Brought To My Attention
How Realistic Is The 2020
California Assembly Bill AB5 Update
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.
I'm furious. Still, no doubles allowed in Los Angeles County. All around us in Orange County, San Diego County, Ventura County, San Gabriel County, they are playing doubles and having fun. But because of an incompetent Governor Gavin Newsom (#RecallGavinNewsom) and a joke of an L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti (#RecallEricGarcetti) Los Angeles County only allows singles play. To play doubles, our players here have to sneak on the court by the cover of night, hoping no one will report you to the Los Angeles COVID Police. Grrhh... Where is the USTA Section when you need them? Maybe someone should train the USTA Sections on how to advocate our sport to city, county, and state authorities. (If your section already does that successfully, please share.)
Did I tell you I'm furious about all this? I am!
On a lighter note, I'm, of course, happy that so many tennis facilities are open all over the country. Listening to a lot of our readers, it seems we are in a new tennis boom, believe it or not. Good. I hope the USTA is realizing that we need to ride that wave and use it to catapult us into that new tennis movement I have been envisioning for quite some time now. Remember? I dream about kids taking a racquet and begging to be part of that awesome tennis tribe. Or adults who look at the fitness and health qualities of our sport and say "Yeah, I want to play tennis!!!" Come on, Mr. Dowse, tap into those ever-present "latent demand" millions of adults (according to the ITA) and get them into tennis. And don't listen to anyone saying it can't be done. Do it! Find a way. Ask the pros in the trenches how to.
This month, we dare to bring you two non-tennis articles. Well, one of them, my article "California Economy Outlook – Potential Effects on Tennis Clubs" does have a tennis connection. I'm taking the worst-case scenario for the California economy in regards to "work from home", "defund the police", and "automotive trends" trying to figure out what it means for tennis. The other article was written by tennis author, celebrated analyst, and mental coach, Allen Fox. With his permission, I took his Facebook post, added a few graphics, and turned it into an article for all of you to read. Well done, Allen. He said a great deal of work went into relaying his thoughts about our country's future. His article is titled "Present-Day America: Paralleles to Ancient Rome."
Thank you to our advertisers HEAD, NGI, PTR, StonesNet, and Oncourt Offcourt. We couldn't be in business without them. Thank you also to our regular contributors Rod Heckelman, Gary Horvath, Javier Palenque, Scott Mitchell, Bill Patton, Tim Bainton, and now also Steve Milan, Larry Haugness, and Allen Fox. Great content again this month. But - where are the female writers? I want to encourage the women tennis pros to submit content next month and in the future. That would be great.
Have a good August, everyone. And thank you for your continued readership!
BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION
Don Hightower retired
After 21 years with TENNIS WAREHOUSE, 18 of those as President, Don Hightower has retired. A true friend of tennis, Vic Braden's partner in Switzerland, and a 10-year Executive at the U.S. Racquet Stringer Association has called it quits. Don wrote to me, "...still have plenty of energy, passion, and enthusiasm! Whether that is channeled into tennis is TBD. For now, I’m happy being an industry spectator… "
All the best, Don.
Virtual Tennis Symposium a big success
Congratulations to Kalindi Dinoffer and Emma Doyle for organizing a first-class virtual symposium event July 13-17. I listened to a lot of the presentation and was floored by the quality of the presenters and the professional MC'ing of Emma and A.J. Chabria. Most impressive for me: Judy Murray. She confirmed to me what I thought for the longest time, that many coaches don't put enough emphasis on hand-eye and foot-eye coordination. (See also Bill Patton in our Shout-Outs below.)
Is PlaySight struggling?
After more and more tennis professionals were reporting disappointment with the PlaySight SmartCourt system they bought, we had sent out a Survey Monkey questionnaire to our readers. At first glance, you guys sent us both positive and negative reviews of the pricey investment. We'll begin to analyze the replies in detail shortly. Kudos to Head of Racquet Sports, Josh Graves, and CMO Jeff Angus who opened up and sounded quite enthusiastic about the company and its future.
