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THE GOOD

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Two apps are currently conquering the U.S. Market:
- CourtReserve + Str8 Sets Tennis

Shaun Boyce's book 'How Not to Play Tennis'

Thank you, Racquet Sports Industry Magazine

Billie Jean King chimes in on a hot topic

New WTA 500 Tour Event: San Diego Open

TWO APPS ARE CURRENTLY CONQUERING THE U.S. MARKET

 

CONTEXT: The U.S tennis market is very attractive for software developers and a lot of them are still planning to enter the market. The apps are getting sophisticated but most of them have the same old functions of matching up players and wanting to be their go-to network. Two apps stand out right now, CourtReserve and Str8 Sets Tennis. CourtReserve has been around for a few years and gets outstanding reviews from its users, foremost: The USTA National Campus in Orlando. Str8 Sets Tennis is the new kid on the block from Australia, ready to conquer a segment of the U.S. tennis market.

COURTRESERVE

Disclaimer: CourtReserve is an advertiser in TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS. So, for this article, I didn't just want to post statements from owners Tim or Ashley Owens. Instead, I asked their biggest client, the USTA. The below statement came from the Senior Director at the National Campus, Joanne (Jo) Wallen.

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CourtReserve has been incredible to work with

With 98 courts, and with a wide variety of programs and needs, including public use, private lessons, major events, and community programming, the overall scheduling of the USTA National Campus can seem complicated, and at times, near-overwhelming.

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Jo Wallen

That said, CourtReserve, in the two years we have been working with them, has allowed us to cut through these complications and make booking and scheduling easy for both everyday players and our operations team here at the Campus. We are incredibly pleased working with them, and moving forward with them as we continue to build out the USTA’s internal digital backbone that will be able to handle multiple vendors of all sorts that can benefit tennis fans across the country. 

 

This ease of access was evident from the start. CourtReserve was a simple initial set-up and the program’s customizable settings make its product very user-friendly.

 

We use CourtReserve for all of our facility courts needs not only at the USTA National Campus but also at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.  Our guests at these facilities can register for any of the diverse programs we offer and they can book courts. 

 

The app is easy to use and CourtReserve constantly improves an already great product, and this is a great asset for our guests. 

 

The backend of the program allows us to seamlessly communicate to all of our guests, such as confirming reservations and bookings and (something especially important in Florida) the ability to notify our guests when weather necessitates schedule changes.  

 

Beyond the consumer experience, CourtReseve also has a robust reporting module which we use to track finances, along with data for customer retention. 

 

CourtReserve has been incredible to work with, their customer service is first class and they are receptive to client needs and future improvements. 

 

We are extremely excited to continue a long-term relationship with them at both of our facilities. 

You can't get a better recommendation than that. Congrats, CourtReserve! Tim and Ashley Owens must be doing something right! We hear that new updates are in the works and will be introduced in the coming months such as 

  • New Version of the CourtReserve Mobile App

  • Player Match Maker

  • Waitlist for Courts

  • Instructor Payout Reports

  • Packages

  • Organized Play

 

Interested readers can reach out to CourtReserve and schedule a call with their Leadership Team. https://calendly.com/courtreserve-team/intro-call-with-a-founder.

STR8 SETS TENNIS

We became aware of Str8 Sets Tennis only a few weeks ago when a local SoCal tennis club replaced their existing court reservation system with the new app. And soon enough we found out that Str8 Sets Tennis is not "just another court reservation program" but much more. 

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We asked the Regional SoCal Sales Manager, Peter Boyer, to give us his spiel. Here it is:

"Str8 Sets Tennis is one of the fastest-growing tennis club management systems in the world.  We specialize in helping you manage the day-to-day of your club while focusing on enhancing the member experience. We pair powerful functions, such as Full Membership Management, Court Bookings, Clinic/Class Registrations, and Point of Sale with member-facing social features, such as automated match pairing (Matcha), Match Score reporting, League Management with In-App Score Reporting, Communications directly in-app between members and with your club, and The Circle, allowing you to stay connected to your hitting buddies and plan your next hit. Schedule a demo today to see how our club software and app fit your club.

