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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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CRITICISING TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS

"LIKE TALKING TO AN ALWAYS PISSED-OFF PERSON"

September 1, 2022

Mr. Neher,

Your e-newsletter should be an incredible resource for tennis, as it is truly a terrific idea to consolidate so much information from tennis professionals, industry types and brands. I applaud you for starting it, and think it could be a valuable resource. I have been forwarded this letter for a couple of years now, but the frustration, negativity and hostility you display with the sport of tennis industry folks just makes this an almost unreadable thing any longer. It's like talking to an always pissed off person. There's zero positivity, zero fun in this thing. 

Even worse, you seem to be the most divisive person in the tennis industry by far. Everything you do and are about in this newsletter seems to be about taking potshots at the United States Tennis Association, the Intercollegiate Tennis Association, or some other organization that gets you upset. You clearly must've worked for one or the other of these at some point, and probably got fired by one, because there is NO way anyone would or could hold a grudge this long, or hold such idiotic, uninformed views against organizations that are actually out there in the field doing things to improve the game.

You constantly pass yourself off as some heavy hitter in the tennis industry, and spout off about what someone should do or doesn't do, without ever showing what YOU are doing to promote the game or what your credentials really are. You never even give these organizations an actual plan or truly constructive criticism. You just bitch. It's DESTRUCTIVE criticism and it's not worth reading anymore, so I have told my friend to stop forwarding it to me.

Writing an overly cynical newsletter every month doesn't make you some tennis messiah, or give your views any value. Taking on and supporting other moronic views like the ones from that guy you seemed to give a lot of oxygen to (Jose Palenque), only makes it worse, since that guy is basically just like you: a guy with no plan but a lot of misplaced anger. What you do just makes the difficulty of what it takes for the overall sport of tennis to succeed. You're not building bridges whatsoever. 

 

I would recommend you change the feel of your Tennis Publisher's Notes to be something decidedly less Trump-y, less pissed off. I mean I'm sure most of the people that read this thing have got to feel like you're just out for blood, like you're just digging into all the problems, but giving no real concrete solutions, or even understanding WHY there ARE problems in the tennis industry. Maybe then I'd enjoy reading it. But until then, adios. 

 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

HIRING/RETENTION OF TEACHING PROS VS GROOMING OF PLAYERS

One of our readers sent us this Facebook Post from Coach Da-Lai Wu in New York:

 

There have been many recent posts about assistant head pros and staff pros....

I had a club owner who I used to coach 25 hours per week for 5 years except 3 months in the summer, tell me that he interviews 50 people for a position, chooses two or three, hires one, and that person usually gets fired in a month and he starts all over again. Now this guy is an excellent businessman. Came from middle class family that did not have a lot of money and now he owns four tennis clubs and two or three other businesses in recreation--and he's an immigrant who came here at 8 years old! I responded that I could not understand that and I never ever had a problem with a pro. He immediately got my grill and said, "that's because you only hire players that you coached or coach! You have a built-in system where they know exactly everything that's expected and they have total loyalty to you and not to the dollar! That's not a fair comparison!" I never thought of that but that's the reason why all the programming that I've ever had has never had a problem. My players would never want to disappoint me. Even if they took mass transit they would be at the club a half hour early. And I always made sure no matter how old they were, even recent high school grads who were rising freshman and had not played varsity college tennis yet, that they were paid market rates or better. In 1999, my guys at my country club were getting paid $30 per hour just for hitting lessons! In my community program where I specifically took a cut and only charged 33% of my normal rates to run the whole program, all five of my pros were getting paid $35 per hour and that Rose to $40 per hour between 1999 and 2009. I actually had a complaint from the president of the US PTA in my section, that I was paying my guys too much and that staff and assistant head pros from other country clubs were complaining to their tennis directors and head pros wanting to be paid more.

Obviously I'm going to pay guys that I was coaching and who paid me tens of thousands of dollars, very well. My system is that you pay me as a junior. I pay college players and pros to be your practice partners. When you become a college player, I coach you for free and you never pay me a dime! I ask you for a favor to hit with the kid, you get paid, but if I ask you better hit! Why? Because I made sure that that was done for you. When I coach college teams, I get professional players or players from other colleges to practice with my number one and number two players. Thus, when I tell my number one or number two to play with number five, six, seven, eight.. they better just go and do it without blinking an eye because they can't complain that they, as a better player, has to play with a weaker player when I consistently get better players for them to practice with. Take all those players and put them in a country club and they know your system. You now have a staff where you can never go wrong!

