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We are allowing anonymous Letters to the Editor because we understand your position and have experienced USTA backlash to dissenting voices ourselves. Please be aware whenever a letter is signed with The Commish it's always a tennis director, a teaching professional, a vendor or a USTA insider who is in fear of retribution. Thank you. We look forward to the day when everyone can voice their opinion freely and without fear.



December 1, 2022

I have known Bob H for nearly 40 years. Just a great guy. I think he is the only guy I have ever met in tennis that nobody says a bad thing about him.

The issue for most people in a position of administration or power, there may be a disconnect regarding what is happening in tennis and the perception that they can do no wrong. If someone gives advice. And that that person is not in the “approved circle” they just don’t listen. Personally, after about 40 years, I am winding down my tennis involvement. I have to admit that all those years of fighting club owners and the SCTA/USTA took their toll. Vic and I used to commiserate about these same issues all the time.  


There are some good people in those organizations, but they are canceled out by some very petty, not forward-thinking individuals.

Also, pickleball is not going away. Much to the chagrin of many in the tennis industry.


But the quickest way to build tennis growth is through public and private junior and senior high schools. The USTA should help build courts at the schools, invest in gear, and allow parents to have their children try tennis. This is where they will be introduced to this game we love so much. I have 65+ kids in my no-cut high school program, We have three teams; V, JV, and FS. And we only have 6 courts! The junior high has no courts and just ended all their tennis programs. So, kids, if they have an interest in tennis, must take lessons from an academy or a very expensive private coach. Unfortunately, most parents opt for much cheaper sports; soccer, baseball, track, etc. I do realize that most sports now have club teams and organizations that are very expensive, but that is for less than 5% of the kids who want to participate. There needs to be a way for kids to play at 11 and up, and that should begin in school. I am not saying that kids should not learn earlier. It’s ideal for players to begin at a young age. But many kids decide at a later age to try a sport. And their parents WANT them to try a sport, just to get them off the computer. I see this all the time. We can help create a lifetime interest in tennis.  I think that is why we have been able to develop these large HS numbers. Another reason is because we allow the parents to play and learn, from the coaches, on the weekends with their kids. They love it. On a side note, we are asking the school for an additional stipend (probably won’t happen but I will ask) and then we could have nearly 100 players. These are not future Wimbledon players, but they will be future league and tournament players.  And, THEIR kids will learn tennis.


I am sure that a ton of people would not agree with me. But as a HS coach for nearly 30 years, I have some perspective on what HS tennis can do for young adults looking for something to do athletically. School is so difficult, and pressure-packed today. Tennis gives them that outlet that can take their mind off some of that pressure, and they make life-long friendships. I have been fortunate to have some very good teams over the years. I have had a number of D1 scholarship players. We just put up our Hall of Fame Board and the list is very impressive. But the majority of players are not going to play in college. They are going to move to get their degree or trade, have a family, and most likely expose their kids to tennis. I still see former players play at our courts and they graduated in the ’70s, '80, and '90s. And there are a lot from later years that play with us periodically. I have former players drop by nearly every practice and match. HS tennis has made a difference for, not only the College/Pro bound players, but also the guy or girl who just wants to compete on a team with their friends.

Rich, appreciate all you do for promoting and trying to improve and grow tennis.

All the best,


Dennis F Claus

Real Estate Broker

Varsity Tennis Coach

Foothill High School

Knights Tennis



December 17, 2022

Re: Pickleball players banned from NYC park after turf war with kids



Above is an article I assume you have already seen. If your upcoming January Issue is going to highlight a San Fransisco turf war, then this could be included as a coast-to-coast problem for picklers. Certainly, not all but some are overstepping their boundaries and feel entitled to "where and when" they want to play and enjoy their sport and/or activity. When it comes to land and space, pickleball players think that they have priority and first dibs, regardless of the initial intention and designation of the original playing area. Pickleball players need to "take it down a notch”

when they play on the fly and create makeshift courts. Permanent courts are one thing and temporary courts are another…apples and oranges.


I'm not bagging on PB, I really like pickleball and enjoy playing but there’s a place and time for it. I don’t want the new popular game to become so embattled and its fanbase, to have an image and profile of some bad and poor sports. Like the infamous, Gordon Gekko proudly said, "Greed is Good" but you know how that turned out for him in both the short and long run.