That's the intriguing part about Str8 Sets Tennis. Being able to run the entire club from one app. Peter offered that our readers can contact him directly at peter.boyer@str8sets.com or by phone at (419) 296-2114

HOW NOT TO PLAY TENNIS

I have read quite a few tennis books in the past 10 years but none of them was so refreshingly odd as USPTA Pro Ankle Biters guru and Atlanta Tennis Podcast co-founder Shaun Boyce's book 'How NOT to Play Tennis.' And that booklet isn't even new, it was published first in 2009.

 

Shaun has the unique ability to mix serious topics like 'watching the ball hitting the strings' (instead of the common phrase 'watch the ball') with his very own humoristic view of the world and the game of tennis. 

Shaun's three basic concepts are PREPOSITIONAL, OPTICAL, and ANATOMICAL tennis. His concepts are by no means unique but they make a whole lot of sense. Example: We are all aware that there are unlimited ways to attempt an explanation of an idea or method within the tennis industry. However, there rarely is only one single correct way. Shaun writes, "One way to help create some continuity within the professional teaching industry is to create consistency within the verbiage used by tennis pros on a daily basis. If I can help just one tennis player communicate better with just one tennis professional, then this has been a successful venture."

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I don't want to give too much away but can assure our readers this is one heck of a fun and interesting little book. It's available on Amazon.

THANK YOU, RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY MAGAZINE

Our recycling and sustainability efforts got a nice mention in their June issue. Much appreciated. Here's the June issue.

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BILLIE JEAN KING CHIMES IN ON A HOT TOPIC

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NEW WTA 500 TOUR EVENT: SAN DIEGO OPEN

The inaugural San Diego Open WTA 500 Tournament, featuring the world’s top women’s professional tennis players, will be played in San Diego this October, tournament officials have announced.  The Hologic WTA Tour event will take place Saturday, Oct. 8 through Sunday, Oct. 16 at Barnes Tennis Center located at 4490 W Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA 92107.

See full press release here.
 

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THE BAD

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Testing bottlenecks and confusion still haunting the USPTA?

When will the World Tennis Number (WTN) insanity end?

Update on the Wimbledon mess

Update on sexual discrimination lawsuits involving the USTA

Obscene US Open ticket prices

USTA: $2B spent, $726M debt, and very little achieved

TESTING BOTTLENECKS AND CONFUSION STILL HAUNTING THE USPTA

CONTEXT: Remember my February 2022 feature article "American Tennis Coaches Certification Chaos - Who will solve the puzzle?" in which I stated, "Tennis coaches certification used to be a relatively simple process because the USTA was not involved in it. USTA involvement in anything - except for the national adult league program - inevitably leads to confusion, convoluted rules, and untested procedures administered by capable staff but ordered by incapable leaders with the backing of a "company men" Board of Directors, and chaos. The number of unfortunate programs that died and have gone to the graveyard of USTA brilliance is endless and I expect Net Generation and USTA certification involvement to go there, too. The premise for trying to standardize U.S. tennis teaching programs may have been honorable but caught in the middle are USPTA and PTR."

Well, in the above-mentioned article I also shared the reply I got from Sid Newcomb, the USPTA Head Tester: One last word in regards to the allegations that "no one at the USPTA is testing anymore." It still needs more research but Sid Newcomb assured me over the phone that's not true. However, in the meantime, more and more people have come forward again with information that may not be entirely true. Here are some of the statements I received:

"People have to take 2 USTA tests and have to pass those and pay for them before they can take the USPTA test."

"I have very little money and they want me to travel to a faraway testing site for 3 days. Insane."

"The USPTA makes it too hard for people to become tennis coaches."

"Tim Heckler would turn in his grave!"

"McGill is responsible for this disaster."

"I think Feisal was responsible for the testing/certification mess." (See LETTERS/OPINIONS this month)

"The USPTA is flying people with titles around the country to few locations and the real testers are sitting idle."

Tim Heckler would turn in his grave!

Please also read Gary Horvath's well-researched article THE GREAT RESET - CERTIFICATION AND CONTINUING EDUCATION in this issue.

