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THIS MONTH

Welcome New Advertiser "NeuroTennis"

New: TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS Web Store

RIP David Dinkins

The End of Women's Sports

USTA

Talent Purge at USTA Southern California

Brought To My Attention

Shout-Outs

DEAR READER,

Hope everyone is getting ready for the Holiday Season. No, I'm not going to get into the election. A reader admonished me to stay out of politics and I agreed with him. (Thanks, Carl!) I just hope our elected leaders will recognize the important role tennis played (and is still playing) during the pandemic. We need to work on advocating for tennis so those leaders will realize that tennis needs to open FIRST should it ever come to another catastrophe like that. (See also my contribution to the Wish List for 2021)

What a strange year we had, right? I mean, doesn't it all seem like a bad dream for you? Fortunately, tennis has recovered very well and I hope most of you were able to limit your losses. Other industries and individuals were not so lucky. Although being a hobby chef at home, I'm doing whatever I can to support local restaurants. Many of them have closed for good. My heart goes out to them.

The newsletter went through a bunch of changes, too. We cut what didn't work and enhanced what worked. The program we used to write it until the end of last year was over 25 years old and there is no more support for it. After we started writing it with Wix, things began to look up. It is so much easier to create and has so many functions we haven't even used yet. I think Wix will stay with us for a while or at least until we are changing over to a flipbook. The other good news: we've added over 1,000 readers this year. Yeah!

I'm looking forward to 2021 and the arrival of vaccination and better news on the Covid front. I trust your business will be strong throughout the next year and I hope you and your family will have a blessed, peaceful Holiday Season.

Cheers,

Rich Neher

Publisher

Welcome New Advertiser "NeuroTennis"

I was amazed when Cameron Lickle (of WOW fame) and Alain Cohen of NeuroTennis explained the technology to me. Having used cardio watches and seen racquet butt sensors, both of which deliver raw data, I understood how much sense a wearable wrist band makes that actually teaches you while you play tennis. 

Coaching instructions that are synchronized with the rhythm of your playing? Have you ever heard anything like it? Hear Mats Wilander's instructions or store your own. One player or two players via Bluetooth. To learn more read the article this month (A Message From Mats Wilander).

NEW: TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS Web Store

We have put together a web store for tennis professionals with products and services from many great sources.

OmniPEMF NeoRhythm

Like, Tennis Analytics. If you want to learn how to fil, edit, and analyze tennis strokes with your phone, check it out and get certified. Or, a selection of teaching tools from our friends at Oncourt Offcourt. Also, learn how other coaches are doing it and take us up on a 14 days free trial offer from TopCourt. The OmniPemf NeoRhythm wearable - medical grade technology for stress relief, pain management, relaxation, and better sleep works. I can personally attest to the better sleep part, folks. No kidding.

The Swing Tennis is Jack Broudy's revolutionary new learning system. You, too, can learn how he does it and become a better teacher! We introduced Cristina Michaela Carare from Norway in October. Her Nordic Tennis Social Club is ready to assist you with your social media strategy. You don't have one? One more reason to check out her 7-day free trial. Last but not least, I'm shamelessly plugging my book Drop-In Tennis Secrets, of course. Why? Because it makes me AND you some money. Promised!

RIP David Dinkins

David Dinkins, a very good friend of tennis has passed away on November 23. He was 93. The Black Tennis Hall of Fame leads with this headline about it: "Inducted as a contributor into the Black Tennis Hall of Fame class of 2012, the first and only Black mayor of New York City, David Dinkins, dies one month after his wife, former First Lady Joyce Dinkins."

David Dinkins certainly was a friend of the USTA and the US Open.

Read the BTHoF eulogy here.

The End of Women's Sports

Selina Soule was one of the top five female high school sprinters in Connecticut... until competing against biological boys changed the game. Now, women aren’t just losing their races — they’re losing their chances to compete at all. Why is this happening? And what should we do about it?

Watch the video here.

We have reported about this unfortunate issue a few times, like in this September 2019 article about Transgender Confusion. And now I'm reading that even Billie Jean King  has placed herself on the wrong side of this issue in my opinion. Could it really be?! BJK, get it right. You are an icon FOR women's sport, not for Transgender cheating!I'm glad that at least Martina Navratilova seems to have it right. I don't agree with her on a lot of things but this is an exception.

USTA

 

LEAGUES

We are holding off with our article about the USTA adult leagues and NTRP until next month. Not that I am having more confidence in the abilities of those two lightweights being unfortunately heavily involved in that program (Michael Hughes and Heather Hawkes). However, there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel. The first good news came when they reported that Jeff Waters is out. THANK GOD. With all due respect, but no one was ever more incapable of running such an important program for the USTA than Waters. He and Kamperman wrecked League for many years. We should have a million USTA adult league players by now. But I digress.

