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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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April 2, 2023


Just to add my 2 cents of league misery: after all the rain we had, and all the work the captains have been doing to try to reschedule matches, they wouldn't even extend the season deadline by 1 week, even till Easter weekend (and really, extending it another week past that would have been preferable).  One captain told me that even if our team wanted to play a make-up match, the other team didn't have to play if they didn't want, and it wouldn't count as a default against them.  That was the decision of the league coordinator.


In the case of my teams, it didn't really matter since the teams wouldn't get to 1st place anyway.  It's just another case of poor customer service though, if you ask me.



(USTA SoCal Adult League player)

April 3, 2023



I have been playing USTA League tennis for the better part of 20 years.  I had been playing in 40-plus leagues as I am 55 years old.  I got bumped to 5.0 last year and have nothing to play in. The USTA eliminated the 5.0s from the 40-plus leagues.  I live in Alabama.  We only have about twenty 5.0 players in the entire state.  


Myself and a few other women who are all 55-ish have been begging for a solution to our state and section coordinators.  Neither of them seems to care or is even willing to have a conversation about this situation.  I was told that playing NTRP 18 and over 5.0 tournaments would count toward a rating.  I entered two of those events in Alabama.  I didn’t get to play as I was the only person who signed up. The upper-end 4.5s are scared to death of being bumped up. They won’t play on a 5.0 team or enter a 5.0 tournament. 


At 55 years old; I know I am not a 5.0.  I had some decent results in the 40-plus leagues, but I would get dusted by the younger 5.0 players.  The problem is I have no way to even generate a rating.  We had a 5.0 team registered for local competition, but nobody could scrape together a team for us to play.  We asked if our 5.0 team could go straight to sectionals and were told no. We then asked if 5.0 sectionals could be made and invitational and were told no. I suggested that maybe a 5.0 player who is 55 or over could be allowed to play on a 4.5 plus team.  We try to offer solutions instead of complaints.  


The USTA only cares about making money.  5.0s are scarce; so they don’t care about our situation.  I will be a 5.0 next year too as I will be unable to play in anything this year that can generate a rating.  I tried to get on a 5.0 team in Georgia.  That team is loaded with younger players and they didn’t want me. Anyway, I am so frustrated.  Do you have any thoughts other than learning pickleball or working on my golf game?


Robyn Kramer

(From Rich: Would be nice if a USTA person would reply to this letter but it seems they have all been muzzled not to respond to anything in this newsletter if they want to keep their jobs.)


April 3, 2023

Re: USPTA members receive a discount on registration! Plus you can receive up to 40 CEUs!




This is an interesting email I received from USPTA last week regarding WTC3.

USPTA secured a discount on registration for their members, although it must not be much because they did not advertise it. They are giving up to 40 CE credits if anyone has the butt power to sit that long. They have done something similar with WTCA and a Tennis Haus conference.


On one hand, USPTA is being a responsible corporate citizen by supporting other members of the tennis community. We have seen that they sponsored cruises etc.


Two questions:

1. When are they going to secure a discount and promote the conferences of the PTR? Or are they just interested in supporting people they like?

2. Will the efforts to support other industry activities reduce participation in their own programs? If a person can get 40 CE points from this event, what is the value of USPTA webinars and conferences? Take that a step further, what is the value of the USPTA and PTR if others are offering similar or better services?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 3, 2023



I just saw a photo on FB (Bunny Bruning. Bunny and Fiesal Hassan were in Dallas to certify about 10 people for T3. This is the T3 schedule.


It seems expensive to be flying pros from Iowa and VA to TX when there are more qualified pros in TX.  It seems like it is helpful to have local testers.


It seems like they are missing major parts of the country.  Oh well.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 6, 2023

Re: Fred Viancos leaving USPTA COO position for USTA Texas section ED



I didn't know that Fred was leaving. The rats are jumping off a sinking ship. 

I like Fred, although I did not know him well. He is a holdover from Heckler.  I'm sure Embree is happy to see him gone.

I had recently heard he was not a good manager; however, he may not have had the support he needed to be a good manager.  

 My impression of Texas USTA is positive.  Texas Tennis seems to have its act together. 


Embree likes to surround himself with yes men. Feisal fits the bill for that.  I can't imagine why Feisal would leave his job in VA. He seems to be at a nice club where they let him roam all over the country doing stuff for the USPTA.  Would he take Fred's job in hopes of being next in line when John retires?  How is that for a scary thought?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 13, 2023

Re: Racquet Sports Industry magazine


The latest RSI was a bigger collection of horse shit and cabbage than usual. The article about how TSRs were being redefined was intriguing. We'll see if it works.


It was interesting that Karl Davies wrote about the ADM. The ADM is a good program that provided a foundation for hockey and other sports to grow at least ten years ago. The USTA was slow to adapt because they were too busy promoting their own programs. This was during the Kamperman regime.


It was interesting to see how the USTA claims that tennis participation has increased among minorities.  Really?  What did they attribute that to? Minorities were hit the hardest by COVID.  If it happened that is great.  Does the activity on the street support the numbers in the report?  


