My July suggestion for the USTA CEO
Welcome ONcourt and new reader Kasey Hammond
"Funtrepreneur" AAC and her new book HEARTS + RACKETS
Your Guide to Cloud Computing
Heather Hawkes Town Hall 3 days before resigning and joining the ITF
THE RACQUET: The Modernisation of Tennis
USTA Southern Cal - A Legacy Destroyed?
Who's coming to the rescue of a sinking ship?
Tennis Boom Radio on Clubhouse - June summary + July schedule
Three Headlines and a Lie
Brought to my Attention
Thank you to everyone who participated in our Survey Blitz. We got some really good suggestions and ideas from people all over the world.
July is National Picnic Month, National Hot Dog Month, National Grilling Month, and National Baked Beans Month (among others). So, take the family, have a good time. Send us a photo. The best photo of your picnic or backyard BBQ will get a SURPRISE PRIZE PACKAGE worth 50 bucks. You need to send it in by July 24th at 12 midnight.
Before we jump into the good stuff, I want to plug another newsletter: Morning Brew. Trust me, folks, it's very good and entertaining information every morning!
I highly recommend giving the Morning Brew newsletter a read. It's an awesome daily email that delivers the top business news in a way that's informative and entertaining. Best of all, it's free and only takes 5 minutes to read each morning. Give it a try and subscribe using my personal invite link here: Morning Brew
Okay, here comes the good stuff. We're starting out with a peace appeal. If you like what I suggest to Mike Dowse below, please write me. Maybe we can all go to Iran together?
MY JULY SUGGESTION FOR THE USTA CEO
Mike, step out of your comfort zone. Use tennis as a peacemaking tool.
There is much discourse all over the world. I don't see a lot of peace efforts anywhere. I am particularly interested in any peace efforts in the Middle East. It's an area I visited quite a bit when I was younger and I have many friends who were born there. I'd love to go to Iran, for instance, visit their beautiful sites, play tennis, and come back having won many new friends.
Unfortunately, I can't trust any government on either side to make that happen in my lifetime. Personally, I think men are incapable of making peace in the Middle East. It’s the women that are being challenged. Hence my feature film script “The March” which I wrote a few years ago. But I truly believe that tennis can step up and create connections, friendly visits, club friendlies, etc.
I challenge the USTA to be a front-runner in that area. Don’t just go with the flow, BML, Pride Month, Juneteenth – all nice but wanna make a real difference? Use tennis as a peacemaking tool. Go to Iran and offer your hand in friendship. Someone has to start that process and break the chain of distrust created by political fools and religious zealots!
Please welcome ONcourt. I'm very happy to report that we have started to collaborate with ONcourt, "Canada's tennis eZine" because we have so much in common with our northern neighbor's publication. Here's what ONcourt posts online:
We are the voice of Canadian tennis.
ONcourt is an online community cultivating leading edge tennis content from leaders across the nation on a one of a kind platform.
Our main focus is the world of tennis, at home in Canada but, will also highlight international insights when relevant to growing the game for our players and country.
ONcourt will not only provide invaluable insights from coaches for coaches, from all organizations, but will also share informative interviews, best practices, training regimes, and inspiring messages – valuable to all players and parents.
ONcourt is published by All Canadian Sports Management Inc.
Why am I so gung-ho about collaborating with ONcourt? Because a man whose opinions and strategies I value a lot is involved: Pierre Lamarche, CEO of All Canadian Sports Management and founder of ACE Tennis in Toronto.
We posted new content about Alternative Racquet Sports, especially POP, Spec, and Padel (certification details).
There's also fresh content in regards to Tennis Advocacy and Post Graduate Tennis. In addition to a doubled-up Commish, Gary writing about high school tennis, Rod tackling the challenges of league play, Bill offering a summary of his Visual Tennis expertise, and Scott asking whether tennis is dead, Javier is holding their feet to the fire again. "Dear USTA Board. Passion is not enough!" Please take a look at a new app Rod pointed me to. It's called MyClubLives and it is so member-focused, Rod installed it at his club and I find it amazing. Tennis Confidential (for our premium members) looks into why tennis should embrace Clubhouse. Lots of good stuff, folks!
Welcome New Reader Kasey Hammond
I was delighted when I discovered Kasey's upbeat website 'Hit Happy Tennis.' I mean, how can you not love that name. Right? Look at her. She even looks happy! I think she needs to get together with tennis friend Adeline Arjad Cook who is also spreading joy and fun on the tennis court. (Scroll down for a first look at Adeline's new book "Heart + Racket, The Ultimate Guide to Women's Tennis.")
Both ladies are great examples of a new kind of tennis "funtrepreneur". One that emphasizes fun but also means business. I love that.
Hit Happy Tennis is located in Midlothian, Virginia. I asked Kasey Hammond a few questions:
TCB: What made you go into selling tennis accessories? How did this come about?
KH: We started with tennis butts - I had a Babolat and it was impossible to call the serve!
TCB: Why the name Hit Happy Tennis?
KH: We believe in saying it before each match - it's all we can ask of ourselves and others! =) Hit Happy!
TCB: Who are your main customers?
KH: Our main customers are competitive players looking for unique and quality tennis gear and jewelry.
TCB: Of all the products you’re selling, what are the superstars? What is it your customers like best?
KH: Ladies love our Perfect Tennis Necklace - it is a classic and our most popular for men and women are the Hit Happy tank or tee shirt. It's a positive reinforcement on and off the court and promotes the positive aspects of the sport we all love!
