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the scoop

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We have only 3 rules
1. We'll give you the real scoop as we see it.
2. We'll always hold their feet to the fire. 3. we'll always empower the powerless

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Message from Rich Neher Greetings from California!

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Hello, dear readers, friends, and tennis enthusiasts.

It is with great pleasure that I announce a significant enhancement to our team – a strategic collaboration with Tim Farthing, owner of the UK-based tennishead magazine. I extend a warm welcome to Tim, a seasoned professional whose commitment to excellence mirrors our own. Bringing a wealth of industry experience and a profound appreciation for the sport of tennis, Tim is poised to contribute significantly to our shared objectives. Together, we embark on a journey marked by professionalism, innovation, and a collective passion for advancing the world of tennis. We look forward to the positive impact this collaboration will bring to our community and the broader tennis landscape. In the upcoming months, you can expect to witness numerous design enhancements and a rebranding of our company to RACKET BUSINESS.

 

Tim’s message for our readers:

 

I’ve been obsessed with tennis since a very young age when I started playing mini tennis with a sponge ball at the age of 4. My playing career involved reaching a national level in the UK then I played some low-level international ranking tournaments and now I represent my club and state in the UK at seniors level.

 

I’m heavily involved with my local tennis club in the South of England which has 2,000 members, 15 tennis courts, 3 padel courts and 6 squash courts. I was the club Chairman for 3 years (during COVID!) and am now part of the management committee which means the day-to-day administration of a tennis club is very much in my DNA. Our club employs 15 coaches and many of my closest friends are tennis coaches. I also had a 3-year spell as a tennis coach myself, so I really understand the profession of tennis coaching and all the ups and downs involved with that career choice.

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On a day-to-day basis, I’m the owner of Tennishead which is the world’s leading tennis content brand including tennishead.net (https://tennishead.net/), a quarterly print magazine plus our own virtual tennis club which you can see at Tennishead.net/club.

 

I’m also an investor in one of the UK’s leading online tennis shops AllThingsTennis.co.uk so my knowledge and working life also extends to the retail and equipment side of tennis.

 

I’m delighted and excited that Rich has welcomed me as his new business partner and I’m looking forward to being involved in the next stage of the Tennis Club Business (Soon to become Racket Business) journey. And I really look forward to talking to you all over the coming issues.

 

Here's to a successful partnership built on shared values and a dedication to elevating the game we hold in high regard.

Please consider joining the WTCA as a member. The WTCA is an all-inclusive organization that welcomes individuals of all genders. With an individual membership costing less than $9 per month, you will gain access to a wide range of benefits. Additionally, the WTCA offers a club membership option for those interested. Sign up here.

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TOGETHER WITH Conga Sports

Re: Transgender Women In Sports

Essentially Sports: "One of the Greatest Tennis Players of All Time Reacts to USA Boxing Allowing Transgender Women to Compete in the Female Category"

USA Boxing is the premier organization that looks after the amateur/Olympic boxing scene in the United States. With roughly six months left for the Paris Olympics, they are busy short-listing the fighters to represent the country on the big stage. However, the body has been making it to the headlines for rather different reasons.

In the latest development, USA Boxing will permit individuals who were assigned male at birth but have since transitioned to womanhood to take part in events designated for cisgender women, although they will be required to adhere to stringent guidelines. Read more here.

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Re: Match Fixing

Linklaters: ITIA publishes 2024 changes to anti-corruption and anti-doping programmes

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has published updated rules for 2024, which will apply to its Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP) and Anti-Doping Programme (TADP). Read more here.

iGB: ITIA suspends another player over Belgian tennis match-fixing case

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has suspended Tunisian player Anis Ghorbel for three years over corruption linked to the wider match-fixing case in Belgium. Read more here.

Re: PickleBall News

FRONT OFFICE SPORTS: Here Comes the Great Chinese Pickleball Revolution. The Goal Is Olympic Supremacy

Last September in Beijing, in the same venue where 15 years earlier Michael Phelps flip-turned to immortality, a few hundred Chinese officials and dignitaries gathered to assess a sport. An American creation. On this night the Beijing National Aquatics Center—known colloquially as the Water Cube—was not hosting a swimming event. Nor an Olympic event (at least it isn’t yet).

