• Dear Reader

  • The plight of an independent tennis coach in Austin, Texas

  • USTA awards PTR full accreditation

  • May Survey regarding facility grants

  • Women in Tennis

  • Documentary "Love Means Zero"

  • Anonymous Quote

  • Brought to my attention

  • Other and "Big Picture" content

  • Inner Game Experience Week

  • Shout-Outs

Rich Neher is the owner of Tennis Media Group, formerly a Consulting and Publishing Firm for Tennis Clubs, now Publishers of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS. He is also the Executive Director of Los Angeles based California Social Tennis Network. Besides managing tennis clubs and organizing community tennis, Rich has been the Team Lead for Adult Leagues and NTRP ratings on the USTA Tennislink Team and was a Board Member of the San Diego District Tennis Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 Community Service Award from the USPTA San Diego Division and of the 2019 PTR Media Excellence Award.
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Dear Reader,


I am quite thrilled with the e-mails we're getting regarding the quality of our newsletter. Couldn't be more appreciative of all those words of encouragement. It made me create our new motto which will be available on large coffee mugs next month:

I encourage all our readers to think independently, always question what THEY are feeding you as the truth, and hold their feet to the fire. You know what I mean by THEY, right? From the USTA to the ITF, state and federal governments, multi-national companies, world organizations, and the bad apples among so-called non-profit charities. And don't give your USTA section a pass just because it's where you live! And don't give the ITF President a pass because he comes from the USTA. One of the more progressive USTA Board members told me last week: "Think of him as coming out of the USTA 'Good Ole Boys' swamp." If you're not toeing the line doesn't mean that you're against everything they do and say. What it means is, you are thinking about growing tennis and nothing else. That's the difference.


Yes, for the first time since we started publishing in January of 2014, we are running a referral promotion for TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS. Starting May 29 and all throughout June, you can collect points by referring your friends and colleagues as new subscribers. The more referral points you log through our referral partner, the better your chances to win our prize, the BIG HEAD TENNIS PACKAGE. 

Here's the prize: 

1 HEAD Speed S Graphene 360+ Tennis Racquet

1 HEAD Tour Team Bag

1 HEAD Cap (white)

1 set of HEAD Hawk Monofilament Strings

1 Can of Penn Tennis Balls

Value: $280

Here's the link for you for details and to enter the promotion.


Good luck and thank you for your continued readership!







Yes, we are finally there, many clubs have reopened. We asked a bunch of California clubs (our home turf) about their experience after the reopening and put their answers under LETTERS TO THE EDITOR this month. While we're very happy for the clubs, we have to ask some serious questions:

  1. Why was the order to reopen delayed in California? Did the USTA section staff do their job advocating for an early opening right away? Did USTA national send out guidelines to the sections for advocating way too late? I'm pleased that section CEO Marla Messing replied to my relevant question saying she's on top of things. A little weird was how her e-mail ended, though: "At the same time, we are not interested in rushing the process." Huh? I think I know what she meant but it still looked weird. No?

  2. Unfortunately, various California county authorities have taken it upon themselves to not follow state guidelines and delay the opening of tennis clubs. While many clubs have opened in Ventura, San Fernando Valley, Los Angeles, and Orange County, San Diego County remained closed for no good reason. Did the San Diego District Tennis Association ED do his job?


The above mentioned points out one dilemma that has plagued our sport for as far as I can think back: The lack of widespread, organized ADVOCACY. Here is some area where Michael Dowse could really start an initiative that will show mid-and long-term results all over the U.S.A. Put a plan together, give it to section volunteers, let them run with it, monitor the progress, adjust where necessary. That's how you do it. But DON'T let the USTA Deep State staff develop and monitor that plan. Do it yourself or it will be just another Net Generation disaster!


I learned of Aruna Bernier's fight with the city of Austin after I inquired about her organization TennisBuddy's, LLC.  Thought maybe it's interesting enough to put it into our newsletter. Well, as a 16-year-old organization trying to grow tennis and its programs, TennisBuddys is certainly worth the recognition, especially since founder Aruna is the recipient of PTR's 2016 Humanitarian Award. She is also very actively engaged in disaster relief for the people of Nepal as the President of Arunas Nepal Relief, Inc. And she likes drawing (see painting below).


Aruna also happens to be an independent contractor without a big club or other facility backing her and we know now what that meant during the worst of the Pandemic: she was SOL. But Aruna is a fighter. She kept protesting and tried everything she could to get the city to allow her to open her business. She sent letters to everyone from the City of Austin to Sean Hannity (tennis player and tv/radio host). Here's the timeline:

March 16 - Aruna was ordered to cease on-court instruction.

March/May - Aruna wrote to the city office.

May 4 - Tennis play and instruction were permitted to resume at other city-owned courts.