Well said! Thank you, Kasey.
Speaking of the other "Funtrepreneur"
I wrote about Adeline Arjad Cook in our June issue and mentioned her income opportunity for tennis pros. I am delighted to tell you about her new book "Hearts + Rackets - The Ultimate Guide to Women's Tennis."
Like her first book "I Love My Doubles Partner" she is surprising the tennis world with another luxuriously printed and bound publication. Although regular in size, I would call it a coffee table book.
On her website, Adeline explains "Unlike the previous book - this body of work is the entire experience of how author Adeline went from a 2.5 rating to a 4.5 in just 7 years of playing tennis. Not having the physical abilities of sporty women, starting to play at 50 lbs overweight and 35 years old - her mental game was what won matches."
Adeline says there is an art to the game of doubles. Revealing her theory of physical, mental, and intuitive tennis, she "describes how to bring the best of your own game to the court, bring the best out of your partner, AND attack your opponent's weaknesses, having them leave the court thinking that they just were having an "off" day."
Heart + Rackets is divided into 3 parts, before, during, and after the match. It's so choc-full of valuable advice based on her doubles experience, it's hard to pin down my favorite part. I want to just mention two chapters that spoke to me.
PLAY WITH EVERYONE
This was an area I had really big troubles with before my own "life-changing transformation" from a-hole to nice guy on the tennis court. I couldn't stand playing with people who talk too much, move too little, or were so good they made me feel like a beginner. Adeline thinks this subject is so important to a player's growth, she dedicated a chapter to it. She writes, "One of my greatest accomplishments has been winning with ladies that no one else could stand playing with! I look back and feel a sense of pride that doesn't come from playing with perfect partners who move in unison with your game. push your limits; play with everyone."
BE A LIGHT LOAD
Again, deja vu for me. I was the complainer and sour puss when club members told me no one wanted to play with me anymore. I was that heavy load people wanted to avoid. I dragged partners down and lost a lot.
Adeline writes, "If you want your partner to play her best for you, then don't weigh her down with your negativity and complaints. Instead, focus on WE CAN, I CAN, WE WILL, I WILL statements. Help her feel empowered and even invincible. Show your complete faith in her abilities. Be a "light load" and you will play your best for her, and she will for you too!"
Check out her book here. I think it makes a great gift for any tennis lady or man. And if you hadn't read about her income opportunity last month, here it is again. Don't thank me now. Send me US Open tickets, haha.
HISTORY OF THE GAME
The shortest career
The sporting career of the Englishman Frank Hadow is undoubtedly the shortest in the history of tennis. In 1878, he took advantage of his vacation to register for the Wimbledon tournament. Nobody knows him. He works in Ceylon and rarely plays racket sports. In addition, he seems fragile and his precise game does not make strong impression. Yet Frank Hadow manages, without losing a set, to the final against Spencer Gore, winner of the previous edition. Among the spectators, nobody bets on a victory of this young stranger. Frank Hadow does not panic against Spencer Gore's attacks. At each rush to the net, he hits the ball high and deep to lob his opponent. Victory for Hadow: 7/5 6/1 9/7. Unknowingly, Hadow had invented the lob and wondered why no one had thought of this parry. After his victory, he left Wimbledon and never played tennis again. He will reappear only in 1926 at Wimbledon, invited by the organizers for the 50th anniversary of the tournament.
YOUR GUIDE TO THE CLOUD
AND CLOUD COMPUTING
Morning Brew reported that the global cloud computing market is worth $270 billion and powers countless applications, but unless you work directly with the tech, you may think of "the cloud" as an ethereal, hard-to-pin-down buzzword.
But...the cloud’s ability to connect many remote machines virtually—and allow people located anywhere to collaborate in real time—is powered by very tangible things like cables, servers, and data centers. And lots and lots of people.
So let’s bring things back down to Earth. In our guide to the cloud, we look at…
The history of cloud computing
Key terms like public and private cloud and SaaS, PasS, and IaaS
Industries transformed by cloud computing
Hot topics like security and compliance, industry clouds, and data portability
Click here to read the guide in full.
Heather Hawkes Townhall 3 Days Before Resigning
and Joining the ITF
That was weird, wasn't it? On June 15 Heather Hawkes, then still USTA Senior Manager of Product, holds a town hall called "NTRP Facts & Fiction." On June 18 she had her last day with the USTA. On June 21 she started her new consulting job at the ITF. Title: World Tennis Number (WTN) Implementation Strategist. She also retained a part-time job with the USTA as "NTRP Delivery" person or such (apparently "Overseeing the process of delivering 2021 year-end ratings and advising key strategic considerations, algorithm inquiries, and customer education strategy.") Nice position after she got rid of everyone else knowing anything about NTRP (NOG).
It looks to me that townhall was just a way of giving the also present Michael Hughes, USTA League Manager, some much-needed NTRP training. Anyway, I wish Heather all the best in her new position. She needs it.
The Modernisation of Tennis
Our friend Javier Palenque shared this article on The Racket with me. I read the entire long piece and found it quite amazing. The writer, Matthew Willis, did an excellent job describing the current situation after he didn't buy Patrick Mouratoglou's provocative statement, “Ten years ago the average age of the tennis fan was 51 years old. Today it’s 61. In ten years it’s going to be 71… Tennis is not able to renew its fanbase… The world has evolved in the last 10-20 years but tennis has never changed. Tennis is in trouble, I want tennis to survive.” Patrick was trying to promote his new "Ultimate Tennis Showdown" tournament but Willis took it apart and gave us a really good view into what's going on in all areas of the tennis ecosystem.
