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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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THE NGB'S DID NOT GROW TENNIS

July 30, 2023

Rich,

Looking back, it is fascinating to think that tennis added 5-6 million players, pickleball added about the same, and padel and platform tennis added to their small base.

 

I guess the thing that is fascinating is that many people got excited about racquet sports because of government policy, rather than the actions of the the NGBs.

 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

PICKLEBALL NOISE

July 3, 2023

Rich,

The person who tried to draw a comparison between residents complaining about the noise of pickleball and people who buy houses near airports complaining about the noise has his analogy backwards.  In most cases the airport location predates the subsequent housing developments; home purchasers are expected to know the noise issues before moving in.  Pickleball, works the other way around.  Previously quiet neighborhoods become wracked with noise after years/decades of peace and tranquility because pickleball gets added to a neighborhood park.  

 

Scott Harris

BETTING ON TENNIS

June 18, 2023

Rich,

All the people that think betting is bad for the sport also think that betting on DraftKings or FanDuel is talking to a player on the court and influencing the outcome of the match. Those people don’t understand the supply chain of tennis and rush to judgment. 

 

What I would have pointed out in your article is that the few bad actors are bad actors because not enough money pushes into the sport and those few players can’t pay for their rent or put food on the table. If tennis got more money pushed into the sport, this issue becomes less of an issue. Tennis has not done a good job at driving revenue which then gets distributed to players. 

 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

USPTA CEO SEARCH NOW UNDERWAY

July 25, 2023

Re: USPTA e-mail about CEO search

 

Rich,

I clicked on the link to find out about the current position. It sounds like a word salad penned by Kamala Harris and John Embree. The press release below is Caca de Toro. The USPTA is a non-profit - technically, they are not in the business of profit/loss.  That suggests they are in bad shape financially.

 

It is interesting that the search committee includes past presidents - they only mention Trisha (President-Elect) and Rich Slivocka (Current President). Are they going to bring in Tom Daglis, Chuck Gill, Tim McGraw, and Feisal Hassan to be on the committee - these are the clowns who engineered the current mess.

 

John is ensuring that his reign of incompetence will continue.  Dan Santorum has to be laughing his ass off.

 

 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

ONE-QUESTION SURVEY FOR JULY 2023

QUESTION

What would you do to grow U.S. tennis if you had $300 million?

Congratulations, you are the new commissioner of tennis and the industry gave you a $300 million grant for you to spend at your discretion. Our challenge: Grow tennis in all areas of the United States. What would you do? (Please summarize in not more than 5 sentences)

COMMENTS​​

  • I would invest in GROUP Jr. Programs. As a psychologist, kids at a young age need socially connected activities. With tennis tournaments being individual we can’t compete with the team sports. Have section vs. section tournaments. Club vs. Club tournaments. Team tennis opportunities. Maybe even a WTT format where captains can sub in players in the middle of a match. Offer financial incentives for families who can’t afford to put their kids into lessons and the above idea.

  • I will do an academy in florida with tennis, fitness room, restaurant, room to accommodate young players, and spa center for relaxation

  • Put the money in junior tournaments. More money means better players attracted. Allow on court coaching. Add a $125k or $250 K every week somewhere in USA.

  • Increase tennis education in middle schools

  • Media blitz of ads. Blow the doors off of pickle ball Each section have a public parks representative More team events in junior tennis Grants for every section to run open money events Grants spec tennis.

  • I would invest in growing the game at the grassroots level. Short and simple. Learn from the past. Park and recreation programs need to provide low cost entry level lessons and that 300 million can be used to supplement those fees.

  • 1. Promotional campaigns for all LiveBall, Clinics, & Lessons. 2. USTA hosts a College combine for Division 2, 3, & JUCO. (Especially for Women Teams) 3. Introduce Parents to College coaches. 4. Show up to every City council meeting to Lobby keep Tennis Courts city wide. 5. List Tennis store locations and stringers to help keep people playing!!!

