No more losing College tennis. Courtreserve.

Gary Horvath Article About Participation.
Reply to The Commish. UTR Pro Tour.
Allocating USTA Reserves. USTA Video.

Radical TCB 660x220.jpg
Tennis Club Business Neuro Tennis

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

 

January 8, 2021

Rich,

 

Here is the letter that I sent to Minnesota.  Wanted to share that with you also.

Delaine

 

October 1, 2020

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

It is my honor to support the continuation of the Men’s Tennis Team at the University of Minnesota and maintain a commitment to building on the legacy of the program on the campus and in the community.

 

With more than three decades of leadership in community tennis, as a high school and college coach, as national director of the World TeamTennis nationwide community programs, a past board member of the United States Tennis Association, current Vice President of the Professional Tennis Registry and Executive Director of a non-profit National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapter in Lancaster, PA, I have seen firsthand how tennis plays a vital role in local college communities. That relationship is an important part of tennis in your community even though it may not show up as a line item on the athletic department budget.

 

Your student athletes on the men’s and women’s tennis teams are role models to the young participants in the programs offered through the Baseline Tennis Center. Over the last 40 years The Baseline Club has raised significant funds to endow scholarships and built the Baseline Tennis Center benefiting both men’s and women’s tennis, hosting dozens of USTA tournaments per year, and well over 300 juniors, aspiring to play college tennis.

 

Your university is extremely fortunate to have a strong relationship with Ann McNamara and her family and that donor relationship started through tennis. That relationship also is something that does impact the bottom line of your budgets and plans.

 

When you look solely at the numbers – where men’s tennis has a smaller number of scholarships compared to other sports and may not have a big impact on generating revenue – you are, in my opinion, shortchanging yourself. Your men’s tennis program has value in your community and that creates value for your university.

 

You have built a wonderful legacy with your tennis programs and I urge you to continue that rich history and heritage by supporting and funding the Men’s Tennis Team at the University of Minnesota.

 

Sincerely,

Delaine Mast

National Director, WTT Community Tennis

Vice President, Professional Tennis Registry

Executive Director, Tennis Central NJTL

Men’s and Women’s Head Coach, McCaskey High School

StonesNet-032020.jpg

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

Rich!

 

Thank you for posting the letter for U of MN men's tennis...it is really savable. The community can easily get behind this team. The team built the 10 indoor (Baseline Tennis Center)- raised the money- and the tennis center is the epi-center for Northern Tennis- many many National USTA events are played there!

 

Appreciate you doing this!

Chuck Merzbacher

Men's Tennis Coach at UT-Chattanooga

 

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

 

Hi Rich,

 

I appreciate you calling attention to this problem.  We've participated in protests, posted an open letter to University leadership, shared out the petition on our social channels, and provided templates for others to contact the board of regents.  We're working with the Baseline Club on a coordinated approach to addressing this ridiculously awful situation.  With money raised to fully fund the program for 4+ years, the decision to cut the program makes no sense.

Saving Men's Collegiate Tennis programs is something that the Tennis Industry United group is prioritizing as we know it will take the advocacy efforts of all of us to ensure this doesn't keep happening.  Both USTA and ITA have provided support and resources for advocacy efforts to save the Gopher Tennis Program.  

 

We're fighting to address the problem and it's concerning that despite these efforts, we're not being heard. That has to change.

 

Becky Castellano

Executive Director & CEO

USTA Northern

Eagan, Minnesota

www.usta.com/northern

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

To the Board of Regents,

My name is Scott Panozzo a small business owner and inventor of a tennis training product EDGE POWER TRAINER. I was actually on campus during last year's spring break and had the pleasure of meeting with the women's Head Coach Catrina Thompson. 

 

She said we would be interested in my invention and thought for sure the men's tennis team would be interested as well.

 

I played college tennis, made a living as Head Professional teaching tennis, helped obtain five college tennis scholarships to private and non-private universities, and invented a tennis-related training device product. This product helps reduce injuries and provides a highly effective training device for players to expedite their strength and endurance workouts by avoiding lifting heavy-weights. 

 

My product has sold worldwide, reaching over a billion athletes in five major sports. The University of Minnesota and other D1 programs have helped small business owners like myself stay in business. We all know how the word can spread on how one institution has made budget cuts!

 

I was told by a professor in college after missing a class exam to participate in a regional tournament, that tennis means NOTHING to the university and no make-up tests were given! "He would not waste his time on a tennis player's bad judgments” I quote,

 

"TENNIS IS NOT A CONCESSION SPORT IT MEANS NOTHING, SO IT'S NOT IMPORTANT TO THE BOTTOM-LINE OF THE UNIVERSITY"  

 

Tennis players, families, and tennis communities depend on programs like yours and in return donate time, money, and support other university programs connected to that school's concession generating programs like hockey, football, basketball, baseball just to name a few. I have never met a tennis player who doesn't go to or support other sports in my forty (40) years of being involved in the business of tennis!

 

The concession sports that are given millions of dollars to operate their sport are not just the "important" programs of the university to provide the monies that these programs use to exist.

 

They are all connected as fans, supporters, and donators of the institution. 

 

Because of tennis, I was able to help thousands of pre-existing injured athletes rehabilitate, provide a new and challenging device to expedite an athlete's strength and endurance. Through this invention, I have made a living, donated funds, products, and countless hours of free instruction, because tennis players like the University of Minnesota tennis program influence other inspiring tennis players to train like and use the same products that make them D1 players. 