For all the positive press and media attention PB gets nowadays, it also gets its fair share of bad press. If only we had this type of attention for our recreational tennis…it would mean tennis players are passionately into their sport. Come on tennis players, hit the courts after the holidays, and start the New Year with the resolution of playing more among friends and improving that serve and backhand. Plus, show the picklers that tennis is still #1 when it comes to participation in racquet and paddle sports…by millions more according to stats and sports tracking data.


So, tennis players become goodwill advocates to happily welcome new players and especially, past/former players who for whatever reason have not kept playing over the years. That’s the market our industry needs to tap into to strengthen our numbers…let’s regain experience and know-how from a generation of skilled, talented, and spirited players. I’ve been saying from day one, there’s no pickleball without tennis players…thank you very much.

Their PB game has already evolved into more and more tennis like…the 3rd shot drop/dink is not the primary shot like in the beginning days. Us tennis teaching pros knew that was inevitable from the get-go...


Thanks for letting me vent on pickleball and its shortcomings but all could be good with a little civility. Tennis players step up your game...

Leo Estopare

Deuce Something 

Wichita, KS 

December 24, 2022

Re: Here Are the Sports Moments We Can’t Wait to See in 2023




The Times sports editor is right on with his blurb about pickleball and its volume of national press…everyone is aware of its participation and popularity these days. Enough already with the in-your-face attitude…just play the sport and have fun. Hopefully, tennis will pick up their slack and get lots of positive publicity for their recreational play and creative formats for 2023 and beyond.


Tennis associations and industry are you listening? Youth soccer is going to get a gigantic “bump" from the recent World Cup success, so let’s innovate and reimagine what we can do to attract youngsters to our tennis sport and keep them. Pickleball parents are passionate about their game, and that will be a natural influence on the kids' exposure and play. Also, CNN mentioned the new popularity of Padel in Europe several days ago, and that translates to another challenge for tennis to remain mainstream.


Tennis folks get your act together and start '23 with an active playing attitude among friends and family.




Leo Estopare

Deuce Something 

Wichita, KS 


November 16, 2022

I just got a copy of the new USTA directors today, as I’m sure you did, and see Brian Vahaly elected as First VP. As I was looking up something else, I came across an article about Brian and Pickleball. Interestingly, he is heavily involved in growing PB.


I find that to be a huge conflict of interest while serving on a board dedicated to growing and promoting tennis. He’s essentially supporting and growing a sport that is taking tennis courts and creating animosity with the very group he is charged with supporting.


Are there other board members/national volunteers with the same conflict? I’d bet yes.


I’m attaching both for you to read yourself.


So as you go after the USTA for accountability I’d sure like to see some of that directed to the Board - who are they and what are they doing? What’s their affiliation with the game? Do they have one? Are they just retired tennis pros not doing anything with the game? All should be focused on growing and promoting tennis. That’s what they signed on for.


Cheryl Shrum

You know what they say about Florida, "it's where retirees go to die...well, add to that, "it's where NGB's go to die."  Seems appropriate for the USTA!

The Commish




December 1, 2022


As a 40-year USPTA member, you'd think the USPTA would relish my knowledge and views on various committees or even as a board member. No, for the 3rd consecutive year the USPTA has thanked me for my interest in serving the organization but declined.

Doug Hofer

December 17, 2022


I’m sure you saw, John moved Ramona up into Sid’s role and then had the audacity to let Feisal continue to do the certification mess he created.  I’m going back for my board position and I have much of the nation behind me.  Feisal cannot be allowed to do anything for the USPTA!  I am positive this is why Sid quit.  

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

December 17, 2022


I have found Feisal Hassan to be self-serving and clueless. I would not trust him with the time of day.


I remember a PTR pro telling me that he thought the USPTA did some good things, but he didn't want to be part of him because of the politics and the cutthroat people. The USPTA structure encourages incompetence and toxicity.  Very sad.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

December 17, 2022


Hassan exemplifies what is wrong with tennis.  He is in it for himself.  He is toxic and evil.  He is a henchman for Embree.  My experience with him is that he is not professional or trustworthy


The last couple of times I had email exchanges with Sid, I sensed he was under pressure and being pushed to do things that don't make sense. I liked Sid, he helped me, but he had staff members who did not help him. 


