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Tennis Club Business HEAD Radical

THIS MONTH

Dear Reader

USTA/ClubSpark Mess

Rumblings at SoCal Tennis Association:
- CEO on the chopping block?
- SoCal parents and juniors are angry!

The TIA and their bogus PAC numbers

The Transgender issue is not going away

Boomer Tennis - an idea way ahead of its time

SoCal organizer & fashion queen is rocking the tournament scene

Brought to my attention

Shout-outs

DEAR READER,

Before we get to the April issues, I am proud to announce that this is issue number 88 for us. Woohoo, another 12, and we're celebrating big time!

I would also like to invite you to support the continuation of our newsletter as well as other future projects and technical improvements via joining our Patreon Community. As a matter of fact, for as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure the long-term future of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS.

Click here to support us and please share this with all the tennis lovers you know (if you don't want to use Patreon, there are other means as well. Please email me for more information). When you go to our support page you will see that the benefits offered for any of the 3 support levels by far outweigh the cost of helping us.

Thank you!!!

Rich Neher
Publisher

USTA/CLUBSPARK MESS

I have my eyes and ears open when it comes to the USTA. Tons of people have communicated to me how unhappy they are with the rollout of Serve Tennis. From "complete disaster" to "people hate it" to "Dowse is clueless, he has no idea what he is doing," I've heard it all by now. A person wrote on the Tennis Warehouse blog, "If there's a way to screw something up, it's a safe bet the USTA will find that way." 

"USTA initiatives are either stupid or corrupt or short sighted.

It's usually one of these three."

Prominent California Tennis Coach

Ouch. That hurt! I can't find a lot of confidence in anything the USTA is putting out. Then I'm hearing that all over the country Tournament Directors have gone back to the old TDM system. Like Caerwyn Evans, TD at the Level 2 Wilson World Tennis Classic in Palm Desert, California. Caerwyn posted on the tournament site: "All player registrations have been moved into the old tournament management system so we can make the draws and schedule." Wow!

 

So, I decided to look into the recent disasters with Serve Tennis and the World Tennis Number (WTN). I've had the pleasure to speak with a number of people directly or indirectly involved and was able to come to my own conclusions. Problem is, of course, I had to "follow the money" because when someone speaks very highly of the USTA that causes all sorts of red flags, and more often than not, I find that these people are directly depending on the mighty USTA dollar.

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What do we know about ClubSpark? So far not a lot. How it all developed with the USTA paying $22.8 Mio to Deloitte and how they and Adams/Smith/Haggard finagled all that and in whose pockets what money went, I don't really know. 

Until a few days ago all I knew was that this company never had a project like the USTA, Tennislink, and a new rating system on their plate. So my conclusion for months: they are heavily overwhelmed and can't keep up with the demands for delivery while at the same time seeing the need for much more testing.

What's known about that company is they raised £2,150,000 in Venture Capital funding from Foresight Group. It´s a pretty good guess that the USTA contract played a considerable role in obtaining that funding. In 2020 they were able to obtain a PPP loan of $60,840 based on an annual payroll of $292,032 in Orlando.

The Orlando office caught my eye last year when they hired Adnan Zaidi, an old Active Network-Tennislink warhorse. At the time I thought they must be really desperate to hire Zaidi, a TDM specialist, the last of the Mohicans (meaning the old Tennislink Team.)

When I look at reviews of ClubSpark modules on various websites I notice they are not so good on Google sites but better on Apple sites. The following reviews are examples for the ClubSpark's BOOKER module:

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However, since I spoke with at least one person who talked quite highly of that British company, I was beginning to look elsewhere for reasons why both the Serve Tennis-Tennislink and WTN are in such disarray.

Then I watched, the webinar video WTN: An Introduction to the ITF’s World Tennis Number where the USTA´s Senior Manager of Digital Services, Community Tennis, Heather Hawkes, explains WTN to an ITA audience led by Tim Russell and David Mullins.

BS Factors 1-10

Here's my assessment of that webinar having watched all 59 minutes of it. I'm giving some of Heather Hawkes's statements a 'BS Factor' from 1-10, BF1 meaning 'mmmhh' and BF10 meaning 'total BS.'