However, there are, quite frankly, red flags in some places. So far, neither PlaySight Chairman George Mackin (called the "Specter of Tennis" by a USTA friend of mine) nor Yair Assaf, Head of Tennis at their Israel HQ, have to date replied to my questions. Also, we are looking for tennis celebrity investors that are not mentioned anywhere anymore. As I recall, they were listed on the website just a few years ago. Sportsradar AG is also on the radar for our story next month. (Of course! The comrades from the betting camp can't be far when there's money to be made. Just ask the ITF, haha.) Stay tuned.
Platform Tennis is growing
The PTR has announced they became becoming the official education and certification partner of the APTA for platform tennis certification. Similar to their Pickleball arm PPR, they created the PPTR (Professional Platform Tennis Registry). I guess I have to look into Platform Tennis a little more. Interestingly, our Feature Writer Gary Horvath has founded the APTA about 20 years ago and served on their Board for 13 years. He is currently on the USPTA national committee to oversee platform tennis education and certification. I am also hearing that the USPTA was once aligned with the APTA as far as certification is concerned. I wonder what happened?
College Tennis freefall?
It's no secret that College Tennis is struggling right now. The latest count is that 45 tennis teams have been cut. Ouch. (See Business of College Sportscast "Why Is College Tennis Taking A Hit?")
A tennis pro friend of mine said it like this, "You would think the USTA and USPTA sections and districts would have been focused on this for the past two decades. In my experience, the USTA sections and districts have been interested only in selling their programs and running tournaments at colleges because they have large facilities. It is too late now for the ITA to save college teams over the next three years because the USTA and USPTA have not supported college tennis at the local level. They don't have relationships built with the colleges and in some cases those relationships are negative."
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.
Launched recently: Tennis For America
I wished the ITA would be better at promoting themselves and their activities. I learned through a contact of mine that a program titled Tennis For America was launched in June. TFA is piloting the concept that a year of service program is possible for graduating student-athletes. As the first national service program created by a sport governing body, TFA brings together eight former collegiate tennis players to begin their year of service to our country. More details here. Read more about this in our September interview with the man whose passion was driving TFA for the most part.
Oh, btw, if you want to sign up for the ITA newsletter, do it here.
Under Armor in hot waters?
I'm reading that Under Armor "disclosed it received notice of a possible enforcement action from the Securities and Exchange Commission related to the accounting treatment of sales it booked between the third quarter of 2015 and the fourth quarter of 2016." Under Armor denies the allegation. I happen to like that company and its products and hope this can be resolved.
U.S. Partner wanted
We were contacted by Polish Sports Marketing Entrepreneur Marcin Matysik. He wrote about a new educational platform in tennis called Top Level Tennis. Marcin wrote, "The new tennis educational platform has been built in Europe aspiring to become the next Masterclass. Check them out please www.TopLevelTennis.com They will soon add courses delivered by Boris Becker, Brad Gilbert, Wolfgang Thiem (father and coach of Dominic), Marco Panichi (fitness trainer of Djokovic) and more. All the contracts have been signed. It so happens that they are now looking for a strong partner in the US. Could you help or at least suggest somebody who could push the sales in the US?"
If you're interested, please contact Marcin Matysik at firstname.lastname@example.org
SLINGER BAG - for being everywhere right now. Wherever you turn, you hear news and promos about that capable little ball slinger. Oh, yeah, check out our Press Releases section this month. Yep, they're in there, too. Twice!
JORGE CAPESTANY - for not wasting time in answering our questions for the Hope PTM program lightning quick! More about this in our Professional Tennis Management section this month. We're featuring 4 PTM programs!
LARRY HAUGNESS - for showing the USTA how to grow tennis. How? Read his contribution under GROWING HIGH SCHOOL TENNIS.