One of the paragraphs that stood out for me was the one about access to tennis and ticket prices, my two pet peeves.
Once you have a fan that’s managed to find their way into the early stages of a sports fandom, the most important mission should be to make it as easy as possible to watch and engage with that sport. As gaming and participation are both lagging, you’d think tennis would focus on making watching the sport as easy as possible. Surely, low-hanging fruit. Unfortunately, not only are live ticket prices regularly prohibitively expensive for the average young fan, but much more unforgivably tennis’ streaming/broadcast options are a severely bad user experience for many in terms of fragmentation (yes this is a running theme): WTA on TennisChannel and a host of other providers, ATP on TennisTV et al, Eurosport for certain slams, BBC for Wimbledon, national broadcaster subscriptions, Amazon Prime Video for certain events, TennisChannel International launching soon etc etc etc. Many keen fans are required to sign up for an expensive smörgåsbord of slightly overlapping video products if they want comprehensive coverage. Not only that, but that smörgåsbord can be a case of rather all-or-nothing pricing, meaning that if you’re an inexperienced, new fan of tennis and you’d like to watch a tournament, there’s a decent chance you’ll need to at least sign up for a prohibitive monthly or annual subscription to watch. This kind of pricing strategy and platform complexity is an egregious roadblock for new fans (although I hold out some hope that Amazon’s foray into tennis broadcasting may make this less of an issue in the future).
Here's the link to the full article.
FUN ON THE COURT
The score was 20-20 in a match against Lew Hoad and I did the splits going for a shot. Snap! I felt something go. A tendon?
Rod Laver, on the longest set he ever played
(Tennis for the Bloody Fun of It by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson)
USTA Southern California - A Legacy Destroyed?
Who's coming to the rescue of a sinking ship?
Before I start I need to tell my SoCal friends that it gives me no pleasure criticizing your USTA section. But somebody has to do it. It's one of the most underperforming sections in the nation and that's because of leadership. No, not only the former CEO but all those other dignitaries that continue to be involved pretending to want to grow tennis in Southern California.
When I first set foot in the offices of the Southern California Tennis Association in 2006, I was in awe of the organization just because of its rich history. Just check out this web page and you know what I mean. Headquartered on the campus of the University of California Los Angeles in Westwood, California, home of the Los Angeles Tennis Center, it was run by its Executive Director, the late Henry Talbert. At the time, I was Team Lead for Adult Leagues and NTRP Ratings on the USTA Tennislink Team and used my visit to get to know that USTA section and its staff.
What struck me as odd was the total lack of modern technology and management tools in that office. Yes, they used computers and email but I came to the conclusion that the people running the office and the association were holding it back.
I also noticed a strange animosity between a group led by management (not the ED!) and the rest of the office. I quickly realized that Talbert did not run that office at all and the atmosphere there was downright toxic. They rarely held any meetings and everyone was just trying to do their job. And then there was that never-ending line of all of them and their friends giving themselves awards and marching each other into the Hall of Fame. But I guess this is not unusual for many of the USTA sections and USTA national. "It's his/her turn" is the mantra for awards, Hall of Fame, Presidentships, Board of Directors, you name it.
At that time I already thought Perry T. Jones would probably turn in his grave watching all this. I just want to point to 3 areas that speak volumes about the downfall of the SCTA.
1. TOXIC BUSINESS CLIMATE
One of the things I had noticed during my visits to the SCTA offices was their toxic business climate. After just a few interactions with then-competitive director Annette Buck, it was clear to me that management had a rather disturbing relationship with anyone that was trying to make money in tennis in Southern California. There were a few exceptions like the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club which is owned by Board member and SCTA Board compadre Bill Kellogg. Clubs that were holding SCTA events, such as LA Tennis Club were exempt from that negativity.
I often talked to tournament directors that complained about the aggressiveness of the SCTA office when it came to reissuing sanctions. "They're holding my sanction hostage" was one of the sentiments at the time and I am told that hasn't changed at all.
My feeling was always that SCTA management thought the SCTA was to be the ONLY organization in Southern California that had a right to make money in tennis. Marla Messing stepped into tennis with seemingly similar views, very happy to piss off every tennis club owner and tournament director within a few miles of her pet peeve, the planned tennis supercenter (Kimmelman). What I see is an organization that continues to make it harder and more expensive for clubs to get sanctions for USTA tournaments and at the same time giving them the middle finger by building a huge tennis center that will probably suck up most of the big tournaments. Wanna bet? (Except for the "in" clubs, like LJB&TC, of course.)
This toxic business climate seems to be, unfortunately still present today. I've been talking to people who are so disgusted with the negativity and the "no can do" attitude of some of the SCTA directors, they gladly take their tournaments and leagues to UTR and never look back. "I've had it with the SCTA," one businesswoman and tournament director told me a week ago. "You can tell me no but do it nicely!" My reply to her, "That's what you get when you hire rookies and get rid of all the experienced people." I mean, without training, how would a Millenial know what customer service means, right?