My senses are that the USPTA staff is divided.  


I think it is also possible that Sid was conveniently canned for budgetary reasons.  I think it is possible that some people think it is Sid's fault that Embree and Hassan are incompetent.  


I am really impressed with Ramona and think she should become a leader in the industry. Riding Embree's coattails will not help her cause.  I think she played college tennis for Dave Porter's team and presumably, Dave helped her get the job.  She should be able to go anywhere in the industry.


Not only should they eliminate Hassan, but they should also eliminate Embree.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them




Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Pete and I am a full-time online tennis coach. My YouTube channel Crunch Time Coaching is closing in on 60k subscribers and I run the second largest online tennis conference in the world called Tennis Con that draws over 8k passionate tennis players every year and features coaches Gigi Fernandez, Rick Macci, Essential Tennis, Top Tennis Training and many more.


We are gearing up for 2023 and I wanted to share my Top 5 marketing strategies I believe every coach and club should be implementing.


1. Get on YouTube- I know everyone is on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter but for my money, YouTube is the best platform for Tennis Clubs and Coaches.




Because YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world behind Google, which owns YouTube.


For example, if you keyword your video the right way, your video will not only show up on the top results on YouTube but also on Google. This is great for SEO.


2. Create Freemium Offers to build your list: A Freemium offer is an irresistible free giveaway your target audience would love you for. You want to give your Free Offer away on something called a landing page. The goal is to collect the email from the prospect in exchange for your Freemium offer. 


You want the offer to be really good so that you already have a raving fan before your first sale. I like to give away a Free Serve Course called Serving A to Z. Click Here to check out the landing page so you can see what I am talking about.


3. Create Video Sales Pages: I believe this is where the tennis industry really needs to step up its game. Most tennis club websites just have a bland registration page that evokes no emotion or desire to join your program. Imagine how much better your registration pages would convert into sales if you had an awesome video about your program.


Your video sales page should have a message from your coach laying out the features and benefits of your program. The video should also include action shots of your students playing and testimonials. There is actually a 12-step formula to the perfect sales video, which maybe I will write about in another article but this gives you a good starting point.


4. Use the Hidden Engine in Your Business: How often do you email your members or students? For some reason, many clubs just send out a monthly newsletter and waste so much time posting on Facebook and Instagram.


I strongly encourage you to email your list a minimum of 3 times a week.


Ever hear the term, the money is in the list? 


Well, your email list is where the money is hiding right in front of you. This is where you can build your best relationships and where your offers will get the most attention.


Many people say email marketing is dead but don't believe them.


Did you know 60 percent of consumers say they’ve made a purchase as the result of a marketing email they received? Contrast that with the 12.5 percent of consumers who say they’d consider using the ‘buy’ button on social media, and it’s not much of a contest.


5. Run Local YouTube Ads: This is a blue ocean opportunity for Tennis Clubs and Coaches. Imagine your town watching the Australian Open highlights on YouTube and one of your tennis ads pops up offering a Free Tennis lesson at your club.


No one is doing this, yet but we know it is a proven model that works. It seems only politicians have figured out the power of local YouTube ads. You can't watch one YouTube video during election season without seeing a local politician pop up in front of you.


And here is the BEST part: it is cheap and easy to control the ad spend. Most fitness clubs spend thousands on direct mail every month with diminishing returns. Instead, they should be setting up a budget for YouTube ads where you can run ads for as little as $5 a day if you wanted!


This is an untapped oil well waiting to explode!


Hope this list helps you have a successful 2023 on and off the court. Feel free to email me at if you have questions or need help with your business.


Good luck


Peter Freeman

Owner of Crunch Time Coaching



Do you think we're going too far in holding the USTA's national and section executives' and coordinators' feet to the fire?


  • Don’t stop!

  • The USTA is great at spending money, but terrible at promoting the game. Keep up the pressure!

  • i was at Nationals this year and the staff was NOT welcoming at all— this was staff probably from all sections…. USTA fees keep rising and the customer service has gotten worse! Thank you for bringing awareness to it!