You may have already guessed: They were watching a pickleball exhibition. If pickleball is in the throes of—pardon the hyperbolics—taking over America, then China is on the cusp of—no exaggeration—taking over pickleball. “The top sports officials in China have pledged to me,” says Seymour Rifkind, a Chicago-based ambassador of the sport who organized the exhibition, “that within five years they expect to have 10,000 courts and 100 million players.”

Read more here.

GLOBAL NEWS: ‘Pickleball is crazy’: Genie Bouchard on her pro debut and differences with tennis

 

WATCH: After making a victorious racket in the tennis world, Canadian champion Eugenie Bouchard is now paddling up a debut in the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA). As Mike Armstrong explains, while Bouchard's first match did not result in a win, she is optimistic about growing alongside the rapidly rising sport. Read more here.

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ONCOURT OFFCOURT: Pickleball Hack for Tennis Players

Pickleball Hack online course developed by OnCourt OffCourt and renowned coach Emma Doyle with over 30 videos and exclusive content! 

https://www.acecoach.com.au/pickleball-hack 

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USA TODAY: Pickleball has taken the nation by storm. Now, it's become a competitive high-school sport

Pickleball has continued its rise as one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States among a younger demographic: high schoolers.  Several high schools in Maryland have added the racket sport as an option for athletes, allowing their students to join the pickleball team and compete against other schools. Read more here.

Wall Street Journal: ‘Hell No, We Won’t Go.’ Pickleball Players Battle Silicon Valley Elites

San Francisco is closing some courts after complaint, led by owner of $29-million mansion (who has her own court). Pickleballers are in uproar.

Presidio Heights is “a rarefied community where Silicon Valley’s elite mingle with affluent families,” a real estate description coos. It is also ground zero of the latest pickleball battle in America. Legions of paddle-wielders are feuding with the denizens of some of the priciest mansions in the country. 

The skirmish started last summer when Holly Peterson, who lives with her husband, venture capitalist and Hotwire.com co-founder Karl Peterson, in a 107-year-old mansion valued at $29 million, helped launch a petition asking the city to suspend pickleball in a nearby playground called Presidio Wall: “The endless racket threatens the fragile ecosystem and our community’s prestige,” the petition argued. Read the full article here

I asked The Commish to chime in on the above pickleball disobedience article

 

The Commish was quite agitated!

 

"What does it take for our tennis industry to stand up for our game, courts, and its players? The pickleball mania is from coast-to-coast and it’s getting worse instead of better. WTH? The tennis industry has not answered the call, to create energy and enthusiasm for our sport to be popular. Tennis has given up their land. It’s the pickleball “gold rush." WTH? The pickleball fanatics continue to overrun existing tennis courts without tennis players putting up a direct challenge, so it seems. Where is the industry in “having their back?

Years ago, it seemed that tennis and pickleball would enhance each other, create activity from both sports, and generate more all-around play at the club and/or park. Co-exist was the common theory and everyone would be a happy player. But tennis stood idle and let pickleball attract a fanbase and gain momentum that tennis is unlikely to match. WTH? Where are the tennis leaders and advocates?

I’m quite frustrated at the national press coverage pickleball gets. Bad press is better than no press. It’s way past time to create a rallying cry and call to action to have the spirit to enliven our game and get back on the tennis courts. WTH?

 

Enough is enough, that’s my take!"

A message from sysinc.org in Southampton, NY, posted on Facebook with the headline

PICKLEBALL PEOPLE

WILL KILL PICKLEBALL!

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My take: We have reported about pickleball issues in the past. The problem is not clubs that convert tennis courts. All the power to those clubs and the pros making a living off the sport. The problem is the conversion of public tennis courts and the USTA standing idly by because for them pickleball is another growth (and revenue) source. If tennis is not providing enough money for all those cushy salaries and the planned 2024 increases and bonuses, maybe pickleball will.

