THIS MONTH

  • Dear Reader

  • Drop-In Tennis Secrets 30% off

  • Messing Things Up in SoCal?

  • Job Search

  • Brought to my Attention

  • Shout-Outs

  • New USTA Org Charts Analyzed

  • California AB5 Update

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.
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DEAR READER,

The message was short but not unexpected: Mike and Bob Bryan, the most successful doubles team in tennis history, say they are ending their tour careers, effective immediately.

Big thank you to the best men's doubles team ever for 22 years of winning on the pro tour. You guys were always fun to watch and tennis will miss you. I have a feeling, though, we will still continue to hear from the brothers in some capacity. Fabulous article in the New York Times by Christopher Clarey. A must-read.

Drop-In Tennis Secrets 30% off and includes shipping!

 

Thank you, everyone, who has read my book DROP-IN TENNIS SECRETS. I hope you are getting a lot out of it, especially when it comes to creating a second income stream organizing local tennis.

Because it's my birthday month and the US Open is really happening, I want to offer our readers a special deal for the PAPERBACK version of the book, which sells for $19,95 on Amazon. Order it from ME until September 30 and you pay only $14.00 incl. shipping. Payment can be done via check, PayPal (credit cards through PayPal), or Venmo. Just email me here with your order and for details.

This month we are featuring a thought-provoking assortment of articles. It was interesting getting to the bottom of the mystery why so many PlaySight clients are not happy. But I think we found out since your stories just came pouring in. Loved it! Gary Horvath tells us how the tennis industry is moving forward. His statistics speak volumes. My research on why there is a diminishing number of Black tennis players in this country resulted in some amazing findings going back to the USTA's well-intentioned but still failing diversity efforts among other reasons.

Rod Heckleman suggests that your opportunity to grow our sport and your business is there. Just grab it! Bill Patton and Scott Mitchell both wrote articles in the Member Engagement section about The Power of One and the Power of Communication. My interview with Sandy Mittleman of Mittleman Tennis shines a light on the work of a successful WTA Coach. I love the idea of TENNIS FOR AMERICA as explained by Steve Devereux.  After reading the article about Spec Tennis by Nate Gross, I decided to try that sport asap (or as soon as my shoulder is healed up.) Much more to read, folks, including my review of a delightful tennis coloring book, some press releases, marketing ideas, Chris Hagman's column about Staying Mentally Fit, an ode to a Florida Legend (Frank Froehling) and a whole bunch of Tech Tips that might help you in your business and life.

 

 

Have a good September, everyone. And thank you for your continued readership!

Rich Neher

Publisher

MESSING THINGS UP IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA?

Oh boy, where do I start? A prominent tennis coach sent me an email about how irritated he was with the SCTA (Southern California Tennis Association) "Statement on Social Injustice" on their website. Although a believer in Black Lives Matter, he wasn't happy with the SCTA's alignment with the BLM organization because of their "controversial true mission and many anti-America and anti-social proclamations by their Marxist leaders." The statement was signed by ED Marla Messing, President Chris Lewis, and Director of Community Tennis, Evan Smith.

Then I'm getting phone calls about the ED's "heavy-handed approach" dealing with the planning group of the future Carol Kimmelman Athletic and Academic Campus. I'm thinking, what is going on? You all know my opinion about the USTA and its sections building mega tennis centers mostly to the detriment of all tennis clubs in their vicinity. Club owners are contacting me about their concerns. And these concerns are very valid considering the SCTA's oftentimes disturbed relationship with private tennis clubs. To quote one tennis director, "Not a fan…they will be taking tournaments away from local facilities and running them at Carson. This will lower the income for many pros and clubs."

 

I agree. You can already see the writing on the wall. 45 courts need to be busy. Can't show empty courts, right? So, purge all tournaments, especially the big, lucrative ones, from local clubs. Easy when you are the sanctioning authority. And how about adult leagues? I predict when league players complain about disappearing courts, the tenor from the SCTA will be: "Why don't you to drive to Carson to play leagues and sectionals?"