  • The USTA holds back tennis. Keep up the good work. Tennis participation grew yet tennis facility owners are still converting tennis courts to pickleball. Most facility owners I talk to have minimal monetization on pickleball. The equation is backwards!

  • The teaching organizations should be holding the USTA accountable. They are part of the problem. Because they are not doing their jobs, they are becoming more irrelevant everyday.

  • Won’t be grassroots tennis if pickle ball keeps stealing public tennis courts so it won’t matter. How many courts were lost on the outgoing Presidents watch ? HBO Real Sports Tennis Pickle Ball segment it was exposed the manifesto used convert public courts and every USTA Community liaison should have a copy of that manifesto to combat pickle ball invasion

  • Keeping the pressure on may help the new board realize they need to grow tennis and not just talk about it.

  • This is a national issue not exclusive to So Cal.

  • I have heard so many complaints about SCTA league coordinators (including SD coordinator). The amount of rescheduling of matches has gotten out of hand. Teams with 12+ players suddenly can't field a team on required date so are allowed to reschedule so they can field their "best" team is just one problem. That creates problems for clubs that are sponsoring teams as suddenly they need to open courts on non-scheduled dates and it also is a big headache for captains--I know one captain that won't captain anymore because of this issue. Tournaments are a whole another can of worms in SCTA, but I'll save those comments for later.

  • I have no problem with them making a salary if it is justified. The problem in the PNW is the usta does nothing for the clubs and players. There is very little value for what we pay in dues. My best investment ever was becoming a life member 50 years ago for $200. The usta has done a terrible job getting juniors involved to keep the game a live. They better watch out when pickle ball goes into high schools as a sport, tennis will die.

  • The survey options' language could be worded more neutrally instead of clearly indicating a preference.

  • It seems each year the USTA becomes more and more like a big-government alphabet agency. More powerful yet farther away from the people it's supposed to serve. A huge budget but always needing more. Promises to fix and improve but excuses in the end. Hey, USTA, scrutiny is part of the deal. Embrace it. Let it help make you and the game better.

  • It's unfortunate that the USTA mismanages the financial aspects of the organization.

  • Hi Rich. I think you are "right on" in digging into the accountability issues of the USTA. From the NTRP, to top-heavy higher-up salaries, to blotched "initiatives" (e.g., junior programs, all-inclusiveness (including gender equity (remember Rene Richards?)), COVID-19 response), to an expensive National Tennis Center (btw, I would love to see their daily court usage percentages (with & without the USTA League national events they host)), finally circling back to their support of a biased political agenda. Keep up the good work.

  • National-level pay is way too high, yes. Tone it down a little, though, man. I like reading your stuff online, I really do, but sometimes you come off as a complete asshole.

  • Gene Scott in his magazine criticized the USTA constantly. He however offered options and different ways that they could operate their business. Today I am reading that So Cal USTA staff should received customer service training. That is a great idea that Bob Hochstater can implement.

  • The USTA is an unorganized organization.

  • The good old boys almost destroyed Tennis with their failed programs, technology and waste for the past 40 years. These same men pontificate about how successful the sport is in 2022 as they pat each other on the back. Covid saved tennis. Not the USTA or it’s fraternity of geriatric, overpaid, executives and consultants. It’s time to let these guys go. They should look for men and women with refreshing ideas who will grow the game and retain players. It’s about finding people who love the game more than lining their pockets.

  • I don't know of anyone else who is being a watchdog of the USTA. Most of us just trust their being good stewards of membership dues and revenues. I guess it is not much different from the International Olympic Committee scandal of a few years back. Who is governing the governing authorities.

  • If your comments are based on investigative evidence, than please continue. Thanks!

  • Yes, give it a rest Rich, focus on the positive for awhile

  • Tone it down a bit ... maybe go with the "more bees with honey" approach. And Javier is just too over the top, so much so that nobody can hear him (and you) over the noise. The leadership does not need a break ... it is how, not what.

  • You are so bias it’s ridiculous. I think you should dial back what you’re doing a bit but the snarky comment of people with 6-7 figure earnings is just immature. Try a fair survey and more people would probably answer you.

  • I have no problem when someone holds others feet to the fire if they have accurate information and they offer solutions. Does the industry no good to just point fingers.

