Dear Reader: Cautiously optimistic
So many questions
Remembering a teaching legend
Cleaning House at the USTA
USTA Facility Grants
- Tennis Tribe mailing successful
Brought to my attention
Shameless Book Promo
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.
What a wild June we had. I know the ups and downs of that Coronavirus challenge were driving some of you crazy. Courts were opening in Florida, but not in New York and California. Other states loosened restrictions but only for singles play. USTA sections were torn between the need to start leagues and the stringent requirements of their states and counties. What a messy world we're in right now.
Down in Lake Nona they were hoping for New York Governor Cuomo to greenlight their U.S. Open plans - and he did. The official announcement came June 17, followed by an update on the 24th because someone had forgotten the wheelies in those plans. Ooops. We have posted both announcements under PRESS RELEASES. I'm not sure what's going to happen in light of the fact that so many top players are now testing positive. Let's hope it'll all work out so the USTA bank accounts get some relief.
Stacey Allaster is the new US Open Tournament Director. Is that a good thing? Not sure. Everyone seems to love her but her demise from the WTA CEO post is still wrapped in a shroud of mystery. Let's hope it'll work out because this job is critical for the US Open in so many ways.
Most importantly, it is apparent that the USTA under Mike Dowse is trying to take on a strong leadership role again. That's a good sign. I'm cautiously optimistic.
SUBSCRIBER REFERRAL PROMOTION
Thank you, everyone, for participating in the June Referral Promotion. We'll draw the winner on Wednesday, July 1st and the HEAD Super Prize package will be shipped on Thursday, July 2nd. I'll announce the winner in a mailing later this month.
JULY REFERRAL PROMOTION
Click on the short video (left) to discover that new Photo Mug we'll ship to everyone providing us with only 10 new subscribers in July. The subscribers have to be tennis professionals or work in the tennis industry (USTA, PTR, USPTA, Clubs, CTA's, Academies, Vendors, etc.)
The TCB Photo Mug will also be available for purchase with a percentage of the profits going to a tennis non-profit for disadvantaged kids. I'm setting up a web store for the mug and other novelty tennis products. More about this later.
SO MANY QUESTIONS...
I am getting emails with your ideas, questions, challenges, and, yes, a few conspiracy theories, too. And I have my own ideas, of course. Here are some of the questions that need answers. Let me know if you agree.
TENNIS INDUSTRY UNITED
What function does it serve? It seems to exist in name only. Is anyone reading the articles posted on that site?
TENNIS INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION
Looking at the leadership the USTA has shown recently, is there really a need to still have the TIA? What are they doing besides acting as the middle man for an annual survey the USTA seems to be paying for anyway?
INTERCOLLEGIATE TENNIS ASSOCIATION
Seeing all those schools abandoning their tennis programs just in the last few weeks and months, I am wondering why so many people think the ITA has done a great job advocating for college tennis? Are they really aware of the 'bloodletting' that's going on in U.S. colleges and universities as it relates to tennis programs right now?
Is the merger on? If not, why not? Are there really any downsides to it? I want to know. Send me your opinions, folks.
Should the two teaching organizations merge? Should the USTA absorb both? Is there a third organization on the horizon? What are we doing to encourage younger people to take up teaching positions?
Do teaching pros have a voice in matters of urgency, SUCH AS A PANDEMIC? The two teaching organizations are busy training, retraining, setting up barriers like 1,500-hour training requirements (USPTA) but are they really representing their members in front of local, state, and national government and vis-a-vis the USTA? Do they always have your best interests in mind? What can they do to strengthen the relationship with their members?
So many questions... Please send me your opinions, folks. We need to hear them. Rich
REMEMBERING A TEACHING LEGEND
Don Henson, a larger-than-life tennis teacher, has left us unexpectantly June 10 at age 76. I had the pleasure of meeting Don at numerous occasions in the last 10 years or so, mainly during conferences and for our July 2018 article about his creation TTI, Tennis Teachers Institute in Burbank, California. He always had a smile and some encouraging words for me.
From his online obituary: Don began his life work as a teaching tennis professional and coach at seventeen years old for the R.I. Tennis Organization’s summer club at Brown University’s Aldritch Dexter courts. In the fall of 1966, Don became the assistant tennis pro at the famed Indoor Court in East Providence. The next eighteen years saw Don teach in an around the Rhode Island area.