 

Another problem is the secrecy surrounding the USTA's activities and plans when it comes to pickleball. It's the usual m.o. for USTA executives: When an issue is uncomfortable and they know the public doesn't like their action, they pretend the issue doesn't exist. "Ignore the noise" the same way they ignore Javier Palenque. In the same way the USTA Southern California pretend their shameful actions to help eliminate 16 San Fernando Valley tennis courts didn't happen and just don't talk about it. Name ONE business school where they teach this ignorance as best practice.

MIAMI HERALD: Miami Open to include Pickleball, Wheelchair division for the first time

The pickleball craze has made its way to the Miami Open tennis tournament. Event officials announced Monday that the 2024 tournament will include an elite wheelchair event and Major League Pickleball (MLP), the first time both events will be included at this level of tournament. Read more here.

Re: Saudi Arabia

TennisNow: McEnroe: I'd Be Surprised if Saudis Don't Buy Miami and Madrid

Saudi Arabia will be a major multi-surface Masters player, says former world No. 1 John McEnroe. Asked to assess reports of Saudi Arabia negotiating to buy Masters 1000 events, including the Miami Open and Mutua Madrid Open, McEnroe replied: "I'd be surprised if the Saudis don't buy those tournaments, actually." Read more here.

Daily Mail Online: Saudi Arabia open negotiations to stage Billie Jean King Cup finals in 2025... despite the tennis icon's decades of campaigning for gender and sexual equality

Saudi Arabia have opened negotiations about staging the finals of the Billie Jean King Cup next year as they continue to target major tennis events.  The Saudi government were rebuffed in their attempt to host the WTA finals last year, with Riyadh losing out to the Mexican city of Cancun, and they are now trying to secure the women's equivalent of the Davis Cup finals.
Read more here.

ESPN: Rafael Nadal to be ambassador for Saudi Tennis Federation

Rafael Nadal will serve as an ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation, part of a recent effort by the kingdom to make inroads into tennis and other sports. Read more here.

FRANCE24: Nadal sees 'potential' in Saudi Arabia as he signs up as tennis ambassador

Rafael Nadal was named ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation on Monday, as the Gulf kingdom aims to host more professional tournaments as part of a broader sports push. "Everywhere you look in Saudi Arabia, you can see growth and progress and I'm excited to be part of that," the 37-year-old Spaniard, winner of 22 Grand Slams, said in a federation press release. Read more here.

Fox Sports: Rafael Nadal criticised for taking Saudi Arabia money to promote tennis in kingdom amid human rights abuses

Rafael Nadal has been named ambassador for the Saudi Tennis Federation, as the Gulf kingdom aims to host more professional tournaments as part of a broader sports push. But the Spaniard has come under fire for the partnership with the nation, accused of “sportswashing” by using sport to improve its international reputation after widespread criticism for its human rights and environmental record. Read more here.

Yahoo Sport Australia: Rafa Nadal move raises eyebrows as John McEnroe lashes 'laughable' tennis partnership

Rafa Nadal has surprised the tennis world having announced he will become the Saudi Arabia tennis ambassador with icon John McEnroe previously blasting the sport's transition as 'laughable'. Nadal withdrew from the Australian Open ahead of the tournament having sustained an injury in his troublesome hip in the lead-up. Read more here.

BBC Sport: Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert accused of 'turning backs on women' by Saudi ambassador

Tennis greats Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert have "turned their backs on women" by opposing plans to stage women's events in Saudi Arabia, the kingdom's ambassador to the United States has claimed.

Read more here.

 

Re: Padel News

PADEL ALTO: Going truly global: What trends might emerge from the Padel Industry in 2024?

(Ben Nichols) At this time of year, we often consider what’s just been and what is to come over the following 12 months. For a sport as nascent as padel is across much of the world, predictions can range wildly. However, with my company Padel 22 operating across what I like to term the ‘new padel world’ - the countries and regions where the sport is burgeoning - here’s where I see some of the emerging trends if padel is to fulfill its potential as a truly global sport.

Read more here.

PADEL ALTO: The man behind American Padel: ”The potential in the USA is massive”

Marcos Del Pilar has been essential to padel's development in the United States. In an extensive interview with Padel Alto, he discusses the possibilities and expectations of padel in the United States. Read more here.