2. Mr. K.
Up to that time, I never had much interaction with the son of tennis legend J.K. and to this day I have no idea what his involvement with the section was, in addition to being Tournament Director of the Los Angeles Open, an ATP 250 men's tournament. I believe it was 2011 when said Mr. K. hired me to help promote that ailing tournament. And I accepted although two of the office staff people advised me not to. Their reasoning: "He doesn't want help with the tournament. He wants to sell it. Hiring you is just for show." I didn't listen to them and oh, did I learn how right they were. I remember screaming sessions between myself and Mr. K. in his trailer office where he told me to slow down at the top of his lungs. At the time I actually thought he would physically attack me. I was accused of all sorts of things, like providing certain promotion suggestions "just to get my cronies in." When I shared that experience with some SCTA staff, they rolled their eyes and nodded. "Yep, that's the Mr. K. we know." It was clear that this man didn't want any help in promoting the event.
Those three months working for Mr. K. were a nightmare and from that point on I had lost all respect for the man and all faith in SCTA leadership.
Little did I know that Mr. K. was already actively trying to sell the tournament. I was told by someone very close to those efforts, that he had an offer from Larry Ellison, owner of the BNP Paribas Open and the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, to take the tournament to the desert and keep it in SoCal. I was also told that the offer stood at between 3 and 4 million dollars.
Much to my and everyone else's surprise, I learned a year later that he had convinced the Board to sell the tournament to an investor in Bogota, Colombia. We all asked what happened to Larry Ellison's offer to keep the ATP event in California? But, as usual for USTA executive-level honchos, they don't see a necessity to explain their actions to lowly members of the public. The discussion at the time: Maybe Mr. K. and Mr. L. were not on good terms. Who knows?
Wikipedia writes that the tournament license was purchased for $1.5 million and I believe that is the money paid to the ATP. Who knows what the SCTA got for it. Some say it was $3 million. Be that as it may, the tournament had left Bogota again in 2016 and is now the Los Cabos Open in Mexico.
For me, Mr. K. will always be a mere shadow of his famous dad, who did not look out for the tennis community in SoCal, the USTA members, and others who loved that tournament.
3. M. M.
I guess the transition time after Henry Talbert was best filled with Bruce Hunt. I didn't have much interaction with him but in his 4 years, I regarded him as a standup guy who was trying hard to do the right thing. Whether the SCTA Board let him do that, is another question.
Then there was Marla Messing. Oy. You have read my stories about her. She was just plain wrong for that job. How the Board allowed her to become CEO and mess up the entire section is a mystery to me. Above and beyond what I already wrote about that misguided individual, here are two tidbits you may not know have happened under Messing's regime (and I have to assume with the SCTA Board's knowledge and approval.)
Deterioration of the relationship with HEAD
I wrote about the no-class way messing started to deal with Tecnifibre without even contacting the longest-standing supporter of Southern California tennis, HEAD Racquet Sports. But I was shocked to hear that HEAD had donated $5,000 worth of racquets and balls to the section TSR's and Messing made them take that entire shipment back. I guess the SCTA CEO who reportedly did not play tennis, did also not like one of the most successful brands in our sport. I know a handful of tennis non-profits in South Los Angeles and other areas that would have gladly taken that shipment off her hands.
Treatment of Asian League Coordinators in the San Gabriel Valley
The team of Jim Wong and his wife dutifully served the San Gabriel Valley tennis community for some 27 or so years in the name of the SCTA. They NEVER objected to helping out at the tournament desk when it came to Sectionals or National League tournaments. I knew them since my time on the USTA Tennislink Team 2006-2010.
The Wongs were always there. Reliable. Good at their job. Loved the USTA and loved tennis. Then they landed on the shit list of SCTA directors and that was bad news for the Wongs. Was someone trying to stick it to the Wongs because they were Asians, as one tennis pro insinuated? Who knows. But when Christina Wong made a mistake, the powers to be at the SCTA went into action. They immediately fired her and then it looks like they terminated him because he is married to her.
Let that sink in, folks. (I hope members of the SCTA Board are reading this!) You fire a USTA Coordinator because of an infraction (not sure what, I guess she let someone register after registration closed. Wow! Where's the guillotine?) Then you fire her husband because he's married to her. Wow again. You think Jim Wong has a legal case against the section? Hello, SCTA, "guilty by association" is illegal here and anywhere else! Only rookie managers can make such grave errors in judgment!
My question: Were Asian League Coordinators being discriminated against at the SCTA?
But to make matters worse, I was told, in true USTA fashion, no one called or reached out to the Wongs. I heard that the office sent a humiliating letter to the league players although Jim was an outstanding member of the USTA community and not involved in anything they accused his wife of. Jim Wong learned from a league player that he had been fired! It seems they terminated him because he was married to his wife. One director allegedly said that Jim Wong was terminated to "preserve the integrity of the league." I am asking the section management, "Do you have a problem with ASIANS? Were they terminated because they were ASIANS?" If the answer is yes, you guys may be in for a world of hurt.
And it all happened under Marla Messing! Who was appointed by the SCTA Board!
I have to ask the SCTA Board: Did you not know any of this? Is that what you call your fiduciary duty? But, of course, I'm not surprised at all. You guys at the SCTA Board, let them destroy the SCTA legacy, and now you look at the ruins of that once-proud USTA section. You're probably shrugging your shoulders right now.
I know that HEAD is not holding a grudge. They are happy to go back to their once fruitful relationship with you guys. But the Wongs? Man, you fucked that up royally. And if you do that to such a nice couple, who knows what you are capable of next?