He served twelve years on the New England Professional Tennis Association board, two as president. In the summers of 1968 to 1972, Don was Head Tennis Pro at the Winchester (VA) Country Club and returned to Winchester in the summer of 1982 as Head Pro at Stonebrook Swim and Racket Club. In 1984 Don took a position as the director of the historic Balboa Tennis Club in San Diego and moved his family to Coronado, CA. He also accelerated his involvement with the United States Professional Tennis Association at the time. Don was a national tester for the USPTA since 1971 under the guidance and mentoring of (late) George Basco, USPTA Master Professional.
He traveled extensively on the west coast representing the USPTA, giving schools and seminars for tennis teachers as well as administering the USPTA certification exam. This work also brought Don down to Mexico and involved numerous excursions to South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, and mainland China. Don was one of the original eighteen USPTA Master Professionals, and was president of and awarded “Pro of the Year” for the New England, San Diego, and California chapters of the USPTA. Don founded the Tennis Teachers Institute in 2011 which was his final tennis passion project and was created “to provide a comprehensive educational and resource center for teachers and coaches of tennis” and with its mission to, “furnish tennis coaches the tools and knowledge that will allow them to be more effective on the courts.” Don was inducted into the New England Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017 at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
RIP Don Henson. You will be sorely missed!
CLEANING HOUSE AT THE USTA -IT'S ABOUT TIME!
For years I've been saying the USTA can only do two things well: US Open and Adult Leagues. The rest is really one failed program after another, started by always the same old people that never listen to anyone from the "outside" and with only one goal in mind: keep the perks coming (outrageous salaries, benefits, bonuses, expense account, retirement packages, industry awards for everyone together with the annual tickets to the President's Box.)
Many executives (you know their names), despite always praised by their industry peers and everyone else who's financially benefiting from the USTA, have presided over the downfall of tennis in this country while USTA Presidents were standing by with lofty goals and no real power. Their names are interchangeable, no one has ever held a real job outside of tennis (except for the occasional lawyer). They go through Prince, Dunlop, HEAD, Wilson. They leave behind wreckage like Mall Tennis, Balle de Match, Cartoon Network, Tennis Welcome Center, and now also Net Generation. No one will ever hold them accountable for millions of dollars wasted. Tennis and taxpayer dollars that should have been spent growing the sport.
Why has the industry such a disastrous history when it comes to growth and showing the whole country that the best thing on earth is playing tennis? No, don't bore me with "we haven't had the stars of the eighties" and "it's all cyclical and it'll come back eventually." It's because of this incestuous habit of hiring only from within the industry. Steve Milano eluded to that in his article One Tennis Hiring Practice Has Doomed the Sport this month. No one is ever going out to get some successful executives from other industries with a track record of making things happen. The SCTA did it last year by hiring a former soccer and Olympic sports executive as ED. That section was dead and headed for the graveyard, people. Not anymore, I think.
The following graph depicts Google Trend searches for the last 16 years. It illustrates what USTA top management allowed to happen for a long time. As you can imagine, the spikes always come around the US Open time and other Grand Slams.
And then there is Mike Dowse. A friend of mine called him "the surgeon." He somehow doesn't come across like one of the 'Good Ol' boys.' He communicates. I was told, when it came to our newsletter, the duo Smith/Kamperman told everyone "ignore the noise." Dowse doesn't buy into that crap. He looks for conversation and asks for opinions. Then he makes decisions. Woohoo. Be honest, people. When was the last time you heard of any USTA executive listening to you in the last 20 years? Or any USTA President? I said it before and I'm saying it again. I'm cautiously optimistic that with his leadership, the USTA may be in a position to positively impact tennis.
The following graph depicts Google Trend searches for the last 6 months. The trend down started March 13/14. I guess that's when the proverbial Covid-19 shit hit the fan. The upwards trend started June 7 when the sweeping changes started to leak (the official press release was June 8). Further spikes came when the US Open announcement was made.
The USTA had nowhere to go but up. I have a feeling that's exactly what's coming. Actually, I think if done right, tennis may be on the brink of a different kind of resurgence. A real big one that has people say, "I want to be part of that awesome sport, tennis!"