 

Now I'm hearing that John Niedfeld-Thomas is the new League Chair. He is being described as calm, steady, diplomatic, and knowledgeable. A reader wrote to me that "...the committee will be in good hands." Wow. I'm going to gather more information and data and publish the League/NTRP article next month.

THE WHITE SPORT

I guess after Katrina Adams served two terms as USTA President, the good old committee boys needed to give two other good old boys a term each? Since nothing really major happened under Gilbraith thanks to this little thing called COVID-19, the reign goes to Michael J. McNulty III. An old warhorse when it comes to the USTA. Attorney (of course). He's paid his dues for decades to now being able to give away tickets to the President's Box (oops, sorry, Patrick, that only worked in your first year, didn't it?) Nothing will happen in Mr. McNulty III's two years and he knows it.

 

The USTA President position is similar to putting an old horse out to pasture. Even though Katrina Adams was looked at like a fresh wind in the sacred halls of the USTA, what has she really accomplished? Nothing? And why is that? Because every USTA President has to fight the Deep State, the good old boys. They're all sticking together like glue. Before Michael Dowse, it was Gordon Smith, Kamperman, most of the Board and Committee members (not all!), even Jeff Waters, and a host of executives at his level. Even the fact that McNulty was a Board/Committee kind of a guy will help him. The USTA will never change. Prove me wrong.

As far as staffing is concerned, the USTA is still, a year after Michael Dowse started, totally top-heavy. The great Australian Performance Consultant Wayne Goldsmith wrote, "Does it ever shock you that people get appointed to roles regardless of how poorly they've performed and how much they've stuffed up in their previous roles? How rigorously do recruitment companies examine in detail the real performance factors of candidates in their previous roles? How is it possible that incompetent people who've been monumentally poor in previous roles occasionally get appointed to similar or even more senior roles? Is it they're great at interviews? Are they politically so well connected that their incompetence is overlooked? Is it they've been able to give the illusion of excellence regardless of how terrible they've actually been in their previous roles?"

Chew on this for a while, Mike.

(Btw, USA Pickleball, formerly USAPA, trying to emulate everything the USTA has done right or wrong, has done the same thing. The new CEO, Stu Upson, is another good old White boy, haha.)

USTA MONOPOLY - THE WALMARTIZATION OF TENNIS

I got a big kick out of a reader's email to me. "The USTA is taking steps to create a monopoly where they control 'everything tennis'. From their perspective, they provide one-stop shopping and a service to tennis players. This same type of behavior is what social media is being criticized for  - bringing people together who share common interests. In this case, they are justifying the monopoly because it is for the good of the people. That is the justification for all monopolies such as utilities"

Here are a few examples where the USTA's actions could be construed as monopolistic.

  • They are selling a registration/financial system - this competes directly against all current registration/financial systems, EXCEPT it is the official USTA system.

  • Awhile back they sent out information that offers vacations and trips - this competes against local businesses who work with tennis pros to make money on tennis vacations - EXCEPT they are official USTA programs.

  • They already use tickets to the US open to reward people who help the USTA. Will that occur at a greater level?

  • Will they provide USTA certification for pros who help out with programs or provide them with free education courses that make certification a slam dunk?  

  • Will they give out free equipment?  If so, why would Wilson and Head want to support the USPTA and PTR, and ITA? 

  • Will they co-brand equipment and goods that promote USTA?  Will people want to buy a racquet that says Tennis Media Group and USTA on it?

  • Why didn't the USTA want to work with TENCAP or UTR? They want to own it - MONOPOLY.

A friend called this the Walmartization of tennis. Question is, do most people want to play tennis or do they want to be part of "everything tennis".  Right now the score is about 96 to 4 in favor of playing tennis. 

 

Can the USTA double the number of tennis pros and add 5 million players by becoming everything tennis?

USTA COMMUNICATION

A reader from the SoCal section wrote, "The USTA has done a good job of sending out emails every week about what they are doing with their programs. There is consistency there that I have not seen in the past. I don't know if people are reading them and I don't know if they like or dislike what is said in them. At the same time, I have not seen communication from our section and district. From a management perspective that seems odd. It seems like USTA is going to be most effective when they have a strong ground game. Have the sectional/district units been stifled? Are they at odds with the national office? Or are they quietly waiting until C-19 is over?"

Hmm, I would invite our readers to chime in...

WILL THE USTA EVER BE ABLE TO GROW TENNIS AGAIN?