The section is looking for Messing's successor and if he/she has any backbone they at least give Jim Wong his job back (with all back pay) and make the Board give him a PUBLIC apology. And firing the people responsible for that disaster seems like the right thing to do for me. So the SCTA can go back to being one of the respected cornerstones of Southern California tennis again.
All is not lost?
However, all may not be lost. Lately, I have had the pleasure of talking to a lot of people who know SoCal tennis and the SCTA staff. Almost all of them speak very highly of the interim CEO and Director of Junior Tennis, Trevor Kroneman. I don't know him personally but I value the opinions of my friends. If they think Kroneman is the right person for that ED or CEO job, I believe it.
If the SCTA Board hires Trevor Kroneman as their new CEO, I will be the first to reach out and start helping them get that once outstanding section back to where it belongs.
The other option: Should the USTA national office step in, fire the entire Board, and get things back to normal at the SCTA? I know they can't do that but don't you think it's time someone steps in and be the adult in that kindergarten?
And last, but not least, I want to point out that a lot of staff at the USTA Southern Cal are really good, experienced, and professional people who know what they're doing. I applaud them for doing a great job for the SoCal tennis community.
INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH
"Life is like riding a bicycle.
To keep your balance, you must keep moving."
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'TENNIS BOOM RADIO' ON CLUBHOUSE - SECOND MONTH IN THE BAG
(scroll down for July schedule)
Bill Patton and I had so much fun moderating 4 Clubhouse rooms in June. We also welcomed tennis coach David Span as our third moderator.
June 7, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 7
Topic: 'High School Coaching - The Sleeping Giant?'
Special Guest: Chris Horgan, Boys Varsity Coach, Orchard Park High School, NY
Good discussions all around with Coach Horgan telling us about his experiences coaching high school in the Buffalo, NY area. Michael Harper, USTA Cardio Tennis Manager, coached HS 10 years ago and still is in contact with all his players. He encourages HS tennis and believes it is a great pathway to college and even the pro tour. David Span spoke of the opportunities HS tennis provides.
Bill Patton comes with a long history of coaching HS tennis and he also wrote a popular book on it (The Art of Coaching High School Tennis.)
Harper stated that taking care of HS players when they return to tennis has only upsides. "Many may become lifers which would be a huge asset for tennis." Horgan retired after 35 years of teaching English. "Other sports have modified programs for Middle School - tennis does not! Tennis should be part of the curriculum from 1st grade on."
Patton suggested we should all go into High Schools and promote tennis like the USTA's TSRs do. "We should all support the TSRs. Look for the HS players that are older and get them back into tennis." Victor Allara agreed. The Head Coach of Pikeville HS in Kentucky and President of the Kentucky HS Tennis Coaches Association thinks promoting HS tennis is what needs to be done right now.
I encouraged HS coaches to submit articles to TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS and let us share their knowledge and experience.
June 14, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 8
Topic: 'Digital Club Management and Technology'
Special Guest: Tim Owens of CourtReserve
In my opening remarks, I listed a bunch of apps that have come up recently, some that have disappeared already, and one that has reappeared. Some have had outstanding success, like KOURTS, CourtReserve.
Tim Owens explained why his product's motto is "Bring your courts to life." Courtreserve "is a platform, a tool to help players with their club. All possible services are contained in one rolled-up platform." Paul Stratta dialed in from Belgium and explained why his app iPlayMe2 is the "world's most useful tennis app." iPlayMe2 is SAAS-based and setting up tournaments, court reservations, and matchmaking are easy to do. "Clubs pay a monthly subscription and players can have a freemium or a pro version."
Asked about his competition, Owens stated that he's competing with pen and paper. "Getting club owners off pen and paper and into technology is our goal. Courtreserve is one of the fastest-growing platforms right now. We are charging monthly without a long-term contract." He continued to list some of the features, such as a robust closure feature when it rains and courts are flooded and members may need a pro-rated refund of court fees.
David Span has been using Club Automation for a while but has an open mind toward new apps. Bill Patton pointed to an app he is recommending to train your eyes, called Hawkeye. he will also be one of the speakers at the next "Winning Summit" after the US Open. The event will be all about COLLABORATION IN TENNIS.
June 21, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 9
Topic: 'Does Tennis Need The USTA?'
Special Guest: Lisa Stone, Parenting Aces
Our best attended and liveliest discussion so far. Woohoo. In my introduction, I alluded to the history of the USTA with amazing growth rates until the era of Smith/Kamperman. It went almost all downhill since 2006. The era of not listening to outside opinions, bullying friend and foe, and making sure that salaries and perks were growing exponentially had begun. The answer to dissenting voices: "Ignore the noise." Then Mike Dowse came in and the media reported about the "Winds of change sweeping through the USTA." Also, healthy competition had come up in the past few years. Many new adult leagues, a new platform (UTR), and non-USTA tournaments are with us now. So, does tennis still need the USTA?
Lisa Stone explained the situation with the new tournament and rankings disaster. "The USTA is doing a fantastic job with the US Open but I wished they would totally stay out of junior tournaments. UTR is doing a far better job than the USTA in the junior tennis area." One of Lisa's main complaints in that regard is the lack of communication by the USTA. (Me: They are just not used to being criticized and having to answer to outside voices. It's complete arrogance and ignorance.)
