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THIS MONTH

Dear Reader

M

Brought to my Attention

Shout-Outs

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DEAR READER,

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!

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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 AUGUST SUGGESTION FOR THE USTA CEO

Mike, 

Without excitement, advocacy is just an empty phrase

lost in the whirlwind of change!

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.

THIS MONTH

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!

USTA SECTIONS
Executive Salaries - How Much is Too Much?
You Decide!

Many TCB readers will probably look at the below information and say, "Why are they doing this?" The answer is simple: Because nobody else is doing it. No one is holding the USTA's section feet to the fire. We showed it to a tennis parent and he said, "You empower the powerless." That is exactly what we're are doing after one league player happened to look at his section's 990 filings and wrote to me, "They're looting our USTA section."

WE EMPOWER THE POWERLESS

I don't want to go that far, though. No one is looting here, of course, because each section's Board of Directors is watching out for the good of their organization. Or are they?

One section's Board member told me they never get to know the conditions when a new ED is hired because those decisions are made by the 'good old boys" or Executive Board. In case you forgot, that's this never-changing group of 3 or 4 distinguished servants of the greater good, mostly men, who make sure they all get their regular awards, Hall of Fame induction, and President's Box tickets to the US Open.

So, we decided to be the first (and probably only) member of the tennis media that looks a little closer at section finances with special emphasis on Executive salaries and the overall health.

Most of the 990 filings we inspected are from 2019 and we understand that 2020 will look a whole lot different because of COVID. However, as soon as all 2020 forms 990 have come in, we'll update that list and see how each section had come through the pandemic. Did they cut Executive salaries? Did they trim down or reach into the reserves? It'll be interesting to compare all this.

Profit or Loss? We understand that nonprofits are not required to make a profit. So we decided to not put too much emphasis on losses but still point them out here.

Definitions

We are not financial experts. However, we think we know how to read a 990 filing and trust those filings were done correctly by each section accountant. Each section's filings, except the ones for the Caribbean section, can be seen when clicking on the link IRS 990 FORM. We guess, since Puerto Rico is not (yet) a US state, they don't fall under IRS rule.

 

Here's what the numbers mean:

Revenue/Expenses/Profit/Loss: Self-explanatory We looked at overall expenses without breaking them down.

Reserves: The combination of cash on hand, publicly traded securities, and other investments.

CEO/ED Income: Only salaries over $100K plus "other compensation" like bonuses were listed (Executive Income). We believe that a section CEO or ED should not be making less than $125 and, depending on the overall financial situation, should be capped at 3% of expenses.

IPE: The ratio of Income as Part of the Expenses. Should not be more than 3% in our opinion. After all, we think since these organizations are all non-profit, money should be spent on growing tennis and not on growing a person's wealth.
COMP: We wanted to know the sum of all compensation incl. all salaries, "other" benefits, pension plans, and payroll taxes and also show that figure as a percentage of a section's expenses.

Star Rating

  • A top section that has an IPE of 3% or less, COMP below 40%, and reserves that carry their operation for at least 6 months, gets a 5-Star rating.

  • When COMP is below 30% of expenses we add 1 Star.

  • When the section COMP s over 50% of expenses we deduct 1 Star, over 65% we deduct 2 Stars.

  • When a CEO's salary is over 3.5% of expenses, we deduct 1 Star.

  • When all Executive salaries are over 10% of expenses, we deduct 1 Star, over 15% we deduct 2 Stars.

  • When the reserves fall well below the minimum needed for a 6-month survival, we deduct 1 Star. When they get close to zero we deduct 2 Stars.

Results

SECTION: Northern California

2019 REVENUE: $5,833K

2019 EXPENSES: $5,590K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: 243K

RESERVES: 1,844K

2019 ED INCOME: $153K

CEO IPE: 2.7%

COMP: $2,509K = 44.9%

TCB SECTION RATING

5Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Overall, the USTA NorCal section looked healthy at the end of 2019.

SECTION: Southern California

2019 REVENUE: $5,259

2019 EXPENSES: $5,591

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $267K

RESERVES: $5,404K

2019 INT. CEO INCOME: $216K

CEO IPE: 3.9%

TOP 4 EXECS INCOME: $679k

TOP 4 EXECS IPE: 12.1%

COMP: $2,519K = 45.6%

TCB SECTION RATING

3Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM - not published yet. The 2019 Tax Filing was made available to us.

