GAGA OVER COCO
I eat up every bit of news about her
CONTEXT: Every once in a while there comes a female tour player who is special to me. The list is not too long. It started with Steffie Graf, my all-time no. 1 (unbiased, haha), and continued with Justine Henin, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, and now Coco Gauff. Coco has something special, talent, star power, and looks. She's the complete package. I used to list Iga Swiatek in that exclusive club but she moved down on my ladder of respect when I saw her doing jumping jacks as soon as her opponents were about to hit the ball. Coco doesn't do that.
This month I'm adding a new item to the Publisher's Notes: Coco Watch. I found a piece of news on the Women's Tennis Blog about her that I want to share here. Marija writes "Back to basics: Coco Gauff unveils classic white New Balance Coco CG1" Nice
Good article about Coco on the USTA Florida website: Coco Gauff to Lead U.S. Billie Jean King Cup Team in Hometown of Delray Beach.
My take: Here is a true star with lots of potential. World no. 4 at age 18! I'm gaga over her and keep watching her career.
WTC3 IS GETTING BIGGER
TCB Readers still get discounted tickets
CONTEXT: The first two WTC conferences in 2021 and 2022 were quite successful. Fernando Segal says the 2023 event will be a new step ahead with "several new key concepts bringing the best tennis coaches, scientists, top leaders on the WTA/ATP/ITF circuits, and tennis legends" counting to over 50 Official Speakers.
NEW: SevenSix, "the world's first AI-powered tennis coach that analyzes swings to help players improve their game" became an Official Gold Partner of WTC3.
NEW: SENSE ARENA for Tennis, "the game changer Virtual Reality Training Tool that allows athletes to be immersive in real tennis match scenarios" also became an Official Gold Partner of WTC3.
Fernando Segal writes, "Each tennis coach is a world. A world of illusions, dreams, possibilities, opportunities, and achievements through its programs and its players. Being your best version every day is the challenge. Creating your own self-actualization process and continuous self-learning is a priority for everyone.
For that reason, we created the World Tennis Conference as a bridge between the most influential top ATP/WTA coaches, leaders, scientists, 10 Grand Slams Champions, and experts in the world bringing their experiences, successful cases, sports sciences studies, data analysis and much more, that you will find on this crucial event. Tennis as life is always in motion, that’s why each tennis coach with their own self-actualization model will find on WTC3 how to learn."
My take: Get the TCB discount and pay only $125 for access to WTC3. Follow this link.
MAY IS NATIONAL TENNIS MONTH
The USTA has sent out an email message I have to applaud. Signed by the new President Hainline.
CONTEXT: National Tennis Month is celebrated in May annually. It is a month where we appreciate all things tennis. From the players to communities and organizations who are involved in tennis, everyone is appreciated.
From the USTA email:
The USTA, along with other industry partners and retailers, are committed to providing support for National Tennis Month. Resources for coaches, facilities, Parks & Recs, Community Tennis Associations, NJTLs, and providers of all kinds are available on usta.com/NationalTennisMonth and include:
Downloadable turnkey artwork like banners, t-shirts, and car magnets.
Customizable marketing materials, including social media posts, flyers, posters, postcards and yard signs.
A customizable press release to use for your local community and tips for reaching out to local media to help publicize your events.
Sample proclamations for city councils and mayors to proclaim May as National Tennis Month.
Programming and promotional ideas to get you moving, plus a Tennis Event Guide with best practices for effectively building and promoting events.
My take: I like it. That's what the main task for the USTA should be: Promoting tennis and helping others to do it, too! (Nudge, nudge - promoting tennis, not pickleball!)
DELRAY BEACH OPEN A HUGE SUCCESS
But what happened to never toeing the line, haha?
CONTEXT: When I received the first two promotions about the 2023 Delray Beach Open, an ATP 250 event, I thought well, well, well. "Toe the line, never" Where had I seen that before, haha? But then that line disappeared and I wondered if someone at the USTA had gotten to them. But, I digress. The event was apparently a wonderful success.
Throughout the tournament, they kept me informed about what happened with nice, colorful newsletters. Unfortunately, I was in Europe and could not go there. I so wanted to!