Bill Patton shared his experience, "I was a 15-year USTA volunteer, I ran many USTA tournaments, and I'm a lifetime member. Those 15 years were often very frustrating on a national and sectional level. There were a few bright lights with TSR's and the occasional ED but it's very frustrating when no one takes you seriously. So, I'm no more actively collaborating with them but I'm always open for a conversation."
Michael Harper, the USTA's Cardio Tennis Manager (and a stand-up guy for participating!) cautioned us for hammering the USTA. "It's a bunch of separate organizations and we have to distinguish which one we're having negative experiences with."
AJ Chabria mentioned that he had met with Dowse and shook hands with him. "I believe he is about change. But in a lot of areas I am involved in, USTA is not even present." David Span praised UTR. "They are doing a phenomenal job. At USTA tournaments, players get often disappointed which is very frustrating to watch. Many of them end up quitting."
Javier Palenque chimed in by stating that the current players don't really need the USTA. Leagues and tournaments are organized, they have stuff to do. But the sport needs an organization to bring new people in."
Stone referred to Palenque's Leagues statement. "In Atlanta, ALTA is more enjoyable than USTA Leagues. In my other hometown of San Clements, Southern California, there's not even a USTA league available." In regards to the USTA's Mission Statement, she opined, "Growing tennis? They're not doing it. They need to change their Mission Statement. Maybe leaving the growing tennis part out completely."
Palenque continued by mentioning the key here is that 63% of the working population are Millennials and younger. "They don't know what tennis really is. We need the USTA to market to them, puts it all together for them. Also, most parents 40 and below have no idea how to get their kids that are glued to their screens off the couch. Net Generation doesn't do it. The USTA has to do better and introduce tennis to those kids. So yes, the sport needs the USTA."
Adeline Arjad Cook of SoCal referred to the USTA Southern California section when she said, "They won't collaborate at all. So I went out on my own. Don't rely on them. Do it yourself!"
Jeff Nelson, the founder of POP-IT Tennis, agreed. "Fill the void. Get it done yourself."
Tennis parent Sadia Butt mentioned that the USTA needs to allow parents to coach their kids.
Lisa Stone finished by appealing to the USTA, "We're all called champions. Please communicate with me. My email is email@example.com."
June 28, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 10
Topic: 'Does Tennis Need UTR?"
Special Guests: Kevin Schmidt of Schmidt Computer Ratings
I introduced UTR briefly by mentioning it was launched in 2008 by Dave Howell. the algorithm was originally developed by Alex Cancado and modeled after the French system which was found to result in more competitive matches than the American system.
Partners are Mark Lechly (CEO), Mark Hurd (Oracle), Ken Hao, Jan Leschly, Ken Solomon (Tennis Channel), The Tennis Media Company (Sinclair Broadcasting), Major League Baseball, and the Los Angeles Dodgers Ownership Group. Since 2011, UTR and ITA have been working closely together.
In June, Mark Leschly sent out a message that the organization was rebranded as Universal Tennis (see "Attention" below). They evolved from just a tennis rating producer to much more, like Flex Leagues, Team Tennis, Tournaments, Pro Tennis Tour, to name a few. Mark's vision is ambitious: "To transform tennis globally."
Bill Patton started out by mentioning some negative experiences with UTR in the past. His biggest complaint was the lack of communication on their part.
Scott Ross, CEO of the new BTR Professional Tennis Tour, reported the opposite. He had nothing but good things to say about UTR and their people and called it a great partnership. (It may be safe to assume that UTR's communication issues were a thing of the past.)
Kevin Schmidt praised UTR for being more accurate than NTRP and very good at predicting match results. But the two rating systems can't really be compared since they serve different purposes.
David Span found that UTR does a phenomenal job keeping players engaged. Players need matches to improve and have fun. UTR has good short tournaments on a local level that are very popular while the USTA's travel needs to get to tournaments are frowned upon.
Mike Baugh mentioned that players should be winning their local tournaments to be able to play the USTA's national events.
Alden Bock, veteran of NTRP and member of the now-defunct NOG (National Oversight Group) for ratings, pointed to NTRP's ability to quickly include new players in the USTA Adult League system. He called UTR a micro rating while NTRP is more suitable for a larger tennis community. He also warned that UTR is a for-profit organization as opposed to the USTA's non-profit status and that the new World Tennis Number combines the best of both UTR and NTRP.
Bill thought that UTR seems to be better at filtering out bad apples. David thought that yes, tennis needs UTR, especially beginners and high schoolers. Kevin admitted that NTRP does its league job very well. He agrees that tennis needs both UTR and NTRP for different reasons.
Bill closed by saying that we need as many programs and platforms in tennis as possible. "Everything is needed."
Clubhouse Schedule for July
July 5 (National Workaholic Day) – General Q+A, fun stuff
July 12 – Does Tennis Need the USTA? Part 2 (with special USTA guest)
July 19 – Cheating in Junior Tennis
July 26 – (National Disability Independence Day) – Wheelchair Tennis Worldwide
"It's playing on the right side of your brain. It is creative, mystical,
letting your body do what it knows how to do.
Logic, rationality, and reasoning don't interfere.
Arthur Ashe on playing in the zone
(World Tennis Magazine, 12/1989)
Three Headlines and a Lie
We’re down to trick you with some weird headlines. Three of these are real, one is not. Can you guess which is the fake?
Johan Kriek played exhibition tennis with Donald Trump.