NO INCENTIVE TO FIGHT FOR LOCAL TENNIS

 

Is that the reason why the SCTA isn't more engaging in trying to save local tennis courts from closing? Two examples: 

1. The Claremont Club

This 27-court club, located about 37 miles northwest of Carson, closed after 47 years (!!) in business. President/CEO Mike Alpert writes, "The financial cost incurred as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the loss of almost 1,200 memberships during our closures simply leaves us with no alternative."

While the loss of any club is a loss to tennis and the entire community, a very interesting observation jumps out at me: The Claremont Club not only has one large, lucrative tournament each year, the USTA Pro Classic, held there each September as part of the USTA Pro Circuit Futures tour, but it was also only recently designated as a new October tournament in the Oracle Pro Series. The Oracle series had been canceled but I'm sure others, like the UTR Pro Match Series, would have stepped in. Here is a site for anyone interested in saving the club.

Question is: While building a mega center with a desperate need to get those courts busy, what incentive would the SCTA have to fight for keeping The Claremont Club alive? None?

I understand that the SCTA ED reached out to the club and offered section help and I truly believe it was a sincere gesture and much appreciated. And I also heard there are now 4 private offers to purchase the club on the table. Whether or not this was a result of the SCTA's involvement, can you see how building a mega tennis center in the region can cloud such outreach?

 

Mark my words, folks, a whole bunch of tennis clubs all over Southern California will be hurting when the big tournaments go to Carson.

2. Weddington Golf & Tennis
The local community has been fighting for 15 years to keep this gem of a golf and tennis park open to the public and accessible for everyone. I was witness to this fight for the last 11 years. We thought we had successfully prevented the owners from closing tennis and turning most of the land into a Condo complex when ownership changed to Harvard Westlake School, a "university preparatory" school for rich kids. H-W shocked the community with plans to turn the property into the school's Athletic Center, take out golf and 8 tennis courts, and add 2 football fields, a large pool, and 3 basketball gyms.

However, that project, too, completely changes the character and usage intend for the local community, takes 8 much-needed tennis courts away from an already ever-decreasing number of available courts, and gives no guarantees that the tennis player will have good access to the courts. So, the community picked up the fight again, only to be 'thrown under the bus' by the SCTA. Unbeknownst to the local groups fighting for their courts, the section had injected themselves into the conversation. The ED writes, "Harvard-Westlake is now the owner of the property, which is currently called the Weddington Golf and Tennis Club.  As a private owner of the property, H-W can pretty much do whatever it would like with it.  Having said that, we have worked closely with Harvard-Westlake to make sure that the courts, albeit reduced from 16 to 8, will remain open to the public.  Moreover, the school is committed to being a great community partner, and providing a beautiful, environmentally sustainable facility, that will benefit the entire community." None of this can be substantiated since we are convinced H-W is pulling the wool over everyone's eyes with their bogus assurances. Read all about this project here

"WE DON'T MAKE DECISIONS BASED ON USTA MEMBER INPUT"

So, the tennis-playing community is losing out again, probably happy to get access to a few courts a few hours every day since 34 tennis pros that are currently working at this facility want court time, of course, and so do the H-W tennis teams. I assume the SCTA's answer would be, "Why don't you all drive down to Carson to play?" My opinion: The USTA in SoCal is not looking out for us tennis players, although many of us are actually USTA members. Oh, wait a minute, another pro tells me of a remark made at a recent Zoom call with you know who: "We don't make decisions based on USTA member input." No wonder the community feels that this USTA section is not communicating with them.

Very disappointing.

JOB SEARCH

Bill Patton, one of the most interesting tennis professionals, authors, speakers I know and also a friend and contributor to our newsletter, is looking for a new position. Bill didn't ask me to put this in my Notes, I volunteered to do it. Bill says he prefers to stay on the West Coast but "will consider WOW offers..." E-mail Bill if you know of an interesting position for him. Thank you!

BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION

TIA 2020 Participation Report 

A tennis professional wrote to me: I have seen the PAC before, but this seems to be done much better than I recall previous PAC reports. (PAC = Physical Activity Council) The TIA reports always seem like they are trying to cover up something. This seems transparent and not filled with fluff.

Bob Ryland Passing
USPTA President Feisal Hassan sent out this notice to all members:

Dear Members –

I am deeply saddened to inform you all that Bob Ryland has passed away at the age of 100.

For all his life, Bob was a trailblazer. He was the first African American man to play professional tennis, helping pave the way for other legends of the game. His strength, resilience and passion for tennis was outdone only by the love he showed for others.

Bob was a USPTA member for 62 years, and at next month’s World Conference Virtual Event, Bob will be the lone inductee to the USPTA Hall of Fame.

At this time there is no further information.

A USPTA member wrote to me: It is nice they recognized Bob Ryland for his accomplishments - although he had to be black, a member for 62 years, and turn 100 years old, and die to receive the HOF award. 

A skeptic might ask, "Was the USPTA President and Diversity and Inclusion Committee looking for a way to show they were sensitive to black by making Ryland the only inductee into the USPTA HOF this year?" I think the optics of the situation portray the USPTA as being insincere, opportunistic, and desperate to find an award winner."

FIRST ONE IN - New Tennis Comedy

Steve Pratt sent me this info about the upcoming release of FIRST ONE IN, a "tennis comedy that is sure to entertain tennis lovers and sport enthusiasts alike!"

 

Thrown off a popular reality show in disgrace, unemployed real estate agent Madi Cooke (Kat Foster), teams with a group of misfit tennis players in a do-or-die match against Bobbi Mason (Georgia King)--an overachieving, tightly wound, real estate shark--and her tennis-playing minions.

 

View Trailer Here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8vwXT0uFv8Y

FIRST ONE IN is set to release on major VOD/Digital platforms including Amazon, iTunes, and Google Play beginning Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

 

Website is here:

https://www.firstoneinfilm.com/

USPTA Bleeding Members?

A California Pro sent us this ad from Instagram commenting, "The USPTA must be bleeding members..."

Roger Federer Coffee Table Book Giveaway

Remember our reader Phillip Kim, Pro at the Langham Huntington Hotel in Pasadena, California? He's the lucky winner of the HEAD Super Package we raffled off in June. Phillip emailed me about a promotion he's doing which is expiring September 14.

Phillip wrote, "In order to celebrate this most important of days (RF's birthday last month), LoveSetMatch is partnering with the good people at Federesque to give away the most appropriate gift possible.  The Roger Federer coffee table book FEDERESQUE is really a work of art.  It’s the first of its kind to present Federer fandom in printed form.  It’s a beautiful collection of photos and writings that depict the legend as he should be.  It’s a book that I believe every tennis fan should have.

FEDERESQUE ” is the first elegant “coffee-table” book of Roger Federer and is a pictorial essay of his 20/20 career. It is not ”just another tennis book” – it is an elegant photographic art book designed to be admired during his current career and cherished the sad day he hangs up his racket. 

To win, simply do these two things

1.  Subscribe to our Youtube Channel 

2.  Send an email to pk@tennispal.com with the name of our youtube channel with the subject “Federeresque Giveaway"

Tennis Magazine Goes Haywire?

We reported many months ago that the quality of Tennis Magazine's print edition has gone way down. Not sure if that has something to do with its owner's political direction. One of our readers asked me why Sinclair Broadcasting, "a company with such a far-right agenda" was allowed to buy tennis assets. Well, I don't know the answer to that question. However, what I noticed in last month's edition of TENNIS is the weird selection of print fonts.