Dowse let about 110 people go. That was a good decision - except for two or three. Not sure about Scott Schultz. He always came across as competent to me. People tell me that Tennis on Campus Coordinator Newlyn Wing was an outstanding individual. Didn't know him. I certainly don't approve of letting Darcy Cobb go. Over the last 14 years I had known Darcy she came across like an outstanding professional and great human being. Adult Leagues have lost a tireless warrior, for sure. If you ask me, now that Kamperman is going, they should hire David Schobel back. Letting him go from USTA Leagues was his biggest mistake! But that's another story...
Oh, I almost forgot. Yes, thank God, Player Development was finally downsized. Not sure by how much. But think about those millions they have wasted in the past. Hundreds of millions! I just hope they are not paying Patrick McEnroe his obscene consulting fees anymore. What a waste.
USTA FACILITY GRANTS
We had reached out to the USTA to get some data on the grants issued after we learned about cases where grants were denied for reasons hard to understand for the facility owners.
One country club in Colorado was denied because they checked no on the question of whether they allowed outside players. Their reaction: "No more league play with outside players at our facility!"
One private club in Southern California was denied because the SCTA found out they had a singles event before it was officially allowed. The owner's reaction: A club that had held numerous doubles event before it was allowed in SoCal had gotten their grant. What kind of fairness is that?
So we started to ask questions, like how the quota for each section was calculated and what criteria were used in the case of two equally qualified facilities and that quota was almost reached? The answer from Todd Carlson (National Manager, CTAs, Parks, & Tennis Venue + Design): "Using our facilities database which includes over 50k facilities nationwide (includes TennisMaps, TIA, etc...), we have an approximate number of total facilities in each Section. The quota was based on the total number of 4+ court non-private facilities in each Section. The definition we used for 'non-private' was any facility that allowed outside players (non-members) to play at their facility or participate in any type of tennis program. If two equally qualified facilities applied (based on the application and any other known insight from Section staff) and the funding quota was almost reached, the application received first was awarded."
Todd included the below graphic with his reply. The data was as of 5-28-2020.
We also wanted to know what type of facilities or organizations were listed under OTHER and where there any country clubs that received grants? Todd replied, "Most of the 'other' responses were YMCAs and courts owned by HOAs. They also used that field to elaborate on their organization/facility. For example, 'Private club with public programming'. Yes, we did fund some Country Clubs that said they offered play and/or programs to non-members."
Appears to me that Colorado Country Club should have just said YES on the application. And the SoCal club? Protesting to the SCTA meant he would have thrown a fellow club owner under the bus. He did not do that. Good for him!
If you have stories to share regarding your acceptance or denial of facility grants, please email me.
TENNIS TRIBE MAILING SUCCESSFUL - MAKE EXTRA MONEY ON THE SIDE!
Many of you have received last month's mailing about that new certification course for tennis coaches that’s different from anything I’ve seen. In case you haven't read on here.
My friends Warren Pretorius & Will Boucek have put together a course that trains coaches to film, edit, and analyze tennis strokes from your cell phone.
Type coupon code “RICH” at checkout for $50 off - expires July 15.
(Disclaimer: I do receive a percentage of each enrollment.)
Warren is the founder & CEO of Tennis Analytics where he works with top college programs, ATP & WTA players, the USTA, Tennis Canada, and tons of other high-level coaches. This course teaches you “the video coaching system” he uses with all these players and coaches.
After you start using his system, here are 6 things that will happen.
Players will improve faster. People learn better visually than audibly.
Student retention will improve since players keep getting better.
You’ll create a library of videos for each student to document progress over time. They can go back and watch what their serve looked like 6 months ago.
You’ll attract new players because they’ll want to be a part of your new system.
You’ll start “remote coaching” and generating income off the court. You can analyze the video from anywhere.
Parents will love it! If you coach juniors, then you’ll find one of the best ways to keep their parents happy is to record and send videos of their kids improving.
If you don’t use video in your player development program yet, you should be. Pros have been doing it for years, and now most colleges and high-level academies have implemented it.
Soon, using video for private lessons will be expected everywhere!
If you aren’t using video yet because you don’t know how, or you don’t have a system, or you aren’t sure where to start… check out their new certification course below.
Type coupon code “RICH” at checkout for $50 off - expires July 15.
(Disclaimer: I do receive a percentage of each enrollment.)
It includes the software you need to get started from your cell phone (iPhone or Android), so you can implement it next week.
BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION
New plans for David Fish
After some 10 years of evangelizing the transformative potential of the UTR mission, Dave Fish has decided to end his official role within UTR. Dave says, "Now that UTR's technology is available to groups everywhere, and since Covid-19 has made local play more important than ever, Dave wants to devote his full attention to making level-based play more competitive, affordable, and accessible to a wider socio-economic range of players."