Da-Lai Wu

OUR SEPTEMBER ARTICLE
"Is the USTA throwing American College tennis players under the bus?"

September 1, 2022

Rich,

 

Sometimes Tim Russell should substitute common sense for his Ph.D.  It sounds like he is advocating for a ban on foreign players or a limit on the number of foreign players on each team.  You cannot limit the number of foreign players because USTA player development does not produce enough American juniors to fill all the D1, D2, D3, Juco, etc positions. In many cases, coaches recruit foreign players because they see a college degree in the U.S. as a way to get ahead in life. Diversity in the form of foreign students is what college is about.

 

if you look at the top college players in the U.S. none of them are top-ranked players.  Peyton Stearns, Texas, is ranked 350ish in WTA.  She is a fabulous player.

 

Look at Vania King's Linked In account - she claims to be an elite athlete.  She lives in LA and has nonprofit helping tennis players in Uganda.

 

Are these players elite players - https://www.usta.com/en/home/stay-current/national/usta-names-2022-collegiate-summer-team.html. They are the top college players and the only ones capable of being in the top 54.  In fact, they are more like top 10 - nobody else matters.

 

I cannot speak specifically to what the USTA, NCAA, and USOPC are up to.  I don't know how many players, American or foreign, would be at a disadvantage by not being called an ELITE player.    Who are some of the foreign players who have received preferential treatment over American players?  Who were the American players who were not treated fairly?  I am sure you are correct, I just don't see how the disadvantage exists.  

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 1, 2022

Rich,

Thanks for all you are doing to keep our great game of Tennis vibrant!

 

Concerning the USTA pulling support for College Tennis - it's likely they are doing exactly as you have supposed. 

They appear to be following the FIS Alpine Skiing model where the athletes are going to college after they have done their time on their National FIS team.

Due to this, College Alpine Skiing teams are taking those FIS skiers on to their programs forcing out any talented College-bound High School Skiers - even the very best in the country!

Take a look into this and you'll have a deeper insight into what USTA is up to...

 

Thanks again for sharing your insights and passion for our Game!

Michael Stenquist

Minneapolis, Minnesota

PICKLEBALL NEWS

September 21, 2022

Re: Washington Post article from September 20 "Pickleball is exploding, and it’s getting messy"

 

Rich, 

 

You may have already seen this article from several days ago…it’s a good one.  As a Wichitan, I alerted you to our community's fervor for PB in your July ’18 issue. You wanted to know about tennis courts being repurposed and their impact. Our tennis center that I highlighted has now grown to a total of 9 PB courts and 13 tennis courts including indoor courts. With a new 24 PB PicklePlex in the works featured in the recent Post for next year, as well as, another 6 courts at a neighborhood Rec Center, Wichita is really on the nationwide PB map for quality and quantity courts. 

 

We have some of the highest-ranked pros on tour and are fondly known as "The Wichita Wizards” on the circuit. You’ve done an interview in the past on Lucy Kovalova a world-class player. Plus, we have the ever-popular, Chicken n Pickle. And in 2023 another similar concept to CnP is started in nearby Wichita and will grow nationwide in the upcoming years. In other words, we’re hooked on the mania...

 

Now, if Wichita, can enhance our tennis programs like yesteryear, we’ll have it made on our playing courts…having cake and eating it too is our goal. Hopefully, Rich Messy's piece, should strike a “sensitive nerve” among the tennis industry and act on our tennis participation at the recreational level ‘round the country. It’s the heartbeat of our sport, so it’s essential for our game to grow. The US Open was a success for attendance and TV ratings for the pro game but it’s old news for the next 365.

 

The ball is in the tennis court, so hit a winner…are you listening USTA and others within our sport?

Leo Estopare

Deuce Something

Wichita, Kansas

September 23, 2022

Rich,

 

While some are calling for the world to ban pickleball, pickleball is concerned about banning the spin serve.