  1. "ITF's WTN was designed with recreational players in mind." - BF7. Recreational players should always be on the USTA's mind because they are the biggest block of Core Players. In my opinion, WTN was designed to satisfy the egos of Kamperman and Smith who thought they could do a better UTR than UTR.

  2. "In the USTA we have a lot of great rating systems already." - BF8. Yep, true, but I was told Heather doesn't understand any of them and therefore hates them all.

  3. "We want honest, candid, authentic feedback." - BF10. The USTA has been saying that for decades and collected so much feedback only to quickly toss it afterward. ANY OUTSIDE OPINION IS CONSIDERED INVALID.

  4. "Level-based play keeps tennis meaningful." BF1. I agree but question the seriousness of the statement.

  5. "We don't know if WTN will replace NTRP." BF10. Total wool-over-eyes statement.

  6. "I'm just as passionate about NTRP as I'm about WTN." BF10. (see 2.)

  7. "Ratings algorithms are my favorite subject." BF10. (see 2.)

  8. "WTN algorithm is more modern than UTR." BF5. The argument that the WTN has "a little bit more philosophical flexibility" sounds pretty lame.

  9. "Algorithm is an algorithm is an algorithm. Rating is a rating is a rating." BF10. Then why spend millions on WTN when UTR was ready to be used and NTRP was maybe ready to improve?

  10. "Tennis Open Data Standard (TODS) is open and public and all federations want it." BF8. This artificial standard, seemingly invented by one guy, puts the burden on nations to share the data, nations that for the most part have no technology and no money to become part of it. How are you going to aggregate those data streams if not with federations that are able to do it?

  11. "Data is consistent and shared with intent." BF1. Could it be that this intent is solely a data grab in order to sell user data to USTA 'partners' and betting organizations?

It was kind of funny watching Heather's skeptical face whenever Tim Russell started to speak. She clearly wasn't comfortable with his interruptions, especially when he jumped in saying there are "lots of unanswered questions." While she was dancing around most issues and pulling wool after wool over everyone's eyes, he mentioned that WTN was supposed to be rolled out in January of 2020, then in January 2021 and now there still is no delivery date in sight. I loved his question, "How can we expect the WTN roll-out to be successful given the USTA's history of screwing things up?" I like that guy! No BS here.

UTR is, of course, the official rating of the ITA. Why would Tim not be really careful
 

  • embracing something that has been promised by an organization with no history of delivering good stuff on time (USTA) and 
     

  • trusting a company that has never been able to deliver a project of that magnitude (ClubSpark) and
     

  • believing the assurances of a person who has never lead a project of any magnitude (Heather Hawkes)?

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So, am I saying the entire disaster is Heather Hawkes's fault? No. I'm sure she's trying her best but most of the delays are probably her doing because she got involved with no experience. But I'm also seeing her as something of a Don Quixote fighting the 'Good OId Boys Windmills' of the USTA Deep State with little help from Mike Dowse because he may be fighting them, too. I'm sure the unholy ghosts of Gordon Smith and Kurt Kamperman are still wandering around Lake Nona and influencing not only Jeff Waters and Katrina Adams but a whole bunch of other executives and Board members. Maybe they need an Exorcist to come in and get rid of them. How about it, Javier?

Anyone thinking they can stop UTR needs their head examined!
They are reportedly organizing 2,000 events each month now.

Bottom Line

An industry friend emailed me saying, "Clearly, the USTA is terrible about meeting deadlines, especially when it comes to anything related to technology. The new Serve Tennis site is woefully late and been extremely buggy and unusable from what I've heard, and in fact, they sent out a mea culpa email recently apologizing for the fiasco." There you have it, people. I'm glad I'm not alone in my observation. 

The fact that they have no target dates and all the statements by Heather Hawkes in that regard were clearly designed to calm the ITA constituents knowing quite well that WTN is in an uphill battle against UTR. The WTN's weekly rating calculation is laughable and so is their algorithm counting only sets and not breaks or games. And am I understanding this right that Tennis Australia will not participate in the World Tennis Number?

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There are many unanswered questions and Heather's webinar did little to provide some much-needed answers. On the other hand, I can see that, on a level playing field, WTN and UTR can coexist in healthy competition. UTR isn't bogged down by boondoggles like Net Generation ($50Mio) or Player Development ($23Mio annually). They've been around since 2007 and they seem to be growing like weed in all aspects of tennis.