How long have I been saying that growth in tennis can only be achieved on a grassroots level and that the USTA's top-down model will not be able to create any sizeable growth? Thousand of seasoned tennis professionals know that's true but they are never being consulted by our governing body of tennis. To support my point of view, I encourage you all to read this article by Australian Performance Consultant Wayne Goldsmith. It is titled Grass-Roots Growth: Why Trickle Down Sport Does Not Work. Should be an eye-opener for every USTA executive. No?

SCTA PURGING 120 PLUS YEARS OF TENNIS STAFF EXPERIENCE

Wow. Are you getting this? I've been through this a few times in my life when the employers had gotten rid of the oldest and highest-paid employees in exchange for young people on a much lower pay scale. But 100+ years in one big swoop? Marla Messing, CEO of the Southern California Tennis Association, has outdone herself again. Why she is still at her job is a mystery to many. People keep telling me stuff about that office that's hard to comprehend. My question: Is Southern Cal tennis screwed? One Board member tried to put my mind at ease. "Don't worry, come 2028 she'll be out of here. Everyone thinks she's setting herself up to run the Los Angeles Olympics." Oh boy. God help us! Eight more years of that? The section is now banking on a  bunch of young lightweights, some of whom I've been told have never played tennis. Ouch. 

The latest 'victims'

San Diego TSR: 15 years
Section League Manager: 21 years

2 San Gabriel Area League Coordinators: 47 years

Coordinator, Junior Tournaments: 40 plus years

Plus all other TSR's except one, the doubles partner I hear of the Adult Director)

That's well over 120 years of experience.

Good job, Marla. I understand you sold the purge to everyone as a fallout from budget cuts. But I think this time you're shooting yourself in the foot.

USTA FLORIDA

When there's good news about the USTA you can bet it comes from the Florida section. First, it gives me great pleasure to learn the following about the Florida Board: "Of the nine total board members, more than half are current or former tennis-teaching professionals, highlighting the importance of collaboration with tennis providers on all initiatives. Four USTA Florida board members are female, and one-third of the board represents non-white demographic populations." (From a Nov 23 article: USTA Florida Board sets sights on continued growth in 2020-2021)

The same day I'm reading "USTA Florida 2021-2022 President Dana Andrews has introduced a new volunteer committee structure for the upcoming term, focusing on solid financial management and grassroots growth. The new structure features two new committees and a new task force, all aimed at continuing the organization’s efforts to reach new and diverse participants in the years ahead." Here's that article: USTA Florida introduces expanded volunteer structure for 2020-2021 term.

Nice. I know a section that could learn a lot from Florida.

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TALENT PURGE AT USTA SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

SCTA PURGING 120 PLUS YEARS OF TENNIS STAFF EXPERIENCE

Wow. Are you getting this? I've been through this a few times in my life when the employers had gotten rid of the oldest and highest-paid employees in exchange for young people on a much lower pay scale. But 120+ years in one big swoop? I'm thinking that Marla Messing, CEO of USTA Southern California (formerly SCTA, Southern California Tennis Association), has outdone herself.

WHO IS MARLA MESSING? 

 

Here is the USTA Southern California CEO's posting on LinkedIn:

Marla Messing currently serves as the CEO of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), Southern California Section.

Prior to taking on her current position, Messing served as a full-time Consultant to Major League's Soccer's Los Angeles Football Club (LAFC) and the Spanish football club, FC Barcelona. In that role, Messing was tasked with assessing the feasibility of launching a professional women's soccer team, to be called FC Barcelona LA, that would play in the National Women's Soccer League.

Messing served as Vice President and Executive Director of the LA24/28 Olympic Bid Committee. She oversaw relationships with American national governing bodies and sport leaders; worked on the strategic planning side of the Olympic Bid’s athlete program; and worked closely with leading LA and California technology innovators, ensuring that creativity and innovation were a meaningful part of LA’s plans to deliver a “New Games for a New Era.”Messing was the President/CEO of the groundbreaking 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Executive Vice President of the 1994 FIFA World Cup, and a founder and Senior Vice President of Major League Soccer.

 

Messing began her career as an attorney at Latham & Watkins. She has served on the Board of Directors of the US Soccer Foundation, the Executive Committee and Board of Directors of the Southern California Committee for the Olympic Games, the Board of Trustees of Brentwood School, and the Parents Athletic Council of Brown University.In 2019, Messing was appointed a Commissioner of the City of LA by Mayor Eric Garcetti.Messing received a BA from the University of Michigan and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.

You have to ask the SCTA Board, what qualifications did Messing have that caught their fancy? Could it be that this person may actually be more unqualified to lead a USTA section than anyone before her? And I'm not even taking her no-tennis history into consideration. It's the type of her experience and the fact that she's probably just parking at the SCTA on her way to LA28 Olympics that tells me everything. Again, that is my personal opinion. On the other hand, isn't it laughable to think that going from soccer to tennis is going to get her in position to run the 2028 Olympics?