I am still undecided about whether or not it is worth 8 minutes to watch the following link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9hEUOAdhIvc

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

USTA ADS + US OPEN + USTA FLORIDA/PTR

September 23, 2022

Rich, 

 

I am a senior tennis coach and player. My USTA membership has expired. Yesterday I'm getting a USTA ad encouraging me to play junior tennis.  Today they want me back to play USTA tournaments.  I guess they aren't satisfied if I just play tennis for the fun of it.

 

Do you really think this will draw people to tennis?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 13, 2022

Rich, 

 

I was very disappointed that Mikel McNulty did not acknowledge the memory of 9-11 in his closing statements of the Men's Final Award Ceremony.  9-11 hit all of us as Americans, we all felt the pain that day, the joy of us coming together, helping one another, and remembering as a Nation every year.  I think it goes to show where leadership heads are.  

With that said, I was very happy that Alcaraz and Ruud both acknowledged that memory and provided sympathy for the American People.  They both have such compassion and maturity and I think many appreciated their gesture.  

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 28, 2022

Rich, 

 

The USTA recently tweeted that they redefined ‘spectacular’ by breaking records for attendance, viewership, engagement, food and beverage sales, and merchandise. Wouldn’t it be great if the USTA promoted the sport of tennis as well as they claim to sell popcorn, honey deuces, and t-shirts? In the months ahead the industry will learn how the USTA uses their recent accomplishments to promote the entire sport of TENNIS, not just USTA programs.

 

The rubber meets the road on the courts, not in the record books.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 29, 2022

Rich, 

 

In early September a press release was posted on the USTA Florida website stating that PTR has agreed to support and continue to grow USTA Florida programs and initiatives. These include Safe Play/Safe Sport, Youth Play, Adult Play, and Community Programs such as adaptive, wheelchair, and other events.

 

The release continued by saying that both organizations have also committed to embracing and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion. This includes growing the PTRW/Women in Tennis Movement, which is aimed at seeing women succeed both on the court and on the business side of tennis.

 

Both groups should be applauded for their willingness to work together and the great things they do in the community; however, this sounds like a publicity stunt where both organizations have signed a piece of paper stating they will continue showing up to work and doing their jobs every day. 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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USPTA PROGRAMS + ENDORSEMENTS + ACCREDITATION

September 3, 2022

Re: Mailing "USPTA Announces RacquetDesk as the Official Sponsor of the USPTA 2022 World Conference"

 

Rich, 

 

This is an odd announcement. My lack of attention to details may be the reason I find it is odd. I received this announcement on 9/1. It announces that RacquetDesk is the Official Sponsor of the USPTA 2020 WC.

 

I find this odd for two reasons

1. It seems this announcement may have been made a few months ago (and it may have been).

2. The USPTA claims to have 11,000 members. I guess that 10-15% of those pros are in a position to make a decision about club management software.  Those at country clubs will go with what the golf shop wants. Club management software is not a casual purchase. In other words, the time has to be right.  How many RacquetDesk sales can they expect from the WC?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 3, 2022

Re: Mailing "CARDIO TENNIS EDUCATION PLATFORM"

 

Rich, 

 

I respect Michele Krause and her enthusiasm for the sport. The following comments are not a criticism of her but raise questions about the policies of the USPTA regarding CE.

 

USPTA is letting Michele sell her program for continuing education (CE) points. You buy a subscription to her product, watch a video, and you get a certificate, and some CE points.  If I make a presentation on the same topic, I cannot do that.

 

This seems to be happening with other products.  For example, I watched a video about Theragun (I have a Hypervolt). The presentation repeated what was on the website and in the brochure. It was a waste of time and turns the CE program into a joke.

 

I understand the logic of the USPTA, but it seems like they are blurring the lines between sponsorships and advertising, and continuing education.  Should I have been given a certificate for listening to the Theragun presentation and being able to demonstrate that I knew how to turn it on?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 9, 2022

Re: Mailing "USPTA MEMBERS EXCLUSIVE. You are the first to be invited to join the McEnroe brothers on this amazing tennis-themed adventure to the 7th continent! Be sure to enter "USPTA" on your booking form!"

 

Rich, 

 

The USPTA is committed to being the best travel agents in the tennis industry - U.S. Professional Travel Agents.

I wonder then if the USTA has accredited them as travel agents.
 

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 23, 2022

Rich,

The following are some observations

 

1. Continuing education is a cash cow for many universities and nonprofits.  Not sure how much of a cash cow it is for USPTA and PTR.