Congrats to Taylor Fritz for winning $97K and a brand new electric BMW i4 worth at least $55K. He earned it!
The tournament reported that total attendance for the 10 days of the event was over 60,000 and that all hospitality events were sold out. Nice! Attendance for the final was the most all-time for a final in the tournament's 31-year history.
Taylor Fritz, the No. 7 player in the world, became its first Top 10 champion; with the win, Fritz is now #5 in the world!
South Florida residents Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer defended their 2022 doubles title.
My take: I don't know any other ATP 250 tournament in the U.S. where I enthusiastically say I want to go there next year. And it's less than 50 miles from my Miami location. Woohoo!
10 MILLION TENNIS BALLS RECYCLED
Recycling tennis balls - what's not to like?
CONTEXT: Most people know that every year 125 million tennis balls end up in landfills. Vermont-based nonprofit RecycleBalls makes it easy for tennis clubs around the country to recycle their used balls.
Fox59 reported on February 7 "Ten million tennis balls have been recycled by RecycleBalls, the leading tennis ball recycling organization in North America. Equating to 639 US tons of repurposed and recycled tennis balls."
The article goes on: "Contributed tennis balls are sorted for upcycle or recycle, giving each tennis ball multiple uses. Recycled tennis balls are ground into Green Gold and then used to create new products, including tennis court resurfacing and horse arena footing."
My take: Wow! Makes me feel good because, at Conga Sports, we ship them all our used balls. Have you tried them? What are you doing about recycling of tennis balls?
KEN DEHART ON THE 2023 PTR INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION
I asked Ken if he could write up his impression of the event at Hilton Head Island. Ken never disappoints!
The PTR International Symposium on Hilton Head Island was another one in the long history of PTR family gatherings to share education and time to visit long-time friends and make new ones. Close to 400 PTR pros celebrated the opportunity to share educational experiences, discuss challenging situations in our industry, visit the trade show, and network with friends.
The PTR is the only accredited association by the USTA and worked closely with the USTA in promoting tennis, tennis education, and professional development. The USTA hosted the USTA & PTR Awards breakfast on Wednesday morning to honor USTA and PTR pros for their contribution to growing the game and commitment to serving others.
The Symposium kicks off with the Parade of Nations when over 30 countries parade on to center court holding a flag representing their country. Representatives from that country proudly marched in behind their country's flag. CEO Dan Santorum introduced each country, the name of the flag bearer, and most of the pros following their country's flag. Individual and group picture is taken of all the flags and all the pros from the participating countries.
There was an amazing faculty of presenters on topics ranging from business management, sports psychology, drills, games, Cardio Tennis, analytics, and conditioning to mention a few. Speakers include tennis greats such as Nick Saviano, Mark Kovac, Michele Krause, Mike Barrell, Carl Maes, and many others with interesting insights as to the direction of tennis for the future and improving coaching skills.
The PTR Awards Dinner showcased PTR professionals who were standout in areas like Community Service, Pro of the Year, Coach of the Year, and newly inducted PTR International Master Professionals. The evening was highlighted by the introduction of the newest PTR Hall of Fame Inductee, Jean Mills by former USTA President and long-time PTR patron, Lucy Garvin. Jean has been with the PTR since 1979, served as a PTR President, National Tester, and was the Director of Spa and Tennis at The Polo Club in Boca Raton, Florida for most of her 30-plus career in tennis.
There was a sold-out Tennis Trade Show where participants could view and talk to exhibitors about the best and newest products in the tennis market. Not only the major companies in the tennis industry like Head, Wilson, Babolat, and Dunlop. Additionally, there were representatives of court resurfacing companies, clothing companies, professional tennis management schools, health care, and tennis supply companies.
The PTR introduced and conducted a level 3 Certification Course instructed by Carl Maes and Orivind Sorvald, the Director of Development for the Norwegian Tennis Federation.
The PTR International Symposium ran from February 6th to mid-day February 9th. On the second half of February 9th began the PPR (Professional Pickleball Registry) event with over 270 participants. This event would host its own trade show and educational courses and certification course for Pickleball Professionals from around the world. This would be a 3-day event for all the participants.