GUITAR QUOTE

"I've always wanted to smash a guitar over someone's head. You just can't do that with a piano."
Elton John
(April is International Guitar Month)

RUMBLINGS AT THE SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA TENNIS ASSOCIATION

CEO on the chopping block?

Boy were we inundated with messages about the "rogue" SCTA CEO Marla Messing. It seems like every day someone else has a horror story to report. The latest were reports of a run-in with SCTA President Hochstadter ("she's on the chopping block now!") Multiple sources are telling me about her rude style and threatening communications. A Director of Tennis from one of the biggest country clubs in the Los Angeles area asked me, "What's she doing here? Made nothing but enemies in the short time she's here. Her m.o. is attacking people and threatening lawsuits."

What can I say? We have reported about the woman who is unfortunately leading one of the oldest tennis organizations in the USA, founded in 1887. If Perry T. Jones knew what was going on there today, he would totally roll over in his grave.

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People were quite shocked when we reported in January:
 

Over the course of a few months, we reported about some of the CEO's activities. Highlights:

 

  • Getting her position changed from ED to CEO.

  • Taking all staff photos off the website.

  • Her "heavy-handed approach" making her the "most hated person" on the Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus (quote from insiders).

  • Her statement on a Zoom call, "WE DON'T MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON USTA MEMBER INPUT."

  • Her firing of staff with more than 120 years of experience in favor of junior coordinators with close to zero experience.

  • Her unwelcome insertion into the community's fight to keep 16 tennis courts, beautiful park space, and a golf course with a driving range in the Los Angeles area.

What irked me the most was her statement "We don't make decisions based on USTA member input." Why? Because I came across the SCTA job listing for Executive Director. Under Job Description, it says, "Member/Customer Focus - Is member-driven and performs with the customer in mind. Establishes and maintains effective relationships with all key member/customer groups." Helloooo. Does that sound like Marla Messing?

And then, of course, came the way she pissed off HEAD, one of the greatest sponsors of tennis in the United States and in SoCal. But the Tecnifibre story is something I will explore in our May issue.

From a news report: After a successful career in U.S. soccer Messing became a stay-at-home mom for 17 years. Upon her return, she wrote the plans to sway IOC members to vote for LA 24 rather than Paris. That failed. Then she took on a consulting job with LAFC and FC Barcelona to develop a women's soccer club team in Los Angeles under the FCB brand. That also failed.

So she applied for the SCTA position. We also wrote in January, "Taking on the job of CEO in February of 2019, Messing, an attorney by trade, had previously excelled in the U.S. soccer space and nobody really knows for sure why she wanted to go into tennis assuming that she will probably seek executive-level employment at the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles. The question of whether she is just "parking" at the SCTA is being widely discussed in Southern California tennis circles."

My question for the SCTA Board members: "How can you let this happen to the storied, historic SCTA?"

SoCal parents and juniors are angry!

The latest developments in the never-ending saga of mess-ups with products that came out of the Heather Hawkes/ClubSpark stable have Southern California junior players and parents up in arms now. It all came to my attention when a parent wrote regarding the new usta NSL for 12s-16s:  "The USTA is letting small regions play Level 3 tournaments whose players are equal to L6 players in Southern California and giving them the SAME NSL POINTS. This means the Boys 12/u L3 players in a SoCal 32 player draw who are all UTR 7 and above while nearly all the boys in a small region draw are UTR 5 and below. But they are receiving the SAME POINTS. This is causing a corrupted NSL that unfairly favors the small region players, gives SoCal players a super low ranking, and locks out over half of the SoCal players who should be in the L1 Tournaments.  This is an uneven playing field and the USTA KNOWS IT. This is CORRUPT.  Please look at the Match Tennis App Easter Bowl Applicants...by UTR. You see 12s boys SoCal has far more UTR 8+ players than any region, but over half were locked out of the tournament in favor of lower UTR players from weak regions. This is happening at every age group...look at the applicants in Boys 14/u UTR 10+. "

Wow, lots of accusations but how can we get to the bottom of this? Then more accusations came in. Like, "The USTA is totally disregarding strength of schedule in favor of smaller states with weaker players." Or, "This corrupt National Standings List is affecting the college recruiting of our players also... Our players being ranked far lower than they should be in the NSL affects their ranking on TennisRecruiting.net." Or, ".. the wealthy kids who can travel a lot have a slanted field in their favor over the SoCal kids who are not wealthy." Or, "USTA shutting out racially diverse Southern California Juniors in favor of predominantly white small regions." Or, "Several coaches/admins have told me that the USTA hates SoCal."

