Dear Reader - US Open, Naomi Osaka, Novak Djokovic,
Billie Jean King's Eye Coach
to the rescue
Brought to my attention - Labor Laws, US Open, Serve Tennis, Marla Messing, SCTA, USOPC, ITA, USTA membership changes, NCAA, Project Play, RSI magazine, WOW, PlaySight, SAP/WTA, Rosie Casals
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.
September was a month of ups and downs. Do you agree? I love the fact that the USTA was able to pull off a great US Open. Given all the potential landmines they survived with a minimal number of self-inflicted wounds, they did a great job.
The decision to default Novak Djokovic came unexpected for me as a big Nole fan. Of course, rules need to be upheld, but I tend to agree with Cliff Drysdale who said, "This wasn’t the time or place to enforce this rule this strictly during a pandemic and in a sport that was shelved for five months."
This NY Post article by Marc Berman is pretty informative. My message for Novak: Keep on doing what you do best: Win Grand Slams. Don't look back at New York 2020.
And then there was Naomi. I'm not criticizing the young woman for her protests although I criticize the USTA for giving her a platform. I was not happy about Patrick Gilbraith demonstrating that with his short speech during the Tennis Industry Forum because I think "the USTA pandered to players and allowed them to cram the BLM movement down spectator’s throats." (See my article about Virtual Conferences titled "A Smörgåsbord of Learning")
But I agree with the Commish (see Letters to the Editor) who states that "Naomi Osaka blew up the internet with that picture of her BF flipping off the camera, and she has lost a lot of fans. Commish wonders what Yonex thinks of that. Many coaches and players have voiced their concern over that lack of respect and professionalism." There are so many questions regarding this and a bunch of other photos with that obscene gesture. Who is her handler? How dumb of them to allow these photos? Where is the respect for the US Open? She came across like a privileged young brat who could have done so much better things with her photo ops.
I have a thick skin but reading Naomi Osaka referring to US racism as genocide on Blacks was a little too much for me to swallow. Not sure if I like stars making millions politicizing tennis. As an immigrant who became an American only 3 years ago, I love this country and traveled through 49 states meeting the best people on this planet. I think she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Or, maybe it’s her boyfriend speaking through her? She's a disgrace and I'm amazed that she wasn't fined for those obscene displays.
This month we are looking at four Virtual Tennis Conferences that, for the most part, were amazingly good and informative. Because of very encouraging feedback we received after last month's DISAPPEARING BLACK TENNIS PLAYERS article, we decided to interview some Black tennis leaders, like Shelia Curry (President of the Black Tennis Hall of Fame) and Rodney Harmon (Georgia Tech Head Women's Tennis Coach). I had asked USTA D&I Coordinators about their ideas to attract more Black tennis players and thanks to Chris Widmaier, we received a long answer including the corporate position.
We were able to catch up with Dick Gould who is involved in an amazing field, and Kathy & Ron Woods (Kathy went headfirst into her own business after resigning from her TD position at Lake Nona.) I'm always happy to see our advertisers succeed in business and tell us about it. Read the story of how NGI installed 4 new Pro-Clay courts at Vestavia Country Club in Birmingham, Alabama.
I loved hearing from Canada-born female pro Sam Nickel who's having fun teaching tennis in London/UK. More on the serious side is Kevin Schmidt's article about the effects of no 2020 year-end ratings. Incidentally, League Captain Mark Sweeney is not happy about the USTA's no-ratings decision. He started a letter-writing campaign to urge them to reconsider. Rod Heckelman writes about The Dialogue Of Coaching. Scott Mitchell's October contribution is all about adapting and being innovative. Does your facility have clay courts? Ed Shanaphy is making a case against sweeping.
Guest columnist Michael-Ray Pallares explains new frontiers in the area of behavioral health and Life Coach Holly Krivokapich urges us to "Do Not Feed The Fears." It's amazing how many readers agree with my assessment of PlaySight customers' dissatisfaction. But, not to worry, a new product is coming out of Helsinki, Finland, Zenniz. We talked with Zenniz CEO Sebastian Laine. Global business consultant Javier Palenque keeps holding the USTA's feet to the fire with his article about the NGB's inability to see who their potential members are.
Remember our June article about Norwegian tennis coach and Social Media marketing guru Christina Mihaela Carare? Well, check out her press release announcing her new platform Nordic Social Club where she helps tennis clubs and coaches saving time by providing templates and more to easily accomplish social media marketing tasks. Other press releases include Bill Patton's Visual Training courses, RacketStats, Slinger Bag/Dunlop, UTR, Neurotennis, USTA/University of Florida's new PTM program, and Pickleball World Tours.
Finally, I want to personally thank HEAD and the PTR for renewing their annual ad. Head has renewed six times since 2015. I am very appreciative of the support of our advertisers!
Have a good October, everyone. And thank you for your continued readership!
Billie Jean King's Eye Coach to the Rescue!