  • The larger the organization the more capacity for corruption and bureaucracy

  • Keep it ALL up. Thank you.

  • If we do not fight for the sport who will? they won't they just use it for themselves

  • Standing shoulder to shoulder with you. Brian Osterberg. RedClay USA

  • Salaries, benefits and training centers take most of the money

  • All organizations, and especially non profits need a watch dog group to help them make sure that they are doing the right things for their membership!!!

  • I couldn't decide which to answer so checked 2 boxes. There are some very good coordinators around the country. However there are way too many abuses around the country.

  • Pressure makes diamonds. Keep it up.

  • To me their incompetence isn't the problem. Albeit not helping for sure. The real problem is the legion of career climbers who they have trained to utilize a system of player development that doesn't work. What's worse is any one who doesn't coach kids with their misinterpreted versions of "game based" and "player centered" are cast out from the profession. A system based off "learn it on the fly" with a colored ball will not work to develop players.

  • Not even close to enough pressure. Because the policies are being set by USTA officials it is important to also identify them by name as well. They need to be held to account.

  • USTA has a woke mindset and is a political association that just happens to be involved in tennis. It needs to be overhauled from top to bottom. Particularly the executive team. Plan on seeing this organization continue to underperform at the grassroots level. They are missing a huge opportunity to gain significant participation in the Red, Orange & Green space. They are totally clueless on how to develop a decent junior player. . They do a VERY GOOD JOB with the US Open!!

  • I believe that the organization has lost its way

  • Those who are in charge need to be held accountable for their results. That's their legal and moral responsibility. It's also good business.

  • As long as you stick to facts there is every reason to keep a governing body accountable.

  • Maximizing income and staff costs does not benefit competitive players - not professionals and not amateurs. Professional umpires and linespersons are afraid to penalize out-of- control pros and local USTA amateur leagues have cut back on the roving officials who used to control aggressive, even illegal play at Sectionals and Nationals.

  • Zero protection from PickleBall iencroachment. They are hoping for another dues revenue stream. Dreaming they can make another $400,000,000 off US OPEN PickleBall!

  • Well beyond any plans or desires of the USLTA Founders!

  • Partner with Pickleball and Padel

  • Why? Had it changed anything? Why not focus your energies on the things you chose usta for? Understand that things are the way they are because no one has figured out a better way yet. Be the change! Don’t complain about it!!!

  • With the passing of Gene Scott, the responsibility of practicing journalism ethics in our industry fell to Jeff Williams. Williams has avoided that like the plague, making sure "RSI" and "Tennis" NEVER called out any wrongdoing on the part of the USTA, PTR, USTA, TIA, ATP Tour, WTA Tour, etc. Our industry's "watchdog" in this area has instead chosen to be a lapdog, lining his pockets for decades, making sure to let advertisers know he's all about pay for play. Williams is directly responsible for the damage done to our sport by Kamperman, Heckler, Lubbers, Embree, USTA Player Development heads, etc. They knew they would never be exposed and could do as they wish, courtesy of Jeff Williams. While many people individually damaged our industry beyond repair, the aggregate damage has been caused by Williams enabling them. If Tennis Club Business doesn't continue to do what it's doing, NONE of the fraud and incompetence in our industry will get exposed. Keep up the good work.

  • An organization of over paid employees at every level who have “volunteers” do most of the work. More interested in growing USTA as opposed to tennis. When’s the pickle ball cert coming?

  • Having played tournament tennis (USTA) for 58 years, I think USTA has gone to hell in a hand basket. With grandchildren playing in the 10’s and 12’s, I scratch my head at every tournament. No flexibility in scheduling, rules are different every time. League tennis started out as a good idea, but totally destroyed tournament tennis.

  • Please publish 2020 and 2021 usta tax returns include player development salaries which are insane and expense accounts ! Ty

  • I'm pretty sure this is my second survey.

  • Keep it up

  • Cut tournament prices for jr. Tennis

  • They are killing the sport.

  • The entire organization needs a fundamental overhaul. Too many layers of duplication is sucking the life out of the sport in the US

  • They need to stay on this association and not taking over the teaching professional

  • Eliminate Red Balls, Eliminate Orange balls and point system to move to the next level, Green Dot. Green Dot is slow enough for any beginner, intermediate beginner, advanced beginner to learn and sustain a rally!!!