May 4 - A city official called her and said the following: "Based on your size and income, you are not our priority as you don't bring the big money for us and the city like the bigger concessionary companies do.  You just have to wait until further notice."

And then her USTA grant application was rejected as not eligible. Nice, eh? Well, Aruna updated me periodically. On May 20 she decided to go ahead with her lessons under strict safety guidelines. Amazingly, all her students were standing behind her.

Then the Governor of Texas used his authority with the "Open Texas Strike Force" to enable all tennis activities to start again. Aruna writes on her website that registrations for her program start May 31 again.


But Aruna is obviously disappointed. She writes, "For real, no one gives a hoot about small businesses.  All the big shots are the same.  Lost faith in a lot! Will see what the future holds for my business but will keep fighting for what I created till the end!"

I'd say, fight on, Aruna. We all know that thousands of U.S. independent tennis contractors were (or maybe still are) in the same boat. Her experience shows me again that those independent tennis professionals should organize. Form an organization that really fights for you. Maybe even as a subset of the two big organizations USPTA and PTR. Regardless, something's got to be done, folks, or next time we'll lose a lot more tennis coaches!



You have probably all read the announcement May 28:

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) today announced that the Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) has received full accreditation under the USTA’s accreditation program for organizations and institutions that certify U.S. tennis teaching professionals. The goal of the program is to elevate professional tennis coaching standards by implementing mandatory pre-certification standards for those seeking to become a certified teaching pro and to provide an improved and consistent continuing education program for all current certified professionals who are members of accredited organizations. 


The PTR was awarded full accreditation following the approval of its application by the USTA’s Accreditation Review Committee. The PTR joins the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) as the only USTA accredited tennis teaching professional organizations. The PTR’s accreditation status will be reviewed after a three-year period. 

Congrats to Dan Santorum and his organization. I am wondering if that would have happened without Michael Dowse's active involvement. Good for everybody.

The only questionable part of this USTA press release came at the very end. Someone (Widmaier?) felt it necessary to add this statement about the USTA: "A not-for-profit organization with more than 655,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game." Hahaha, that's a good one. Here is what that should read: "...655,000 members, it invests 100% of what's left after plush salaries, expenses, retirement and severance packages, many millions wasted on Player Development and Net Generation, Lake Nona and other questionable investments, to growing the US Open."


Mid-May we had sent out a survey regarding the May 1 USTA message:


I have listed all the replies and Gary Horvath was nice enough to analyze it and put it all in perspective. Please look it up under Facility Grants Survey.


Ed Shanaphy, Tennis Director, consultant to the industry, and the man behind beyondthebaselines.com, wrote two articles this month. In one of them he suggests that women actually make more money in tennis than men. He says women are in short supply and "so is the take-home pay of most female professionals in comparison to male counterparts at the same teaching level."


The other celebrates a woman whose Atlanta-based organization Agape Tennis Academy we featured in August last year: Amy Pazahanick (right).


We also feature two female writers who talk about business survival: Brit Emma Skingley (above left), owner of Smash Sports Marketing, and Norwegian Christina Mihaela Carare (right), founder of Nordic Tennis.


We think female tennis players should be encouraged to become coaches, especially since so many of the "established" coaches seem to be aging out now. So we encouraged seven female tennis-teaching professionals to answer a few questions and provide an insight into their work plus a few photos.

Here they are, from left: Breanna Bachini (California), Vidi Demireva (UK), Roxy Enica (New York), Nikki Roth (Florida), Jennifer Gelhaus (Massachusetts), Erin Callahan (California), Diana Donoslovic (California).


Read all articles under the header WOMEN IN TENNIS.


Speaking about women: Did you know it was a female tennis professional right here in Southern California who ws the driving force behind the Nick Bollettieri documentary? Former WTA Touring Pro and current Director of Tennis at the Beverly Hills Tennis Club, Anne White came up with the idea, got the right people involved who introduced her to Showtime and off she went with it. Check out our article about The Making of Love Means Zero.




I heard they are contemplating doing the 2020 World Conference online instead of going to New Orleans. I say, do it! It'll save everyone some money and nobody has to travel. Woohoo. What a concept post-Pandemic.


It seems the Pandemic is making Michael Dowse's job easier. It'll help him streamline the organization, for sure.


I heard they have offered employees over the age of 50 a generous severance package if they quit. Also, the same source told me that most of the outside consultants got furloughed. Wow. Is that's the way for the USTA getting leaner I'm all for it. How about cutting Player Development and giving those 21 Million to grassroots tennis? Make the 60+ staff in this department become section volunteers and start advocating for tennis nationwide. With a performance-based salary. And make Craig Morris their volunteer leader. Oops, that would actually grow tennis. Sorry.