 

They want and work hard to have the same opportunity to attend and play for universities like yours. Furthermore, are just as deserving of the same opportunity to have as do the other athletes in their sports are given.

 

Thank You for your time and consideration in changing your vote and supporting "Save Gopher Men's Tennis" 

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Panozzo

Owner / Inventor

EDGE POWER TRAINER

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 18, 2021

Rich, 

 

I've attached an advanced copy of my letter to the Board of Regents at Univ of Minnesota.  If you'd like to give feedback & have the time always welcome.  

Dear Regents:

Thank you for your work in formulating a vision for the University of Minnesota and for ensuring that mission is fulfilled. To that end, I hope you reconsider your decision to eliminate the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program after the 2020-2021 season.  

You certainly cannot be blamed for taking extreme measures during these unexpected and unparalleled economic times. However, please consider just three points on how you as Regents are deviating from the University’s mission.

  1. Community-engaged outreach.  The Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus is clearly an elite tennis facility winning the prestigious “2008 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award.” Operating on 22 courts, the staff was awarded the “2009 USTA Organization of the Year Award” (from the U.S. Tennis Association) for commitment to the tennis community. The Baseline Club supported the University with a $1.5-million donation—a considerable amount of money in 1979—and a $1-million tennis endowment fund. Since the cancellation announcement, the Baseline Club has secured $1.3 million in new donations to keep the sport alive at the University. Added to the endowment fund, that $2.4 million is on its way to permanently fund the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program. (The additional $100,000 is dedicated to the Women’s Program). By canceling the program, the Board of Regents is turning its back on the Baseline Club—a highly supportive group of Twin Cities business leaders—as well as stabbing in the back an organization that has flourished for more than 30 years.   
     

  2. Singular vision of excellence. With one of the nation’s best venues and reliable donor support, sports, and particularly tennis, can make a university great.  University of Connecticut Athletic Director David Benedict said there remains a strong belief that UConn became a nationally renowned university in part because of its sports success. Tennis has boomed during the pandemic, with participation up almost 7% and racquet shipments up more than 22% in 2020. Is this just a pandemic bounce because tennis is such a good social-distancing sport? Or, are we discovering new knowledge that tennis can help solve one of the most complex challenges society faces today—the inactivity and obesity crisis? The Baseline Tennis Center can simultaneously put a dent in the inactivity crisis through its Goldy’s Kids Club, and create a ‘farm system’ for the intercollegiate tennis program, all while helping fund the University’s tennis program. Nothing better expresses the leadership values of President Gabel when she wrote, “Together we will build spaces of discovery standing as a beacon of inclusion, preparing our students for lives well lived and driving Minnesota forward. And as we serve our state, we help change the world.”

  3. Unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. By joining the cancel culture and making the decision to eliminate the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program, you take away the hopes and dreams of young boys throughout the state and region. Instead of developing a hotbed of high performance and excellence, you merely drive those individuals to competitors (namely, Ohio State and the University of Michigan) while turning off the spigot of economic development.  The $770,000 that the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program costs the University each year (less than 1% of the entire athletic budget), nets a hefty return. Not only can this tennis program self-sustain, it can support another intercollegiate program as well, such as gymnastics or wrestling.  
     

I’m sure that eliminating the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program was a difficult decision. However, if you weigh the economic potential, utilization of incredible resources, the prestige tennis brings to the University, and the legacy of the donors, my hope is that you will reinstate the program and you will take the steps necessary to see this issue is never considered again.
 

Once again, thank you for your service to the University. If I can be of any assistance in this matter, please contact me.

Marsh Riggs, USPTA
Owner, Coast to Coast Tennis, LLC

GARY HORVATH'S JANUARY 2021 ARTICLE 
'Increasing Participation with High-Frequency Players'

January 1, 2021

Thank you, Gary Horvath, for writing a terrific piece highlighting the importance of increasing the number of “high-frequency” tennis players. In our efforts, we can learn from factors that produce high-frequency players in a different context, that of video games.

In video games, accessing play occasions is easy; as soon as a game ends, a player only needs to hit start. Additionally, play is always available and individual play occasions cost little or nothing. Now imagine how popular video games would be if there were significantly greater lag times between play occasions, or if video games were only available to play during specific times, or if each play occasion required a fee? Having any of these factors would diminish the number of high-frequency video game players, but having all of them would truly stifle video game participation. Unfortunately, and too often, that is our situation in tennis.

Time defined and fee-based play will always matter, but to meaningfully increase the number of high-frequency tennis players, additional time-flexible and free opportunities to play are needed. One solution is to promote and develop inner-connected “communities of play” that at little or no cost gather on a frequent basis to enjoy tennis and each other. Family tennis is perhaps the best example of a community of play, as families can play at their convenience and for free if they play at most public parks. As an aside, Pickleball players do a stellar job of creating communities of play.

To increase the number of high-frequency tennis players, we would do ourselves well to think in terms of developing communities of play in our parks, and focusing on families would be a good place to start.

Kevin Theos

USTA Tennis Service Representative (AL)  

President, USPTA Southern Division

theos@sta.usta.com

COURTRESERVE.COM

January 8, 2021

Rich, 

 

Hope you are doing well and business is going well for you. 

 

Saw the note on CourtReserve and Tim and Ashley. We just loaded the program and started using it here at Pasadera two days ago. Both Tim and Ashley have been super helpful in the setup and answering questions. They are truly service-oriented people. 

 

I researched several options over the past several months and even spoke with Jonas people whose program does our back of housework here at the club. They were not able to do what was needed for tennis, fitness, swimming so we turned to someone who could, and that was CourtReserve. 

