• Miracles Do Happen at the USTA

  • Oncourt Offcourt Shoutout

  • Michael Dowse Has His Hands Full (11 Questions for the CEO)

  • Bits & Pieces

  • California Update: Impact of AB5 on Your Business

FEBRUARY 2020

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Dear Readers,

Wow, we have more articles than ever this month. A lot of good professionals have submitted content and I'm really grateful for that.

Please, write to me with your comments, and suggestions. As I mentioned last month, every article regarding ideas to grow tennis in America will be considered for publication. 'Small' ideas will be put into LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. Big picture, game-changing ideas come under MAKE TENNIS GREAT AGAIN.

While we're watching the Australian Open (Go Nole!) and getting ready for Indian Wells (Go Nole!), I'd like to reflect on my new favorite female player, Coco Gauff. We haven't seen anything close to her rise to stardom since the arrival of the Williams sisters in the 90ies. I'm so smitten with admiration, I want to adopt her, haha. That girl is so talented, she must have gone through the hard regiment of the USTA's much-acclaimed Player Development Department. Right? Like the Williams sisters. Right? 

Hope y'all have a good February.

Rich Neher

MIRACLES DO HAPPEN AT THE USTA

A nice tennis pro (Thanks, Greg) sent me a copy of a letter from a staffer of the USTA's SoCal section (Southern California Tennis Association) who deems it necessary to include in his signature line: "Pronouns: he, him, his". Besides the side note that the signature line should really read "Pronouns: Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest" the tennis friend pointed out that this invitation to the 2020 USTA Diversion & Inclusion - Winter Invitational had one requirement that practically screamed NO WHITES ALLOWED!

For consideration players must be:
1. A United States citizen with a valid U.S. birth certificate or U.S. Passport.

2. Of ethnic or racially diverse background (Asian, Hispanic/Latino, Native American & African American/Black).
3. Between ages thirteen (13) to seventeen (17) in the 2020 calendar year.
4. Universal Tennis Rating approaching the following thresholds: Girls UTR 8 + Boys UTR 9 +

So, I found this unacceptable, to say the least, and sent a letter to the SCTA Executive Director, Marla Messing, with a copy to USTA President Patrick Galbraith. I asked, half-jokingly, whether the sender of the email was still employed and if they'd already gotten any lawsuits for racial discrimination.

 

Galbraith, of course, did not reply, I guess because of the USTA's <Good Ol' Boys' Maxime> (Remember?"If you don't reply to complaints, most of them will go away.")

But, to my amazement, Marla Messing replied the same day and assured me that there were no lawsuits and the employee was doing a great job. (Thank you, Marla.) And then, to make the miracle complete, I received an e-mail from USTA national two days later. Bill Leong, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion, cleared things up and reassured me that there were actually "non-ethnically diverse background" juniors accepted to the tournament. (The new designation for Caucasians?)

So, a person from the USTA national office in Orlando replied to something I was complaining about. It was only someone at the Senior Director level, but I'm really not too picky about that. 

Miracle? I think yes. I'm just glad that Bill Leong doesn't sign his emails with silly Pronouns.

BIG SHOUTOUT TO ONCOURT OFFCOURT

If there was ever one company in the tennis industry that writes the word SERVICE with capital letters, it's Dallas- based Oncourt Offcourt. Last year we posted a lot of short Game Set Watch videos. Then we started posting their pickleball teaching videos titled Pickleball Game Changers. And I understand they are coming out with a brand new series of videos soon. Joe and Kalindi Dinoffer go out of their ways serving their clients (our readers), the tennis professionals. Kudos to them.

I found two more Game Set Watch marketing videos we hadn't posted last year. I'm doing this below. Hope you'll like them! Oncourt Offcourt

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MICHAEL DOWSE HAS HIS HANDS FULL

11 Questions for the CEO

We received some interesting comments regarding new USTA CEO Mike Dowse's letter to his staff and the sections. A good friend of mine mentioned that Dowse is the first USTA boss to his knowledge who has stated it’s "imperative that we embrace a service culture." My friend thinks this is fundamental even from a business perspective.  His expertise is in marketing, in the truest sense of the term and he thinks to understand marketing from a "service" perspective is not something the USTA understands.  He says, "Their past three national marketing directors were hired from a product industry, not a service industry and it was clear they didn't know how to market a service-based business."

I have eleven questions for Mr. Dowse. Some are from me, others were collected from our readers.