 

So we go from not having enough pros in 2019 to 2020 when the USPTA could not certify (but the USTA paid everyone's dues). Then in 2021, the USPTA was on hold because of changes dictated by the USTA. A USTA Master Pro put it this way: "Why would anyone in their right mind want to replace a tested certification process with an untested certification process at a time when the industry was trying to certify pros to serve 5 million new people?"

Basically, I think there are three issues of concern that created this bottleneck:

1. Not enough testing sites

2. The high cost of being certified

3. The USTA is involved

As mentioned above, the USTA does not have a good track record when it comes to running a successful program with one exception: USTA Adult Leagues. That's the ONLY one. Everything else has disappeared into a gigantic black hole or may do so soon.

The USTA does not have a good track record when it comes to running a successful program with one exception: USTA Adult Leagues. That's the ONLY one. Everything else has disappeared in a gigantic black hole or may do so soon.

If you want to make sure the U.S. tennis-teaching profession is going to die or become insignificant, hand both USPTA and PTR over to the USTA.

WHEN WILL THE WORLD TENNIS NUMBER (WTN) INSANITY END?

CONTEXT: USTA's flagship rating program NTRP was working great when leadership was confronted with a well-thought-out program called UTR. My sources reported, "Instead of working with UTR CEO Mark Leschly and cooperating for the good of their members and players, the same leadership went into Rip-Off & Replicate mode. Together with the ITF leader, they planned to copy UTR and spent untold millions of dollars to order their own version from British developer Club Spark."The USTA people responsible for NTRP started behind the scene to undermine the program, disbanded the National Oversight Group (NOG), and declared that the new program would replace NTRP.

 

The new program was named World Tennis Number (WTN) and to make the rip-off less obvious, its rating scale was changed from 1-16.5 (UTR) to 40-1. While dealing with delay after delay, USTA staff went out and fabricated stories about the difference between NTRP and WTN, probably because they didn't really understand any of them. Example: They touted that WTN calculated the ratings weekly instead of annually for the NTRP with complete disregard that NTRP ratings are calculated daily meaning every single night of the week.

What went wrong?

Who knows? The USTA doesn't have a brilliant track record when it comes to creating and implementing new programs. Main reason: the people employed to do those jobs are rarely qualified at all. That applied also to the liaison person between the USTA and Club Spark. Seems to me that very soon after the first delays, this whole affair turned into that prestige project no one had the guts to terminate. Instead of cutting it off and starting to grow tennis, they threw more money at it and hoped it would deliver sooner or later. I can imagine Mark Leschly was laughing all the way to the bank observing this from the outside.

On May 13, the USTA released a promo piece titled 'ITF World Tennis Number and USTA NTRP' making everyone believe that "WTN is really an ITF product and not ours" as if the ITF spent millions on the development. This comes after it was announced that WTN is really only meaningful for junior tennis right now although it's being published for adults, too.

Looking a little closer at the document shows us that the USTA people still don't understand ratings at all. Pulling wool over our eyes, that's what they're good at. Let's dissect just one of the statements.

"Let's be clear, USTA NTRP is NOT planned to go away." Meaning: We can't make WTN work for adult leagues. A few more millions spent and it'll work and THEN it will replace NTRP.

Key questions remain
I would ask the same board and the same executives that think dropping $20M annually on Player Development is money well spent, how do you sleep at night? Why are you still in your jobs? When are you going to bring NOG back? Have you ever thought about taking a fraction of the millions you threw at Club Spark and using it for improving NTRP? What's wrong with you people?

When I asked an industry leader (whose name shall remain anonymous) last year whether they were planning to change their league program from NTRP to UTR, they replied, "Not in a million years. We can't wait for WTN to come out." Here's my last question: How brainwashed can you be?

UPDATE ON THE WIMBLEDON MESS

 

CONTEXT: Rob Schmitz from NPR said it best: "Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis Grand Slam major, has barred Russian and Belarusian tennis players from participating in this year's tournament because of the invasion of Ukraine. The sports world has been taken aback by the All England Club's decision. The ramifications are huge for tennis. Several top players, including men's player Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev, and women's player Aryna Sabalenka, have been banned from the tournament."