 

Previously our admin people were taking lap pool reservations and I was handling court reservations via text. Since the switch over two days ago, we haven't gotten a call or text from members for reservations as everyone immediately switched over to the App. 

 

Just wanted to let you know and give their business a plug. 

 

Clark Corey

USPTA Elite Professional and Tester

The Club at Pasadera

Monterey, California

 

TCB-Jan21.gif

REPLY TO 'THE COMMISH'

January 5, 2021

Hey Commish,

 

Loved your January column, “Making Noise for Tennis” and I’d like to share some of that “clear and logical thought.” Here’s a little noise for you and the rest of the commissioners.

 

We must face the music, the USTA has been less than stellar at accomplishing its mission. But instead of mudslinging or demonizing, here are the nuts and bolts (in my opinion) on how to get it fixed.

 

Growing the Game 101

 

A. Reclaim Tennis in the Public Parks

 

1. Get the USTA out of recreational (Rec) tennis

2. Find entrepreneurs proficient in running city and muni operations

3. Enlist Pros accomplished in growing the game

For more on the topic- Taking back the parks https://www.lovelandtennis.net/tennis-pros-take-over-the-parks

 

B. Focus on the 4-to- 5-year-old Market Segment

 

1. Tennis Pros could be considered a “Keystone Species.” Rely on us.

2. Get them young and keep them for a long time. For more on the 4-to-5-year-old tennis market see- Tennis Pro’s a Keystone Species? https://www.lovelandtennis.net/are-tennis-pros-a-keystone-species

 

C. Reintroduce Tennis in Elementary Schools (When the pandemic is over)

 

1. Tennis assembly program

2. PE units

3. Enrichment programs as follow-ups to assemblies

 

D. Pros- Focus Much of your Energy on Adult Beginning Classes

 

1. The TIA Participation Report noted latent demand of over 16 million people and over 14 million people who’ve not played in two years yet consider themselves tennis players. That’s more than 30 million people- the lowest of low-hanging fruit-ripe for the picking

2. Make it affordable

3. Be over-the-top enthusiastic. This guarantees the program will be fun

4. Use simple progressions that build toward excellent technical skills

 

E. Offer a Tennis Exercise Program like Cardio Tennis

 

1. Players and non-players can join the same class

2. Make it fun and lively- and set it to music

 

F. Insist USTA offer an 8-and-Under Junior Division with Rankings

 

1. Offer orange and green dot divisions

2. Drop restrictions in 10 and under divisions like accumulating stars. Offer green dot and yellow ball tourneys but let the parents choose where and when.

3. This will begin to help make America more competitive again in ATP Worldwide rankings

 

Well Commish, when I look at the word bureaucracy, at the end of it I see crazy. Must be dyslexic, but it does seem crazy to have a bumbledom running a sport they’ve shown they can’t grow. Their bunker mentality has driven me crazy over the last many years. The USTA used to be good at getting volunteers and at fundraising. And they’ve helped a lot with court repairs. But the pandemic has forced change in the USTA. New leadership has cut labor by 23% and signaled the move to service over programming. So I feel a great sense of optimism. The tennis pros have always grown this game and I know we can do it again. Remember Pros: People come to you for what you do; they stay because of who you are.

 

I love the Commish mantra, “Work with people, befriend them, make them family, love them and see the game explode.” I’m going to adopt this as my own, but somehow I don’t think you’ll mind.

 

All the best,

 

Marsh Riggs

USPTA Elite Professional

Owner- Coast to Coast Tennis

www.lovelandtennis.net

coasttocoasttennis@gmail.com

UTR PRO TOUR

January 21, 2021

Rich

 

The way to clean markets and bring efficiency to them is competition, UTR's efforts bring more data and more efficiency of information to the tennis pros and the betting world is only good for all worlds. More competition means more efficiency, love it.

 

Javier Palenque

 

UTR PRO TOUR

January 21, 2021

 

It’s common action for voids to be filled, maybe this is the case?  From what I am hearing from many of my tennis players that play competitively, the UTR runs a great program and seems to be filling their needs during these difficult times.  At this time, with so many variables and unknowns, having more than one tournament organizer in the mix would seem to be healthy for the sport.  It just doesn’t seem healthy or conducive to introspection, when there is only one game in town.  In fact, it may be the very element needed to take this segment of the tennis population, which is based on competition and provide a new type of competitive venue.   So, if healthy competition is good for the participants, can’t it also be good for those providing the events?  Other sports that became internationally popular have prospered from diversification, i.e. basketball, auto racing.  What I’m hoping for is that this organization enters league play.  I think for both the players and tennis organizations, this option would be a plus.  Choice usually promotes improvement, just like the sport itself.

Rod Heckelman

UTR PRO TOUR

January 22, 2021

 

Hi Rich,

 

Any entity that provides additional play opportunities for players is fine with me. 

 

Competition is often a good thing. If it makes the ITF uncomfortable, so be it. 

 

The Commish

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 23, 2021

 

Rich,

 

Let me first start by wishing you and everyone on this email thread a very happy new year filled with health and happiness.

 

I give it a big thumbs up! 

 

If UTR can disrupt tennis with their universal rating and their Pro Tennis Tour, it just points out once again that there is demand and that the ITF and other organizations are not doing enough to attract players. We should be embracing UTR for bringing these events that are making people play and watch more tennis. Remember players are free to play any tour, if they decide to participate in the UTR Pro Tennis Tour it is because the format suits them. 