The latter may be worth a closer look. If it's true, one has to ask serious questions to examine whether the SCTA CEO may be the reason for that. However, I remember not too many years ago, when USTA National gave us a glimpse into the planned "Junior Competitive Structure" for 2021, that many SoCal coaches and organizers were vehemently against it and warned us all of the potential pitfalls we now experience.

One parent who seemed to have a better insight into the situation than most explained the mess we're in like that: "During the 2020 Pandemic, SoCal kids stopped playing. Period. SoCal kids were not able to garner any points unless they traveled to other states. In other states like South Dakota, kids played their brains out and garnered tons of points." That made a whole lot of sense if you ask me. Now, the USTA is not exactly known for being a prime example of flexibility. Decisions have to go through a bunch of committees and not even Dowse is able to reign them in. 

Strangely enough, Trevor Kroneman, the section's Director of Junior Tennis, when asked for a statement did not take the Pandemic into consideration. I was told he's one of the few really good guys left in that office but he just pointed out the way the system works in the usual USTA gobbledegook fashion. Toeing the line is unfortunately not helpful at all, sorry.

What irks many parents is the unwillingness of the USTA in their golden Lake Nona castle to listen to parents and do something about the situation. That would mean they would have to admit the system is flawed and amend something that took them 4 years to develop. Not going to happen, folks.

INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH

"Being honest may not get you a lot of friends,
but it'll always get you the right ones."

John Lennon

THE TIA AND THEIR BOGUS PAC NUMBERS

We have all heard the news about participation growth during 2020. While this is indeed very encouraging and makes the USTA's eager buy-in and dissemination of those news understandable, of course, I'm going to continue my quest of holding the TIA's feet to the fire. (My thoughts for USTA CEO Mike Dowse on how to sustain that growth and keep players playing after the Pandemic is gone are part of TENNIS CONFIDENTIAL this month.)

Now, when trying to digest the below reasoning for my claim that the TIA pays for and disseminates bogus data, please bear in mind one very interesting tidbit:

The TIA's mission clearly is to publish positive tennis news.
So, even if they thought PAC numbers may be bogus,

they really can't say it and have to publish them.

How do I know that the TIA has to publish positive tennis news and can therefore never be critical of anything in tennis? Well, what do you think will happen with their funding which people tell me comes for the most part directly from the USTA? But, don't take my word for it. Just look at the Partners section of the Physical Activity Council's website:

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I had written to Keith Storey, President of Sports Marketing Surveys, the company that actually does the research and provides the data. I wanted to know what methodology was behind their surveys. His reply: "The method for the PAC study is unchanged from previous years. In 2020, a total of 18,000 online interviews were carried out with a nationwide sample of individuals from U.S. proprietary online panels representative of the U.S. population for people ages six and older. Strict quotas were set for gender, age, income, region, and ethnicity to ensure a balanced sample. This enables us to project to the US population. The total population figure used was 303,971,652 people age six and older."

And then he added: "The interviews are completed at 1,500 a month. This enables us to set really tight quotas and ensure data quality. All 50 states and DC."

So, to get this down to a real basic common denominator, 1,500 a month means they are calling 30 people in each state. Let that sink in, folks. Now divide those 30 calls into age, gender, race, and dozens of different sports. Get the picture?

Are you serious, Mr. Storey?

Keith said there are tight quotas. He did not say what the quotas were for. If you set quotas for some categories, like gender, will you predetermine some of the results, such as the percentage of women who respond? The quotas are probably based on whether the respondents play sports and whether they are over 6 years. Does that make sense to anyone?

 

I asked our "Data Guru" Gary Horvath for his interpretation. He knows a little bit about surveys and gave me the following explanation. "My understanding is that the sample of 18,000/1,500 people covers all sports. If 6% of the respondents play tennis that means that each month their survey of 1,500 people found about 90 respondents who played tennis. Over the course of the year, that is less than 1,000 people. Those results are extrapolated to the entire population. 