  1. Do you believe the bogus participation numbers your top management is giving you (and all of us)?

  2. When you ask the <Good Ol' Boys> at Lake Nona some probing questions and they reply "that's not the way we do things here" do you accept that?

  3. What's happening with the TIA? Are they going out of business?

  4. What happened to Cardio Tennis since the USTA took it over? We don't hear a thing about it anymore.

  5. What do you do to ensure more matches with U.S. players are being broadcast at the US Open?

  6. Will you do us all a favor, shut down the USTA Player Development Department and invest those $20+ Mio. in grassroots tennis?

  7. Why are there virtually no tennis club owners on the USTA Board?

  8. Will the USTA Board be required to make some pro-growth decisions or will it be business as usual for them (you know, submitting expense reports, getting tickets to the US Open President's Box, approving lavish compensation packages for executives, awarding each other awards for doing absolutely NOTHING to grow tennis?

  9. Do you agree that the USTA's mission statement should be changed from 'growing tennis' to 'growing the US Open' asap in 2020?

  10. Are you planning to replace your top executives with capable, service-minded managers, who are willing to think out of the box in order to grow our sport again?

  11. Are you considering giving the seventeen sections more autonomy and more funds so they can lower the cost of junior tournament entries?

Do you think Mr. Dowse will reply to any or all of those questions? Or will he ask the USTA Communications Director to write the answers? I am taking bets. Email me.

Bits & Pieces

TENNIS MAGAZINE-PRINT EDITION

I've noticed that TENNIS MAGAZINE is not printing the month of an issue on their cover anymore. Now, as I pointed out last year, the new owners Sinclair Broadcast Group took the quality of color photos down a notch. Even PEOPLE magazine has better colors. I guess leaving out the publication month saves them some ink. No? Well, what shall we make of this? Some readers are telling me the magazine is irrelevant, anyway. Hmmh. Is the end near for TENNIS MAGAZINE print edition?

https://www.tennis.com/

BNP PARIBAS OPEN

The end is certainly not near for my home tournament. Although I can't understand why they don't print the tournament dates on their website's home page. You have to go way inside the website to find that date. If I was in charge at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, this would NEVER fly with me.

 

I've been going to this tournament for 20 years now and I want to encourage all our readers to consider traveling to the Southern California Desert and experience what we always call the FIFTH GRAND SLAM. The latest press release I received January 29 stated that this year the Player Entry Lists feature all 75 Top WTA and ATP tour singles players. Very exciting!

https://bnpparibasopen.com/

OUR COURT COMMENTS

Johan Kriek was nice enough to post this collection of tennis articles put together by bestselling author and historian Jay Winik, whose book "April 1865 - The Month That Saved America" I happen to be reading right now. Jay writes, "Our Court Comments has asked a varied group of six of some of the most thoughtful voices in the tennis world to help us assess what's wrong, if anything, and what needs to be done to bring men's singles tennis back to its glory days." Those thought-provoking opinions come from Peter Bodo, Richey Reneberg, Ray Benton, Alex Dorato and Douglas Brunt. Very interesting read, folks.

https://www.facebook.com/johan.kriek.3/posts/10218787026401051

USTA ADULT LEAGUE

The USTA's flagship program is celebrating its 40th Anniversary in 2020. Over the years I had the pleasure of meeting some quality people running this program, both nationally and in the sections. Many of them are working Adult Leagues for decades. Congratulations.

JOB POSTING

BeyondTheBaselines.com has announced that it is seeking a tennis professional for placement at a club on Martha's Vineyard for the Summer 2020 season. 

Candidates should have at least three years of teaching experience at a private club or similar setting and have experience in teaching both adults and juniors. Candidates level of play should be 5.0 or higher. 20 to 30 hours of teaching per week with possible additional responsibilities for compensation to include organizing round robins, tournament management and weekly events. Hourly compensation based on experience. Housing provided.

 

Any interested parties should send a cover letter and resume to beyondthebaselines@gmail.com outlining their experience and desired compensation for the Summer season.