 

I think it's common sense that to innovate, one has to disrupt. So many times you and your colleagues in the US tennis space have criticized the lack of change and innovation from the USTA, the ITF and many other organizations. Now that commercial entities are pushing boundaries in tennis we want to criticize them as well? Professional tennis and amateur tennis are in need of innovation, we’re losing players to other sports at an unprecedented pace, that should be telling us something. I firmly believe that instead of blaming the USTA and its partners, we should embrace innovators such as UTR. 

 

I’ve participated in many tennis conferences and all I see are the same people promoting the same things over and over again, hoping things are going to change, that’s the definition of insanity! Do not forget that tennis players are also consumers and also evolve. If we want to attract the young generation of players, we have to have an offering for them and that is exactly what UTR is doing with their Pro Tennis Tour. We’re in 2021 and we still call a tennis class a “clinic”, have you thought of how unappealing that is to a young player? 

 

Let’s take the example of another boring industry: the automotive industry. Should we be blaming Tesla for disrupting that industry and for being the most valuable automotive company in the world? Or are manufacturers such as GM, Toyota and others to be blamed for not innovating? Call UTR the Tesla of tennis, you might want to jump on that train before it’s too late!

 

Walid

Walid Fattah | Kourts 
CEO & Co-founder

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 23, 2021

 

Rich, my concerns are the following;

 

1. I love the idea of an independent tour to enable promising players an opportunity to earn some "dough reh me" to maintain there passion. For that I salute the initiative. But will this be delivered universally? Where is the money originating and how will it sustain?

2. In AU the peak body TA has paid to hold exclusivity over UTR and therefore I am concerned that this will strangle the power of this private enterprise. I'd think this similar to other countries? Or are we about to see a backlash?

3. The future of tennis from my humble opinion suggests that it needs to see resurgence from bottom up initiatives, grassroots led. I think form speaking with coaches that UTR had the ability to achieve this through a coach led, organised approach, but are UTR like all that have come before selling out?

4. How will the ITF WTR be delivered and will it kill the transitioning player who is desparate to survive but needs Kudos in the world brand to step into the next level? Will there be a divide that makes UTR a non transitional ranking?

5. Tennis needs a grassroots outcome, which is controlled at the "coldface and onground" which means that a privately syndicated model can work, but for tennis with its coach focused models we need fond a way to allow our professionals, the guardians and coaches of the future players of our great game to be key parties of influence. Those that have most to gain and most to lose need to be the gateway to the next gen. Is this feasible?

 

There is no question our sport needs to find a binding way to globally connect our passionate community. UTR looked to be a beacon, but like all things with silver linings I worry that it will be incentivised to toe the line with peak bodies and will subsequently be diluted through bureaucracy and negatively influenced competition.

 

Without a pathway that makes the next gen feel like they can make it, that doesn't cater to the premium elite only, tennis will forever be beholden to the institutions that focus on television rights and events. And for those simple reasons their motivations will forever be focused with bias.

 

I want to support this initiative with gusto, but I am jaded by the influence of peak bodies seeking to keep their foot on the throats of tennis money.

 

Make it global, spread the love to both developed and developing nations and we may find the second tier is a vibrant, exciting and engaging community that assists the many tiers of our sport.

 

A great question Rich. I look forward to seeing the responses of the entourage 🎾.

 

The Commish

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 24, 2021

 

Hi Rich 

 

As ever, it comes back to the (narrow?) objectives of UTR and the (broader) objectives outlined by others.

 

Of course, just like Walid, I am incredibly supportive of anyone in the private sector investing time, money, energy, innovation to make 'something' happen

 

And yes both UTR and WTN seem to be fighting head to toe for the same niche.

 

Personally, I think UTR is missing a trick.

 

Pursuing a relatively small number of tennis players who are chasing RANKING POINTS. And happy to travel to play competitions hence the time, cost and energy , on top of the cost of playing UTR (or anyone else) ranking Points Tournament.

 

There is (probably) some merit to know you are ranked/rated 10,000 on the exact same system that Djokovic and Co are using? 

 

Betting is the scourge of society but the devil is now ingrained into the tennis system.  Mostly causes misery particularly for the players, that have been betted on without their knowledge, receive abuse even if they have won, and receive no $$ as 'the star of the show'.

 

BTWL as people may know is dedicated to growing the game , 'bottom up' (postcode by postcode) rather than top down.

 

SO the movement we wish to encourage is playing competitive tennis LOCALLY and COMPETENCY based 

 

THIS is where the majority of amateur, competitive, tennis players reside

 

Best

 

Mark Jeffrey

ALLOCATING USTA RESERVES

January 19, 2021

Rich,

A friend sent me this article: Australian Open bailed out in $140m cost blowout

Just think, AO is 140M in the hole, with revenues down this year from public, concessions, broadcast rights etc. It will take 1 few years to get back to the reserves of $80M, FYI USA had reserves of $140M. So, how much money do you think was allocated for grass roots and actually growing the game when times were good, and how much will be allocated when times are bad, the next 4-5 years. At a time when the sport needs a stimulus to keep it from dying, the economics and leadership will have no funds to tap from. This is called failed leadership.

 

Javier Palenque

 

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).
Our motto: MAVERICKS DON'T TOE THE LINE.

No more losing College tennis. Courtreserve.

Gary Horvath Article About Participation.
Reply to The Commish. UTR Pro Tour.
Allocating USTA Reserves. USTA Video.