  • Coach Education / Grassroots tennis (schools).

  • Build more courts at all Parks and Rec givng the tennis pros a respectable salary that can be sustained during times of massive inflation.

  • 21 and under tennis especially Club Tennis and Senior tennis leagues, tournaments etc. If we neglect the seniors, Pickleball will take too many.

  • I would give money to tennis professionals nearing retirement to take young tennis pros to various cities and run tennis clinics and programs at the public parks and schools. Money would compensate the older pros to take time off their regular jobs to spread the joys of tennis.

  • Buy the USTA, fire everyone and start over. Encourage and subsidize local clubs and local tournaments and build from the bottom up instead of top down

  • To grow and maintain (i.e., not losing adults to hard-court injury, thereby nixing the move to pickleball) you need 50% clay courts, not the current 5% nationwide. Period. Every club, school or park that adds clay courts receives a $10,000 rebate on each court purchased and installed. Just like Tesla car buyers received from the government. The new RedClay® court technology thankfully serves this purpose, for all USA climates.

  • Create a fresh team of several qualified tennis coaches who are willing to change american tennis and put the work on clay surface on those players, move them to the Usta center in Florida and let them do their job for a long term goal. We haven’t have an American grand slam champion since Roddick on 2003. I am one of those coaches who can commit to do that.

  • 1. Appoint a new full-time Commissioner of Tennis. 2. Merge the USPTA & USPTR. 3. Hire a Schools Czar. 4. Have 12 Deputy Commissioners oversee US growth. 5. Deputy Commissioners hire hundreds of promoters in each community they oversee. 6. Start, "Build to Own" program for successful pros, modeled after the Andre Agassi Charter School Initiative (106 schools Andre has built and then sold to new pro owners). 8. USTA and TIA become fundraising organizations. 9. Pay off college loans for new pros that spend 5 years teaching at clubs/rec centers. 10. USTA membership is free and they pay clubs and rec centers $1 for each participant in tournaments they host. 11. Ensure each college and university has 8 full scholarships for Men's and Women's programs. Create Universal Tennis Club Membership program like IHRSA Passport program. 12. Promise 10 million to US born player and 5 million to the coach that becomes #1 in the ATP or WTA rankings in the next 10 years. 13. Create middle school tennis teams where ever possible and make High School Tennis the next big thing. Marsh Riggs, Manager Palm Springs Tennis Club coasttocoasttennis@gmail.com

  • Educate parents and coaches. 3 out of 4 kids are quitting sports before the age of 13 and never going back. We have a quitting epidemic in the U.S. The best facilities cannot fix this.

  • Rebuild worn out park courts and build new public courts

  • Partner with NBA teams & the National Tennis League. Collectively, NBA teams have the infrastructure to market, merch, get TV deals, provide incredible venues, ability to pay the top 480 players in the sport million$, the business savvy & connections to make it work, & the ability to easily find such a league. Teams easily sign the top 20 players in the world with huge 5 year contracts & they could provide challenger level players with big money relative to what they get now. Trades & free agency would create buzz globally and exponentially enhance media coverage.

  • 1.Have a standard medium set for the income for all pros. 2.More involvement of certified female teaching pros in a heavily dominated male industry. 3.creat better healthcare awareness for long term injuries such as hip/knee problems 4.update facilities across the us with grants 5. East of setting up USTA tournaments, current platform is confusing and frustrating

  • 1. Connect with EVERY high school district with a USTA coordinator; create a mechanism that each district could open their HS facilities to the public and/or create a win-win training program within each. 2. Train ALL coaches how to create no-cut and highly successful program; 3. Lower the cost of and create more tournament opportunities for all levels; 4. teach how to design community programs that bring a culture of tennis to all cities; 5. Make it easier and less expensive for kids to attend professional tennis tournament.