TAKE OVER A FREE TENNIS APP

Hamburg, Germany based Global Sportspartner Founder and Owner Martin Mazurek is looking for some tennis aficionado to take over his app Global Tennispartner. Martin writes, "Some years ago we've launched the app just for fun. In the meantime, it got globally more than 22.000 entries and is currently growing without any marketing activities. The app can deliver real value for numerous players in the tennis industry as a strong communication tool: hotels, resorts, clubs … etc – besides its core-function of connecting players. For the future, we simply do not have the time to push the app forward and are looking for tennis-maniacs to take it over. For questions, answers and all details just get in contact: martin.mazurek@global-sportspartner.com or +49 175 1927730"

STRINGS ATTACHED

Good read about the Primadonna behavior of the greatest tennis stars when it comes to granting an interview.  Strings attached: There is no sport like tennis for selling its soul. Some of the stuff in this article is so amazing, you'll find it hard to believe. Although, I shouldn't be surprised. 20 years ago a San Diego tennis personality and personal friend of Jimmy Connors offered to arrange an interview with the 70ies/80ies champ for me. If I came up with $100,000 (one hundred thousand dollars) in cash. It was explained to me as the going rate for a private interview. I declined. The same year, another friend from the same San Diego Tennis Club offered to connect me with Goran Ivanišević in Indian Wells. I was interested in winning Goran for a sponsorship opportunity. His agent requested $250,000 in cash before he even started to consider what I had to say. And that was before Goran had won his first and only Grand Slam. I declined.

No, I'm not surprised, haha. (Thank you, J. for sending me this information.)

WANT TO CONNECT WITH TENNIS IN CUBA?

I received an email from Cuban tennis pro Carlos López Jr who is inviting U.S. coaches and teaching professionals to come visit, "...give clinics, workshops, public exhibitions to boost local tennis and become popular in Havana - Cuba."

Here is the contact information:

Club Name: Combined Sports - Luyanó

Country: Cuba

Province of La Habana

Municipality: 10 October 

Neighborhood: Lawton

Street: Aguilera 116 E / Rafael de Cárdenas and 11

Postal Code: 10700

 

Contact: E-mail: ecoteniscuba@gmail.com 

Project manager: Lic. Carlos López Toledo    E-mail: tenniscarly@gmail.com 

CALIFORNIA UPDATE: IMPACT OF AB5 ON YOUR BUSINESS

As you may recall, last October we featured an article by Rod Heckelman titled THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING - NEW CALIFORNIA LAWS REGARDING INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS. And a month later Southern California tennis personality and club owner, Ken Stuart, posted a FIERY LETTER disagreeing with Rod's assessment of the new law.

Well, I have observed a number of articles published in the meantime and want to relay them to you.

1. San Francisco Classical Voice published this article on January 7: New California Law Begins to Wreak Havoc With Arts Organizations. A San Francisco opera company called ICO had canceled a production on the advice of legal counsel because "...these new rules apply to ICO and present significant new administrative and financial requirements."

The author, Janos Gereben, writes, "This is just the beginning of a flood of potential problems, complaints, job losses, and project cancellations — all the result of uncertainty and confusion as the “gig work law,” Assembly Bill 5, signed into law in September, now takes effect. Uber and Lyft drivers, musicians, dancers, singers, artists of all kinds, freelance journalists, etc., under contract now will have to be employed, rather than paid as independent contractors under the “ABC test”:

(A) they perform tasks under a company’s control, (B) their work is integral to the company’s business, and (C) they do not have independent enterprises in that trade.

2. Software solutions provider Club Automation published an article on September 23, 2019, titled How will California bill AB 5 impact the club industry? Jimmy Girot lists all the categories that are exempt from this law and states, "AB 5 does not explicitly exempt club, fitness, wellness or tennis coaching professionals from its ambit. While most fitness and tennis professionals are certified, they are not considered “licensed.” As a result, club owners should likely assume that AB 5 impacts their organization until clearly told otherwise."

3. Legal Insurrection published an article on January 5, 2020, titled "Judge halts California’s new “gig worker” law that’s impacting truckers - Uber and Postmates are also suing California to block AB5"

Author Leslie Eastman writes, "California continues to follow its prime directive, which is the one that specifies that any law enacted must have damaging and/or embarrassing unintended consequences." She also mentioned that "Passage of AB5 triggered media employers to lay off hundreds of freelance employees at the start of the 2019 holiday season.""She ends the article with a statement which is, as all my friends know, near and dear to my heart: "Perhaps Californians will learn to vote out the lawmakers who concoct measures focused on virtue-signaling instead of personal liberty."

THANK YOU AND CONGRATS!

 

Thank you, everyone, for contributing to this month's TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS. Please keep your comments coming and tell us whether you like them published and if you want to sign with your name or stay anonymous. 

 

Congratulations to our February Award Winners Erik Graves in Atlanta (Pro of the Month) and Next Level Tennis and Education in Washington DC (Organization of the Month.)

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