Radical TCB 660x220.jpg
Tennis Club Business Neuro Tennis

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

 

January 8, 2021

Rich,

 

Here is the letter that I sent to Minnesota.  Wanted to share that with you also.

Delaine

 

October 1, 2020

 

To Whom It May Concern:

 

It is my honor to support the continuation of the Men’s Tennis Team at the University of Minnesota and maintain a commitment to building on the legacy of the program on the campus and in the community.

 

With more than three decades of leadership in community tennis, as a high school and college coach, as national director of the World TeamTennis nationwide community programs, a past board member of the United States Tennis Association, current Vice President of the Professional Tennis Registry and Executive Director of a non-profit National Junior Tennis and Learning Chapter in Lancaster, PA, I have seen firsthand how tennis plays a vital role in local college communities. That relationship is an important part of tennis in your community even though it may not show up as a line item on the athletic department budget.

 

Your student athletes on the men’s and women’s tennis teams are role models to the young participants in the programs offered through the Baseline Tennis Center. Over the last 40 years The Baseline Club has raised significant funds to endow scholarships and built the Baseline Tennis Center benefiting both men’s and women’s tennis, hosting dozens of USTA tournaments per year, and well over 300 juniors, aspiring to play college tennis.

 

Your university is extremely fortunate to have a strong relationship with Ann McNamara and her family and that donor relationship started through tennis. That relationship also is something that does impact the bottom line of your budgets and plans.

 

When you look solely at the numbers – where men’s tennis has a smaller number of scholarships compared to other sports and may not have a big impact on generating revenue – you are, in my opinion, shortchanging yourself. Your men’s tennis program has value in your community and that creates value for your university.

 

You have built a wonderful legacy with your tennis programs and I urge you to continue that rich history and heritage by supporting and funding the Men’s Tennis Team at the University of Minnesota.

 

Sincerely,

Delaine Mast

National Director, WTT Community Tennis

Vice President, Professional Tennis Registry

Executive Director, Tennis Central NJTL

Men’s and Women’s Head Coach, McCaskey High School

StonesNet-032020.jpg

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

Rich!

 

Thank you for posting the letter for U of MN men's tennis...it is really savable. The community can easily get behind this team. The team built the 10 indoor (Baseline Tennis Center)- raised the money- and the tennis center is the epi-center for Northern Tennis- many many National USTA events are played there!

 

Appreciate you doing this!

Chuck Merzbacher

Men's Tennis Coach at UT-Chattanooga

 

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

 

Hi Rich,

 

I appreciate you calling attention to this problem.  We've participated in protests, posted an open letter to University leadership, shared out the petition on our social channels, and provided templates for others to contact the board of regents.  We're working with the Baseline Club on a coordinated approach to addressing this ridiculously awful situation.  With money raised to fully fund the program for 4+ years, the decision to cut the program makes no sense.

Saving Men's Collegiate Tennis programs is something that the Tennis Industry United group is prioritizing as we know it will take the advocacy efforts of all of us to ensure this doesn't keep happening.  Both USTA and ITA have provided support and resources for advocacy efforts to save the Gopher Tennis Program.  

 

We're fighting to address the problem and it's concerning that despite these efforts, we're not being heard. That has to change.

 

Becky Castellano

Executive Director & CEO

USTA Northern

Eagan, Minnesota

www.usta.com/northern

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 8, 2021

To the Board of Regents,

My name is Scott Panozzo a small business owner and inventor of a tennis training product EDGE POWER TRAINER. I was actually on campus during last year's spring break and had the pleasure of meeting with the women's Head Coach Catrina Thompson. 

 

She said we would be interested in my invention and thought for sure the men's tennis team would be interested as well.

 

I played college tennis, made a living as Head Professional teaching tennis, helped obtain five college tennis scholarships to private and non-private universities, and invented a tennis-related training device product. This product helps reduce injuries and provides a highly effective training device for players to expedite their strength and endurance workouts by avoiding lifting heavy-weights. 

 

My product has sold worldwide, reaching over a billion athletes in five major sports. The University of Minnesota and other D1 programs have helped small business owners like myself stay in business. We all know how the word can spread on how one institution has made budget cuts!

 

I was told by a professor in college after missing a class exam to participate in a regional tournament, that tennis means NOTHING to the university and no make-up tests were given! "He would not waste his time on a tennis player's bad judgments” I quote,

 

"TENNIS IS NOT A CONCESSION SPORT IT MEANS NOTHING, SO IT'S NOT IMPORTANT TO THE BOTTOM-LINE OF THE UNIVERSITY"  

 

Tennis players, families, and tennis communities depend on programs like yours and in return donate time, money, and support other university programs connected to that school's concession generating programs like hockey, football, basketball, baseball just to name a few. I have never met a tennis player who doesn't go to or support other sports in my forty (40) years of being involved in the business of tennis!

 

The concession sports that are given millions of dollars to operate their sport are not just the "important" programs of the university to provide the monies that these programs use to exist.

 

They are all connected as fans, supporters, and donators of the institution. 

 

Because of tennis, I was able to help thousands of pre-existing injured athletes rehabilitate, provide a new and challenging device to expedite an athlete's strength and endurance. Through this invention, I have made a living, donated funds, products, and countless hours of free instruction, because tennis players like the University of Minnesota tennis program influence other inspiring tennis players to train like and use the same products that make them D1 players. 

 

They want and work hard to have the same opportunity to attend and play for universities like yours. Furthermore, are just as deserving of the same opportunity to have as do the other athletes in their sports are given.