I've been on a long road to recovery after a rotator cuff tear in my right shoulder last February. The Orthopaedic Surgeon I saw determined my case is not severe enough for surgery and prescribed 4 months of physical therapy starting mid-April. I did that weekly and performed all home exercises, with very little progress. Pains were mainly prevalent at night and I had very little sleep for months.
After declining the proposed shoulder surgery, I was just about to renew PT when a tennis friend recommended starting swimming. I was skeptical at first but began a daily swim regiment from September 1 on. The progress was noticeable after only a few days. I was so encouraged I wanted to go out and hit some balls on the tennis court. However, I was scared to overdo it and reinjure that darn shoulder. Then I remembered that yellow gadget in my closet.
The unit was quickly set up and ready to use. I watched a few of Lenny's videos online and started working out on the Eye Coach. Lo and behold, very little pain in the shoulder but a whole lot of confidence built in just a few days.
Did I just find another application for the Eye Coach? I think I did, Lenny Schloss. Rehabilitation after rotator cuff injury. Amazing.
As of this writing, at the end of September, I've been using the Eye Coach for about 2 weeks, increasing my time on it from 2 minutes to now 10 minutes per session. And I love it. No more pain.
I'm still icing my shoulder sometimes when I get out of bed in the morning and after hard workouts. But my daily regiment of PT, swimming, and Eye Coach can be done now without pain. I'm looking forward to getting back on the court in October sometime. Woohoo!
(Disclaimer, neither myself nor TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS or any of our affiliates were getting paid for this article!)
BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION (scroll down for information on how to reach us)
Praise from a Tennis Director: Tennis Magazine is fluff over and over. TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS is compelling content that makes you think!
Interesting article in U.S. News & World Report: U.S. Labor Department Could Make It Easier to Treat Workers as Independent Contractors. This could have ramifications for the controversial California AB5 law.
NCAA furloughed its entire staff for 3-8 weeks
AP reported September 2 that the NCAA will furlough its entire Indianapolis-based staff of about 600 employees for three to eight weeks in a cost-saving move. A tennis friend sent me the article and added, "This is interesting. Hopefully, this doesn't lead to more cuts in tennis programs."
Racquet Sports Industry magazine
Can anyone explain to me why the New York phone number published for RSI hasn't been working all September long?
Racquet Sports Industry Magazine (http://tennisindustrymag.com)
250 Park Avenue, Suite 825, New York, 10177
Struggling Sports Facilities
A pro wrote to me about struggling fitness companies like 24 Hour Fitness that is in bankruptcy court. We discussed other cases where tennis clubs have struggled or went out of business. His comment, "I wish the USTA sections published monthly or quarterly updates that would provide this kind of information."
SAP Creates Online WTA University for Women’s Tennis Players
Software analytics leader SAP launched an online education called WTA University for professional women’s tennis players. The new online platform is an expansion upon SAP’s existing partnership with the WTA, in which SAP develops tennis analytics for measuring player performance.
Project Play Summit without Tennis?
The Aspen Institute's big Project Play Summit is being held virtually October 13-16. As of this writing (September 29), there is no tennis speaker on the list. Why is that? Is tennis not an accredited sport for Project Play?
Does Tennis Owe Its Players a Living?
Its top stars make millions; its lower-seeded players are often in debt. A global pandemic has only exacerbated the sport’s inequality. Can average tennis players afford to keep competing—and can the sport survive without them? Interesting article by Paul Wachter in The Ringer.
WOW starting Pickleball this Fall
Mats Wilander is doing well with his WOW program touring the North American continent in a much bigger bus compared to the camper he started out with. New for Mats: He announced to start including Pickleball into his clinics this fall. Nice.
PlaySight went crowdfunding?
A European tennis executive emailed me: "Your PlaySight article was an eye-opener. I've heard very similar stories from individual sources but now there were many more people talking at once. I also heard that PlaySight had a crowdfunding round earlier this year. To me, that is a bit confusing because I would expect SoftBank, Verizon, and other high profile investors to put more money into the company if it would be on a healthy path for growth and profitability. Assumedly that's not the case."
As seen in Topspin presented by Tennis Channel
No need to add anything here. Happy Anniversary, Rosie and the other eight.
If you have information worth mentioning in this BROUGHT TO MY ATTENTION forum, please contact Pat via email. Leave name and phone number if you want us to get back to you for further clarification. Anonymity is guaranteed. Thank you!
US Open ratings down 45%
Ouch. I kind of expected it but not by that much. I wonder if Disney will be wanting to renegotiate the USTA contract with ESPN. They obviously lost a boatload of money on tennis this year.
On the other hand, it was reported that the NFL TV viewership is off, but ad revenue is stable. U.S. Open viewership was off, too - was the ad revenue stable?
Question: Are people boycotting professional sports because they have allowed the players to use it as a platform for their personal political agendas and the organizations are promoting themselves for being woke and politically correct?
Does Serve Tennis show how little the USTA cares for small business?
I watched the presentation during the USTA Middle States Tennis Conference and wondered what made the USTA decide on adding a court reservation module to their "Serve Tennis" suite of tennis applications? Did the clubs ask for it? Probably not. A business owner emailed me regarding the USTA taking over tasks small business is already doing well, "Good luck to them as we know they have great ideas but are very poor at delivery."