USPTA: Get Padel certified in Atlanta!

Marcos del Pilar and his workshops help coaches expand their horizons with this rapidly growing racquet sport. Register for the next limited-space Padel certification workshop, taking place February 17-18: https://www.padelmba.com/en/cp-calls/cpc-atlanta-february-2024/

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Padel Magazine

  • Netflix and Amazon behind a circuit of padel?

  • France – The assimilations of tennis players are not really unanimous…

  • Padel Trend Expo: a real success for the second edition!

  • 6 tracks of padel must be sold this week!

  • Blanked: play in France rather than spending a lot of money on a FIP in Sweden

  • France – Should we continue to equate tennis players with padel?

  • The European Championships padel 2023 postponed to April 2024?

  • Pat Rafter: “I thought I could crush a player from padel with powerful volleys and smashes…”

Those articles and much more here.

Re: Tennis Channel

Streaming Better: Tennis Channel And T2 Now Available On Hulu Live TV

For those that have been waiting, Tennis Channel and T2 are both now available on Hulu Live TV. While these channels were previously confirmed to be coming to Hulu’s live TV streaming service, subscribers have still had to wait around six months for the channels to actually go live.

That changed this week after the Tennis Channel confirmed that both channels have finally been added to Hulu Live TV.

For those specifically interested in the main Tennis Channel, there is a slight caveat here, as the channel is only available through the Sports Add-on. This premium add-on costs an additional $9.99 a month. In addition to Tennis Channel, Sports Add-on also unlocks access to FanDuel Racing, FanDuel TV, MAVTV, NFL RedZone, Sportsman channel and Outdoor channel. 

Sports Add-on can be added to an existing Hulu Live TV package by heading to the Account page, selecting Manage Add-ons (under Your Subscription), and then selecting Sports Add-on (under Network Add-ons).

Unlike Tennis Channel, T2 has been added to the base plan at no additional cost. T2, a free, ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel from Tennis Channel, provides access to a variety of tennis-related content. While T2 won’t offer the same level of year-round live coverage of tennis events as the Tennis Channel, it is still an additional option for tennis fans to check out.

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On another note - My insider friend who frequently tells me what's really important reading broadcasting and streaming news, had this to say about the future of The Tennis Channel after Sky Sports Tennis announced they are the new home for the ATP and WTA Tours as well as the US Open in the UK and Ireland: "Economics and market dynamics are not too favorable for the Tennis Channel. I see a future where they are not around anymore. If people knew how to do simple math to calculate TC revenue and operating costs, and apply it to what's happening in the market, it's just so obvious." Ouch!

Re: NEW PREMIUM TOUR

EXPRESS:Tennis players briefed on new 'Premium Tour' with developments moving quickly

A major shakeup to the tennis calendar could be on the way.

A radical change to the entire tennis calendar is edging closer after a new ‘Premium Tour’ was reportedly broached to players at the Australian Open. Female stars could finally get equal pay to their male counterparts at top tournaments and the shake-up may see an 18-event schedule become the new norm. Read more here.

(Hey, I hope the San Diego Open WTA 500 will not become part of the new 'Development Tour' and become insignificant!)

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INTERESTING PRODUCTS & ORGANIZATIONS

 

Tennis Clubs, Coaches, and Players Benefit from New AI Sports Camera

Save My Play Helps Tennis Clubs Generate Revenue and Players Smile

Did you ever make a great tennis play and say, ‘I wish I had a video of that memory to enjoy and share’? Unfortunately, millions of great plays, matches, and priceless memories sadly disappear in an instant. Now, a new AI Sports Camera can capture those memories for a lifetime while helping clubs differentiate and increase revenue. 

 

Save My Play is the brain-child of father and son founders Marty and David Fox. Both are avid tennis players and visionary technologists.

 

Fox says, ‘We had so many exciting plays we wanted to relive and share with family and friends as well as not-so-great-plays we wanted to learn from, but there was no simple way to do it. We were forced to set up a tripod, record entire matches, laboriously edit hours of video to eliminate the boring stuff, and isolate a few exciting plays we wanted to keep and share. On occasion, we even ran into the tripod which hurt. We knew we could eliminate that inefficient, tiresome, and often dangerous process and create player and club happiness using cutting-edge technology.’