 

ATP and WTA were not happy with that decision and announced that they will not make ranking points available for 2022 Wimbledon knowing very well that it will hurt a lot of players in the process.

 

One of the smartest analyses of the ongoing debacle comes from Matthew Willis in The Racquet (again): Tennis Fights Itself While Real War Rages.

Jon Wertheim tweeted:

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The Saga continues: Matthew Willis reported that sources have told The Times that discussions have already taken place with lawyers surrounding a potential breach in the long-standing agreement with the governing bodies — the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) — that allows the All England Club to offer points for match wins at the championships. It is understood that the other grand-slam tournaments — the Australian Open, French Open and US Open — are considering offering their support as part of a joint action.
Full piece.

As we all know, French Open organisers have decided not to follow Wimbledon and ban Russian and Belarusian competitors from the Grand Slam tournament. Novak Djokovic is - as always - quite outspoken, and he stands to lose 2,000 ranking points. The Bleacherreport quotes him as saying, "Novak Djokovic: 'Crazy' for Wimbledon to Bar Russian Players ...

We'll continue to watch the developments and may be able to bring you current news in our Mid-June issue.

UPDATE ON SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION LAWSUITS INVOLVING THE USTA

CONTEXT: Last month we reported: USTA Sued by Kylie McKenzie. That news hit our office like a bomb on March 30. A publication called AZCentral posted this headline on March 29: Phoenix tennis player Kylie McKenzie sues USTA over alleged sexual assault from coach. In the article, they detailed what allegedly happened to her at the USTA National Campus. The tennis coach in whose care Kylie was, is named as Anibal Aranda. She also accused the USTA of allegedly knowing that Aranda had a history of assault before assigning him to be her coach.

In the meantime, we read in the New York Times of another lawsuit involving the USTA where a Kansas City player by the name of Adrienne Jensen, was allegedly molested by a New Zealand coach Rex Haultain at her local club at age 15. Haultain took a plea deal in 2013 and was deported after serving time in federal prison. Matthew Futterman reports that "She detailed the abuse to prosecutors, supported the plea agreement and publicly shared extensive details of her experience in a series of interviews with The New York Times and in a 2020 federal lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association and the club that hosted Haultain’s business."

Jensen claims in her lawsuit that KC Racquet Club and the USTA did not live up to their duty to protect her from Haultain. Although a judge dismissed the complaint on a technicality, Futterman writes that "...the lawsuit revealed the U.S.T.A.’s longstanding resistance to taking more direct ownership of what many people involved at every major level of tennis said was a big problem: a poorly run system of certifying coaches and educating players about inappropriate and criminal behavior." He also reveals that the U.S.T.A. lists 81 people involved with tennis who have been suspended or are ineligible because they have been convicted or accused of abuse. "The list, which dates back many years, is widely viewed as the tip of the iceberg." He also quotes Pam Shriver claiming that we are not doing enough as a sport in this regard. Here is his interesting NYT article.

Star Sports News picked up the Kylie McKenzie story and focused on Mckenzie's claim that "...the USTA neglected to alert her that coach Anibal Aranda assaulted a USTA employee prior to working with McKenzie." This woman allegedly did not report the issue to her employer but informed the US Center for Safesport about Aranda. They write, according to the lawsuit filed, "At no point did Jane Doe take any measures to prevent Coach Aranda from engaging in inappropriate behavior with Plaintiff or any of his female athletes." That is, of course, one of the most interesting aspects in this case. If true, why did she not report it? McKenzie told the New York Times that her trauma was exacerbated when she learned that someone at the USTA could have warned her about her coach. She also talks about two other coaches who treated her inappropriately while she trained with the USTA.

I'm not saying that this so-called "toxic male culture" is pervasive at USTA training locations. I've never been to one and have never personally heard of any such cases. However, it does sort of fit in with the 'good old boys' image the USTA has and that may be the reason why the organization is so adamantly trying to insert themselves into coaches' training and certification issues lately. They are well-advised to do whatever is necessary to shed that image.

We'll keep you posted.

