events.  Kids love doubles and give the opportunity to do something with a friend.

19. Endorse UTR rankings.   It is here and it is inexpensive.

20. The sections should go back to their past where they received their funds by the number of USTA members.  WHY?   So paid staff and volunteers focus on building participation in tennis versus managing existing tennis participants, which is very easy with-in the virtual world of technology.

Lou Dimock

 

Rich,

 

Is it only me or have others realized that the USTA, ITF, USPTA and more are run by former racquet manufacturing execs?

 

No conflict of their allegiances, huh!

Anonymous

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