Brad Pitt played on his high school tennis team.
Prince William and Kate Middleton played junior mixed doubles at Wimbledon.
Matthew Perry considered a pro tennis career as a youngster.
Scroll down to the end for the correct answer.
"The only impossible journey is the one you never begin."
BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION (scroll down for info on how to reach us)
Mark Leschly sent out a message that they rebranded the company to become Universal Tennis and launched a new website at www.universaltennis.com.
"The rating is the best in the world and our focus has broadened into innovating tennis and bringing the sport not only to players at all levels but from all backgrounds. From grassroots events and programming like Flex Leagues and Team Tennis serving recreational players up to the pros with the UTR Pro Tennis Tour, Universal Tennis continues to provide transformative experiences for tennis players all over the world.
Today, we enter the next chapter of our growth. We are reimagining our branding and leaning into our new name - Universal Tennis. This shifts our sights firmly towards the future of the sport, building upon our strong foundation.
Our vision, “To transform tennis globally,” is our ambition. We empower everyone and encourage them to improve by providing products and services for players of all levels and providers of events."
Even on Clay, Why Not Let Technology Remove All Doubt About a Tennis Shot’s True Landing Spot?
SportTechie Daily did something rare on June 2: They posted something about tennis. It was about the French Open not using line calling technology. "Using tech to backstop the officiating is commonplace almost everywhere except on clay, where the ritual remains antiquated. An umpire climbs down from the chair, ambles over to the ball’s landing spot, and seeks a mark—hopefully the correct one—to either corroborate or reverse the line judge’s decision." Full article.
Pickleball Popularity Grows and Grows - in Canada
Mike Burke of NGI Sports writes in his company newsletter NGI News: "A recent article in the Montreal Gazette features the growth of the sport in Canada. It is now the fastest-growing sport in Canada.
It is believed that “Snowbirds” returning from Florida and Arizona brought it back with them. Membership in Pickleball Canada has risen from 5,000 to 22,000 and there were pre-Covid numbers of 350,000 people actually playing. The largest group responsible for the growth is the 50 plus.
As with tennis it lends itself to being a safe way to exercise during the restrictions brought about by the pandemic, and its growth has been added to by people wanting to get out and take exercise with others."
Sports Betting Enters the World of Pickleball
Randy Walker of New Chapter Media sent out a press release titled, PRO PICKLEBALL TOUR SIGNS OFFICIAL DATA AND VIDEO PARTNERSHIP WITH GENIUS SPORTS TO ACCELERATE GLOBAL GROWTH. Yep, pickleballers, congratulations, you're big league now.
Randy writes, "The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA), the professional tour for the sport of pickleball for men and women, has announced a long-term partnership with Genius Sports, the official data, technology, and commercial partner that powers the ecosystem connecting sports, betting, and media, to drive the global growth of the sport.
This partnership will set the stage for regulated sports betting on PPA events for the first time in history. Genius Sports has been granted the exclusive rights to capture and distribute live data and video broadcasts from over 1,200 PPA matches per year with its global network of over 150 sportsbook partners."
Slinger Announces Acquisition of SaaS Technology Platform – Foundation Tennis
Slinger announced its first acquisition: "With reach into over 17,000 US tennis facilities, 1 million registered current users and over 30 million transactions and court bookings completed on its platform, Foundation Tennis brings tennis market experience and expertise to Slinger through SaaS specific technology." Pursuant to the definitive agreement, Slinger has acquired all issued and outstanding shares of Foundation Tennis. Effective immediately, Foundation Tennis will be a wholly-owned subsidiary of Slinger Bag Inc.
Something tells me Slinger's new go-to Consultant George Mackin was behind that transaction. Good for them!
New: Neuro Tennis Ambassador Program
Mats Wilander says, "Tennis Professionals around the world. Are you looking for that next edge to give to your player or client? Want to earn some extra revenue while doing so? Wilander on Wheels wants to introduce you to a unique Ambassador opportunity that exists with NeuroTennis that each and everyone of you may apply for.
NeuroTennis is partnering with tennis professionals around the world who actually want to improve their players' games."
To learn more and apply, go to: https://www.neurotennis.com/brain-trainers/
HEAD Had a Whale of a Month in June
To me, it looks like the summer of 2021 will be one of the best for HEAD Racquet Sports. Novak Djokovic captured his 2nd Roland Garros final. With the win, Djokovic became the only open era ATP Player to win every Grand Slam twice. The victory in Paris, gives Djokovic his 19th Grand Slam title of his career. Djokovic endorses the HEAD Speed Series.
And to top it all off, HEAD says the Radical racquet is "truly the people's racquet, loved by all." Read reviews here.
WTT-Jack Sock & Jessica Pegula Join the '21 Player Line Up!
World TeamTennis announced two more players for the upcoming 2021 season. Jessica Pegula will be playing for the Springfield Lasers and Jack Sock will be returning to defend the King Trophy with the New York Empire. "With Sock and Pegula joining our already announced powerhouse lineup of Fritz, Stephens, Isner, and Clijsters this is shaping up to be a season you don't want to miss."
Truist Atlanta Open & 2022 Special Olympics USA Games
You may ask, who is that good-looking dude to the right? Yep, it's Scott Mitchell, PTR Pro, CEO of Premier Tennis International, regular TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS writer, and now also multi-event manager.