USTA should start a nationwide EMPLOYER CAMPAIGN

I heard that on a ZOOM call last week. Not a bad idea. Since we all agree that tennis is one of the safest sports around, if not THE safest, why not create an initiative suggesting all employers to encourage their staff to pick up tennis? Make a deal with health insurance companies for special rates. Go to the White House and make them sign on to it for tax breaks. So many things could be done. Don't you think? I have just the person who would be ideal to spearhead this. Ask me for the name.


I applaud the USTA for making those $4 Mio. for certified tennis professionals available to cover their dues next year. Although it sounds weird to me that both the PTR and the USPTA don't have resources saved up to do this on their own without becoming indebted to the USTA. I may be the only person thinking that, though. So, congrats U.S. certified tennis professionals in good standing. Every little bit helps. Right?


I am reading what seems to be a new disclaimer at the end of a TIA Report:

Any publication of copyrighted material outside your organization without the prior consent of Tennis Industry Association is expressly prohibited. You should send us a copy of any literature that references our data before it is published. We will generally agree to such publication, but ask you to adhere to the following guidelines:


• The information should be a clear, fair, and accurate representation of what our research indicates 

• The time period & measure (units or dollars) should be clearly indicated 

• Tennis Industry Association should be cited as the source of the information 


While proper due care and diligence has been taken in the preparation of this document, the Tennis Industry Association cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information contained and does not accept any liability for any loss or damage caused as a result of using information or recommendations contained within this document. 

Interesting. Not sure if it is new but I've never seen it before. And I stand by my opinion which I have voiced for quite some time now: The TIA is trusting data to be correct that seems questionable to me. And I have been able to substantiate my opinion time and again. The data coming out of SMS (Sports Marketing Surveys) is based on old assumptions and helps to keep up the appearance of tennis being much bigger than it has been reduced to in the last 20 years.



Big Picture Ideas

We are happy to be able to bring you some great Big Picture content this month. Our FEATURE article comes from Gary Horvath again, who asks "What is next for the tennis economy?" Tennis celebrity in her own right, Delaine Mast, tells us that "Champions Adjust" and Scott Mitchell asks "What has happened to tennis?" while suggesting that a paradigm shift is needed for future growth. UTR's David Fish tells us about "The 2nd coming of Open Tennis." Rod Heckelman and Ken DeHart give us insight into smart ways of opening up your club. Larry Haugnes suggests it's time to "Reset and get back to local play."

New Stuff

Have you heard of Street Racket? It's new, it's from Switzerland (must be good, right?) and Street Racket founder Marcel Straub is very excited!

And then there is tennishead.net. The British tennis publication has an amazing promotion going. Sign up for their club membership and get an Asics gift box with shoes and clothing. Wow. And they ship to the USA. I'm sure a lot of people will sign up for it. 

License to Blast

I set out to look at some of the online tennis teaching apps and found some good ones and some others, haha. It's unbelievable what some of the apps do to attract clients with daily, or in some cases, twice daily emails. But, read for yourself under LICENSE TO BLAST.


Tim Gallwey sent me the following message:

How are you, I hope safe and well. We are very proud to announce our The Inner Game Experience Week 2020 that will occur from June 20 - 27th online with exclusive content and many different keynote talks. 

It will be an amazing event with the participation of +30 speakers, from different countries, cultures, and subjects, including many friends like:

  • Peter Senge - the author of The Fifth Discipline;

  • David Clutterbuck - co-founder of EMCC;

  • Peter Block - best Seller Author, expert in community building, and civic engagement;

  • Mitch Ditkoff - author | co-founder of Idea Champions;

  • Alan Kay - Technology Expert - Apple | Disney | HP;    and many others.

During this week we will have online live events and also many different kinds of content to create a huge engagement in our audience.

you can see the whole program here and register today with a special condition.

In this very challenging moment, we will offer to health and care people a FREE pass. This is our simple way to say "thank you" to all of these heroes.

We hope we can be together this week that will celebrate 50 years of The Inner Game.

See you soon. Our best.

Tim Gallwey and Renato Ricci
Founders of The Inner Game Institute



All tennis professionals - for successfully switching to survival mode and now are able to get back to work.


Dan Santorum - for hanging in there and weathering all storms coming his way like a champion.

Aruna Bernier - for not giving up and staying the course amid a hurricane coming her way.

Female tennis professionals - for having such a positive attitude and outlook regarding the business of tennis

Have a good June, everyone.

Rich Neher



"If I listen to another BAG CHECK I'll blow my head off!"

That was a prominent Director of Tennis of a well-known Southern California country club. We were talking about the Tennis Channel, of course. And I can understand his feelings. I think the main reason they are growing so slowly is the lack of exciting content and the price.