  • They are destroying the adult league program by having too many leagues. The reason pickleball isoniazid the rise is they have fun. League play has lost that fun element.


  • They're just like our big Washington DC Government --- too big, loose spending and of course overpaid

  • I think the game is in transition. Within 5 years their will be a viable option to challenge for governing body for tennis. To me, this is the only way to continue growing the game at a grassroots level.

  • If the USTA is the governing body for American tennis then they need to lead by example. Show the rest of the world how it should be done. They need to bring in a modern day General Patton to clean up the mess right now. Let’s do a Master Gardner weeding out job. Like everything, it all comes back to fundamentals. Without them, it’s just a rudderless ship.

  • National needs salaries cut for sure. Not sure for sectionals. Want them to be able to fight harder for their section and not feel the wrath of Nationals.

  • It's about many people not just one or two. Criticism has to be constructive.

  • Any nonprofit organization needs to be monitored, someone will find a way to cheat and get a free ride on the backs of a good cause if no one is there to oversee the P& L.

  • Keep on exposing these enteties that are not living up to the standard that they should!

  • For any position you need to impose accountability and structure a system that imposes consequences when goals are not met. Tennis falls way short of this concept. People make decisions based on........i don't know what.......not the reality of the needs we have to grow the sport and make it attractive to juniors or adults entering the game. Junior tournaments and USTA leagues have become a cash cow for USTA nothing that will really grow the game. TOO bad it can be a great sport for a lifetime,

  • The clear reason that you are on the right track is due to the outrageous failure in so many departments. Specifically, they are given bloated salaries to all kinds of department heads far surpassing what a great tennis pro/director can make at a facility with little to no results.

  • I had a great mentor in Tom Fei from Indian Wells. He knew how to deal with the USTA. He was all about growing and promoting tennis. What really is the USTA trying to do?

  • The USTA is a huge organization with many arms. As much as I find some of their actions upsetting, they also produce some good work. Sometimes throw them a bone, and highlight some of the positives. I enjoy reading your newsletters though. Thanks, Marton Balla -- Boston

  • Hold the board more accountable. They provide direction and accountability for staff. Starts with them!

  • lack of accountability in the usta, too many chiefs

  • The USTA has been irresponsible for too long

  • There is a disconnect between the national and section executives to the realities of what happens on the ground. Both offices need more experienced leaders who can relate to and navigate the challenges of growing the sport and working with diverse communities.

  • The USTA is a disgrace.... It needs to be gutted, burnt to the ground, and rise up as something else, more effective, efficient, and elegant

  • USTA needs to change the way they manage juniors and college players. They have the ability to create a supportive environment for the youth. It's a money making plan for juniors to chase points to get noticed. We are doing a disservice to american players. Executives are making too much money for little return back to the community.

  • the people running the USTA have never and still don't care about the players or coaches involved in tennis activities, only in their own interests... the players and coaches are simply on their own and must help themselves... no one else will, certainly not the USTA.

  • As a referee of junior tournament sof all levels for the past 40 years, i hope you can investigate the amount of money spent on all the various tournament software.

  • Thank you for your willingness to expose the truth and take criticism.

  • There needs to be accountability. The USTA needs to be drained and filled with people who care about tennis growth.

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December 16, 2022

Hi Rich


Unfortunately, there are a couple of other tennis pioneers who passed away in 2022 that you might not have been aware of:


Jake Stap (91) in April.  Jake invented the Ball Hopper and ran one of the first overnight tennis camps, Stap National Tennis Camp in Kenosha, WI. 


Cary Bachman (93) in October.  Cary was a legendary WI High School coach who won something like10-11 consecutive WI State titles, involved in the USPTA beginnings, along with also running a long-established tennis camp in WI.


The significance along with Nick and Alan is that this was a core of tennis pioneers from the Midwest and Nationally that we have lost in 2022.  These were all influential contributors to the tennis expansion of the 60s & 70s.


May they all RIP and thank you for all they gave us.


Thought you might be interested in this piece of history. 


Bob Kust 

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