We reported about the Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA) CEO Marla Messing and how she, unfortunately, inserted herself into the fight community groups in Studio City (North of Los Angeles) have with the owners of a semi-public facility that wants to take 8 of the 16 courts out and turn a beautiful public golf & tennis facility into a rich kids school athletic center. One pro of that facility, Zach Kleiman, has taken it upon himself to contact USTA national about this and to get the SCTA Board to reign in the CEO's counterproductive actions.
A SoCal USTA member told me, "Would be interesting to see if this could morph into an initiative to oust her."
Looking at all USTA Sections and their staff pages, you'll see all employees with nice headshots, which has many advantages when you contact them. Not so at the Southern California Tennis Association. Someone has taken all the photos down. A League Captain called me with that news and asked whether they have a problem showing their faces for some reason. Hmmm. Who knows?
USOPC Bylaws changes and their effect on USTA Boards
Not sure what to think of this. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) seems to be in a position to mandate changes to the USTA regarding the representation of athletes on national and other Boards and the Nomination Committee, effective January 1, 2022. Hmm. You know me, I am a "tip of the iceberg" kind of a guy and always look for the wool someone wants to put over our eyes.
Basically, it means that athlete representation on Boards and some Committees has to be increased from 20% to 33 1/3 %. Hu? Why do we need athletes rather than active coaches on the Boards? I don't get it. Here are some of the questions that came up after discussing that subject with some "coaches in the trenches."
Are the board positions going to be working positions or figurehead positions? Do tour players really understand the sport – grassroots, local tournaments, the teaching profession, running a club, running programs? Aren't the top players the least knowledgeable about the top issues facing coaches and the players? They have an entourage whose primary purpose is making money. They have a “team” so they don’t have to deal with the politics of the USTA. Why don’t they get the input of the coaches? They have the best knowledge of what the players need. Would the coaches have too much knowledge for the committee? Would someone like Wayne Bryan say something the USTA didn’t want to hear? Why is the USOC telling the USTA what to do? Isn’t the purpose of the USTA to increase tennis participation, not to grow the Olympics?
Is the USTA losing its power as the voice of the tennis industry in the US? If tennis is so indebted to the USOC, where was the USOC to support tennis during the pandemic? Why wasn’t the USOC there to advocate for the world that it was safe to play tennis? What happens if the USTA says “No”?
ITA launches Coach Masterclass
The Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced on Tuesday the creation of the ITA Coach Masterclass and released the first chapter of the course.
USTA membership changes
Last month I reported about this and pondered how they are planning to fill that revenue gap after not charging for junior memberships and later also for adult memberships. We are getting a little hint by looking at the new Serve Tennis business model. What's written all over that model is: Everything will be fee-based. I remember from my time on the USTA Tennislink Team when the fees charged for league and tournament registration went into the millions for The Active Network each year. Mark my words, the plans to make everything fee-based are there, from league to tournament registrations, court reservations, NTRP ratings, appeals, every other service that is currently free. And don't forget the continued but probably stepped-up sale of membership data. It'll probably mean more revenues for the USTA than membership fees.
Won't it be interesting to see if no membership for the kids will have an impact on participation? But we know that answer already. Right?
Speaking of Serve Tennis
The application is being developed by a relatively small UK outfit called Clubspark, right? I wonder if ClubSpark is on friendly terms with the USTA? Why? Check out their sample page of brands they're working with. I don't know the size of the Royal Automobil Club but do you see any organization listed that is even 1/4 the size of the USTA? Why is their biggest client not listed there?
MARLA MESSING, CEO USTA Southern California - for publicly uninviting me from a Zoom call with community tennis activists one minute into the call. After I told the story to a few tennis pros, one of them remarked, "In this situation, being shafted should be a compliment. It is an indication you are doing something right!"
HANS RÖMER - for being the busy Tennis Nomad that he is. Based currently in Maine he travels to Holland in October, back to Maine in November, then Holland again, then down to Florida until March. Wow. Hope he's getting frequent flyer miles.
ZACH KLEIMAN - for standing up to the SCTA.
GARY HORVATH - for an excellent article about Paddle Tennis in Racquet Sports Industry magazine. (Sep/Oct issue, page 50)
EVAN SCHREINER, USTA MIDDLE STATES - for organizing a first-class virtual tennis conference.
MARK JEFFREY - for doing a gigantic job with BTWL. Hope the conversation keeps going.
USPTA STAFF - for producing a very professional virtual WC20 with outstanding speakers.
STEVE RIGGS, TENNIS DIRECTOR FOR THE CITY OF IRVINE, CALIFORNIA - For managing 98 courts and 40 pros plus assistant pros. And he's hiring. Does he and his staff ever sleep?
TO THE ARMY OF "SMALL" TENNIS PROS - out there in the trenches, many in public parks, who never get any awards or even a mention. Like Aruna Bernier in Austin, Texas. They just keep doing what they love and spread the joy of tennis. (Even when the City of Austin throws wrench after wrench into their business.)