His company newsletter announced, "Our CEO, Scott Mitchell has been invited to be part of the world-class teams of these two amazing events. Scott will be the Tournament Operations Manager for the Truist Atlanta Open ATP 250 that will be held at Atlantic Station in downtown Atlanta July 19-August 1. https://www.atlantaopentennis.com/.
In June 2022, the Special Olympics USA Games will come to Orlando, Florida to the Walt Disney World ESPN Wide-World of Sports Campus. Scott will be the Competition Director for tennis during the June 5-12, 2022 event hosted at Walt Disney World Resort. With over 4,000 athletes, 10,000 volunteers, and 125,000 fans, Orlando will be full of athletes competing in 16 Olympic-type team and individual sports. Be sure to mark your calendar for this amazing event one year from now as we #SHINEASONE! https://www.2022specialolympicsusagames.org/
Well done, Scott! (Where are my tickets, man?)
Tennis Great Ivan Lendl Joins Evo to Invest in Athletes
Another SportTechie Daily article: "Tennis Hall of Famer Ivan Lendl has joined the Evolution Development Group—an investment and mentorship company for aspiring individual athletes—as a member of its advisory board.
The Evolution Development Group, best known as Evo, was launched earlier this year to alleviate the financial burden of training and coaching costs for promising athletes in tennis, motorsports, golf, and combat sports. Investors in Evo can buy shares and earn dividends based on the athletes’ future winnings.
Lendl won eight grand slam titles as a player and is now a high-performance coach who has worked with Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev and the USTA development program. IndyCar driver Alexander Rossi is also an Evo advisor.
Btw, I found a great article about Ivan Lendl on scroll.in: Pause, rewind, play: Ivan Lendl, the man who dragged men’s tennis into the modern age
TopCourt is Everywhere!
Is there anyone TopCourt is not partnering with nowadays? I mean, good for them, of course. Check out the latest:
1. TopCourt partners with CourtHarbor Powered by SE Logo Wear
"Through this partnership, CourtHarbor will be able to provide TopCourt members with a 15% discount on all customized court dividers, banners, and promotional products for their every day tennis and special event needs."
2. TopCourt partners with USTA Mid-Atlantic
"TopCourt will be able to provide a best in class tennis learning platform to recreational and competitive players in the Mid-Atlantic section."
3. TopCourt is the official tennis e-learning platform of both the ATP and WTA Tours.
"Through the partnership, content from various TopCourt players will be featured on the ATP and WTA’s digital platforms, highlighting TopCourt ambassadors on the tours’ rankings pages. Designated via the signature gold court icon, fans will have access to new releases, exclusive trailers, and extended player profiles, linking them back to the TopCourt platform."
I say wow!
USTA ANNOUNCES JUNIOR WHEELCHAIR TOURNAMENT SERIES
Wow. Hats off to the USTA. This is very interesting. The USTA launched the new USTA Junior Wheelchair Tennis Tournament Series, a group of nationally-ranked tournaments taking place across the country, beginning with the River City Slam in Goochland, Va., June 11-13.
Oncourt Offcourt Roundup with Kalindi
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.
The 6 Keys to Getting the Most out of your Tennis Ball Machine
Unblocking Your Potential - Tip 5 (guest-starring Lenny, The Eye Coach Wizard)
10th Annual Tennis Seminar for Professional Coaches, Assistant Coaches, and Parents
Steve Riggs and Dave Borelli have teamed up to produce the 10th Tennis Seminar (!) August 15th, 8am to 5pm.
Speakers: Dave Borelli, Amanda Fink, Dina McBride, Ken De Hart, Matt Previdi, Karen Ronney, and more. Qualifies for continuing education oints with PTR and USPTA.
Raffle Prizes: Gamma 5003 Stringing Machine values at $1,400, 6 TYravel Teaching Carts, 12 cases of tennis balls...
$75 includes lunch and raffle tickets.
Register PayPal Registration
or Venmo Steve Riggs @Steve-Riggs-11
SCTA STAFF PHOTOS RETURN TO THEIR WEBSITE
The staff photos are back on the USTA SoCal's website. Woohoo. Of course, no one can be as photogenic as Trevor Kroneman, but it’s a good start! The question is: Did the former CEO Marla Messing have them take the photos down because she thought only she was the prettiest? Who knows.
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!
To Jim Baugh - who is working his behind off to bring fitness to American kids. Kudos to him and check out his latest initiative: Play Tennis "A Fun Learn to Play After School Tennis Program."
To Lenny Schloss - who says, "There’s a little ball-striking pro in every child. It’s in our DNA." Right you are, Lenny. Watch his great 6-minute video about that very subject.
To Mickey Maule - who is a standup guy. The USTA's Managing Director Engagement and Services dares to step into the lion's den at our July 12 Clubhouse meeting "Does Tennis Need the USTA? Part 2."
To Johan Kriek - for planning to build racquet sports facilities with David Lloyd in four states. I like the sound of that!
To Steve Pratt - for being a "super-connector" and tirelessly promoting racquet sports with his company racquetwire.com.
To the USTA Midwest - for hosting free intros to tennis events across the section to encourage new players and those returning to the game to give tennis a shot. (as posted in the Tennis Industry United newsletter) Read More info about that initiative from the section that championed START/RESTART years ago.
Have a great July, friends!
ANSWERS TO 3 HEADLINES AND A LIE
Prince William and Kate Middleton are avid tennis players but never played competitively at any Grand Slam together.
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