OBSCENE US OPEN TICKET PRICES

CONTEXT: At Tennis Club Business, we more often than not tend to fight for the little guy. Little Joey from the Bronx or from Brooklyn who can't afford the Tennis Channel or ESPN. The same Joey who, when in New York City during August/September, would love to see Roger Federer play at Arthur Ashe Stadium. But unfortunately, the USTA seems to go out of its way to make tennis unaffordable for the broad public. Just look at Junior Tennis and listen to the complaints of parents everywhere. 

Now, I get it, being almost broke and having no way of repaying some of the debt incurred by the previous administration and most of the current board members, increasing US Open ticket prices may be the only way of continuing with the high salaries and boondoggle programs that only widen the USTA money pit. Because no one has the guts to think like a business manager and cut expenses. Mind you, they just selected a CEO with a million-dollar salary and now need to fill his former position with someone who probably gets another million. But I digress...

No one at the USTA has the guts to think like a business manager and cut expenses. Mind you, they just selected a CEO with a million-dollar salary and now need to fill his former position with someone who probably gets another million.
When does the insanity ever end?

The following prices were found on Seat Geek for US Open on Monday, August 29, and include Seat Geek's fees. Btw, how much do you think grounds passes go for on Seat Geek? Mind you, they seem to include admission to everything except Arthur Ashe Stadium. Grounds passes go for anywhere from $114 to $274 on opening day.

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What do you think little Joey's chances are to see his idol at Arthur Ashe Stadium this year? We think Arthur would turn in his grave and curse the USTA. And what do you think, the chances are for the US Open to grow ticket revenue with this strategy?

Shame on you, USTA for once again forgetting little Joey. Mind you, we will never let up! We will be watching the USTA and calling them out when we see them raising the cost of tennis for little Joey so they can give their highest-paid executive a $253K pay raise in the middle of a pandemic!!

WE EMPOWER THE POWERLESS!

USTA: $2B spent, $726M debt, and very little achieved
Javier Palenque itemizes the wasteful spending for the first time

CONTEXT: We have in the past repeatedly reported about the USTA's decade-long spending spree which resulted in the accumulation of over $700M in debt. Now, for the first time, comes an itemized account created by USTA critic Javier Palenque titled DEAR CEO OF USTA, WHY IS THE NUMBER 70% SO HARD TO UNDERSTAND? 

Palenque focuses on the USTA executives' claims that 70% of all tennis is played in parks and schools but points out that this is not at all where the organization is spending any money. In the process, he lists all those big and small budget items that amount to over $2B in spending and the aforementioned huge debt over the last decade.

Javier Palanque's full article.

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THE UGLY

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Let them build their own courts - Tennis vs Pickleball Raiders

Fighting Pickleball Raiders in San Diego

Open Season for Pickleball in Miami

LET THEM BUILD THEIR OWN COURTS - TENNIS VS PICKLEBALL RAIDERS

 

CONTEXT: I am an outspoken fan of pickleball and have supported the sport in TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS for about seven years now. I had fun playing it occasionally and I'm always trying to look out for our readers' need to maximise their investment in their facilities. So, when Clubs add pickleball courts because their members want to play that sport, no problem here. Also, when unused or underused public tennis courts are being converted to pickleball courts, I can see that as fulfilling a need although I lament the fact that the tennis community oftentimes doesn't seem to care about filling those courts with life. At the same time I can't understand why some parks & rec authorities are making it so difficult for active tennis groups to use courts that are not busy. I remember when I approached L.A. Parks to start a weeknight drop-in group at one of their parks, they asked for court fees plus a large percentage of the (very small) profits and then they mocked me when I asked why. I draw the line when I see more and more situations where the tennis community is active and thriving but pickleball Ambassadors insert themselves into that community demanding tennis courts to be converted. Here's where I agree with Martina Navratilova and say BUILD YOUR OWN DAMN COURTS!

Sports Illustrated published a very interesting article about pickleball and the infighting that sport is witnessing right now: ‘Pickleball Is the Wild, Wild West’: Inside the Fight Over the Fastest-Growing Sport in America. You think tennis is a divided and quarreling community? Just read about pickleball and be amazed!