COMMENTS: $216k for an Interim CEO seems too high. The good news: At the end of 2019, the SCTA looks in good shape as far as the reserves are concerned.

SECTION: Pacific Northwest

2019 REVENUE: $5,690K

2019 EXPENSES: $6,423K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $733K

RESERVES: $6,471K

LAST PROFITABLE YEAR: 2015

2019 CEO INCOME: $294K

2019 COO INCOME: $228K

2019 GM INCOME: $177K

CEO IPE: 4.6%

TOP 5 EXECS INCOME: $1,004K

TOP 5 EXECS IPE 15.6%
COMP: $3,080K = 48%

TCB SECTION RATING

1Star.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Executive incomes look excessive and not justifiable. The entire section looks top heavy. The only good news here: with $6.4Mio in reserves, money management looks good.

SECTION: Pacific Northwest

2020 REVENUE: $4,021K

2020 EXPENSES: $4,700K

2020 PROFIT/LOSS: $678K

RESERVES: $4,968K

LAST PROFITABLE YEAR: 2015

2020 CEO INCOME: $263K

2020 COO INCOME: $206K

2020 GM INCOME: $195K

CEO IPE: 5.6%

TOP 3 EXECS INCOME: $665K

TOP 5 EXECS IPE 14.1%

COMP: $3,331K = 70.8%

TCB SECTION RATING

1Star.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Executive incomes still look excessive and not justifiable during many years of losses (although some of the Execs may have been axed in 2020.) One Exec income increased during 2020!

SECTION: Southwest

2019 REVENUE: $1,635K

2019 EXPENSES: $1,389K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $245K

RESERVES: $793K

2019 CEO INCOME: $111K

CEO IPE: 8%

COMP: $577K = 41.5%

TCB SECTION RATING

5Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: We discounted the 8% IOE because we think a section CEO or ED should not make less than $120K. Overall, the USTA Southwest section looked healthy at the end of 2019.

SECTION: Texas

2019 REVENUE: $6,358K

2019 EXPENSES: $6,227K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $131K

RESERVES: $2,659K

2019 ED INCOME: $221K

2019 DIR INCOME: $130K

CEO IPE: 3.55%

TOP 2 INCOME: $351K

TOP 2 IPE: 5.6%

COMP: $2,329K = 37.4%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Overall, the USTA Texas section looked healthy at the end of 2019 although we think Executive income looks excessive.

SECTION: Hawaii Pacific

2019 REVENUE: $1,613K

2019 EXPENSES: $2,278K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $665K

RESERVES: 0

2019 ED INCOME: $108K

ED IPE: 4.7%

COMP: $711K = 31.2%

TCB SECTION RATING

3Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: We can only hope that the "No Assets" part of their 2019 tax filing was done by error since they had almost a million dollars in assets at the beginning of the year, including $386K in cash. If it's true, this may well be the worst run section of the USTA.

SECTION: Intermountain

2019 REVENUE: $3,111K

2019 EXPENSES: $3,105K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $6K

RESERVES: $600K

2019 ED INCOME: $134K

ED IPE: 4.3%

COMP: $723K = 23.3%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: We took one star away because of very low reserves and one star for IPE over 3.5%. We added one star for COMP below 30%

SECTION: Missouri Valley

2019 REVENUE: $3,376K

2019 EXPENSES: $3,425K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $49K

RESERVES: 1.112K

LAST YEAR PROFITABLE: 2010

2019 ED INCOME: $115K

ED IPE: 3.4%

COMP: $1,351K = 39.4%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Relatively low reserves cost them an extra star.

SECTION: Northern

2019 REVENUE: $1,929K

2019 EXPENSES: $1,729K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $200K

RESERVES: $733K

2019 ED INCOME: $121K

ED IPE: 7%
COMP: $923K = 53.4%

TCB SECTION RATING

3Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Relatively low reserves and COMP over 50% cost them two stars.

SECTION: Southern

2019 REVENUE: $13,139K

2019 EXPENSES: $11,605K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $1,534K

RESERVES: $11,896K

2019 ED/COO INCOME: $307K

CEO IPE: 2.6%

COMP: $2,578K = 22.2%

TCB SECTION RATING

5Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: It's hard to argue about an executive salary when that section is doing so well and the person also functions as COO.

