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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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Shelley Susman Crowdfunding

May 17, 2023

Rich,

I posted to Senior Tennis TIPS this morning.  We’re at 53,500 members worldwide.  I donated and I hope others will, too.

"It is rare that I make donation requests at Senior Tennis TIPS. This one is a heartbreaker. Shelley Susman is a female USPTA tennis pro suffering in the aftermath of domestic abuse. Read her story. I donated. Whatever you can give financially, do. Also prayers are free to give.

 

Kevin W. McCarthy

USTA NAMES LIZ McSORLEY MANAGING DIRECTOR, STRATEGY AND INNOVATION

May 16, 2023

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

 

Rich,

 

Great comments about McSorley.  From her picture I think she could benchpress me.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

WTA/ITF TOURNAMENTS

April 24, 2023

Hi Rich,

I went to a WTA/ITF $25k qualifier tournament in Zephyrhills, FL to chart a particular player that a friend is working with. I use RacketStats as you know an analytics app for smartphones. Midway through the match the super came up to me and told me to turn my phone off, that it was against the rules to have a phone or computer on the grounds of the tournament.

 

This was a golden opportunity to chart this player against an Orange Bowl Finalist and her coach wanted to see how she did. Not sure I understand all the issues with cell phones other than the players can not use them at all, so guess it is because of the betting issue. So at junior tournament, college matches and pro events where analytics is carried out by very sophisticated companies and coaching is now allowed. But at the intermediate tournaments where players have little money and need the most help, coaches and parents are not allowed to help. I am sure that betting can be fun and enlightening but to hit coaches and parents at this level seems absurd.

 

Does baseball, basketball and football not allow cell phones?

 

Thanks for digging into this,

Andy Durham

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ONE-QUESTION SURVEY FOR MAY 2023

QUESTION

Will John Embree leave the USPTA in better shape than when he started as CEO 11 years ago?

COMMENTS​​

  • Overall did a fine job in a difficult position.

  • Embree is a nice person; however, he lacks vision and doesn't understand that the USPTA is a membership organization. He does not understand the high school, college, and parks and recreation tennis is an important part of the sport. The USPTA took a step backward when John was hired and he moved from Houston to Florida. The main benefactor of the past 11 years has been the PTR.

  • The USPTA has lost a lot of members.

  • I have been USPTA and PTR 40+yrs and have served on USPTA boards and committees as well as USTA - I Like John and have known him since his days at Wilson. John's focus was endorsement deals, often those with little connection to tennis. USPTA needs to redirect focus on new memberships, member services, especially the next crop of teaching pros has to be seeded and nurtured. Meanwhile, the PTR/PPR has elevated it's status ahead of USPTA by adding "alternative/complementary racket sports" certification without requiring PTR as base and now have 5000 PPR members. I presented at February PTR/PPR conference and well attended by both tennis and pickleball coaches, and those like myself with dual certifications. USPTA will be announcing ability to get these certifications without tennis as base certification, but they are behind the curve and have much to do in being effectual as the PTR pivoted adding PPR and other paddle sports. COVID and pickleball have combined to stir the tennis pot but USTA didn't know how to serve it up. USTA has evolved from treating pickleball as a flea, to behind closed door strategies to try contain tennis court conversions and figure where the tennis-positive effects are and how to utilize. There is growing crossover play, with more tennis players trying pickleball than pickleball players adding tennis play. Here is a interesting theory: If enough tennis players also played pickleball, the combined court availability would improve. It is critical to tennis, that tennis professionals become pickleball certified as we need to keep the DoR positions so that growth of pickleball at clubs is managed by tennis professionals. In tennis job posts; pickleball is becoming a big plus to mandatory. USTA National Campus only hires dual certification pros. The turf war, although causing conflicts, offers high court utilization rates and ancillary revenue streams. Obviously both sport players want the same things; lots of easy access and great condition courts so they can play whenever for as long as they want. John Embree did a lot of positive things at helm of USPTA, but he and others fumbled the ball entering a new era as I have described above.