PTR - for having "the best month ever" in regards to former members reinstating their memberships. (Dan Santorum).
USTA Florida - for launching the AMPLIFY project to address racial inequality in tennis.
Susan DiBiase - for always taking the time to quickly answer all questions (and not only about Babolat).
World TeamTennis - for showing the world (and Danielle Collins) that breaching the WTT's Coronavirus protocols is a reason for dismissal.
Jack Broudy - for giving me a glimpse into his revolutionary new teaching methods involving infinity movement and the "power of 45." Hopefully, we can introduce his advanced methodology in our September or October issue.
Bill Patton - for focusing his efforts in an area I have always deemed to be more important than strokes and strategy: Visual coordination. He calls it Visual Training for Tennis. I can't wait to report about it soon. Check out Bill's FB page for videos and snippets of information.
Gary Horvath - for continuing to analyze the market by utilizing data we don't even know existed. And not only for us. Scroll down to the end of this page to view his latest "Review of the Colorado and United States Economy - With Implications for the Tennis Industry." Get ready to be impressed!
Scott Mitchell - for not only being a very accomplished writer (see this month's article "Solutions for Quick Growth for your Facility") but also taking the time out of his very busy life to read my new book DROP-IN TENNIS SECRETS and giving me his opinion. Scroll down to Shameless Book Promo.
HOW REALISTIC IS THE 2020 US OPEN?
I guess this is the 80 million dollar question nowadays. Right? And I can't help wondering if even Michael Dowse knows that answer. Did you see the barrage of USTA press releases in July canceling all five ITF World Tennis Tour events taking place in the U.S. in August? And then came the Citi Open cancellation announcement. It is clear to everyone with a brain that the USTA and especially the 17 sections need the US Open to happen if they want to support their people and programs next year - unless they are ready to tap their reserves. And that despite the latest round of savings and staff reductions.
The biggest stumbling block for players seems to be the European 14-day quarantine requirement when they return from the United States, de facto preventing them from participating in the next tournament in Europe. Andy Murray's brother Jamie said in an interview with Sky Sport, "...because if that happens then you’re asking the players to choose between going to the States – to play a Masters Series and Grand Slam – or staying in Europe and playing two Masters Series and a Grand Slam.”
Here's what the international press is writing about the subject:
Sports Mole in the UK writes, "World number one Novak Djokovic dealt a further blow to the hopes of the US Open going ahead after claiming it would be "impossible" to play under the "extreme" proposed safety protocols.
Tennis World writes that Nole "trains with the US Open Balls." Huh?
Essentially Sports writes that "Bianca Andreescu and Naomi Osaka Reportedly To Skip US Open 2020."
Tennis Magazine/Tennis Channel stay with trivial content. Not rocking the boat is the mantra here.
CNN Sports quotes Grigor Dimitrov, "I think a lot of players are definitely a little bit confused with what they should do. I think we all can sit down with our teams and sort of discuss the possibility of playing or not."
Germany's Sport1 has former Wimbledon Champ Michael Stich express reservations toward any more large tennis events in 2020. "Forget 2020. Focus on 2021. If neither the Europeans nor the Australians come to New York, is it worth it?"
Sports Illustrated's all-time great columnist Jon Wertheim explained it this way: "Since the announcement in mid-June that the show would go on in Queens at its appointed time, we’ve had the disastrous Adria Tour; we’ve had a player test positive at an event in spite of responsible behavior. We’ve seen athletes in all sports test positive, some in a bubble context, causing much reconsideration and scrambling. And, of course, we’ve seen COVID-19 rates in the U.S. spike.
The U.S. Open remains on the calendar as I write this. (It’s worth pointing out that (infection) rates in New York are falling—though that doesn’t change the fact that most American players will be coming from hot spots.) We are all trying to balance risk and find some personal sweet spot between fear and caution, mindless optimism, and the paralyzing pessimism.