SECTION: Midwest

2019 REVENUE: $11,053K

2019 EXPENSES: $11,169K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $116K

RESERVES: $2,269K

TCB SECTION RATING

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: The second largest USTA section has low reserves which lost them one star. However, they gained one star with COMP below 30%.

2019 ED INCOME: $227K

2019 CFO INCOME: $150K

2019 COO INCOME: $125K

ED IPE: 2%

TOP 3 INCOME: $502K

TOP 3 IPE: 4.5%

COMP: $2,843K = 25.5%

5Stars.png

SECTION: Florida

2019 REVENUE: $5,736K

2019 EXPENSES: $5,446K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $290K

RESERVES: $8,163K

2019 ED INCOME: $142K

2019 COO INCOME: N

2019 DIR INCOME: $134K

CEO IPE: 2.6%

TOP 2 EXECSINCOME: $276K
TOP 2 EXECS IPE: 5%

COMP: $3,299K = 60.6%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Overall, the USTA Florida section looked healthy at the end of 2019 but COMP over 60% cost them one star.

SECTION: Mid-Atlantic

2019 REVENUE: $6,134K

2019 EXPENSES: $6,064K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $70K

RESERVES: $3,541K

2019 CEO INCOME: $301K

2019 COO INCOME: $167K

2019 DIR INCOME: 120K
2019 DIR INCOME: 104K

CEO IPE: 5%

TOP 4 INCOME: $694K

TOP 4 IPE: 11.4%

COMP: $2,815K = 46.4%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: This section is top-heavy. The CEO's salary is excessive.

SECTION: Middle States

2019 REVENUE: $3,553K

2019 EXPENSES: $3,348K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $205K

RESERVES: $3,202K

2019 ED INCOME: $182K

ED IPE: 5.4%

COMP: $1,321K = 35.2%

TCB SECTION RATING

3Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: ED salary a little too high for a section that's losing money.

SECTION: Eastern

2019 REVENUE: $4,904K

2019 EXPENSES: $4,703K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $201K

RESERVES: $3,087K

2019 ED INCOME: $189K

2019 DIR INCOME: $118K

CEO IPE: 4%

TOP 2 INCOME: $307K

TOP 2 IPE: 6.5%

COMP: $1,705K = 36.3%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: The section looks healthy but the ED salary is a little on the high side.

SECTION: New England

2019 REVENUE: $3,786K

2019 EXPENSES: $4,036K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $250K

RESERVES: $2,649K

2019 ED INCOME: ???

ED IPE: ???

COMP: $1,642K = 40.7%

TCB SECTION RATING

4Stars.png

IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Unfortunately, the full 990 filing was not publicly available which cost them an extra star. The 2018 ED income was $137K which would have meant the IPE was 3.4%.

As you can clearly see, John Callen is not looting the Southern Section with his income. We think he's not being paid enough. Under his leadership, tennis made some extraordinary progress in the South.

Going into this study we fully expected the Florida section to come out with 5 Stars. But when we saw their COMP of 60.6% we were troubled and asked ourselves, what are their 55 employees doing all day? Comparable sections with similar revenues show numbers way below those in Florida. Generally accepted guidelines for nonprofits state that payroll including all related expenses should not be more than 20% of revenue. We decided to regard 30-50% as acceptable for USTA sections.

Would be interesting for a workflow consultant to come in and examine why most sections need so many employees to do the job and whether it can be done with fewer people. The money saved could go into - you guessed it - grassroots tennis.

  • Congratulations to Northern California, Southern, Midwest, and Southwest, for receiving the new (and hopefully soon coveted) TCB 5-Star rating.

  • For Pacific Northwest, we're asking: Is that what they call Mission Incapable?

  • For the rest, we can't wait to compare those numbers with your 2020 filings.

We would have loved to see programming fees itemized in each 990. It seems easy to hide shenanigans in such numbers. By shenanigans, we mean dollars spent on not growing tennis or fees paid to Board members or staff without disclosure. We're not saying this is happening but we're planning to enable all section staff members to anonymously rate their section in certain criteria very soon. That way we will find out what's potentially happening there. More information about this next month.

We want to encourage section staff that is not happy with our analysis to come forward and let us know. We'll post every letter in our next issue without editing. And if you like what we're doing, let us know, too.