  • Joh Embree was a great CEO. Very honest, dedicated to the USPTA and its membership

  • The USPTA members age demographic is old, and the USPTA Certification doesn't have the prestige or necessity benefit to attract younger tennis professionals. Financially, John did a good job with the organization.

  • He has been a far cry from Mr. Heckler's laser like focus on the importance and health of Tennis Teaching Professionals that is well laid out on Mr. Horvath's column in this issue. The associations today that 'certify' tennis teaching professionals have ceased to 'advocate' for tennis teaching professionals within the industry as a whole. Much of which is the result of lacking of mentorship and 'sponsorship' by seasoned Professionals who sign off on the progress of those entering into the the tennis teaching profession.

  • Years ago USPTA had their own dedicated magazine. I'm not sure who did this but we've been relegated to the back pages of tennis industry magazine. On the front cover in the lower right hand corner there's a tiny little piece of real estate that says: incorporating USPTA advantage magazine. Absolutely pathetic. Shameful for such a wonderful trade organization like USPTA to be stuck in the back of someone else's magazine. Was that you John Embry?

  • USPTA jumped on board with USTA Accreditation as soon as they could because they needed the education and USTA was willing to provide. But it didn't give the two time to work through what the challenges would be and now that there are challenges, they have walked away. On the other hand, PTR went through 2 years of working through the challenge areas of Accreditation and have been successful in doing so and are stronger than ever. USPTA has now pulled out and doesn't help the USPTA pros, our challenge with recruiting more teaching professionals or the industry with the confusion out there as to whether or not you can work with USPTA. This does not leave them in a stronger position no matter how you serve it!

  • There were some major blunders that led to an enormous amount of wasted time, effort and money. Getting all the way in bed with USTA was the biggest. Taking a less hands on, personal approach was the second.

  • Professionalism-love of tennis- service instincts-honest and straight forward

  • Rich, As an organization that is a tennis organization, it saddens me that there has been zero understanding of the actual threats to tennis. So if your decide to have Pickleball certifications and promotion it is a problem. It is the same for the USTA. John is a nice person, but this single issue is why I would say he left it worse shape.

  • I don’t know the Financial status of the USPTA if it’s better now or when he started.

  • Thought he got in bed with the USTA and took tennis pros down the wrong path with 10u, marketing the game, generating new pros and not standing up for so many good tennis pros that have done so much for the game. Company man.

  • Instinct that it is more bloated and cosy but might be wrong. Online presence is way better. Seems to have no voice.

  • Great Question, thanks Rich!! John has done a good job but there's much more work to do. He was responsible for making important decisions & investments to modernize membership services. Now we need a dynamic OUTSIDER to extinguish the the final flames of the Good Ole Boy Network. USPTA should NOT be a political organization. The primary mission is to serve , educate and develop pathways & networks for career growth & opportunities. PTA & PTR should finally merge but it will take a new CEO & BOARD that can place their egos aside, LEARN how to compromise and put together a DEAL that will mutually benefit both organizations. STOP the pissing contests, roll up your sleeves and put your MEMBERS FIRST!!! The new CEO, Board & Committees should never be SELF SERVING...... Conrad Cowan # 6588

  • No value

  • Can’t remember if I had already answered the survey, so I’ll do it again. Sorry if this is a repeat. I think John is a nice guy but the move to Lake Nona was costly. The USTA hurt our certification numbers as we are still using their pathway to get pros certified (takes too long and the well qualified and already educated pros are not going to do it. As a past USPTA National board member told me, the USTA needs to realize you don’t have to be certified to teach tennis). This next hire for the USPTA CEO is very crucial! I hope they get the right person to lead this once strong organization back to its glory days.

  • Every business he has run has not done well

  • I quit 4 years ago because of new requirements. Have taught tennis and been a very successful HS coach for 30 years. Also tournament director of Western Maryland Championships for 20 years and watched USTA destroy local tournament tennis. Embree loves the USTA. Why??