  • Build courts in counties where no public courts available. If courts are available, building buildings to help manage and maintain those courts. Promote accessibility to working people (clinics on nights and weekends). Work to remove exclusivity of access. Focus more on lifelong playing rather than youth becoming the next wave of professionals. (We make this work for adult softball; why not adult tennis!)

  • Start off with offering either one or two free tennis lessons for beginners For new members offer discounted lessons for the first four Lessons Offer free trial Membership for a given amount of days

  • Build more tennis courts, especially in disadvantaged areas and fund coaches.

  • Tennis is about having fun. As the duly elected commissioner, it is our responsibility to engage players to play and make the game more social. The key to growth is to get a broader base of players playing. The cream will rise

  • Diversify all the money to the ones that do the work; figure out a way to have that somehow dispersed tothe teaching pros; have it where an association has discounted fees based on years of service (not everyone has their dues paid for); when pros get out of industry contact them within a month or two to ask ''WHY DID THEY LEAVE?"

  • I have labored in the 10 and under ultra beginning market for 12 years now and have had incredible success. Not only did we teach over 3000 kids who have never touched a racquet before but we accomplished 2 major benchmarks while doing it. 750 of those kids were ultra beginners taught on their school campus. We launched 1 school and now have 8. In the private industry we billed 45-60k a month for 10 and under programs based on a book written called “8 weeks to a lifetime of tennis”. The schools program and 10 and under ultra beginning programs are an answer to the 300 million dollar question.

  • Make tennis more inclusive than exclusive. Focus more on the diverse majority of the U.S. tennis population than the select few top players. Showcase and promote a mix or variety of competitive and social doubles played by women, men, juniors, young adults and seniors. Make available to teaching pros and facilities the Smart Doubles(R) book/program to deliver more simple, fun CLINICS (3-6 players) than PRIVATE lessons (1 player). Make tennis social, fun, more accessible, easier to learn, practice and enjoy!

  • For sure I know this! I actually legally own this idea and game that can be brought and played anywhere in the US any tennis court. If this is a serious inquiry, I would be happy to chat. This tennis idea can bring in players if they have never played before. I can’t say it here so I don’t get copied. Thanks

  • Assuming 40,000 tennis coaches in the US, each coach gets 7,500 per year to introduce a minimum number of new players to the sport

  • 1. Make a lot more tennis events happen at a lot more venues. 2. Draw a much larger pool of cusp players to participate in such events and get the local populace to get excited about such events and people turn up in droves to watch 3. Promote more team based tennis, so teams compete for winnings. 4. Offer incentives to private tennis clubs to create sub-junior and junior tennis programs, and almost free of charge for 100% attendance for the duration, to get a lot more young players and their families to get excited about tennis.

  • If I had 300 million dollars to utilize to grow tennis, I would make tennis/lessons/equipment accessible to ALL children of ALL ages/abilities in public/private schools at no cost to them.

  • Build 7-10 facilities & programs like the JTCC in the biggest cities, then reinvest profits/fundraising and expand to more cities when funds allow.

  • I would make sure all Tennis Pro‘s were certified to teach Tennis correctly to our children and help with the cost of getting certified with a PTR in USPTA. It is very expensive and a lot of guys just don’t do it because of the expense. I would spend lots of marketing money and give it to the different clubs, parks and rec etc. to help bring in children from all around rich, poor all colors to learn the game of tennis.

  • Given how large the boomer population is I would develop a Grandparent - Grandchild program whereby tennis playing Grandparents would be encouraged to "teach" their grandchildren how to play tennis. Provide a basic plan. Have pros hosts special events / mixers where the generations mix and play matches. Make it about family time and tennis happens to be convening them. The other $290, I would invest in Sections to stimulate grassroots tennis.

  • I will do an academy in florida with tennis, fitness room, restaurant, room to accommodate young players, a spa center for relaxation and I will be the director because my resume is perfect for this job.