According to Extensis.com there are about at least half a million fonts in existence. So, Tennis Magazine Publisher, you're telling me you couldn't find a better font among half a million fonts available? It is common knowledge that sometimes, designs become disasters just because the font is not used properly or, in some sense, does not fit the occasion. There are more problems with paragraphs that are hardly legible in the latest TENNIS issue. Not sure what to make of all this.

What On Earth is Move Tennis Forward?

A reader emailed me the link to the below 30-second video and asked, "Any idea what the message of this (probably $20,000) commercial is?"

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be honest, I didn't know and I'm still scratching my head. Click on the image to see the video.

Professional Tennis Players Association?

Wow. Novak Djokovic, John Isner, and Vasek Pospisil have all reportedly resigned from the Association of Tennis Professionals to start their own breakaway tennis group, the ATPA (Professional Tennis Players Association). Not sure what to think of it. I just hope they're not involving Justin Gimelstob in their venture. Yikes!

USTA Membership Reorganization

We heard of changes coming in regards to a USTA membership reorganization. We were told that effective immediately, there will be no more charges for junior memberships. Lifetime memberships and family memberships will go away. And the organization is gearing toward adult memberships that are completely free. Interesting. I wonder how they are planning to fill that $18MM revenue gap...

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SHOUT-OUTS

DICK GOULD - for always being so accessible and willing to answer questions. And also for his outstanding work in Concussion Education. We are planning to post more information about this in one of our next issues.

CHRIS WIDMAIER - for being such a great communicator as the USTA's Managing Director, Corporate Communications.

LOUISA THOMAS - for writing a well-researched article in the August 13 issue of The New Yorker: The Fractured World of Tennis Amid a Prolonged Pandemic.

STEVE PRATT - for always keeping us posted on what's happening in tennis as the PR guy par excellence.

SCOTT MITCHELL - for finishing and delivering his September article (Power of Communications) despite a grueling schedule with a global kids conference.

RON LYONS, DAVID WILLIAMS, CEE JAI JONES, MYA SMITH-DENNIS, CHANTAL ROCHE, BILL LEONG - for replying to my emails and communicating about diversity & inclusion activities in USTA sections and national.

STEPHEN DEVEREUX - for helping Tennis for America becoming one of the most interesting initiatives in college tennis in recent years.

NEW USTA ORG CHARTS ANALYZED

I didn't have much to report about the USTA when the Community Tennis Org Charts mysteriously happened to land in my Inbox. Very interesting indeed. I quickly got some input from various insiders today who stated that "they are hiring a bunch of new people after they let a bunch of competent people go." Here are my observations.

Staff Count

I thought Michael Dowse had cut the staff from over 500 to 400. No? Why does the new Community Tennis chart still look so bloated with all sorts of new positions to be hired? And Player Development? My recollection was they were cut in half. Is that still true? Why not cut it completely and give those millions where it's needed? Grassroots in the sections, that's where it should go.

No Diversity

Looking at the highest levels of USTA Executives, I see mostly White men, 2 White women, and 1 Black male. What's up with that? CEO, CEO Community Tennis, IT, Finances, Professional Tennis, all White (one woman). Reporting to Craig Morris: 4 White Men, 1 White woman, 1 open position, and then there's Martin Blackman. Do you call this diversity, folks? My conclusion: The USTA seems to still be that old, White male-dominated club. Too bad. Goes well with my article "Disappearing Black Tennis Players" this month which also tries to find Black members on USTA Boards. (Good luck with that.).

Jeff Waters
One friend of mine said, "I don't know how Jeff Waters is still alive. After 9 pretty much unsuccessful years in Adult and Community Tennis, they gave him a new position (Section & Support Services Managing Director) with 5 staff (4 TBD) but for what?" Since the USTA usually gives failing executive positions where they can do the least amount of damage, (see Kamperman) this is probably the end for Waters. But why give him staff? 

