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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.

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WIMBLEDON AND RUSSIAN PLAYERS

April 21, 2022

 

Hi Rich

Wimbledon ruled Russian players will be banned.  It is time for ATP and WTA players stand up for their members. The good old boys should not be allowed to make political decisions against tennis players who are not playing on a team. WTA did that against China. ATP supported them. Boycott Wimbledon. 

Donald Swanson

April 26, 2022

 

Hi Rich,

Over the past three years, the major U.S. tennis organizations (WTA, ATP, USTA, USPTA, PTR, ITA, UTR, Tennis Channel, RSI, TIA, and others) have placed a greater emphasis on diversity and inclusion.

 

The stance of these organizations, about treating people fairly, is being challenged by the AELTC when they announced a ban on Russian and Belarusian players at the 2022 Wimbledon tournament.

 

Billie Jean King said it best in an article posted on the si.com website, April 21. “The decision of the LTA and the AELTC regarding the Russian and Belarusian players at this year’s tournament was a difficult and complex undertaking, and I appreciate the challenges and pressures they are facing. One of the guiding principles of the founding of the WTA was that any girl in the world, if she was good enough, would have a place to compete. I stood by that in 1973 and I stand by that today.”

 

This is a call to action for the major U.S. tennis organizations, Wimbledon sponsors, and others to stand by their beliefs for diversity and inclusion in tennis and oppose the AELTC ban of Russian and Belarusian players at Wimbledon 2022. 

Gary Horvath

TENNIS BALL SHORTAGE

April 25, 2022

 

Letter to the Editor,

 

Recently, WaPo and others announced a tennis ball shortage.  (Thank goodness it is not a repeat of the toilet paper shortage).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2022/04/25/tennis-ball-shortage-has-forced-some-coaches-scramble/

https://www.westernmassnews.com/2022/02/15/supply-chain-issues-impact-availability-spring-sports-equipment/

https://abbeyfealegolfclub.com/a-tennis-ball-shortage-has-forced-some-coaches-to-scramble/

 

In addition, a Facebook group in Colorado described the situation there, see attached photo. The problem is more pronounced there where high altitude balls are necessary. (Low altitude balls play like super balls).

 

There are many comments and jokes that could be made. On a serious note, when are industry leaders going to make an announcement to put tennis players at ease or allow them to make mass purchases at their local tennis shops and sporting goods stores?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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Professional Tennis Registry PTR

NEW USTA CEO ANNOUNCEMENT

April 12, 2022

Rich,

 

This is an interesting choice for CEO of USTA. Sherr sounds like a Kurt Kamperman kind of person.  

https://www.usta.com/en/home/stay-current/national/lew-sherr-named-usta-ceo-and-executive-director.html

 

Several things stood out.

 

1. The virtue-signaling - a highly diverse shortlist that consisted of more than 50% female and/or ethnically diverse candidates. 

 

2. The emphasis is on the growth of USTA as a means of growing the sport - "I thank the USTA Board for this opportunity, and I am eager to help lead this association--and the sport of tennis--to greater growth and long-term success."

 

3. The emphasis is on the growth of the USTA and its divisions  - Another top priority for Sherr, who has laid out a comprehensive growth strategy for the association and the sport, is the bolstering of services and support for the 17 USTA Sectional Associations, the drivers of tennis participation and growth on the front lines of communities around the country.

 

4.  If he was driving the revenue streams as the CRO, then he was undermining others on the board - In his tenure as USTA Chief Revenue Officer, Sherr has driven all revenue streams for the USTA to record levels.

 

The press release sounds like Michael upset the apple cart and it pissed off the sections and some of the people on the board.  Based on this hiring, they could not have been seriously considering Embree.  He is a horrible financial manager and has a horrible track record. 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

COACH CERTIFICATION

April 3, 2022

 

Rich,

 

This is an interesting article.  It touches on the certification issue.  Obviously, certification for coaching a touring pro and a club player are different.  

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/why-great-tennis-players-dont-always-make-great-coaches/

 

Does certification guarantee a good coach?  What are the characteristics of a good coach?  I just saw that Lynne Rawley is the new President of PTR - what would she think?  