  • I would grow touchtennis! For all those players who couldn't learn tennis because it's too difficult, and all those players who left tennis because it's too difficult on the body, touchtennis is the answer. touchtennis replicates tennis in a much easier form and as a result will grow the player base and will retain more players.

  • I would do what the USTA had set out to be and that is Grass Root Programs. Why is it that Pickleball has grown like a weed? Becasue everyone has played it in school. Tennis should be in grade schools / middle schools / high School. We need to get tennis into every bodys hands as early as possible. We need to promote tennis as a safe sport in all ways. Very few head injuries and you are social distance from others. Along with the benfits from tennis. (What happened to the tennis campaign of Tennis for the Health of it?). We have the sport of a lifetime. Not many sports can say that. When did the Non profit USTA become so worried about making a profit for everyone that works for them.

  • Find and research the best performance and grassroots coaches in every single corner of the country. Divide up the $300 million and give each coach their share as a 3-5 year salary — with each coach’s mandatory objective: to create a program that puts tennis racquets in as many kids hands at absolutely no cost to the kids and their families. Take all those players and keep them in the game for as long as possible. And then let the cream ride to the top.

  • 1. I would build 6-8 regional tennis training centers with clay courts (and west of the Mississippi River I do mean CLAY - not crushed rock, HarTru). 2. I would enlist the professional services of a clay court specialist for each facility to do two things: A. run the junior development program and B. train teaching pros to develop tennis players rather than tennis ball hitters. 3. I would make sure that a reasonable number of tournaments were conducted at each facility with an eventual goal of preparing the top juniors for international play. 4. I would set aside $50 million into an interest bearing foundation that could fund anything from lessons, tournament fees and equipment to travel expenses for international play.

  • Invest in bringing more professionals into the industry and to help be ambassadors for introducing more players into the game.

  • I would make tennis a participation sport in jr.high/middle schools and use World Team Tennis format. I would limit foreign scholarships to college teams to only 1 per team.

  • Reach to teaching pros, parks, schools. each group must connect to one or the other - if a school get $$, they have to have a continuous program into the winter season with a facility/pro and/or be a feeder program into high schools, etc. The pros must connect with and help the schools and/or the parks. Provide trained professionals to help and feed those kids into community programs, clubs, etc. Also help the facilities who need indoor or outdoor upgrades how do you find these people and facilities and programs - market it and then vet the pros/facilities,

  • I would help to smooth the path for more foreign tennis professionals to teach tennis in the USA with the stipulation that they regardless of their tennis niche that they teach X amount of beginner, Red, Orange and Green ball students. Plus that they teach entry level adult groups. We need more tennis professionals. The average age of the PTR and USPTA tennis professional is 50+. And we need more classes offered for players starting out. Vic Braden used to say "You need your best tennis professionals teaching beginners". And "If you want to evaluate a junior program look how the worst tennis player in the program plays."

  • I have brilliant ideas to grow the game worldwide not just in the US but l want payment for these ideas which will increase interest and excitement for viewers and players therefore generating more income for the governing bodies. So if someone is ready to Genuinely negotiate good money and not just take my ideas and use them for their own benefit then you can contact me Alan Ross Belman

  • 1-I would use the funds to locate the people who are running programs with the most numbers regardless of their teaching status. We need understand what these people are doing to attract the kids. Many of these people are far under the radar. 2-Then I would analyze if they had any commonalities and shout far and wide about what they do and see where to go from there. I base this on seeing a program of hundreds of kids in Columbus, Indiana many years ago where a High School teacher by the name of Bob Burnett attracted these kids and got them into the game. 3-If this person is good at attracting but not able to handle the better players, find someone in the are that can help the better kids. 4-Tennis pros netoriously are too busy to run tournaments and competition is the key at all ages. Using competition as a spring board for improvement, I would try to get a facility in every community to run monthly “fun” tournaments, perhaps with adults who want to make it fun and kids. Finding someone to run these is the sticky point on this, and not sure money will be their incentive. 5-The key for us is to find a way to keep kids in the game. For instance, high school tennis lasts just a few months and is one of the few sports that isn’t nearly year round. Specialization in one sport is not the point, multi sport athletes tend to stay interested longer and also pick up additional skills. But to just flat out drop tens of thousands of kids annually after high school season is a shame. Out of this mix, only a single digit percentage of kids play outside of that season. Perhaps copy any of the other sports. Kids follow their friends into whatever, so getting the kids to try tennis like the other sports is often governed by community. Getting their attention is one thing, getting them into the sport is another and keeping them is quite another. Tennis is a people business, not a program business. The people come first and what follows is up to the people.