As usual, the USPTA section in the magazine showed they don't value their members.  Whatever.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 19, 2023

Re: John Embree retiring

John was a likable person. He was polite, cordial, and welcoming.  I have heard that he worked hard.  I think John is a good and kind person.


  • John lacked vision and communication skills. He followed the USTA like a little lost puppy. 

  • John lacked leadership skills, as evidenced in the certification fiasco, and the adoption of woke policies during the pandemic. The PTR is kicking his ass right now.

  • John was the master of continuing education points - a grade-A disaster.  I don't know how much time the office spends tracking everyone's points. Are these points reflected in pros who are better educated to the point that they provide better service to the members?  John has turned the USPTA into a regulatory agency.

John will be remembered for the move from Houston to Lake Nona to be near the USTA - for better or worse.  Over the past couple of years, it seemed they were too close to the USTA. Though John and the board claimed the move worked out from a financial perspective, the office seemed to be understaffed. The organization did not take advantage of opportunities to invest in members and the sport, a prime example is high school tennis. John cut services and the quality of service and the value of being a member suffered. 


For the past year, key people in the office moved on - like rats jumping off a sinking ship.  What do they know that we do not know?  This probably explains Fred's departure and why the annual conference is in Orlando.

The USPTA was better off at the time John took over than it is today, i.e. he did not improve the organization. The USPTA will find out how much damage has been done when he is gone. 


Rather than dwelling on these issues or continuing to focus on them, rehashing what has happened will do no good. The board needs to move on with a person with new ideas. John Embree is officially a non-issue. The board should hire an interim CEO, and invite him to show up at the convention to collect his Rolex watch and final check. 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them


April 12, 2023

Re: ITA email: Pathway to the Pros

The ITA shows how dysfunctional the tennis industry is, at least in my mind, by promoting itself as the pathway to the pros.  


A person who follows college tennis knows who Peyton Stearns and Emma Navarro are. They are playing in pro tournaments, which is great. Dr. Russell and the gang in Phoenix are confused when they talk about how the ITA is the Pathway to the Pros. There are about 2,400 men and 2,800 women in Division One who play each season.  Less than 2% of those 5,200 players will have the success of Stearns and Navarro. Historically, they are unlikely to win a Grand Slam, although have been great college players. This is a numbers game, stacked against college players becoming the best players in the world.


If the industry was functional, the leadership of the ITA, USPTA, and PTR would actually work together (what a novel concept) and turn college tennis into the real pathway for teaching pros.  Duh, Tim, John, Dan - this is not rocket science!

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 19, 2023

Re: Master of Science Sport Health Science degree program at Life University



Mark Kovacs is involved with a new program,

Sounds like a great program, Kovacs is an expert in the industry.


1. Look at the cost of the programs. While the cost is reasonable, by college standards. Would you pay this amount to become a tennis pro?  What are the unintended consequences of programs like his and those offered by Kim Bastable going to do for the industry? 

If you go to a trade school to become a welder, airplane mechanic, or plumber, you usually have a job waiting for you when you get out.

Whether you spend $24,000 for or less than $300 for PTR, you will probably end up in a similar beginning job - coaching the junior program at some club. 

Will the degree make a difference down the line?  Will the person in Kovacs program have a job when they get out?


2.  Where are the USPTA and PTR in this process? They are offering one-hour seminars so people can get their continuing education points.  That is nice, but is it helping the industry?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them


April 3, 2023

Rich, I received the USTA Safe Play Update via email. I wonder what prompted it.  

I first joined Safe Sport over a decade ago. At that time, it was a program that had merit.  At present, it has evolved into a promotional tool for the woke agenda.

Was this put out in response to the incident in Nashville?  How is Safe Sport going to address the trans issue?  Since they have said a coach should be reported for not using proper pronouns, will they say a coach should be reported for the way they address the trans issue?   

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

April 20, 2023



Several years ago when Mike Dowse was CEO, there was talk about how USTA was going to promote all tennis, i.e. they would follow their mission. 


During the pandemic that might have happened. If it did, does the tennis industry think the USTA represents and supports all segments of tennis?  


I know there are some sections, like Texas, where USTA appears to be promoting tennis. Based on some of the battles you have addressed it appears the USTA is still focused primarily on USTA tennis, not all tennis. What happens at the sectional level is USTA tennis.


What does the industry think?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them


April 3, 2023



Thank you for posting Shelley's needs.


I was once in the same situation as Shelley, most of the public believes that if you are homeless it is because of drugs. No drugs in my situation but I was a survivor of domestic violence and ended up being hidden by the police and then in shelters and living in my car etc. ( 2 years of no home) I survived and have a professional job the past 7 years and have a home. It was a donation of $500 for a van that moved me from no job to a job and a place to live. 


When Shelley writes she doesn't have money to wash her clothes I was there as once you have descended into living with no shelter her story is very typical and no one wants to know about how devastating it is in those daily details. 