One of the feuding parties in the SI piece, billionaire Steve Kuhn, has in the meantime started MLP - Major League Pickleball and was able to impress us at the New York Stock Exchange by ringing the NYSE bell: Major League Pickleball (MLP) Takes Over New York Stock Exchange Floor. (The Dink)

Essentially Sports reported about Martina Navratilova's views in the May 10 article ‘Let Them Build Their Own Courts’ – Martina Navratilova Opposes Pickleball Players for Taking Over Tennis Courts. She was irked about pickleball players in some town that are hell bent on taking over and converting some tennis courts that are being used. And there are more and more of those cases now where pickleballers claim the tennis courts are underused and obviously know how to creatively manipulate their evidence. Go to most tennis clubs or many public facilities at 1 pm and you find very few players. However, it's most often a different story between 7 am and noon or after 4 pm. Taken 2 or 3 tennis clubs away does a tremendous disservice to the tennis community and cannot be justified in my opinion.

FIGHTING PICKLEBALL RAIDERS IN SAN DIEGO

Then there is the sad story about two Pickleball Bullies who have inserted themselves into the San Diego Tennis Community. Their claim that the Barnes Tennis Center, one of the busiest public tennis facilities in the nation, is only 25% utilized seems to me as bogus as the USTA's claim they're growing tennis.

The local USTA district, San Diego District Tennis Association (SDDTA), published information about that attempted coup on April 27 already: San Diego aims to save tennis facilities as pickleball coup continues. San Diego happens to be one of the biggest tennis hotbeds in California, with tons of players and a large number of public and private facilities. Like everywhere else in Southern California, many of those private facilities are often in danger of being bought out and turned into more lucrative condo complexes.

Anish Vishwakoti writes that the SDDTA "has recently been fighting a battle against certain organizations in pickleball that are demanding ownership of courts that have been home to thousands of tennis players for decades."Current SDDTA President John Broderick stresses that the local tennis community has met the pickleballers with a welcoming feeling of co-habitation. "We want to see all racquet sports flourish and we want to bring the community together," says Broderick and points to the fact that pickleball players frequently share the same or adjacent court space with tennis. As a player of tennis, padel, pickleball, and beach tennis, Broderick is sincere about wanting to see many different racquet sports played in his community. 

The corporate pickleball "raiders" in question are Stefan Boyland and Mike Shinzaki, reportedly both from New York, who were described to me as arrogant bullies who seem to use bogus data and questionable methods to convince city planners to give them courts from the Barnes Tennis Center-adjacent Penninsula (Robb Field) tennis courts to create their dream of building a "regional pickleball facility in San Diego City proper."

The proposal is now winding its way through the bureaucratic process with both sides trying to defend their case and activate their supporters. Broderick says in the April article, "We’re going to look at ways to offer other options that can work with them directly and perhaps help facilitate pickleball, separately from tennis and grow a sports facility with regards to racquet sports at that location at Peninsula.”

I'm on the tennis side in that case. My message to the pickleball raiders: Build your own damn courts!

We'll keep you posted.

JP'S WARNING FOR FLORIDA: OPEN SEASON FOR PICKLEBALL IN MIAMI?

 

CONTEXT: Since Miami is also the east coast location of the TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS office, we noticed lots of tennis courts are unused at all times of the day. So, we asked Javier Palenque to give us a high-level view of the situation in Florida, specifically in the area of his hometown of Miami. Here is his reply.

1.- Florida has now 22M people 15% of which are kids of age between 5-18 or the equivalent of 3.3M kids.

2.- If 1% of these kids played tennis, we should have 33,000 kids play the sport in Florida.

3.- If we consider boys, girls, 10U,12U,14U,16U,18U (10 categories girls, 10 categories boys), and if we
     have 1000 kids per age group that is 20,000 kids or 0.6% of the kid’s population. This number is
     shrinking even though the population is growing. So, the trend is towards fewer people playing. This is
     terrible in a state with warm weather and thousands of courts in every park, school, and condo complex.

 4.- In Florida, three counties constitute 30% of the population, Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach.

      Please see the census web page in this link you can look up by county

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Every weekend I drive around Miami, for business or activities, all courts are mostly empty, and if they are used, the age of the people playing is over 50 years old.