 

Thank You for your time and consideration in changing your vote and supporting "Save Gopher Men's Tennis" 

 

Sincerely,

 

Scott Panozzo

Owner / Inventor

EDGE POWER TRAINER

NO MORE LOSING COLLEGE TENNIS

January 18, 2021

Rich, 

 

I've attached an advanced copy of my letter to the Board of Regents at Univ of Minnesota.  If you'd like to give feedback & have the time always welcome.  

Dear Regents:

Thank you for your work in formulating a vision for the University of Minnesota and for ensuring that mission is fulfilled. To that end, I hope you reconsider your decision to eliminate the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program after the 2020-2021 season.  

You certainly cannot be blamed for taking extreme measures during these unexpected and unparalleled economic times. However, please consider just three points on how you as Regents are deviating from the University’s mission.

  1. Community-engaged outreach.  The Baseline Tennis Center on the University of Minnesota campus is clearly an elite tennis facility winning the prestigious “2008 Outstanding Facility of the Year Award.” Operating on 22 courts, the staff was awarded the “2009 USTA Organization of the Year Award” (from the U.S. Tennis Association) for commitment to the tennis community. The Baseline Club supported the University with a $1.5-million donation—a considerable amount of money in 1979—and a $1-million tennis endowment fund. Since the cancellation announcement, the Baseline Club has secured $1.3 million in new donations to keep the sport alive at the University. Added to the endowment fund, that $2.4 million is on its way to permanently fund the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program. (The additional $100,000 is dedicated to the Women’s Program). By canceling the program, the Board of Regents is turning its back on the Baseline Club—a highly supportive group of Twin Cities business leaders—as well as stabbing in the back an organization that has flourished for more than 30 years.   
     

  2. Singular vision of excellence. With one of the nation’s best venues and reliable donor support, sports, and particularly tennis, can make a university great.  University of Connecticut Athletic Director David Benedict said there remains a strong belief that UConn became a nationally renowned university in part because of its sports success. Tennis has boomed during the pandemic, with participation up almost 7% and racquet shipments up more than 22% in 2020. Is this just a pandemic bounce because tennis is such a good social-distancing sport? Or, are we discovering new knowledge that tennis can help solve one of the most complex challenges society faces today—the inactivity and obesity crisis? The Baseline Tennis Center can simultaneously put a dent in the inactivity crisis through its Goldy’s Kids Club, and create a ‘farm system’ for the intercollegiate tennis program, all while helping fund the University’s tennis program. Nothing better expresses the leadership values of President Gabel when she wrote, “Together we will build spaces of discovery standing as a beacon of inclusion, preparing our students for lives well lived and driving Minnesota forward. And as we serve our state, we help change the world.”

  3. Unified in our drive to serve Minnesota. By joining the cancel culture and making the decision to eliminate the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program, you take away the hopes and dreams of young boys throughout the state and region. Instead of developing a hotbed of high performance and excellence, you merely drive those individuals to competitors (namely, Ohio State and the University of Michigan) while turning off the spigot of economic development.  The $770,000 that the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program costs the University each year (less than 1% of the entire athletic budget), nets a hefty return. Not only can this tennis program self-sustain, it can support another intercollegiate program as well, such as gymnastics or wrestling.  
     

I’m sure that eliminating the Men’s Intercollegiate Tennis program was a difficult decision. However, if you weigh the economic potential, utilization of incredible resources, the prestige tennis brings to the University, and the legacy of the donors, my hope is that you will reinstate the program and you will take the steps necessary to see this issue is never considered again.
 

Once again, thank you for your service to the University. If I can be of any assistance in this matter, please contact me.

Marsh Riggs, USPTA
Owner, Coast to Coast Tennis, LLC

GARY HORVATH'S JANUARY 2021 ARTICLE 
'Increasing Participation with High-Frequency Players'

January 1, 2021

Thank you, Gary Horvath, for writing a terrific piece highlighting the importance of increasing the number of “high-frequency” tennis players. In our efforts, we can learn from factors that produce high-frequency players in a different context, that of video games.

In video games, accessing play occasions is easy; as soon as a game ends, a player only needs to hit start. Additionally, play is always available and individual play occasions cost little or nothing. Now imagine how popular video games would be if there were significantly greater lag times between play occasions, or if video games were only available to play during specific times, or if each play occasion required a fee? Having any of these factors would diminish the number of high-frequency video game players, but having all of them would truly stifle video game participation. Unfortunately, and too often, that is our situation in tennis.

Time defined and fee-based play will always matter, but to meaningfully increase the number of high-frequency tennis players, additional time-flexible and free opportunities to play are needed. One solution is to promote and develop inner-connected “communities of play” that at little or no cost gather on a frequent basis to enjoy tennis and each other. Family tennis is perhaps the best example of a community of play, as families can play at their convenience and for free if they play at most public parks. As an aside, Pickleball players do a stellar job of creating communities of play.

To increase the number of high-frequency tennis players, we would do ourselves well to think in terms of developing communities of play in our parks, and focusing on families would be a good place to start.

Kevin Theos

USTA Tennis Service Representative (AL)  

President, USPTA Southern Division

theos@sta.usta.com

COURTRESERVE.COM

January 8, 2021

Rich, 

 

Hope you are doing well and business is going well for you. 

 

Saw the note on CourtReserve and Tim and Ashley. We just loaded the program and started using it here at Pasadera two days ago. Both Tim and Ashley have been super helpful in the setup and answering questions. They are truly service-oriented people. 