Thank you so much for sharing her words. I am a boat and RV broker. If the USPTA would like to donate to her a travel trailer for her to live in or a Class B so she has something to live in and drive, I can find her one - they are used units and we sell many at POP RV - I would not take a commission. If the organization could come together for this one project it would make a big difference for her. And she needs a job. I am thinking $20K for the RV. 


Debbie Ericson, Senior Consultant at Pop Yachts and RVS

Who has loved tennis all her life and volunteers at tournaments

Huntersville, NC




Should the men on the ATP tour also play only best of 3 sets at Grand Slams?


  • Shorter and faster-paced scoring formats like Thirty30 tennis are the future for tennis, however the Grand Slams should retain the best of 5 sets matches for the men as the ultimate test in tennis.

  • I care about the sport and its traditions. I don't care as much about the attention span of the viewer/spectator.

  • They should get paid more for that too 💪😎

  • Yes. Many tennis titles today are given to the person who is in better shape, not the person who is the better tennis player. This is true of multiple "classic" Grand Slam matches, with titles given to younger opponents in better shape, rather than the player with the best game.

  • Conditioning and ability show up more in 5 set matches.

  • Best of 5 semis and finals Will save on injuries

  • If the women want equal pay. Then it is only fair for the men to play three or the women play five!

  • Ladies should be playing best of 5 as well. They complain about equal pay. They should work for. It.

  • Equality = the same pay, same 2 out of 3 sets.

  • Yes, good idea, save their bodies the wear and tear. Also don’t need to watch a 5 hour match, too long.

  • As the title of the tournament implies it is a Grand Slam and there are only four grand slams in a year. It should be best if 5 sets. Also the prize given to the Champion and runners up is very much higher the 500 or 1000 series tournaments.

  • It is very interesting if atp pro play for 5 sets

  • I think the majors should remain 3 out of 5 sets, as I believe they should be a greater mental and physical test than all other tournaments!

  • Line judges replaced by robots, 3 instead of 5 sets, on - court coaching, viewership limited to private / paying TV channels in Europe. We are literally killing this sports!

  • The true test must remain. Slams are a huge success so the commercial and interest arguments don’t hold water.

  • Send more for this

  • Cut the equity crap and embrace that things are not always equal.

  • We have to keep the ultimate grind, and the potential for epic drama and matches. It would be interesting to understand why you asked this question in first place?

  • Some "traditions" are worth keeping. You just cannot build the same kind of tension in best of three nor have conditioning be anywhere near as vital.

  • Don’t break tradition. So fun to watch a 5 setter. I think if any change should be made it would be that is 2 out of 3 until the quarters or round of 16 and then go to best of 5. I also think the the women should do the same to be fair. Especially if pay is equal.

  • In addition to the highest skill levels, pro tennis is at ultimate fitness levels which 5 sets displays, in my opinion.

  • 2 out of 3 through the semis, best of 5 for the finals.

  • Men playing 3 sets is more exciting. It also lets their bodies recovery to continue to play exceptional tennis in the next rounds. The game has changed

  • Reason: TIME I'm sure it's a nightmare for the organizers, the tv schedule, the other players who follow, spectators who enjoy watching more than one match, and even tv viewers who have other obligations besides sitting on a couch for 5 hours. And it gets rid of the argument that women should get paid less. Women would gladly play 5 sets. They don't because of time constraints.

  • I feel it would help our exposure and more people would get into the game. Many see tennis as boring. We need some jazz!!!

  • Love your newsletter!

  • The men *and* women should have to win 3 sets! However, I propose that at 2 sets all, a 10 point tie-breaker is played to decide the match!

  • 5 sets are not necessarily more exciting, however they are longer for sure! The airtime for tennis could devote more to doubles play perhaps ... that is more exciting often!

  • Woman should also have to play best of 5 since they currently earn the same amount of money as the men. That is not fair to the men…. And that’s coming from a woman!!!

  • The time of a match in shorter, which makes the match more enjoyable. It will prevent fewer injuries among the top players.

  • Best of 5 sets the majors apart from the routine Commerical events, and creates the highest drama available in sport on a regular basis 👍🎾

  • I think playing best-of-5 sets makes the fitness element of a Grand Slam that much more important, so I'd say keep it. I'd also like to see 'ad' games played in doubles, and a 3rd full set there instead of the match tiebreak. That's my 4 cents, 2 more than you asked for :) Thanks!

  • And at the same time cut that obscene prize money for slams by 40%, too!

  • That would ruin the Grand Slam tournaments

  • 3 out of 5 has been a long standing tradition

  • Keep traditions 4 Times per Year.

  • Slams should be a challenge

  • Let's stop chipping away at Grand Slam traditions. Davis Cup is already dead, thanks to people who deem themselves wise. If our instant gratification society had their way, everyone would be playing Fast 4 or some other modified play format.

  • I think 5 sets gives both players the best chance to show their skill and fitness....maybe not the best for TV. but golf takes all day!

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