 

As different as tennis players are, for the purposes of a survey, they are a lot alike. If their sample is good, their survey works.  The variance from year to year is probably a sampling error. The variance over a decade spots a trend that is more likely to be true.  In simplistic terms, the data indicates that tennis is not as popular as many other sports.

 

You need to judge the activity on the street to verify their results.  The downward trend in participation in USTA leagues is consistent with the downward trend in TIA participation."

Pressed a little more for some easy-to-understand examples, Gary looked at Colorado, his home state. "Since they determine market share based on the number of people older than 6, their quotas are probably set on a state's population of people older than 6 years. So if Colorado was 2% of the population they would have 30 completed responses. Out of those 30 people, 6% said they play tennis. That means the 1.8 persons represented the state of Colorado. If the quotas are based on population, most of the players play in the large Census divisions and they have greater than average market share.  If California represents 12% of the US population then there will be 180 responses.  6% of that total is 10.8 people."

1.6 people surveyed for tennis in Colorado? I don't even want to know what that looks like for Rhode Island.

Does that sound like Voodoo Math for you, too?

Bogus Data Wheel coming full circle

 

I love the part of my job where I'm analyzing the motives and actions of people and organizations in tennis. My gut instincts are telling me I'm dead on although - as always in life - we can only see the tip of the iceberg. If you go beneath the water line you see so much clearer what you're dealing with.

So, here's what we are dealing with in my humble opinion:

  • A data research company (Sports Marketing Surveys) that is surveying the entire USA and basing their methodology on an outdated model established probably decades ago, with a survey sample they call robust but that's at least questionable. To exist, that company has to sell their surveys for a lot of money.
     

  • A client of that research company, an industry organization (TIA) in need of publishing positive industry data.
     

  • A client of that industry organization (USTA) desperate for good news amid a declining market share and no accountability to their members.

Put two and two together, folks.

And never forget: We are only seeing the tip of that iceberg.

But rest assured, we'll keep diving!

THE COMMISH QUOTE 

"The USTA should hire Tireless Tennis Crusader Emma Doyle and make her National Ambassador. And they better pay her nicely.
Take the funds from the Player Development department."

THE TRANSGENDER ISSUE IS NOT GOING AWAY

In an effort to bring you up to speed, I have collected a lot more information over the last few weeks and decided to post them here followed by my own thoughts about the issue.

USA Today: Sports leaders seek to protect women's sports while accommodating transgender girls and women.

A group of high-profile women athletes and women’s sports advocates is taking on the contentious issue of transgender girls and women in sports by proposing federal legislation to exempt girls’ and women’s competitive sports from President Joe Biden’s recent executive order that mandates blanket inclusion for all transgender female athletes.

Women's Sports Foundation: Live discussion on National Girls & Women Sports Day. All happy and celebrating. No mention of the big elephant in the room. (Oh, the founder of WSF? Billie Jean King.)

Virtual: USTA Women's BRG hosts virtual career panel on National Girls and Women in Sports Day.

USTA's Head of Women's Tennis, Kathy Rinaldi, was part of that panel. The silence about Transgender was deafening.

Daily Wire: Biden Education Sec On Women’s School Sports: We Have A ‘Legal Responsibility’ To Include Transgender Athletes.

Cardona affirmed that transgender men should have access to biological women’s sports.

Senator Rand Paul at Cardona's hearing: "Who are you that you think this is fair? What planet are you from?" Later, Paul said, "Frankly, some boy that’s six-foot-two competing against my five-foot-four niece doesn’t sound very fair. I think most people in the country think it’s bizarre.”

Dr. Ben Carson in an interview: Growing evidence suggests transgender females maintain natural athletic advantages over girls.
A small but growing body of research suggests that trans female athletes (born male, identifying as female) retain a significant natural advantage over their female competitors even after extended periods of synthetic hormone treatment.

 

Martina Navratilova: Transgender Athletes in Women's Sport Is Insane, Cheating

Martina is well known as an outspoken critic on the subject and she is quoted as, "It's insane and it's cheating. I am happy to address a transgender woman in whatever form she prefers, but I would not be happy to compete against her. It would not be fair."