 

I researched several options over the past several months and even spoke with Jonas people whose program does our back of housework here at the club. They were not able to do what was needed for tennis, fitness, swimming so we turned to someone who could, and that was CourtReserve. 

 

Previously our admin people were taking lap pool reservations and I was handling court reservations via text. Since the switch over two days ago, we haven't gotten a call or text from members for reservations as everyone immediately switched over to the App. 

 

Just wanted to let you know and give their business a plug. 

 

Clark Corey

USPTA Elite Professional and Tester

The Club at Pasadera

Monterey, California

 

TCB-Jan21.gif

REPLY TO 'THE COMMISH'

January 5, 2021

Hey Commish,

 

Loved your January column, “Making Noise for Tennis” and I’d like to share some of that “clear and logical thought.” Here’s a little noise for you and the rest of the commissioners.

 

We must face the music, the USTA has been less than stellar at accomplishing its mission. But instead of mudslinging or demonizing, here are the nuts and bolts (in my opinion) on how to get it fixed.

 

Growing the Game 101

 

A. Reclaim Tennis in the Public Parks

 

1. Get the USTA out of recreational (Rec) tennis

2. Find entrepreneurs proficient in running city and muni operations

3. Enlist Pros accomplished in growing the game

For more on the topic- Taking back the parks https://www.lovelandtennis.net/tennis-pros-take-over-the-parks

 

B. Focus on the 4-to- 5-year-old Market Segment

 

1. Tennis Pros could be considered a “Keystone Species.” Rely on us.

2. Get them young and keep them for a long time. For more on the 4-to-5-year-old tennis market see- Tennis Pro’s a Keystone Species? https://www.lovelandtennis.net/are-tennis-pros-a-keystone-species

 

C. Reintroduce Tennis in Elementary Schools (When the pandemic is over)

 

1. Tennis assembly program

2. PE units

3. Enrichment programs as follow-ups to assemblies

 

D. Pros- Focus Much of your Energy on Adult Beginning Classes

 

1. The TIA Participation Report noted latent demand of over 16 million people and over 14 million people who’ve not played in two years yet consider themselves tennis players. That’s more than 30 million people- the lowest of low-hanging fruit-ripe for the picking

2. Make it affordable

3. Be over-the-top enthusiastic. This guarantees the program will be fun

4. Use simple progressions that build toward excellent technical skills

 

E. Offer a Tennis Exercise Program like Cardio Tennis

 

1. Players and non-players can join the same class

2. Make it fun and lively- and set it to music

 

F. Insist USTA offer an 8-and-Under Junior Division with Rankings

 

1. Offer orange and green dot divisions

2. Drop restrictions in 10 and under divisions like accumulating stars. Offer green dot and yellow ball tourneys but let the parents choose where and when.

3. This will begin to help make America more competitive again in ATP Worldwide rankings

 

Well Commish, when I look at the word bureaucracy, at the end of it I see crazy. Must be dyslexic, but it does seem crazy to have a bumbledom running a sport they’ve shown they can’t grow. Their bunker mentality has driven me crazy over the last many years. The USTA used to be good at getting volunteers and at fundraising. And they’ve helped a lot with court repairs. But the pandemic has forced change in the USTA. New leadership has cut labor by 23% and signaled the move to service over programming. So I feel a great sense of optimism. The tennis pros have always grown this game and I know we can do it again. Remember Pros: People come to you for what you do; they stay because of who you are.

 

I love the Commish mantra, “Work with people, befriend them, make them family, love them and see the game explode.” I’m going to adopt this as my own, but somehow I don’t think you’ll mind.

 

All the best,

 

Marsh Riggs

USPTA Elite Professional

Owner- Coast to Coast Tennis

www.lovelandtennis.net

coasttocoasttennis@gmail.com

UTR PRO TOUR

January 21, 2021

Rich

 

The way to clean markets and bring efficiency to them is competition, UTR's efforts bring more data and more efficiency of information to the tennis pros and the betting world is only good for all worlds. More competition means more efficiency, love it.

 

Javier Palenque

 

UTR PRO TOUR

January 21, 2021

 

It’s common action for voids to be filled, maybe this is the case?  From what I am hearing from many of my tennis players that play competitively, the UTR runs a great program and seems to be filling their needs during these difficult times.  At this time, with so many variables and unknowns, having more than one tournament organizer in the mix would seem to be healthy for the sport.  It just doesn’t seem healthy or conducive to introspection, when there is only one game in town.  In fact, it may be the very element needed to take this segment of the tennis population, which is based on competition and provide a new type of competitive venue.   So, if healthy competition is good for the participants, can’t it also be good for those providing the events?  Other sports that became internationally popular have prospered from diversification, i.e. basketball, auto racing.  What I’m hoping for is that this organization enters league play.  I think for both the players and tennis organizations, this option would be a plus.  Choice usually promotes improvement, just like the sport itself.

Rod Heckelman

UTR PRO TOUR

January 22, 2021

 

Hi Rich,

 

Any entity that provides additional play opportunities for players is fine with me. 

 

Competition is often a good thing. If it makes the ITF uncomfortable, so be it. 

 

The Commish

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 23, 2021

 

Rich,

 

Let me first start by wishing you and everyone on this email thread a very happy new year filled with health and happiness.

 

I give it a big thumbs up! 

 

If UTR can disrupt tennis with their universal rating and their Pro Tennis Tour, it just points out once again that there is demand and that the ITF and other organizations are not doing enough to attract players. We should be embracing UTR for bringing these events that are making people play and watch more tennis. Remember players are free to play any tour, if they decide to participate in the UTR Pro Tennis Tour it is because the format suits them. 