One insider wrote, "There are a few people that were at the center of virtually every blunder and boondoggle at the USTA over the last 8 or so years.  They made decisions that led to massive problems. Cost tons of money. (Net Gen would be one.  The disastrous digital transformation process.  On and on ...).  They are still there.  Jeff has never been right; he has always been on the wrong side of an issue.  He remains.  Craig is the father of Net Gen ... after zillions of dollars, and a massively disastrous rollout, where is Net Gen now?  Craig remains.  Overall, there seems to be and will probably continue to be little accountability for failure and lack of competence.  Nobody has been held accountable for the boondoggles and mistakes.  Many have failed up." Hmmm.

Adult Leagues

The grand total of League experience in the League silo looks like no more than 5 years.  Micheal Hughes was a junior program guy at the USTA/Midwest. He had no League experience at the USTA until he got the job to lead it about 18 months ago. I was told that Micheal is a nice guy, but does not know and understand the League program he oversees. I wanted to write it's time to get David Schobel back but can't see him coming back out of retirement on the local golf courses. However, why not get Darcy Cobb back? Maybe even only part-time? Seems like her experience is dearly needed.

Miscellaneous

- No mention of TSR's. Glen Arrington headed that program but they put him overseeing Sales & Partnerships. Who is overseeing TSR's? Or are they being faded out?

No mention of Tennis on Campus, either. 

We'll wait and see what else will happen at the USTA. Sorry, folks, for rambling on about PD. But hundreds of millions of dollars spent and not ONE champion produced, isn't it time to close that money pit?

CALIFORNIA AB5 UPDATE

A totally different ballgame': Inside Uber and Lyft's fight over gig worker status

Labor activists are targeted in a social media campaign as gig economy companies spend millions to prevent workers from becoming employees.

Dara Kerr

Aug. 28, 2020

Veena Dubal couldn't stop her mind from reeling. It was around midnight on March 29 and coronavirus lockdowns were in effect. She says she paced back and forth between her three young children's rooms making sure each one was OK. She tried to convince herself she was overreacting. It didn't work. 

Earlier in the day, she'd received a text message from a friend telling her to look at Twitter. Dubal, an employment labor law professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law and a vocal critic of Uber and Lyft, opened the app. She'd been getting an unusual amount of hateful tweets over the past few weeks, but that didn't prepare her for what she saw -- her home address, salary and husband's name broadcast on the social media site by someone she says had been one of her most relentless critics. "Our dear Veena may be hoarding (sic) a lot of clams," read the tweet by @BlueUrpi in reference to Dubal's salary. Continue here

 

Everything You Should Know About AB5 & Its Impact on Uber

By Harry CampbellAugust 27, 2020

AB5 & Uber

Uber and Lyft are pulling out all the stops against a bill in California called AB5 that could turn rideshare drivers from independent contractors into employees overnight.

AB5, as its known, passed the state Assembly a few weeks ago and is now headed for a hearing at its first policy committee in the state Senate.  Continue here

“Oh, We Were Just Leaving!”: California Court Halts Order Requiring Uber and Lyft to Reclassify Drivers

By Tony OncidiKate Gold and Philippe A. Lebel on August 24, 2020Posted in California Labor & Employment Law, Independent Contractors

Last week, Uber Technologies, Inc. and Lyft, Inc. announced that they would suspend ridesharing operations in the State of California in response to an August 10, 2020 San Francisco Superior Court judge’s preliminary injunction, requiring the companies to reclassify their California drivers as “employees” within 10 days.  The order came in the context of a lawsuit brought by California’s Attorney General Xavier Becerra and the City Attorneys of Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco, accusing Uber and Lyft of violating California’s recently enacted anti-independent contractor statute, known as “AB 5.”  However, before the trial court’s order could take effect and before Uber and Lyft suspended operations in the Golden State, the ride-sharing companies secured a temporary stay from the California Court of Appeal, which issued an order temporarily permitting Uber and Lyft to maintain their current driver classification as independent contractors rather than employees. Continue here

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