If no attention is given to the demographic shifts and tennis court capacity utilization, then it is open season for pickleball, and we'll be losing the once-owned tennis real estate. It will only contract the sport at an unheard-of speed as there are no young people picking the sport up.

If no attention is given to the demographic shifts and tennis court capacity utilization, then it is open season for pickleball.

Rich's Two Cents

Another reason why the 2022 Davis Cup tie against Colombia should have been played in Miami and not in Reno, Nevada. Can you imagine the excitement this could have created for tennis? The brain-dead USTA person who picked Reno over Miami should get some training on common sense!

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Another teaching pro put it this way, "For the past decade, the USPTA was sidetracked with kissing the USTA's ass (moving to Florida so they can be snuggle bunnies with them), being woke, and certifying pickleball players.  In the interim, they made the education points easier to get. 15 (hours) points in 3 years. The only requirement for getting 15 points is that you are breathing and can sign onto zoom every other month."

 

And last week I received a message from a very well-known tennis coach with high name recognition. The owner of his resort reported her experience with the testing mess. "She was supposed to get her USPTA certification after she completed all education and testing including Safe Play. She was told because she did the training and testing through the USPTA, she now has to redo it through the USTA to be able to become fully certified as a teaching professional. They told her that the USTA is now certifying pros."

I reached out to the USPTA and got this reply from Jim Sidwell, Certification Manager: "Unfortunately, that sounds like they received misinformation. Once certified through the USPTA we do not require any further testing or training via the USTA in any form. The only thing I can think of that they may have been confused with is the USTA does offer Level 1 training in person which is similar to the level 1 workshop we offer in the USPTA certification pathway for both Tennis Instructors and Professionals."

Then his boss chimed in as well and flat out accused the club owner of making that story up and me of publishing fake news. I realized one more time why people come to me with information: because the organizations out there would either defame them or retaliate in the worst way. Or both. That club owner is a USPTA member who got erroneous information from a USTA staffer if I'm not mistaken. If I was her, I would seriously rethink the need for certification at all.

While I have no reason to doubt Sidwell's statement, I kind of wonder why there is so much confusion out there. And, as in so many other cases, it all goes back to... wait for it....it's coming.... the USTA.

Btw, I have asked the PTR's Dan Santorum and Brian Parkkonen to comment on the confusion but did not receive a reply by the time of publication.

FINAL WORDS: It appears to me that the teaching pros actually did a lot to make certification and education work - they deserve credit for that effort. Instead, the response from the USPTA seems to be, "Screw you, we are doing what the USTA wants."  You are just a pro - nothing more than a ball-burner.

 

But somehow I'm being reminded of the song "The devil came down to Georgia" by Charlie Daniels. He has some fitting lines like"I'll bet a fiddle of gold against your soul. 'Cause I think I'm better than you." However, this is not an honest fiddling contest. The USTA likes to play with loaded dice and the USPTA executives obviously didn't see that. If you want to make sure the U.S. tennis-teaching profession is going to die or become insignificant, hand your organization over to the USTA.

FOLLOW THE MONEY-USTA: According to my sources, the mess we're in seems to have originated in the office of the biggest spender the USTA had at the time: Kurt Kamperman. Since opening up new income sources must be a priority now for the USTA board and executives, they have absolutely no problem spending money upfront on staff, travel, and other expenses for their certification plans. 

 

FOLLOW THE MONEY-USPTA: It seems to me the USPTA is caught in a vicious cycle. In order to replace the member churn, you need newly certified members. Somehow the USTA is not letting them do as much as they could do. Is that because they want their own certification programs to be the law of the land? And then it dawned on me: That's why the USPTA may be so obsessed with Pickleball training and certification. The USTA does not (yet) have their sticky fingers in the Pickleball pot. Does anyone want to bet Craig Morris is already planning that at Lake Nona?

FINAL QUESTIONS: Has the USTA's 2020 Covid subsidy cash bought the soul of the USPTA? What else may be the reason for them not standing up for their members and telling the USTA to take a hike? Is the USTA completely honest with their "partners" about their real plans for tennis teaching certification?

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