 

Don't forget:

WE EMPOWER THE POWERLESS

HISTORY OF THE GAME

On June 17, three days after the court reached Marly, the third estate declared itself unilaterally to be a National Assembly and that it was with the intent of providing a new constitution. On June 20, locked out of the usual salon in which they met, the deputies adjourned to one of Versailles' tennis courts and a general oath was administered. This oath ignored the theoretical powers of the monarch. This became known as the 'tennis court oath.'

-Antonia Fraser-

Marie Antoinette: The Journey

Why Tennis Should Embrace Clubhouse

By Rich Neher

I'm pretty sure you have all heard of Clubhouse by now. Many of you may ask, "What do we need an audio-only platform in the time of Zoom and Skype?" And you may have a point. But...

Let's start with a good look at Clubhouse. According to the platform's official website, Clubhouse was designed to be “a space for authentic conversation and expression — where people can have fun, learn, make meaningful connections and share rich experiences with others around the world." 

Clubhouse-Logo.jpeg

I was surprised to learn that Clubhouse hasn't even officially launched yet. Whaaat? I and everyone I know thought there is so much buzz around Clubhouse, the audio chat social network surely has been around forever. I read that  the ‘general release’ date has yet to be announced, but Clubhouse has said it will not be before the July 4 weekend. Okay. 

While Clubhouse has been running in Beta mode for the last 14 months, the audio chat space has become crowded. I bet you didn't know how crowded: 

FACEBOOK 

June 21 they officially rolled out the launch of Live Audio Rooms in the U.S. on iOS, starting with public figures and select Facebook Groups and the debut of an initial set of U.S. podcast partners.

SPOTIFY

June 16 they launched Spotify Greenroom after acquiring the company behind the sports-focused audio app Locker Room to speed its entry into the live audio market.

TWITTER

Mid-June, Twitter launched a Clubhouse competitor for users to conduct audio-based chats and discuss a number of topics in the form of Spaces. Twitter Spaces can be monetized with the introduction of the new Ticketed Spaces. 

LINKEDIN
Microsoft-owned LinkedIn has confirmed they are working on an audio networking feature for over 740 million members in more than 200 countries

The feature will be connected to members' professional identity.

Other companies working on audio chat: Slack, Reddit.

THE DRUM writes, "It is clearly only the beginning for Clubhouse and this brand-new segment, which offers significant benefits to marketers. Specifically, people in audio rooms are very engaged – often for up to 60 minutes. Then there’s the stripped down, raw environment which allows brands to appear authentic and transparent. Lastly, this ambiguous moment gives marketers a chance to experiment and create brand loyalty before the space becomes overrun and overproduced – which by most accounts appears to be happening very quickly."

You see how Clubhouse includes a lot more interesting aspects than we all thought a few months ago?

When ​I approached Bill Patton in May with the idea to start a regular weekly tennis room in Clubhouse, he came up with naming it Tennis Boom Radio and I loved it. Since then we have both moderated 10 rooms (we call it "shows") and asked a few more people to become co-moderators. Bill has a great radio voice (I don't) and he loves to be involved and engaged and always has stories to tell.

 

As outlined in our summary for June (inside Publisher's Notes this month), we discussed diverse topics such as high school tennis, the USTA, club management apps, and UTR. There are always two kinds of people in our room on Clubhouse, the ones that just came to listen and the ones that want to be on stage and actively participate. We love both and always hope a lot of tennis professionals will join us on stage.

Clubhouse-300-new.png

Why do I think Clubhouse is good for tennis?

 

I have to quote The Drum again: "Clubhouse now has 400,000 rooms created every day, per the company. Within those rooms, early adopter marketers are finding eager audiences. BMW hosted a chat with film score composer Hans Zimmer. He discussed how he created the sounds for BMW’s new electric vehicle. Time Magazine’s editor-in-chief drops in weekly to readers. Bloomberg and the LA Times are regulars as well. Bumble used the platform to talk about its initial public offering as well as field questions. And infamously, IHOP served up the live sounds of sizzling bacon to 8,000 people."

Can you see what's possible on Clubhouse? Let me run some ideas by you.

USTA - Create regular Clubhouse rooms like a press conference but for their members and collaborators. Introduce new initiatives or, even better, answer the questions of your members. Wow. What a concept!

Tennis Club ABC - Do a covert member promotion by featuring your club, your tennis pros, let them give tips and tricks to become a better player, answer questions.

Startup Tennis Vendor - Promote your product or service, find clubs for beta testing, engage in discussion that promotes interest in you, test market pricing structures.