The PTR recognizes with a Duel Threat Membership, those professionals certified in both Tennis and Pickleball. There is a Triple Threat Membership for members certified in Tennis, Pickleball, and Padel.
My take: Thank you, Ken. Can't wait to go to one of the PTR Conferences one day.
BNP PARIBAS OPEN -
GET TO KNOW THE 5TH GRAND SLAM
Hundreds of thousands flocking to the SoCal desert again
CONTEXT: The first of the big 2-week combined ATP/WTA tournaments happens to be in my Southern California backyard every March. Indian Wells is only 2 hours from Los Angeles and offers so much for tennis lovers.
GiveMeSport Women posted a good article titled "Indian Wells 2023: Date, draw, how to watch, will Emma Raducanu play and everything to know."
It's pretty basic stuff but still interesting for those that have never been in the SoCal desert.
My take: I personally have been to this wonderful tournament over 10 times. It's one of the best experiences a tennis fan can have. And I can't wait to go there again in a few days.
ARE YOU STILL WONDERING WHO IS THE GREATEST OF ALL TIME?
In my opinion, that train has left the station!
Watch the video and become a believer. Then bow your head to the king of tennis!
THE NOT BAD
SABINE APPLEMANS IN HAVANA
Carlos Lopez Toledo seems to be pretty busy with visitors from all over the world
CONTEXT: The visitor: Sabine Appelmans is a former professional tennis player from Belgium. She was Belgium's Fed Cup captain from 2007 until 2011. She won 7 WTA titles and had a career-high ranking of 16 on the WTA tour.
The host: Carlos Lopez Toledo, a teaching pro certified by the Cuban Tennis Federation, is the founder of the "Eco Tennis Cuba Development Program."
Sabine posted on Instagram: When the local tennis coach @lopez_toledo_carlos asks you to hit a few balls with the young Cuban champions…you share your passion! So good to see their smiling faces!
My take: Well done, Carlos. One of these days I'm going to make it to Cuba. Possibly this year. (Or do you only work with good-looking European ladies?)
PROFESSIONAL TENNIS PLAYERS ASSOCIATION ADDS FIVE EXECUTIVES
Vasek and Novak can't do it all alone
CONTEXT: The Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) is an association of male and female tennis players founded by the players Vasek Pospisil and Novak Djokovic. The group represents singles players in the top 500 and doubles players in the top 200 of the ATP rankings and WTA rankings.
SportBusiness.com reports that the PTPA has announced five leadership and executive additions around the world, including at its headquarters in Washington, DC, as well as Chicago, Los Angeles, Paris, and Marrakech, Morocco. Below are the photos of four of them.
(Left to right): Wajid Mir, Romain Rosenberg, Jenna Nobles, Kayla Wilkinson (Credit: PTPA)
The article continues, "Sports entertainment attorney Wajid Mir joins as senior vice-president of player engagement and general counsel, international strategist Romain Rosenberg enlists as senior vice-president of strategy and player relationships, marketer and events professional Jenna Nobles becomes director of player marketing and events, media expert Kayla Wilkinson takes charge as director of digital media and communications, while former sales director Mike Oczypok has been hired as director of operations."
My take: I'm all for helping talented touring professionals outside of the Top 100 to make decent money!
LIMITED EDITION WILSON SHIFT RACQUET
Womens Tennis Blog reported in their February 4 issue: "Fresh from Wilson Labs, the Project Shift 99 is a unique tennis racquet developed with extensive feedback from top coaches and elite players."
The article goes on to explain that the official release will be in the summer, but there is a limited quantity of prototypes available ahead of time at Tennis Warehouse with two models: the Wilson Labs Project Shift 99 (300g) and Wilson Labs Project Shift 99 (315g.)
WHY DID WTT FAIL AS A CONCEPT?
This video tries to explain it with step-by-step analysis
World Team Tennis: America's Failed Attempt to Popularize Tennis
20 TENNIS POINTS SO GOOD BOTH PLAYERS SMILED
Brought to you by TennisTV
This, you don't want to miss!
OH BOY, THE McENROES ARE AT IT AGAIN
I can't blame them for trying.