 

Their solution is the Save My Play AI Camera System which enables clubs to empower players with the ability to easily save individual plays and entire matches’. Clubs love it as a differentiator that generates much-needed revenue and puts smiles on their players' faces. 

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Fox says, ‘We spent months perfecting our AI models and unique architecture that enables us to offer unique new features quickly and economically. We launched in August 2023 and have seen extraordinary growth month after month. Clubs are amazed that our solution is so affordable and a fraction of the cost of other systems that offer fewer features. 

 

We listen to our clients. Since our launch, we have added many new features requested by our club owners, coaches, and players including:

 

  • Instant replay - Coaches rely on it during lessons and players use it to settle in/out line calls during rec play

  • Save a Match - AI eliminates the boring stuff and keeps the exciting plays

  • Live-streaming - Clubs can even add pay-per-view and sponsors

  • Incident Vision Security - Clubs highly requested this feature due to the increasing risk of frivolous lawsuits and injuries.

 

Fox concludes, ‘Our goal is to help our clients offer amazing new differentiating benefits in 2024 and beyond. It is no longer enough to set up some courts and expect players to flock to your club. Our data indicates new clubs are opening daily. Competition is becoming fierce in some locales and it will only get worse. It is critical that clubs differentiate themselves, as the ‘race to the bottom’ has begun.  We are focused on helping clubs maintain and increase their value.’

 

For more information or a demo, complete the form on SaveMyPlay.com or contact:

 

Marty Fox, Co-Founder

516-864-1262

marty@savemyplay.com

CONNEXA SPORTS

Connexa Reports Impressive Feedback for Slinger Artificial Intelligence App

Darren Cahill, ATP Coach Of The Year, Reviews App ‘Freemium’ Launch Planned for February 2024
 

Connexa Sports Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq:CNXA) reported very positive responses from its initial groups of beta testers of its Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven Slinger App for tennis. The initial roll-out of the app’s beta version is now in the hands of more than 500 testers across the globe with another 500 testers set to receive it before the holidays.

One of the first testers to provide Slinger with beta test feedback was ATP Coach of the Year Darren Cahill – coach to Jannick Sinner, who ended the year ranked #4 in the ATP rankings.

Read all about it and Darren's feedback.

WILSON SPORTING GOODS

WILSON® RELEASES BLADE V9, ADDING TO ITS LEADING ASSORTMENT OF PERFORMANCE TENNIS RACKETS

The Blade® is chosen by more players on tour than any other racket*

Wilson Sporting Goods Co. today announces its newest racket within the Blade franchise, Blade v9.  As their “sharpest” performance racket innovation yet, Wilson has updated the Blade v9 with improved stability; giving players better control and feel for more confidence on the court.

 

“Innovation is at the center of everything we do at Wilson, and we are always looking for new ways to give our athletes an extra advantage,” said Jason Collins, Global General Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “With Blade being the racket of choice for top players across levels, we knew it was critical to gain insights through extensive testing which has resulted in the best Blade yet.”

 

The innovative updates for Blade v9 include:

  • Wilson’s newest StableFeel technology enhances frame stability for a more connected feel. Designed with avid players in mind, the result is a "sharper blade," making it ideal for those seeking to improve and win.

  • Updated DirectConnect technology, a carbon fiber handle that extends to directly connect with the end cap. Players will notice enhanced feel and torsional stability.

  • New bumper and grommet designs with several improvements, including easier application, increased durability and a superior fit.

  • Dynamic, emerald green colorway; a modern twist on the green color scheme that Blade players are accustomed to.

For more information, please visit wilson.com or follow @wilsontennis #BladeV9 on social. 

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CLUB MANAGEMENT

Hello Club: Your Tennis Club’s Ultimate Management Solution 

Attention Tennis Club leaders! Meet Hello Club, your go-to management platform tailored for the Racket sports industry. Hello Club is an all-in-one club portal with features for administrators and coaches to manage the club, the modern user-friendly interface also creates a unique member experience, keeping your members engaged. 