USPTA, PTR - Discussion groups, promoting the organization and certification, answering questions, announcing new partnerships.

Tennis Professionals - Promote, promote, promote by talking about tennis and answering questions.

High School and College Coaches - Recruit, recruit, recruit... you get the point.

Shall I go on? The possibilities are endless. Bill and I have our own ideas on how to utilize the medium Clubhouse for more fun stuff. You'll hear about it soon. For now, join us this coming Monday, 9 am PST. Our Topic: Alternative Racquet Sports like Spec Tennis. Here's the link.  Tennis Boom Radio Episode 15

Spiideo Releases Portable Automated Camera for Sports 

Sports-focused video recording company Spiideo has released its new camera solution called SmartCam. SmartCam is a portable version of Spiideo’s existing video capture technology, which uses AI to track the movement of play across a field or court, making a camera operator unnecessary.

 

Spiideo’s portable SmartCam weighs under 8kg and has a setup time of less than 10 minutes. It can be mounted on a tall tripod above the field or court, allowing for greater visibility and a 180-degree field of view.

 

As with previous Spiideo products, the SmartCam can also be used to stream live footage if connected to the internet via ethernet or WiFi network. 

Why PCs Are Turning Into Giant Phones

Apple is dragging Microsoft, Google and the entire PC industry into the 21st century

As seen on Morning Brew: A Rundown of New Crypto Rules and Regs Around the World

As seen on SportsTechie Daily: Oura Health Rings to Monitor U.S. Olympic Surfers

 

Oura Health is providing USA Surfing’s Olympic team with health and fitness monitoring rings as part of a new partnership. Oura started collaborating with the World Surf League in April.

 

Oura rings collect a wide range of biometric data, including sleep and activity, and provide Readiness, Activity, and Sleep metrics to help users understand their recovery. Last year, Oura partnered with the NBA, the WNBA, NASCAR, UFC and more.

 

Current world No. 1 surfer Carissa Moore—who, along with Caroline Marks, will represent Team USA during surfing’s Olympic debut at the Tokyo Games—also became an Oura brand ambassador as part of the announcement.

 

“With my Oura Ring I’ve been able to train more thoughtfully and focus on recovery,” Moore said in a statement. “Based on my sleep data, I feel energized and prepared to take on this exciting moment with confidence, knowing that I’ve trained and recovered well.”

NeuroTennis-April2021-2.jpg

FUN ON THE COURT

When I was forty years old, my doctor advised me that a man in his forties shouldn't be playing tennis. I heeded his advice carefully and could hardly wait until I reached fifty to start again.

Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black

Treasury of Modern Quotations (February 1963)

THINGS ARE LOOKING UP AT USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

After my article asking who comes to the rescue of that "sinking ship" USTA SoCal, something happened that I guess hasn't happened in that section in over a hundred years. The President and the CEO reached out to someone outside of the section. That someone was me. Woohoo! And I must say we had a good, constructive two-hour meeting during which I learned about some amazing changes that these guys have in their hopper. Especially in the areas of Level 7 Junior Tournaments and outreach to capture new players. And I was able to explain what the community concerns were in regards to less than stellar customer service and a depressing business climate.

So, while I promise to keep every section's and national's feet to the fire, I'm cautiously optimistic about the USTA SoCal. My recommendation to them was: Get your staff some customer service training. The members and players deserve it.

INSPIRATION OF THE MONTH

"Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow.
The important thing is not to stop questioning."

Albert Einstein

PLEASE SUPPORT US!



we would like to invite you to support the continuation of this newsletter as well as our new Mid-Month content, interviews, reviews, and other features on TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS via joining our Patreon Community. For as little as $1 a month, you can help ensure the long-term future of TCB.

Thank you!!!

Rich Neher
Publisher

'TENNIS BOOM RADIO' ON CLUBHOUSE - JULY IS IN THE BAG

(scroll down for August schedule)

Bill Patton, David Span, Adeline Arjad Cook, and I had a lot of fun moderating 4 Clubhouse rooms in July. Here are quick summaries for you.

July 5, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 11

Topic: 'Fun stuff for Independence Day'

Clubhouse-300-new.png
BobbyRiggs.jpg

We just fooled around for an hour, telling stories like all my Bobby Riggs stuff including what Vic Braden used to report. We also talked about exhibition matches and their entertainment value. We finished up joking about betting companies. Bill doesn't like them at all and so do I. There, now you know!