CONTEXT: The last time John and Patrick McEnroe were trying to rope people into traveling with them, things didn't go so well. Their 2022 trip to Antarctica was first postponed "due to Covid" (if that was the real reason), and I don't hear anything about it right now. They were supposed to be sailing February 14-28. Others wrote it was from February 20 to March 4. I'm not surprised looking at prices up to $49,990 per person.
On February 21 we received an announcement from New York Media Consultant Joe Favorito through Randy Walker's New Chapter Media titled "Insider Expeditions Announces Partnership with John and Patrick McEnroe for Tennis Activities in The Country of Tanzania." I thought oh wow, cold Antarctica didn't work, so now they're offering hot Tanzania.
The press release goes on: "The luxury journey will include a tennis match between the McEnroe brothers in the midst of the Serengeti, one of Africa’s most iconic safari destinations." "Guests will also join John and Patrick when they visit a traditional Maasai Village to bring good will and cultural exchange and introduce the Maasai youth to the game of tennis as part of a special court dedication."
Oookay... The online brochure for the trip lists only the cheap packages from $15-$27K but fails to reveal the prices for all juicy packages. I guess they learned from Antarctica where $50K prices per person may have kept tennis fans away. The "You Cannot Be Serious VIP Package It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This" has no price tag but includes such goodies as
Group photo with the McEnroe’s in the Serengeti
One game with the John and Patrick McEnroe on the Serengeti Center Court
Dinner with John and Patrick McEnroe
Safari game drive with John and Patrick McEnroe with tennis volley in the bush
My take: YOU CANNOT BE SERIOUS! Who in his right mind would shell out $50K or more to hit volleys with the McEnroes in the bush? As for Antarctica, they are really vague about the dates and emphasize supporting "...Growth and Awareness With Other Charitable Initiatives In Cooperation With The Tanzanian Government." Looks to me like all they're supporting is the wallets of one real and one pretend tennis legend. But I really can't blame them for trying.
TENNIS CHANNEL UPDATE
I guess it's really tough to sell tennis to home viewers nowadays
CONTEXT: We reported about Tennis Channel woes in our January and February 2023 issues. Last month we wrote, "Tennis Channel is currently the 107th most popular channel on TV, watched by a total number of 36,000 people (up +89% from last week) throughout the day, as of the average weekly audience measurement for the period ending January 22, 2023." There needs to be a correction: According to (US.TVDB) for the entire month of January 2023, the average daily viewership of TC in the U.S. was about 24,000 only! Ouch. In a month with a Grand Slam!
Lately, we have noticed a few things that are helping us analyze the situation they're in.
-When you watch TC you'll notice that they repeat one type of advertising over and over again: direct-response commercials from companies like Shriner's Children's Hospital. Those types of commercials are called low-rate inventory which runs when the channel is unable to sell commercial time to high-paying high-rate inventory.
My takeaway: Advertisers have lost confidence in TC because of low viewership.
- Since the Tennis Channel has no money to spend on quality content, they have to fill the day with low-quality stuff like Bag Checks, repeats, and other content like football and pickleball.
My takeaway: That's a never-ending spiral. No viewers = no money = no ability to create quality content = no viewers...
- Disney's (ESPN's) new exclusive rights deal with the Australian Open means TC is not able to show any live coverage of the Grand Slam anymore.
My takeaway: They've been effectively shut out and that can't be good.
We've been posting about the financial woes of Sinclair Broadcasting-owned Diamond Sports Group with its Regional Sports Networks (RSNs). Diamond's bankruptcy could potentially be very dangerous for the Tennis Channel because all the money TC makes is by being bundled with Sinclair assets. As Sinclair's business gets disrupted, so does TC.
It appears that the entire Regional Sports Network business is dying. Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that even Warner Bros. Discovery looks to get out of that business. And then there is the dismal existing coverage of major tennis matches. A friend told me that he received a ton of texts from people complaining that the Delray Open got no airtime for the semifinals and the championship match. He ended with "They know what's wrong with the sport. There's just not enough competition in the market."
These are all the reasons why I wrote in the February newsletter "I think it’s a crucial time in tennis for a new media company to emerge and get the sport younger." That has to be a well-financed company with lean operations and fresh content that attracts tennis fans. Especially the younger ones.