 

Some of the criteria in the article are calming effect, getting along well, pro tour experience.  What makes a good pro? 

 

An interesting thought to ponder...

The USTA became the accreditation organization a couple of years ago.

The TIA data says 4.9 million new players have been added because of pandemic policy. 

There is not indication that USPTA and PTR have increased the number of certified pros.  I have not seen data about the number of new courts or clubs (In Colorado the number of new clubs does not support the increase in population.)

 

Conventional wisdom is that activity is greater at facilities with pros.  What has happened appears to go against conventional wisdom.

 

Has the capacity of pros been underutilized in the past?  OR   Have players taken up the sport because they do not have teaching pros there to over program activity for them and make the sport too expensive with all kinds of programs?

 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 27, 2022

 

Hi Rich

A pro posted his business card on the Internet on a tennis player's website.

 

Sam Jones (made up to protect the person)

USPTA Professional

Safe Play/Net Generation Certified

 

I have never seen anyone say they were certified by Safe Play or Net Generation.  

He may be a great pro, but I wouldn't recommend him based on his "credentials".

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

TENNIS TEACHING ORGANIZATIONS AND PICKLEBALL

April 25, 2022

 

Hi Rich

The International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association, https://iptpa.com/ certifies pickleball instructors and professionals. Their website suggests they are a credible organization with a professional and sophisticated process.

 

A review of their membership list suggests they have reasonable market penetration https://iptpa.com/certified-members/.

 

Keep in mind that the USTA recently required the USPTA and PTR to revamp their tennis certification programs because they did not meet the standards for USTA accreditation. Is that process completed, and are the USPTA and PTR certifying enough tennis pros to meet the industry demand?

 

As a business person, with no interest in the IPTPA or pickleball, I have several questions.

  • Is this a power or money grab by USPTA and PTR?

  • Is tennis planning to make a play to take control of pickleball?

  • Why do the USPTA and PTR think they are qualified to certify pickleball professionals?

  • Have they forgotten that many in the tennis industry feel it should not have two certification organizations?

  • Has the USTA, and its new CEO Lew Sherr, approved and accredited the USPTA and PTR to teach pickleball?

  • Wouldn’t it be more efficient if both organizations partnered with the IPTPA to funnel prospective teaching professionals into their organization?

The USPTA and PTR need to stay focused on tennis.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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OUR 1-QUESTION SURVEY

Comments from respondents

"I belong to both USPTA and PTR and would say I’m overall satisfied. I'm not liking the addition of pickleball to the things they "certify" or promote. I have no problem with pickleball any more than any sport, but why are tennis pros being forced to not just accept--but become part of pickleball? Tennis, according to the USTA has gained more new regular players in the past year and a half than pickleball has players TOTAL, yet all one hears is how you must get on board for the fastest growing sport.

 

I am a tennis pro. I want to be on a tennis court teaching tennis. Pickleball doesn't resemble tennis but they use the same playing area--a tennis court. Somehow as pros, because of this, we must all become active in pickleball. And if you prefer the sweet sounds of a tennis ball being hit prepare for the opposite as a few pickleball courts going creates enough horrible ear-splitting sound that can make you wonder how a sport that was invented and had all advantages of choosing its equipment ever came up with a hard paddle (not racket) and a hard ball on a hard court?

 

Over the years I've had many conversations with people who told me of the things they didn't like about tennis or how tennis could be better--and I listened and sometimes agreed. But, do not try that with a pickleball player. They will defend the nest furiously and attack you as some kind of subversive for merely asking. I also do not like the merging of the PTR/USPTA and the USTA. The USTA is the worst example of a bureaucratic blueprint for waste of time and money. And, the so-called safe play is a perfect example. Every year I must watch some video or take some multiple-choice test to prove I'm not some pervert and that I'm safe to be around kids. Meanwhile, the USTA's very own coaches are being accused of actual sex crimes. And, in keeping with how things are these days, better keep my name off this survey. Speaking up against pickleball or USTA can have consequences. It used to be that we, as tennis pros, could exchange ideas and suggestions, even if it's just blowing off steam. The way things are now, I find the community of pros usually first looks around to see who might be listening."