2. WTCA recently held the conference in conjunction with the US Open.

3. USPTA held their world conference.

4. Tennis Haus is planning to hold a national conference

5. PTR is holding a national conference.

 

Not only are PTA and PTR being stretched by their decision to enter other racquet sports markets, but they are also facing competition from their own members. WTCA entered the market to meet the needs of players who coach women.  Not sure why Tennis Haus entered.  My impression is they see a market need that is not being met.  Both have a strong presence on the Internet and both Davor and Sarah are USPTA members. I think Sarah is also a PTR member.

 

A case could be made that the quality of WTCA and Tennis Haus videos is good enough that a person could become a teaching pro watching them. 

 

Are these and other groups pushing the USPTA and PTR?  Is there an activity creating more tennis players?  

 

Lots of questions.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 29, 2022

Rich, 

 

At the start of the summer, the USPTA announced that they are not seeking accreditation from the USTA for their certification program. That is a reasonable decision. 

 

Prior to the pandemic, USPTA leaders have talked about the shortage of tennis pros. What have they done to address the issue? They need to put together a program that meets the needs of potential teaching pros, provides the industry with quality pros, and allows them to operate a financially responsible organization. 

 

For the past years, the USPTA has been all talk and no action. Come on USPTA, you are a good organization, get your act together!

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

September 29, 2022

Rich, 

 

Thanks to Kevin Theos for his efforts to engage the Master Pros and utilize their expertise in the USPTA. He also heads up the USPTA mentorship program, a great way for veteran and incoming pros to learn from each other.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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COMMENTS FROM THE SEPTEMBER 1-QUESTION SURVEY

QUESTION

After reading our September Feature Article about how the USTA decided to not support American College Tennis players, do you think College Tennis should be left to just foreign students? Why would any kid still go for a tennis scholarship?

RESPONSES

  • College tennis is weak because player development is weak. The USTA cannot do the job. It is time the pros put up or shut up and do the job. They did the job prior to the USTA screwing everything up. The foreign players are like icing on the cake.

  • No we need the college kids. College is a great training center.

  • Each school should be limited to the number of foreign players on the roster.

  • A majority of kids playing college tennis are not planning on going pro. These kids aren’t impacted by the USTA decision. The bigger issue is that foreign players are taking scholarships from US players in our state supported schools.

  • There should be a limit of two foreigners allowed per match in college tennis. European club team tennis only allow one foreigner per match.

  • 75% of collegiate rosters and 75% of scholarship monies should go to American families.

  • Leave the decision up to each college.

  • What you guys don’t realize is that a large number of foreign tennis players who play in college teach tennis during the summer breaks and after graduation. Without foreign college players, good luck getting American tennis coaches/pros to fill all those positions. After graduation, most American college tennis players get a “real” job, while foreign college tennis players are in the trenches teaching tennis

  • Don’t be silly…..American kids can get plenty of scholarships. They are just too “upper middle class” to accept a scholarship from a Division I school that isn’t the elite school they think they should be attending.

  • D1 tennis is broken.

  • NO! Having officiated many college matches, not all teams are made-up of foreign players. Indeed, many are American. I do NOT like USTA's position on this and hope the powers to be look to address plausible remedies. Personally, I think the problem of no male players ranked in the top 10, Grand Slam winners, etc. rests more on the shoulders of individual family's, who don't allow instructors to push "their protege" beyond his/her perceived limitations.

  • There are scholarships available to American players at every level. Playing tennis in college should be the goal of every American junior!

  • First, 99% of college tennis players will not turn pro, so of course American kids should play and try to get scholarships, D-2 and D-3 , NAIA teams struggle at times to get players.

  • No it shouldn’t be left. I say the more in the talent pool only makes for stronger players. It is about competition not entitlement. If we can’t produce good enough players to compete for the spots, good on them for beating us out. But help in developing the talent is needed and appreciated

  • US taxpayers have already paid for and continue to paid for foreign players attending American Colleges and University (D1 & D2). These players often have the advantage support through juniors from home tennis associations that very few Americans get. So US kids can go for a scholarship but the competition from foreign players makes it tough to get financial help, especially mens players. My daughter played D1 tennis starting as a walk on and then winning a full ride. Her senior year at Texas State as No 1 singles she did not face one American in singles

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