My take: I hope the Tennis Channel doesn't go under but I question the wisdom of Ken Solomon's advisors on the sale to Sinclair. Looks to me like that's the second failed deal in master dealmaker George Mackin's recent portfolio after PlaySight. But then again, a friend asked me, "So what if TC has serious financial problems? Does it really matter? Will the USTA buy it and strengthen their monopoly in the sport? Will ABC, CBS, ESPN and the others pick up the coverage? How will it affect the tennis consumer and will it really matter?" Maybe it won't. I have a few thoughts on the topic in my feature article "What’s wrong with tennis HOME viewership in America?" this month.
HOW EFFECTIVE WAS MIKE McNULTY AS USTA PRESIDENT?
Or is he just another in a long line of forgettable USTA Presidents?
CONTEXT: The USTA Board regularly elects another President/Chairperson, usually for a 2-year term. That person comes in with a pet peeve he or she wants to introduce to change tennis or grow participation. Best example: Katrina Adams wanted to eradicate cheating in junior tennis. Despite her serving 2 terms or 4 years, we all know that didn't happen. I was told that every time a new President shows up, the employees start rolling their eyes because it usually means changing brochures and websites for another time-consuming project that will be forgotten soon enough. I find this funny!
The way new presidents are chosen is pretty simple according to a Lake Nona insider: Have a function in your section long enough and don't ruffle any feathers and one day they will choose you. You can accelerate your chances by showing a law degree. Reminds me eerily of Sir Joseph's aria "When I was a lad" in Gilbert & Sullivan's HMS Pinafore, haha. Look it up. It's funny, too!
So, I wanted to know how effective the Immediate Past President Mike McNulty was.
Lo and behold, lawyer Mike McNulty's record is spotless. I can think of nothing this man has accomplished during his term. As if he wasn't even there. There are only two things that stood out for me when it comes to the man:
1. IGNORE THE NOISE
In a meeting with tennis folks a few months ago, he was observed answering a question about USTA critics quite succinctly: "We are not reading or listening to what Rich or Javier say.” With Javier, I assume he meant the other maverick, Javier Palenque. You see, he has just told you all why he hasn't accomplished anything in 2 years. He doesn't listen. In fact, he refuses to listen. McNulty is probably a good talker who likes to hear himself talk. That's the kind of person the USTA elects as President. That's all you need to know.
There's more you can learn from his message about Javier and me:
Arrogance. We don't value outside opinions and don't even listen to them. We do things the way we've always done it and if the good ship USTA sinks, so be it!
Ignorance. His lack of knowledge and understanding of the business of tennis is mind-boggling. A typical way ignorant people deal with criticism: they ignore it entirely. He is in good company: Kurt Kamperman and Gordon Smith were the Godfathers of Ignorance in my opinion.
Misleading. Believe it or not, Mr. McNulty is a subscriber to Tennis Club Business. He opens every issue and clicks on many of the hot-button items we are reporting on. Good for him! I just wished he would comment on some.
2. GOOGLING McNULTY
I recently tried to google "usta mike mcnulty"and was quite surprised that Dr. Brian Hainline, the current president of the USTA, came in on the number 1 spot. I wondered how that was possible and came to the conclusion that the USTA webmasters added the keyword McNulty to the profile of Hainline. Isn't that weird? Do they not want people to read about their past president? Were they not happy with his two years? Well, your guess is as good as mine. Since the Smith/Kamperman edict from 2018, no one is allowed to contact me to clear that up.
It seems everyone is afraid..... of what?
My take: I don't know the man Mike McNulty. He may be the nicest guy. Accomplished lawyer. A long-time volunteer/board/committee member. Obviously liked and revered in his section (Southern). I just wished he had done what Mike Dowse started in 2020 and communicated with us, outsiders. But that's OK. I'm happy knowing that he reads the newsletter and hopefully learns something about his organization every month, haha.
IS LULU WORTH FIGHTING OVER?