"I belonged to both organizations for 30 years. I stopped both when the safe sport certificate was required. I did safe sport for a couple of years until the USTA sent an email via net generation with Billie Jean King reading her children's book. I was enjoying her reading until about the ten or 11-minute mark when she began explaining her romantic feelings for women and what it meant to be gay or lesbian. In my opinion, that was unnecessary and it almost seemed like it was inserted and really didn't fit. To me, this is not safe sport. This is a children's book. So I figured if safe sport was not followed by USTA I would not go through the Safe Sport certification again. Unfortunately, PTR and USPTA required it. When tennis organizations push agendas other than tennis especially to children I had to draw the line."

"PTR member. Not happy. Dues too expensive due to the fact that the majority of the dues are used to fund the organization's salaries and events (such as the Symposium) which are geared toward rewarding friends of the office, testers, clinicians and others who help bring money into the organization. Both organizations allowed non-expert teaching pros to write articles and give lectures on sport science topics they are not trained in."

"Unfortunately, I’m disappointed. I think the PTR has become a complicated, money-grabbing mess. Their constant certification changes and bazillion levels are not appealing to new coaches. The lack of newly certified pros proves it. Somehow they went from certifying everyone with $147 in their checking account to not really wanting anyone to get through the process. Additionally, Brian Parkkonen is useless. No names please!"

"I am certified and belong to both. I am very happy wit PTR - they are being very creative in the area of improving the number of women in the organization and working toward a more equal and diverse organization. They have a long way to go...USPTA is stuck in the mud. I hear over and over from them 'we are doing great with diversity and equity' - as spoken by people who make no efforts to make changes."

"I was a member of both. But when rebuffed again and again for opportunities to speak, instead of the tired re-tread speakers they have, again and again, I realized that my dues were not enough to make me a full member. I was a long-time member, but no one has 10 minutes to find out what happened with me, why am I gone?"

"USPTA has brought me in connection with many of my fellow teaching professionals which has been quite rewarding. I also believe that the education requirements that we are required have been very helpful in staying connected to what is new as well as added to my repertoire of teaching tools. Very Happy."

"I feel both groups do a an adequate job. However, PTA seems to be more interested in high levels of certification rather than investing in the need for more Professional. PTR is at least certifying 16 year olds to help with the shortage."

"I am a long time member of both. I am not too pleased with either one right now. They are both promoting and supporting pickleball. I realize they are chasing dollars but they should spend all their time promoting tennis."

"They do serve an important purpose. Service and education to the pros, neutralize some questionable USTA decisions and directions and a gathering point for pros to connect with new and long time friends in the industry"

"I don’t like where we are going having USTA having their foot on our necks about certification. I belong to both USPTA and PTR our certification process was not broken . Screw USTA"

"t to put flags by the names of players from certain countries, as if they think that will matter to the politicians who are making the problem worse. The actions of these organizations are a form of virtue signaling and it accomplishes nothing because neither the WTA, ATP, nor world citizens understand what is driving the conflict. The conflict"

"Not very happy with them right now. Both have had trouble getting back to members' questions, assistance needed. I am a member of both and both are to blame."

I belong to both organizations … PTR very happy … USPTA worry-some about the equalizer mentality & gender stuff … and the strong presence of ‘woke’ ???"

"I’m not happy that there are “levels”, as a USPTA Elite and PTR Professional, now I need to pass “level 1 or 2” certification? No thanks."

"A little disappointed in their fee structure for retired teaching pros. Want to stay a part of the organization, but not at the cost."

"USPTA not as happy as I was 10 years ago. Lost identity after joining forces with USTA"

"The USPTA is an absolute disaster and disappointment with their education programs."

"Happy with PTR but wish USPTA were more inclusive of women and diverse pros."

"USPTA is weak in helping JOB placement."

"Tremendously happy with USPTA."

"Extremely happy with uspta."

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