Under CEO Mark Leschly's leadership, UTR has developed not only the most accurate rating globally but also the platform for organizations to run outstanding level-based events.
CEO Mark Leschly says: "Dave has made so many contributions to the company through the years for which we are immensely grateful. We have appreciated and benefited from his guidance and counsel. Coach is not going far and wants to focus all his energies and passion to transform opportunities through local tennis. Hence one chapter in his amazing tennis story draws to a close another adventure begins. I am personally very grateful for all of Coach's contributions to building UTR. He will be a lifelong UTR champion and friend of the firm."
Regarding Mike Dowse
A friend sent me this note: "I like where his head is."
Emma + Kalindi
Emma Doyle is just about everywhere nowadays. After tennis personalities Emma + Michele (Krause) became Facebook stars (EM & M Show), another power couple has formed: Emma + Kalindi (Dinoffer). They are offering a Virtual Tennis Symposium titled 'The Coach, Player, and Parent Triad.' More about this exciting event in this month's newsletter.
US Open Court Surface
Serena Williams got a shipment of the new Leykold surface for US Open courts for her home court weeks ago already. Unfair disadvantage? Maybe, but at her age, she needs all the advantages she can get. Right?
Steve Smith and Andy Fitzell have their new GreatBase Tennis website up and running! It features free instructional tennis courses, optional tests, earn points and certificates, blog articles, a shop, and updated contact info.
Mike Dowse on a Press call
"We're not only making organizational but also philosophical changes. We're pivoting from a program-based to a service-based organization."
Christopher Clarey (New York Times) on Stacey Allaster's resigning from her WTA post in 2015
Others have criticized the Asia-centric strategy as risky and described the hard-charging Allaster as difficult to work for (there was significant attrition at the WTA during her run).
Tennis Inbox profiled Aussie Chris O' Connell who rose from #1177 to #119 in 2019
"He lived frugally, bought breakfast ingredients from supermarkets, and ate in his hotel room. He asked chefs in tiny restaurants to make him simple meals of chicken, rice, and vegetables. Flights to tournaments? No. Trains and buses. They were cheaper. Even after all that, his costs for the season after factoring in training, travel, accommodation, and gear were over $65,000 USD. For the best professional year of his life, O’Connell walked away with less than $15,000 USD."
Jon Wertheim (SI) being asked what tennis can do to widen its appeal
"Some of the changes that Patrick (Mouratoglou) implemented seemed a little gimmicky. Others, I think, really could catch on. Again, I think shortening the time in between points, absolutely critical."
Novak Djokovic on Twitter
SHAMELESS BOOK PROMO
It took me 40 years to write another book. In 1980 I wrote and published a little technical booklet and sold a whopping 1,500 copies. Woohoo! Today, after conducting thousands of drop-in tennis events in Southern California during the past 20+ years, I'm willing to share my secrets.
Follow this link to learn more about "Drop-In Tennis Secrets."
Here's what Ken DeHart wrote about "Drop-In Tennis Secret."
Like any good journalist, Rich covered the 5 W’s extremely well. What is this program, who could use it, when it occurs, where it can occur, and a well-defined WHY you and every pro or club should have a Drop-In Secret of their own?
Rich’s story of this “secret sauce” he has mastered should motivate everyone to use his recipe to grow their program memberships, comradery, tennis lessons as well as a feeling by everyone that “our club is special”.
Ken DeHart | Director of Tennis
Silver Creek Valley Country Club
San Jose, California
PTR International Master Professional
USPTA Master Professional
Check out what all the other tennis professionals had to say about the booklet.
Darcy Cobb - for being a tireless supporter and promoter of the USTA Adult League program.
Mike Dowse - for being the new USTA Champion of Change.
David Fish - for closing a chapter in his life and moving straight to opening a new one. All for the good of tennis.
Adam Jasick - whose Future Champions Foundation is building a schoolhouse in Bogaré, Togo (West Africa).
David Smith - for writing such a great book (High School Coaching Mastery, reviewed in this month's issue).
Johan Kriek - for relentlessly pointing out the crap that's going on in his former home country South Africa.
Happy Birthday - Allen Fox and Roger Stenquist!
Have a good July, everyone. And thank you for your continued readership!