The allure of running a mega-sports complex in Southern California
CONTEXT: After the untimely collapse of the planned Kimmelman Sports Complex in Carson which was supposed to bring up to 50 new tennis courts to Southern California, the organizers found a new site rather quickly: adjacent to Los Angeles World Airports (LAX). The new center will be called Lulu's Place after Carol “Lulu” Kimmelman who passed away in 2017. The Kimmelman Foundation of New Jersey wants to build a 35-acre, $100 million complex of education, sports, and wellness facilities with 24 tennis courts and 8 pickleball courts on that site.
Well, the question is, who's going to be the Stewart of the racquet sports section of Lulu's Place? I heard that two organizations are currently squabbling over it, The USTA Foundation, and the Southern California Tennis Association SCTA (the USTA Section). I assume the USTA Foundation has skin in the game financially. They also have sent an employee I guess to shepherd the project through and make sure it stays under their control. Rob Howland, Senior Director and Head of Programs & Social Impact. I don't know him but he definitely comes with credentials running expansion projects for NJTL New Jersey, albeit on a smaller scale.
My take: The SCTA should really be running that project at Lulu's place since they also want to relocate their offices there. However, they don't have the staff and expertise to do it as far as I can see. They need to be proactive here. Not sure why they took all the information about Kimmelman off their website.
From the New York Times
A global phenomenon, with more than over 25 million people who play around the world, padel is the fastest-growing sport in Europe and South America. World Cup champion Messi is so obsessed with the game that he had a court (called a pitch, just like in soccer) built at his home in Barcelona. (article)
My take: It'll be tough competing for viewers with NFL, NHL, MLB, NBA, and MLS. Good luck.
From the New York Post
Pickleball had no problem attracting millions of amateur players. Now, as the sport looks to grow at the professional level, it must convince spectators that the game is as fun to watch as it is to play. (article)
add: https://www.esquire.com/uk/culture/a42776629/padel-vs-pickleball/ as second headline
My take: I don't see padel and pickleball competing too much with each other. The majority of pickleballers are lower-level recreational players, still mostly aged 55 and above. Appears to me, the majority of padelers are advanced-level tennis players who are much younger, probably between 20 and 50. What I see is a coming competition between tennis and padel for the advanced players and between tennis and pickleball for the lower level older players.
FOUNDATION TENNIS BACK FROM CONNEXA TO RUDDY
Charlie Ruddy takes control again
We received that press release in January and missed putting it in our February issue. But, I thought better late than never. Here it is.
Foundation Tennis Reacquired by Founder and Owner
COHASSET, MA. (December 31, 2022) – In an effort to bolster customer service, Foundation Tennis has been reacquired by its founder and original owner, Charlie Ruddy.
Ruddy said one of the first orders of business is to focus on helping customers build their brand value.
“Everything we do is targeted at helping our customers grow, manage that growth, and prosper from it. As a B2B supplier, our success is based on our customer's success which means putting their brand first: on the web, in the app stores, and across their entire digital presence.”
Foundation Tennis helps businesses in the racquet sports industry with website design and development, custom/branded apps, email marketing, and customer service functions such as court reservations, online enrollments, and payments which allows clubs and organizations to grow the value of their business.
In the coming weeks, Ruddy said he plans to be in touch with customers to talk about initiating steps to help customers prepare for the upcoming spring season and would like to bring back the company’s customer advisory board.
“These winter months are the ideal time to consider a website, app refresh, or to implement our online payments & Square POS integration,” said Ruddy.
Foundation Tennis will continue to offer helpdesk and hotline services seven days a week from 8:30 am to 8:30 PM and can be reached by calling (510)-405-4115.
To learn more about how Foundation Tennis can help you grow your business, contact Foundation Tennis at: (617) 981-6890 or email@example.com
My take: I know Charlie Ruddy and I also know the CEO of Connexa, Mike Ballardie. It was probably in the best interest of both companies to return Foundation Tennis to its founder. Charlie says, "I am very happy that I have my company back, my product, and customers to return to." Mike can focus on making and selling more of what his company is very good at: Slinger Bag ball machines. Win-win!