July 12, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 12

Topic: 'Does Tennis Need the USTA?' Part 2

Special Guest: Mickey Maule USTA Managing Director, Engagement and Services

Mickey Maule mentioned the USTA's transition to a service organization in his opening remarks. He also confirmed that an outside company was hired, Blue Oceans Group from Canada, to take over the USTA's customer service. Blue Ocean Group staff is currently in Orlando being trained by USTA staff.

MickeyMaule.jpg

Is there something fishy going on regarding Blue Ocean? Scroll down to "Brought To My Attention" for my thoughts on this.

Lisa Stone explained that she continues to get questions and complaints from players and parents. "It is now mid-July and the platform is still a mess." Lisa mentioned that improvements were made but the whole affair is very frustrating. "Thank goodness the UTR stepped up and provided good tourneys under stable conditions."

Lisa's biggest complaint is the lack of communication. (The USTA is NEVER responding to that complaint, though. It probably comes under Kamperman's directive "IGNORE THE NOISE.")

Lisa says the USTA did a poor job communicating about the project ahead of time and educating the junior tennis community about what's coming. "And now they're hiring an outside company for customer service? Very troubling!"

Michael Harper (Manager, USTA Cardio Tennis) chimed in mentioning that it seems troubling that communication was so poor. However, he pointed to webinars that actually were done. Lisa replied that those webinars were done AFTER the launch. Michael was sure they had those in the fall but it seems obvious that there was a breakdown in communication.

Delaine Mast offered that the "mindset needs to shift to the providers, not people in an office."

John Niedfeldt-Thomas (USTA League Committee member) mentioned that adult league is the last program to transition to Serve Tennis and they are now a year behind.

Adam Sher (Accutennis) remembered some feedback from clubs that said, "USTA is dictating how certain activities should be run. They should mainly be an enabler of tennis, provide best practices, etc.

Delaine Mast reminded us that Mike Dowse promised more transparency for the USTA.

When Adeline mentioned that the USTA is in the business of growing tennis I had to correct her, reminding everyone that the USTA is only in the business of growing the US Open. Everything else they do is window dressing imho.

July 19, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 13

Topic: 'Cheating in Junior Tennis'

Special Guest: Lisa Stone, Parenting Aces, Mickey Maule, USTA, David Fish, more.

LisaStone.jpg

In all my time discussing tennis with professionals and parents, cheating was often at the top of their concerns. It is also believed that cheating is one of the main reasons why kids turn away from tennis after playing just a few tournaments. Since the USTA has known about this for decades it seems, my question is: Why haven't they done something about it? All we hear is lip service and if they are working on improving that situation, where is the communication about it?

I started the discussion by sharing my experience at a large junior tournament in the desert where I observed a very well-known San Diego coach sitting in the bushes next to a court and coaching his player continuously while he was playing. For me, that is big time, professional cheating.

Bill Patton thinks that cheating is the single biggest threat to tennis. "We're repelling a lot of good characters of the game, layers who are disgusted with cheaters." Bill's students know the rule: 1 bad call is OK. 2 bad calls and they ask their opponent "are you sure?" 3 bad calls result in the immediate request for a linesperson.

Lisa Stone thought that tennis is all about the long game and "helping our kids to develop a skill set that helps them throughout their lives. We have to teach our kids respect for the game and for their opponents." She also mentioned that as parents we have to understand that there's so much emotion bubbling up with players and parents.

 

Mickey Maule made a note to do some more research on the subject.

 

Scott Ross mentioned that in Volleyball, the Tournament Director explains all the rules before play starts and calls out known offenders.

Sadiyah (sorry, didn't get the last name) said that the tournament director should have information about cheating and cheaters and should deal with it beforehand. The rule should be WE WILL NOT TOLERATE CHEATING. One way of avoiding cheating may be allowing coaching at the lowest levels of tournaments.

Lisa Stone chimed in agreeing that meetings with parents and coaches where expectations are shared should be done before every tournament. "Cheating is not tolerated." When there are disagreements, an adult should be present."In 5 or 6 tournaments we only had 1 match with issues because of that."

Lisa sees a flip side to that issue. "Kids are learning valuable skills when they play a cheater. They learn to manage anxiety and reset."