Me? I’m having an increasingly hard time imagining this event. In large part because of the science and the current data. In some because of the logistics and travel concerns. In part because of the liability risk. In part, because there is another major—held in a less coronavirus-hostile part of the world—a few weeks later. I’d like to be wrong. Less for the sake of tennis than the sake of what it will mean for humanity. But right now, yeah….."
My take: I think it will happen. I trust it will happen. I am confident the USTA can make it happen.
CALIFORNIA ASSEMBLY BILL AB5 UPDATE
We had reported about AB5 a few months ago. To bring you up to speed, GOOGLE writes, "California Assembly Bill 5 (AB5) extends employee classification status to gig workers. Companies must use a three-pronged test to prove workers are independent contractors, not employees. AB5 is designed to regulate companies that hire gig workers in large numbers, such as Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash."
As an update, here are some highlights.
After the State of California sued UBER and Lyft, the so-called "Yes on Proposition 22 Coalition" has put over $100 Mio. in a fund to save app-based jobs from those stringent AB5 requirements. The coalition advertises it is protecting one million at-risk jobs. Major funders are UBER, Lyft, Doordash, and others. If the initiative wins in the November elections, app-based drivers will still be able to file as independent contractors.
The California Labor Commission filed a lawsuit to enforce AB5 against app-based car washing service Mobile Wash, Inc.
The State of California has dug in because of added tax revenue expected from the new law.
Forbes writes, "AB5 has caused thousands of independent contractors throughout California to lose their incomes, but that hasn’t stopped other states or federal politicians from trying to implement similar misguided policies in the name of protecting workers. Covid-19 has shown us that we need more resilient and flexible labor markets, not more rigid ones, and regulations that make it harder for people to work as independent contractors move us in the wrong direction."
Competitive Enterprise Institue writes, "If You Can’t Convince Them, Confuse Them: California Political Establishment Doubles Down on AB5"
NASDAQ writes, "As California’s AB5 Becomes Law, Uber’s Path to Profitability Just Got More Complicated"
And it goes on and on. No one is really in favor of AB5. We had asked some California tennis club owners and the answers were quite predictable.
NorCal's Rod Heckelman wrote, "The tennis pros are pretty much stuck with eventually having to make the transition…there is no way that a tennis pro can conduct their practice without having the physical facility host their work…that is the criteria that classifies them as being an employee…truckers and Uber people are able to get around…especially the truckers…but at this point, with the current economic conditions, they are not really enforcing AB-5. As an owner or manager, I would still be concerned about the legal ramifications and risk of having a tennis pro working as an I.C. and then get hurt while working at your facility, workers comp will challenge the purpose of their presence and might use the AB-5 law in support of their case."
Others have commented from "Our pros are all employees" to "Let a sleeping dog lie." The USPTA California Division's Sara Morse wrote, "I know that some facilities have made the changes as stated in AB5. I know others have not and are still recognizing tennis pros as ‘independent contractors’ so it is very gray...I wish I had more information."
I guess we'll have to wait and see if any of those law suites get traction.
But CAUTION! CAUTION! CAUTION! There is currently a federal bill proposed by the Democrats in the House called the PRO Act. That bill would basically kill all independent work for good. To understand what it is, I encourage you to watch this short video.
MATTERHORN BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
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 Scott Mitchell wrote about "Drop-In Tennis Secret."
"Drop-In Tennis Secrets is an outstanding manual for tennis professionals looking to create additional revenue streams. The book covers so many important topics from the business side, marketing, planning, and recruiting of new members. It also provides some successful samples which is so helpful as you don’t have to reinvent these documents. I would highly recommend this to any tennis or pickleball professional to provide them with that “secret sauce” to being successful."
CEO/ Executive Director of Tennis
Premier Tennis Consulting- Getting Results
Professional Tournament & Facility Operations Consultant
Check out what all the other tennis professionals had to say about the booklet.