EVERYBODY'S TALKING ABOUT THE USPTA
A kaleidoscope of news, comments, opinions
CONTEXT: People keep asking me if I hold a grudge against the USPTA. The answer is simple: No. Many of my friends are USPTA teaching professionals and I have no reason to speak ill about their organization. However, just look at the number of emails, messages, or phone calls I get regarding the two certification organizations: USPTA: 17 PTR: 1 (Ken DeHart's Summary of the International Conference). No one is ever writing me that the USPTA is fantastic, the Board does a great job, and Embree is a fine leader. Actually, it was a Master Pro of both organizations who spoke well of the USPTA last time we talked.
First some very good news. On February 14 we received a press release stating, "USPTA Signs Multi-Year, Non-Exclusive Endorsement Deal with RacquetDesk and CourtReserve." While I'm happy for RacqetDesk, I'm happier for CourtReserve because they are a long-time advertiser of Tennis Club Business. “We’re fortunate to have two software service providers who are willing to share our endorsement,” said John Embree, USPTA CEO. “These USPTA endorsees are willing to ‘play nice in the sandbox,’ so our members can benefit from the company that best suits their needs.” Ashley Owens, Director of Sales & Marketing at CourtReserve, said, “CourtReserve is proud to be an official endorsee of the USPTA and believes strengthening relationships will continue to push tennis and racquet sports forward. With CourtReserve's dedication to the USPTA divisions over the last five years, we continue to value this organization's educational and teaching aspects. We are excited to work with more USPTA pros for years to come!” Well done, Ashley. You guys rock!
We are getting a fair amount of feedback about the USPTA's many endorsement deals. I was told that the current fee for being listed as an official partner or sponsor of the USPTA is $20,000. Not sure if that is correct but that would explain why the commissions are relatively small.
The messages I'm getting are interesting. After receiving the February 6 press release "USPTA Signs Endorsement Deal with SES Lighting" one reader wrote, "On a $5K purchase the USPTA would get $50 and members would get a $250 discount. For an organization that cannot sell certifications, the USPTA does a great job of selling endorsements, sponsorships, and partnerships. Yahoo!!!!!" I read quite a bit of sarcasm into this email, haha.
When I shared my understanding that vendors have to pay $20K upfront to become official sponsors, the reader replied (less sarcastically, I guess) "I think the real question is, does the board feel the USPTA is achieving its mission of raising the standards of tennis teaching professionals?" Wow. That was more like a zinger. No?
One reader shared his gut feelings: "For a while, USPTA used to say they had 15,000 members. Then they said they had 11,000, so I assumed the 15,000 included international and the 11,000 was domestic. I noticed the website now says 14,000 worldwide. I think they are playing games with the number of pros they have. In fairness to them, their membership structure may be so screwed up that it is difficult to explain without a PowerPoint presentation and a PhD. The bottom line, I think they are in trouble. That is a gut feeling only." You know, when a USPTA Master Pro tells you he has a gut feeling, you should take that seriously.
USPTA Expands Partnership with WTCA was another email sent out on February 3. The comment I received was, "What a word salad - advancing women’s tennis through thoroughly educated coaches." But on a more serious note, the rumor that the USPTA may be taking over the WTCA sooner than later is not going away. Really, Sarah?
A group of USPTA divisions had two-day business conferences. I was told Mark McMahon gave solid leadership presentations. "One guy talked about the difference between PB and tennis instruction. Because the learning curve is shorter in PB that means you have to push them into other less lucrative activities like leagues or tournaments. What are the implications for PB? How long can you repeat this cycle? Or how do you maintain pickleball attraction? He didn't say. He started by talking about how he taught a lady who was blind in one eye and over 70 to hit 8 in a row. That is how easy the sport is to learn." I guess this is a good thing.
After this press release "USPTA Strikes Expanded Partnership with Tennis Warehouse to Include Equipment" we had a multi-people conversation:
A: "There is a sense of irony in this endorsement - which can be saved for the April 1 edition or a later issue. Owned and operated by players, Tennis Warehouse has been helping people all over the world, including USPTA professionals, to find the right racquet for over 25 years. During the 1990s people like John Embree, who was at Wilson at the time, sold out to the mass distributors. Essentially, they killed the pro shops. There are very few pro shops at clubs compared to years ago. In 2023 Embree is now pitting the tennis mass retailers against Head and Wilson. "
B: "Hmm. And TW President Kerpsack owns the texting app StringPin.net which is also a USPTA sponsor."