  • I would put money into grass roots programs in underdeveloped parts of the US like the US Virgin Islands.

  • I would disperse the money to various tennis clubs around the United States as "stimulus checks" to make repairs and improvements to the facilities. Get each club up to standard with court conditions and proper lighting and maybe throw in an a/c unit for those indoor facilities!

Submitted via email:

Brian Nibert: 100 percent . Usta had 200 regional training centers for the top 2000 players. The usta provided locations (usta national centers ) brought 200 lead coaches in for yearly  training information and building relationships w coaches than they decided 16 regional centers were better for the very top kids. Which was nonsense.

We helped so many first time parents and developed friendships with the young players near where they lived ! We taught them doubles nutrition off court development .

The usta provided a T shirt ! And balls .. they cut the program as it was too expensive when Patrick McEnroe took over ..

Players worked hard to get into local area training centers .. 

More great young players push the players beneath them .

The area training centers provided their own funding for coaches and court expenses 

Akis Paipetis: So u want our opinions, thoughts etc for free so that YOU implement them and become richer?🌚

Stephanie Daniel: 300 Mil? I would introduce tennis into every public school in major cities, cultivating an interest in a life-long sport that most likely will become a favorite. Also building public courts accessible to all.

Bill Hein:  Focus on Parks and Recreation Programs at the City Level during the summer all day and after school.

  • For kids under 18 – no charge for courts

    • Court Time would be subsidized in the summer after 8 in the morning if the parents dropped off the kid before work and last until five o’clock until the parent picked up the kid.

  • During the school year from 3-5 in the afternoon.

    • Kid gets dropped off at the courts by mom or carpool and arrives by 3.

    • Picked up by parent after work at 5

  • I would not subsidize instruction. Only practice.

  • Let the Parks and Recreation Dept’s do the marketing.

Submitted via LinkedIn:

Brian Dillman PTR, PPR, USPTA 

I would bet very few of us have asked recently, why did we get into the tennis industry? Who was our greatest influence and why? What was it about their passion that inspired us to carry the torch forward? In my view, tennis organizations have been aiming at the wrong target – new, passionate coaches. If I/we had millions of dollars to fix tennis, I would spend it immediately on an all-out campaign to increase the prestige of a racquet sports professional in the eyes of future leaders, who today, are not even considering joining our sport. We need to take it to the grassroots - to recruit from high schools, tennis on campus teams, DI, II and III, NAIA, and JCC players – and sell kids on the benefits of working in racquet sports and the potential career paths, which doesn’t mean “always” on the court. Then we resource-up all the involved organizations (USPTA, PTR, USTA, etc.) and make sure they have the tools, the people, and the ability to speak with the next generation. The conversation must be about the rewards, the possibilities, the passion, and the leadership opportunities as a racquet sports professional, not just about paying dues and insurance. Then, we start treating racquets professionals like the PGA of America treats their professionals. Mentorship’s, education, career paths, playing / exhibition opportunities, wildcards into USTA events, etc. Tennis needs more evangelists, not more programming. The demand for our sport is there, but the passion and quality of who you and I know as a “tennis (racquets) professional” is now a watered-down version of those who influenced us to get into the industry.

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