 

Why Marla Messing is still at her job is a mystery to many. People keep telling me stuff about that office that's hard to comprehend. My question: Is Southern Cal tennis screwed? One Board member tried to put my mind at ease. "Don't worry, come 2028 she'll be gone." Oh boy. God help us! Seven more years of that? The section is now banking on a  bunch of young lightweights, some of whom I've been told have never played tennis. Ouch. Do those young staffers have what it takes to run adult leagues, the money maker for much of the USTA sections?

The latest 'victims' and their experience with the USTA

San Diego TSR: 15 years
Section League Manager: 21 years

2 San Gabriel Area League Coordinators: 47 years

Coordinator, Junior Tournaments: 40 plus years

Plus all other TSR's (except one, the doubles partner I hear of the Adult Director)

That's well over 120 years of experience.

I understand the purge was sold to everyone as a fallout from budget cuts. Could it be that this time the section may be shooting themselves in the foot? Good luck running programs for 40,000 adults with a bunch of rookies.

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

European Tennis

49 European national tennis federations have participated in a survey devised to provide a snapshot of the concerns faced by Tennis Europe’s member nations. Interesting survey results. Read it here: Understanding the needs of National Tennis Federations.

ESPN Hurting
Morning Brew reported that ESPN is laying off 300 employees and letting 200 open positions go unfilled, according to chairman Jimmy Pitaro. That's equivalent to roughly 10% of the network's workforce. The pandemic accelerated pre-existing trends for many businesses, ESPN included. Because of the pickup in cord-cutting, the Disney-owned network was already reorienting itself around direct-to-consumer offerings, such as the streaming service ESPN+. These layoffs reflect the ongoing shuffling of resources. Read more here.

Tennis Channel Rebrand

One of our readers reacted to the news that The Tennis Channel's owners Sinclair Broadcasting is planning the rebrand into a multi-sports network. "How will the demise of Tennis Channel affect the sport of tennis? Sinclair obviously doesn't care about tennis and why should they, it has a small audience.  How can you justify a 24/7 channel with nothing but coverage of a stagnant sport? TC came up with TC+ to try to upsell their service? I understand the logic, but I don't know anyone who really cares about who is playing on court 28 in the first round of the US Open. So if Tennis Channel becomes the next Multi-Sports Network, what will that do to the coverage of tennis and how would that affect the sport?"

Legitimate questions, I think. What do you think? Here's the article.

Great Quote

I was on the phone with an industry executive whose daily workload now involves more interaction with the USTA. She said, "I'm in a lot more meetings than ever before. How do they ever get anything done?"

Tennis Analytics
We have been promoting this company for quite some time and after good feedback took them into our new web store. Unbeknownst to us, our reader (and worldwide renowned tennis teacher) Hans Rñmer had taken the tennis Analytics Certification Course and was so happy with the results, he wrote a glowing recommendation. We decided to post it under LETTERS this month. Read it here.

BEST 2020 INVENTIONS

This is not tennis-related but I think you may be interested in that post from the Morning Brew newsletter.

ELECTRONIC LINE CALLING ON CLAY

Found this interesting Tennis Channel piece about the future of electronic line calling on clay.

SLINGER BAG

I came across two players exiting the Weddington Golf & Tennis courts in Studio City, California. They were pulling a Slinger Bag. They told me they absolutely loved it. “While it may not have all the functionality of the big, expensive machines, it works so well for us.” Nice to hear!

POP TENNIS

Check out my interview with Mitch Kutner, President of the International POP Tennis Association. Really interesting. I decided to try it as soon as possible. Probably down in Venice Beach.

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!

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SHOUT-OUTS

Andy Dowsett  - for a well structured, informative, blog post about Working With Higher Level Players.

Bill Simons - for letting us post a very good article he wrote in 2013 about Maureen Connolly Brinker. His article is part of our lead story this month. Maureen Connolly Brinker - Teen Phenom With Nerves of Steel.

Brittany Collens - for fighting for her and her team's reputation by taking on the NCAA. See our article here.

USTA - for putting an excellent "Move Tennis Forward" page together. Good information for anyone wanting to begin a career in teaching tennis. Don't know about those weird images and videos but the info including content on PTR and USPTA pages: very good.

Courtreserve.com - for being a lifesaver (according to one of their University customers.)

Larry Atkins - for fighting for two Oakland tennis courts and at the same time trying to help the homeless that are occupying them. Read the article here.

Jim and Christine Wong - for giving 47 years serving loyally as league coordinators for the Southern California Tennis Association only to hear from one of their players that they'd been shafted the same day. If I owned a tennis organization, I would hire them without even thinking.ennA

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO ALL OUR READERS!

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