 

I think it's common sense that to innovate, one has to disrupt. So many times you and your colleagues in the US tennis space have criticized the lack of change and innovation from the USTA, the ITF and many other organizations. Now that commercial entities are pushing boundaries in tennis we want to criticize them as well? Professional tennis and amateur tennis are in need of innovation, we’re losing players to other sports at an unprecedented pace, that should be telling us something. I firmly believe that instead of blaming the USTA and its partners, we should embrace innovators such as UTR. 

 

I’ve participated in many tennis conferences and all I see are the same people promoting the same things over and over again, hoping things are going to change, that’s the definition of insanity! Do not forget that tennis players are also consumers and also evolve. If we want to attract the young generation of players, we have to have an offering for them and that is exactly what UTR is doing with their Pro Tennis Tour. We’re in 2021 and we still call a tennis class a “clinic”, have you thought of how unappealing that is to a young player? 

 

Let’s take the example of another boring industry: the automotive industry. Should we be blaming Tesla for disrupting that industry and for being the most valuable automotive company in the world? Or are manufacturers such as GM, Toyota and others to be blamed for not innovating? Call UTR the Tesla of tennis, you might want to jump on that train before it’s too late!

 

Walid

Walid Fattah | Kourts 
CEO & Co-founder

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 23, 2021

 

Rich, my concerns are the following;

 

1. I love the idea of an independent tour to enable promising players an opportunity to earn some "dough reh me" to maintain there passion. For that I salute the initiative. But will this be delivered universally? Where is the money originating and how will it sustain?

2. In AU the peak body TA has paid to hold exclusivity over UTR and therefore I am concerned that this will strangle the power of this private enterprise. I'd think this similar to other countries? Or are we about to see a backlash?

3. The future of tennis from my humble opinion suggests that it needs to see resurgence from bottom up initiatives, grassroots led. I think form speaking with coaches that UTR had the ability to achieve this through a coach led, organised approach, but are UTR like all that have come before selling out?

4. How will the ITF WTR be delivered and will it kill the transitioning player who is desparate to survive but needs Kudos in the world brand to step into the next level? Will there be a divide that makes UTR a non transitional ranking?

5. Tennis needs a grassroots outcome, which is controlled at the "coldface and onground" which means that a privately syndicated model can work, but for tennis with its coach focused models we need fond a way to allow our professionals, the guardians and coaches of the future players of our great game to be key parties of influence. Those that have most to gain and most to lose need to be the gateway to the next gen. Is this feasible?

 

There is no question our sport needs to find a binding way to globally connect our passionate community. UTR looked to be a beacon, but like all things with silver linings I worry that it will be incentivised to toe the line with peak bodies and will subsequently be diluted through bureaucracy and negatively influenced competition.

 

Without a pathway that makes the next gen feel like they can make it, that doesn't cater to the premium elite only, tennis will forever be beholden to the institutions that focus on television rights and events. And for those simple reasons their motivations will forever be focused with bias.

 

I want to support this initiative with gusto, but I am jaded by the influence of peak bodies seeking to keep their foot on the throats of tennis money.

 

Make it global, spread the love to both developed and developing nations and we may find the second tier is a vibrant, exciting and engaging community that assists the many tiers of our sport.

 

A great question Rich. I look forward to seeing the responses of the entourage 🎾.

 

The Commish

UTR PRO TOUR

 

January 24, 2021

 

Hi Rich 

 

As ever, it comes back to the (narrow?) objectives of UTR and the (broader) objectives outlined by others.

 

Of course, just like Walid, I am incredibly supportive of anyone in the private sector investing time, money, energy, innovation to make 'something' happen

 

And yes both UTR and WTN seem to be fighting head to toe for the same niche.

 

Personally, I think UTR is missing a trick.

 

Pursuing a relatively small number of tennis players who are chasing RANKING POINTS. And happy to travel to play competitions hence the time, cost and energy , on top of the cost of playing UTR (or anyone else) ranking Points Tournament.

 

There is (probably) some merit to know you are ranked/rated 10,000 on the exact same system that Djokovic and Co are using? 

 

Betting is the scourge of society but the devil is now ingrained into the tennis system.  Mostly causes misery particularly for the players, that have been betted on without their knowledge, receive abuse even if they have won, and receive no $$ as 'the star of the show'.

 

BTWL as people may know is dedicated to growing the game , 'bottom up' (postcode by postcode) rather than top down.

 

SO the movement we wish to encourage is playing competitive tennis LOCALLY and COMPETENCY based 

 

THIS is where the majority of amateur, competitive, tennis players reside

 

Best

 

Mark Jeffrey

ALLOCATING USTA RESERVES

January 19, 2021

Rich,

A friend sent me this article: Australian Open bailed out in $140m cost blowout

Just think, AO is 140M in the hole, with revenues down this year from public, concessions, broadcast rights etc. It will take 1 few years to get back to the reserves of $80M, FYI USA had reserves of $140M. So, how much money do you think was allocated for grass roots and actually growing the game when times were good, and how much will be allocated when times are bad, the next 4-5 years. At a time when the sport needs a stimulus to keep it from dying, the economics and leadership will have no funds to tap from. This is called failed leadership.

 

Javier Palenque

 

USTA VIDEO

January 29, 2021

Rich,

50+ minutes of your life you can never get back…

 

The Commish

(after watching the USTA Video "2021 USTA Update

 

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