Our athlete daughters shouldn't have to compete with transgender women.

Joe Biden and Democrats insist that these changes are necessary in order to achieve “equality.” But the question we should be asking is: Equality for whom? This does not foster equality for the many female athletes whose opportunities and perhaps even safety would be jeopardized as a result. In fact, it would make the playing field more unequal than ever. Fairness, safety, and common sense all hang in the balance.

Governor Kristi Noem, South Dakota:  Today, we’re announcing a coalition of athletes, leaders, and anyone who cares about defending fairness in women’s sports. It's very simple: only girls should play girls' sports. Visit DefendTitleIXnow.com to join us.

BOTTOM LINE

 

I do know how complex the issue is. The problem is: our current government has poured oil on that fire with President Biden's unnecessary Executive Order allowing biological males to join female sports, use ladies’ locker rooms and restrooms, and apply for women’s scholarships.

Biden’s actions “unilaterally eviscerate women’s sports,” wrote Abigail Shrier, author of “Irreversible Damage: The Transgender Craze Seducing Our Daughters,” adding, “A new glass ceiling was just placed over girls.”

I tread that research published in December by the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that — even after taking hormones for two years to suppress their testosterone levels — transgender females, or biological males, retained a 12% advantage in running, a 10% advantage in push-ups, and a 6% advantage in sit-ups. The authors of the study even noted that those numbers could be an underestimation “because trans women will have a higher power output than cis women when performing an equivalent number of push-ups.” The scientists ultimately concluded the current International Olympic Committee guidelines, put in place in 2015, would give transgender women an “unfair competitive advantage” over biological women.

I have no problems with people identifying themselves LGBT, heck, Martina Navratilova belongs to that community, but many who embrace the LGBT agenda liked it when transgender athletes like Fallon Fox, a biological male competing in women’s MMA, decimate their opponents. Fox competed against Tamikka Brents, a biological woman, leaving her with a broken eye socket and a concussion. Brents said she never felt so overpowered in her life, “and I am an abnormally strong female in my own right.”

With all this in mind, World Rugby made the decision in late 2020 to ban transgender athletes, explaining “safety and fairness cannot presently be assured for women competing against trans women in contact rugby.”

I have made up my mind a while ago. Unless you can show me that there is a level playing field, reached through hormone or other treatments available to men who want to transform, I'm against them getting opportunities to beat up on women in any sport. And if I had a young daughter in school I would also object to Trans Women being allowed in my girl's bathroom.

A prominent tennis coach wrote me: "I'm sure you have seen that Mr. Potato Head is dropping the Mr. to make everyone gender neutral as part of the diversity and inclusion movement. I don't understand this. In the name of discrimination, we allow gender neutrality therefore men can compete against women against transgender, etc., etc. But in the effort to eliminate discrimination we have created discrimination against the women who won't be able to beat the trans or the men. I don't understand the logic."

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/25/business/mr-potato-head-gender-neutral.html

MEMORABLE QUOTE 

"You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right."

Rosa Parks

BOOMER TENNIS - AN IDEA WAY AHEAD OF ITS TIME

Lace and Bob Milligan are one of the nicest couples I have ever met in my life. Living in Newport, Rhode Island, and somewhat involved in the affairs of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, they had the idea to create an online club for senior tennis players in 2010. In the short video below you'll see them explaining their idea. Boomer Tennis was to be the "premier online tennis club for active, adult tennis players providing exclusive expert content for all skill levels, significant benefits, and rewards from leading tennis-related vendors including resorts, travel companies, and equipment manufacturers.

Additionally, the club offered a unique social media opportunity to network with other seasoned tennis players from around the world. Annual membership dues were only $97, which provided significant value considering the many planned exclusive financial and personal benefits members were to enjoy.

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Photo: VeroNews.com

Tony Trabert and Cliff Drysdale were on the Boomer Tennis Advisory Board together with experts from various fields such as medical, life coaching, nutrition, and travel. If I'm not mistaken, Stan Smith and Donald Dell joined that Advisory Board later, as well. I was working with them in a marketing capacity for California.

Why did Boomer Tennis fail? I think they were way ahead of their time but soon realized the funds needed to put all their plans into reality were much more than anticipated. So, sadly, Boomer Tennis went out of business sometime in 2012 or 2013. I am still convinced it was a good idea and would love to see someone with deeper pockets pick it up again.