C: "For me that looks like revenge marketing. Wilson and HEAD won’t give them any money so they promote the competition. Embree seems to be on a tear."
A: "You are correct, John is on a tear. Look at the USPTA home page. It looks like the home page for a directory of tennis businesses, not a body of certification and education. The PTR homepage is more focused to certify and educate pros. Maybe the world is changing and the mission of the USPTA may be changing to become the focal point of the industry. He may be generating cash flow for the USPTA, which is probably needed. Time will tell whether he is creating value for the USPTA brand or whether he is destroying the brand.
In reference to the USPTA membership, one reader mentioned, "Notice that the USPTA is saying they still have 14,000 members despite the fact we had a tennis boom when the US allegedly added 5 million players. John Embree and the USPTA are not capable of selling certifications to teaching pros. It seems like all he can do is sell meaningless discount programs."
I saved the juicy message for last. This isn't the first time that question came up but it's getting more relevant because 6 U.S. states (Alaska, Connecticut, California, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois plus the District of Columbia) have enacted laws against professionals like tennis pros having independent contractor status.
"The yearly fee members pay the USPTA includes liability insurance, but since so many tennis pros by law have to become employees, this insurance is already in place via the business they work for…so the question is, can they force you to purchase a service that you don’t need?" Whoa! Ever thought about that? This has all the ingredients of a baked headache pie, folks. For both USPTA and PTR.
WHY NOT PUT A LITTLE LUXURY INTO YOUR PRO SHOP OR STORE?
Just look what one Southern California entrepreneur created in Beverly Hills
When I saw Adeline Arjad Cook and her Love Love Tennis Boutique written up (quite nicely by Anish Vishwakoti) on the USTA SoCal website, I remembered that I visited the store just a few days earlier and had taken some photos. So, here is a quick view of what I think is a tennis store/pro shop concept some of our readers should look at for various reasons.
From the SCTA write-up titled Cook and Love Love Tennis spread romance one ace after another:
"Adeline Arjad Cook started playing tennis at the age of 35 as a way to improve her fitness. Despite her late start, the British native now runs her own tennis boutique and a tennis fashion business. Given all of her success, Cook’s biggest gain from the world of tennis was her husband, whom she met on the court. Ten years into the sport, Cook hopes to give others the same joy and started a tennis matchmaking service, hosting “Doubles for Singles” events. The game of tennis has provided Adeline with more than one love in her life, and she hopes to spread that across Southern California."
Here's what I like about that Love Love Tennis Boutique concept: It feels good. It is welcoming. It gives you apparel options no other store or pro shop has, her own exclusive designs for men and women.
Exclusive offer from Adeline for Southern California tennis pros
Cost + 10% on all cases of tennis balls. (Only available for pickup!)
Stringing $20 including poly strings
Address: 9627 Brighton Way, Beverly Hills, CA 90210
I like the clean-cut entrance to the boutique with an uncluttered view of Adeline's designs and a peak into the hallway and more things to discover.
Walking through that hallway, clients are greeted with more designs and stairs to more levels in the boutique. Not visible in this pic: Adeline's tennis jewelry designs.
The top-level room is inviting to sit and peruse and select a racquet and talk tennis. Especially SoCal tennis for ladies over 40!
Adeline shows us a must for every exclusive tennis shop: a good coffeemaker. She has several of them for Espressos and Cappuccinos. Because what serious tennis player doesn't like coffee? Or iced coffee? These are little things that can make a client feel like a VIP.
If your travels take you to Southern California for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, you probably fly into LAX and rent a car. Beverly Hills is practically on your way to the desert. Visit Love Love Tennis at 9627 Brighton Way and say hi to Adeline. Hint, hint: It's just around the corner from Rodeo Drive. There are plenty of restaurants and one street over, on North Befrord Drive, there's a 3-hour free parking garage.
Vishwakoti's article ends with a quote by Adeline: “I just think that whether you’ve never picked up a racquet, whatever size you are, and whatever age you are, everybody should give tennis a try,” said Cook. “The group of people that tennis brings together is eclectic and absolutely fabulous. And I love, love tennis!”
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