  • His Retirenent Bank Account is now Far Better Off!

  • Both USPTA and PTR have struggled to convey their value to pros. With the end of the USPTA’s accreditation by USTA, they’ve now backtracked on one of their biggest gambles. The tennis industry is moving toward more corporate training and away from individualized education for coaches. Certification has not adapted (for better or worse), so it seems unlikely that the USPTA is positioned well to move into the coming years.

  • As an almost 40 year member if the organization, former division president and national executive committee member, tester, etc. I know that we are a lesser organization than when we lost Tim Heckler and John came dancing in. Pillars be damed! We have lost many meaningful benefits and sponsors as our dues have steadily risen. The group that came into power supposedly to abolish cronyism became the same and worse! John and company took over each division’s executive administrator, their budgets and autonomy, aligned all division elections with national so that there would be a constant turnover of board members making naive, dostle groups that could be manipulated, and created a centralized bureaucracy that lost its way and became out of touch with what the membership, not the boards, wanted. The national staff grew larger and created a hefty monetary burden on the organization. He and others wasted our time and money pursuing the USTA’s help and accreditation and casting the veil of a paradigm shift which became a code for going “woke”. Everything woke goes broke. We are almost there. All this while he was taking home over a quarter million plus benefits each year in a non- profit volunteer organization. Now us is leaving with a serious comic downturn on the national horizon. The USPTA is a shell of what it once was. We lost our clout and our soul as a fraternal organization. What a sad story.

  • I'm so dissatisfied with my certification process. It's so antiquated, like rhe first online course ever created. No system, confusing, instructors say it takes 10 days to grade, uspta says 3-4 weeks. They can take my money and shove it.

  • The move to be near the center of US Tennis was a great idea. He led the USTA through the pandemic and kept it relevant and solvent. If the USTA would be more receptive to the idea of accrediting a more challenging and thorough certification process that the USPTA has implemented then that would have been another feather in his cap. Maybe it will still happen?

  • John has done a great job, but truthfully up was the only way that it could go after the nepotism years of the Heckler era.

  • We still do not have an awareness campaign to the tennis public. Most tennis players do not know what the USPTA is. If it's important to be certified, continue education, and hire USPTA pros, why is the public still unaware? Let's not get into the pickleball certification.....Lordy

  • Hopefully the board will find someone with a vision to lead the USPTA

  • Anyone can get a tennis teaching position without being certified. Plus nowadays with the internet many tennis professionals feel that they can get all their info from the internet instead of attending expensive conventions. They are missing the importance of learning from a speaker and then having the opportunity to question them after their presentation. It is not John Embree it is the industry. We are desperate for anyone who can feed a ball and has a personality. The tennis boom is coming back without the necessary tennis professionals. Most tennis clubs in Chicago are looking for two more full time tennis professionals.

  • Absolutely! John and the National Board have successfully moved the HQ from Houston, TX to Lake Nona, FL. By accomplishing this, it also left behind the ‘good old boys’ TX culture, resulting in a more professional organization, with a healthy financial status. With John’s vision and leadership I am a proud USPTA member. His personal touch and sincere involvement are reasons that the USPTA is in better shape. It’ll be hard to replace him!

  • Tough question, but the easier way to answer is if it were asked "Will he leave the USPTA worse than when he started as CEO?" then I would say no.

  • John kept the Good Ole Boys club running smoothly. He protected men who behaved badly and was quite disappointing.

  • What do I actually get for my annual membership? Less now than ever before. Employers care less about USPTA membership / certification than at any other time in history. They were accredited with the USTA, and now they are not. One step up, two steps back. Standing still while PTR races ahead.

  • He tried to upgrade the organization by working with the USTA, brought new sponsors in, directed it to more professionalism only to have the USTA undermine not only the USPTA but the PTR. He efforts are not in vain, but may be diminished by circumstances.

  • It had been time for a change for many years. No brainer for Jon.

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