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THIS MONTH

Would you believe Rod Heckelman is writing something funny with "If a tennis ball could talk?" Well, this month he is but he's not the only funny guy in town. My tongue-in-cheek article about face masks includes a lot of truths, my friends! Gary Horvath's "Cheeseburger and Apple Pie Tour" only sounds funny but it's a serious discussion about creating access to tennis. And so is USTA Florida President Dana Andrews's article about the glass ceiling for women. As promised in our preview, I'm also writing about the conversion of tennis courts to pickleball and padel courts at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.

Doug Cash, Ed Shanaphy, and Scott Mitchell have interesting contributions in our Clubs/Facilities/Staff department while Susan Nardi, Jack Broudy, and Becky Carlson are contributing for our Coaching/Learning section. Yes, I know, Becky Carlson coaches Rugby but you may want to read her article about "Covid Coach Exhaustion." Very interesting, if you ask me.

This month we have three interviews with outstanding women: Emma Doyle, Tina Samara, and Gigi Fernandez. You don't want to miss that. The Commish is quite serious about "11 ways to know your tennis pro is a scum-sucking leech."

In our Special Features department, it's Kevin Theos, Rosie Casals, and Emmy Caporale rounding out the April issue.

SOCAL ORGANIZER AND FASHION QUEEN IS ROCKING THE TOURNAMENT SCENE!

Tennis friend, community organizer, and fashion queen Adeline Arjad Cook's tournaments are more popular than USTA Leagues, it seems. In April she's taking women to La Quinta, in May they're going to Turks + Caicos, and in September it's men and women to Turks + Caicos again. Wow. Can I come?

 

Click on the images below to find out more.

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BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION (scroll down for info on how to reach us)

 

 

Doug Cash: Read and apply to your club!

Usually, when Doug thinks something's important, I pay attention. He said, "The membership dues line is what makes most clubs successful. New sales are an important part of that growth. You want to make sure you are doing the right things to maximize new memberships. TCA former National Sales Director - Gary Polic - just wrote the attached article.  I think you should read and apply it to your club."

Here's the article: Polic Club Insider.

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Kalindi Has the Goods!

I find myself watching the emails in anticipation of messages from Kalindi Dinoffer. And here they are. I bet there's at least something you can use in your daily work.

NeuroMuscular Balancing Training

Enhanced Foundations Yoga Kit

On-Court Focus Strategies to Get Out of Your Own Head

Driveway Tennis

Now in Stock! The Slinger Portable Ball Machine

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Javier Palenque breaks it down for us.

Javier writes, "The budget for USTA Player Development is $23,000,000.00. That is $64,000.00 per day or $8000.00 per hour or $133.00 per minute that the nonprofit spends in trying to come up with a star. Also, you should know that of the $23M, $10M or 45% is payroll, $4M travel, and the rest is overhead. Obviously, since only a minute number of players can become pro, why don’t we grow the sport with $13M of those $23M?"

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Vans collaborates with Penn on shoe and apparel collections

Vans, the original action sports footwear and apparel brand is an icon in its own right, but the brand always seeks to collaborate with like-minded innovators—and leading tennis ball manufacturer Penn perfectly fits the bill.

 

The Vans x Penn collection combines Penn’s country club credibility with Vans’ legendary style, for a timeless and sophisticated collection that seamlessly transitions from street to court. The three-shoe collection features classic Vans silhouettes with modernized comfort.  Vans and Penn also have developed a limited apparel collection that mirrors the shoe line.

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No end to TopCourt expansion

Chris Evert joins TopCourt: Once known as the Ice Maiden for her stoic demeanor and relentless competitiveness on court, Chris Evert is one of the game’s greatest champions. In her career, she’s won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, once going 13 consecutive years winning at least one Grand Slam.

TopCourt official ITA e-learning platform: “As the ITA continues to work to provide new educational resources to college coaches and players, we are thrilled to partner with TopCourt and introduce to our coaches and players an engaging look into how the elite competitors and teachers in our game train,” said ITA CEO, Tim Russell.