Mickey Maule stated that we have to evaluate the issue and emphasize good behavior. One other issue here is also the amount of screaming which is out of hand in junior tennis. "We need to promote integrity and sportsmanship and train our tournament directors better."

David Span reminded us that the coaches should be able to "lay down the law."

David Fish shared that during 44 years at Harvard they knew the teams where coaches did the right things and did not turn the other way when their players misbehaved. During many UTR tournaments hey had no referees at all because of the high standards that were set for all.

David Neese reported that during college matches he observed, everyone is screaming "Deuce" to rattle the server.

Lisa Stone lamented the absence of fun and excitement. "They ruled fun out of tennis. We have to make it an exciting experience again."

Scott Ross reminded us that at the BTR Tour, cheering is encouraged. "There is such positive energy, people love that. Don't take away the fun from tennis. There should be a 1-strike rule."

I asked Mickey Maule if there was a USTA committee on cheating. Who is working on that issue? Would you mind getting back to us with those answers when we do Cheating Part 2 next month? Mickey confirmed.

Lisa Stone thought we also need to recognize the kids that do it right and "find out what's going on with the kids/parents that don't."

We are all looking forward to Part 2 of this discussion next month. It is scheduled for August 23.

July 26, 2021, TENNIS BOOM RADIO Episode 14

Topic: 'Wheelchair Tennis Worlwide"

Special Guests: 

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. 

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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

TENNIS QUOTE 

"Brad's made a career out of winning matches he was supposed to lose. Up to this point in my career I have done the opposite."

Andre Agassi
Agassi and Ecstacy by Paul Bauman

GAMES

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?

  1. Johan Kriek played exhibition tennis with Donald Trump.

  2. Brad Pitt played on his high school tennis team.

  3. Prince William and Kate Middleton played junior mixed doubles at Wimbledon.

  4. Matthew Perry considered a pro tennis career as a youngster.

Scroll down to the end for the correct answer.

MEMORABLE QUOTE 

"Everything you've ever wanted is on the other side of fear."

George Addair

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BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION (scroll down for info on how to reach us)

USTA OUTSOURCED CUSTOMER SERVICE

TO CANADIAN COMPANY BLUE OCEAN

I mentioned it under Tennis Boom Radio Episode 12 on Clubhouse (scroll up).

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I don't want to just glance over the fact that the company the USTA hired to do all their future customer service functions is headquartered in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Like so many times before, I get that distinct feeling that someone is getting rich from that transaction. Why else select a Canadian company, right? Similarities come to mind when looking back at the selection process for ClubSpark which so far ended in a fiasco. I still haven't found out who got rich from that deal but I was told I'm getting close. I was told the people involved were ITF President Dave Haggard (ex-USTA), ITF Board Member Katrina Adams (Ex-USTA President), former USTA CEO Gordon Smith, former USTA CEO Community Tennis Kurt Kamperman, and current USTA CEO Community Tennis, Craig Morris. I'm on it, friends.

 

I was always thinking when Kurt Kamperman retired why did he move to Canada? I hope he didn't HAVE to leave the country. We may never know about that, of course but, holy moly, Kamperman moved to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Coincidence? There's no such thing, people. The (in my eyes disgraced) ex-USTA Executive under whose stewardship we lost millions of players in the United States, who grabbed Cardio Tennis only to see it (almost) die, who I was told created the rift between the USTA and the PTR, and more plunders too numerous to list here, is the new CEO of Tennis Nova Scotia in Halifax.

And a team from Blue Ocean is currently in Orlando getting trained on what? Blue Ocean is part of IMP group specialized in Aerospace, Aviation, IT, Defense IT, and aircraft sale. Wow!

A USTA section ED friend of mine with a very dry humor put it this way, "Kurt is in Halifax to teach Tennis Nova Scotia how to lose members. Let's hope Blue Ocean is in Orlando to teach the USTA how to communicate without pissing everyone off."

 

Be that as it may be. This does not pass the smelltest. If Kamperman really was involved in it (and I don't know for sure), hold on to your seats, folks. What could possibly go wrong?

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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."

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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!

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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.

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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."

Season packages

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?)

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Photo: AFP

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!

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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.

More information here.

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)

How to Disguise Your Return of Serve in Tennis

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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.

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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

https://paypal.me/Riggs642?locale.x=en_US

or Venmo Steve Riggs @Steve-Riggs-11

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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!

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SHOUT-OUTS

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!

Rich Neher

Publisher

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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