Official E-Learning Partner Of The Ontario Tennis Association: “The OTA is pleased to be a partner with TopCourt and to welcome them as its new e-Coaching Platform Partner. TopCourt’s instructional series gives a unique behind-the-scenes look at the lives, training, and passions of some of the world’s top tennis professionals, including home-grown talent Bianca Andreescu. We look forward to promoting the benefits of TopCourt to our 250 member tennis clubs and the larger Ontario tennis community.” - Jim Boyce, CEO, and President, OTA 

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Kudos to TCB contributor Susan Nardi

Susan is the only tennis coach who won the 2021 National Double-Goal Coach Award by the Positive Coaches Alliance. She wrote me, "I am one of 4 coaches selected out of the 25 PCA National Double-Goal Coaches to have a short film at their National Award Event on April 18th. They are sending a camera crew to watch me coach. Pretty cool." Congratulations, Susan!

Here's the awards event info.

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PPR announces Advisory Board of Directors

PPR announced the formation of the inaugural PPR Advisory Board of Directors.  These board members, who will serve three-year terms, are Hemel Cosme (Chairman), Jarrett Chirico (Vice-Chairman), Lee Whitwell, (Secretary), Dan Regan (Director at Large), and Justin Maloof (USA Pickleball representative).  

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CrashCourse Concussion Story Wall

TeachAids, Brain Injury Association of America, and the National Council of Youth Sports Unite with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee’s National Governing Bodies to Launch the CrashCourse Concussion Story Wall.

The CrashCourse Concussion Story Wall is available at no cost starting today.

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NeoRhythm is one of the TOP4 Wearable Healthcare Innovations of 2021!

NeoRhythm has been selected among the TOP4 WEARABLE HEALTHCARE INNOVATIONS OF 2021! The award ceremony is online on 28 April, at 16.00 pm CET.

(After I bought my NeoRhythm about a year ago, it improved my sleep tremendously. Where I wasn't able to sleep more than 5 or 6 hours for decades, I now sleep between 7 and 8 1/2 hours every night! We sell Neorhythm in our web store.)

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I'm getting a little tired of the new Play Your Court ad on YouTube.

No, it's not even the fact that it comes after EVERY song now. Or that I have to watch Scott Baxter's and Nathan Bolling's faces (what's with the beards?). It's the exaggerated quotation marks with his fingers whenever Scott utters the words "tennis club" that rub me the wrong way. Most club owners have put their sweat and their money into building and maintaining their facility. Most of them have gone through very hard times sustaining their business through 2020. And now these guys are disrespecting them with that ad. Not cool, if you ask me.

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NGI Sports Commemorates a Dynasty

Seven years ago NGI heralded the installation of the TitanTrax Shield® surface for the first set of tennis courts at Watertown High School located at Brandt Quirk Park in Watertown, Wisconsin.  Today, all the tennis courts in this entire municipality are surfaced with TitanTrax Shield®.

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Level 2 Indoors in Boise, Idaho

I just want to give a plug to tennis friend and USPTA Elite Professional, Robert Stark. He's running the Level 2 indoors in Idaho this year.  Men's '55s - '45s'40s, '80s, '85s, '90s.

Players can contact him at email robert@robertsterk.com or phone 208-602-1493 for additional information including lodging and finding doubles partners.  They can also visit Facebook “USTA Men’s Indoor Championships”

RSI New York, anybody home?

We reported about this how many months ago? The Racquet Sports Industry office in New York City lists a phone number that is disconnected. Can someone in Orlando please take a minute and pay their phone bill? Or shall I start a collection for you guys?

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If you have information worth mentioning in this BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION forum, please contact Pat via email. Leave your name and phone number if you want us to get back to you for further clarification. Anonymity is guaranteed if you prefer. Thank you!

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SHOUT-OUTS

To the tennis players of San Francisco - who made the dream of a new tennis center happen. Watch the video.

To the high-profile tennis industry CEO - who called me to tell me "it's awesome what TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS does every month." Thank you, Sir.

To Becky Carlson - for fighting an uphill battle against college admins favoring men’s sports. (see her article this month)

To the trio of Bill Patton, Gary Horvath, and Rod Heckelman - for always being there for me whenever I run into problems, writer's block, or similar challenges.

To all the guitar players and enthusiasts in the world - because April is International Guitar Month.

Have a great April, friends!

Rich Neher

Publisher

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