 

👥 Member management: Securely manage member details, automate membership payments and allow new member registration online. 
🎾 Court bookings: Embrace a seamless court booking system with peak times, booking payments and monitoring court utilisation. 
📅 Events and classes: Plan tennis classes or social events, collect event registration online and create public events for guest ticketing options. 

💳 Financial tracking: Automate invoicing, collect payments online and oversee transactions to ensure a financially sound club.

Empower your club staff and create an outstanding experience for your members with Hello Club. With a FREE non-obligation 30-day trial, you can start simplifying your club's operations today!

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GSPORT NEWSROOM 

WTA LOOKS TO BUILD ON ITS 1 BILLION GLOBAL AUDIENCE REACHED IN 2023

Claiming to be the no. 1 professional global women’s sport code with 1,600 registered participants representing more than 80 nations, competing at over 70 events in 30 countries spanning six continents, and followed by over 5 million social media accounts and boasting a 1 billion-strong global broadcast audience, the Women’s Tennis Association makes a strong case for its pre-eminent position in the passage of girls and women being accepted on equal footing as professional athletes.  

 

“Connecting with our fans is the key to elevating the profile of women’s tennis, and we couldn’t be more excited about the accelerated growth the WTA is experiencing worldwide.”

WTA Ventures CEO, Marina Storti

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Having achieved this extraordinary feat during the 2023 season, shattering a new global audience record of more than 1 billion according to a remarkable milestone reported by YouGov, the governing body marks promising growth for its 2024 Hologic WTA Tour as it solidifies its status as a powerhouse in female sports.
Read more here.

BARNES TENNIS CENTER, SAN DIEGO

Barnes Tennis Center continues growth as a US-leading tennis for all facility
 

As 2024 gets underway, Barnes Tennis Center continues to grow in stature as a leading racket sports facility on the West Coast. With Taktika Padel based at Barnes (home of the new Pro Padel League team the San Diego Stingrays), a new pickleball facility of 19 courts that welcomes over 2500 players per week, 25 tennis courts and the WTA San Diego Open, the venue is a US-renowned hub.

 

However, it is Barnes’ ethos under CEO Ryan Redondo in developing future generations of American tennis talent that is its hallmark. Through Youth Tennis San Diego and the Steve Adamson Tennis Academy, Barnes has an impressive track record in developing young talent (Trevor Svajda - 2023 USTA Boys 18s finalist and US Open Boys round of 16 is the latest big name to emanate from Barnes), and doing so in a way that makes tennis accessible for all youth, regardless of socioeconomic status, by providing free and reduced-cost tennis programming and through its Junior Underwriting Tennis Master Plan.

 

You can discover more about Barnes Tennis Center here: https://www.barnestenniscenter.com/ 

PTR

Professional Tennis Registry (PTR) and Professional Pickleball Registry (PPR) Relocates Headquarters to Saddlebrook Resort, Marking a New Chapter in Business Expansion

PTR and PPR, serving more than 20,000 memberships, is thrilled to announce the relocation of its headquarters from Hilton Head Island, SC to the world-renowned Saddlebrook Resort. This strategic move represents a significant milestone in both organization's growth and commitment to providing unparalleled service to those they serve. Read more here.

Ed Shanaphy: Beyond The Baselines

How A Key Fob Changed Member Usage

At one of the clubs we help manage, we had long been having issues with access and a passcode to gain entry into the gym. The gym is an amenity and the front desk is through an outside door and without a trainer in the gym and it being unmanned, members were often forced to come to the front desk and admit they had forgotten the entry code.

The code had been in existence for a long time, and had been handed out to non-members, family members and distant acquaintances. These non-members, who were funnily enough remembering the code better than the members, were returning to use the club’s facility and a change had to be made.

In order to keep the fitness facility for just members and their paying guests, we changed to a key fob. A simple way we hoped to track member use and also keep the gym for membership. What happened next was astounding. Read more here.

Sprechen sie deutsch?

For our German-speaking readers: Tennisfreunde24 Magazin has it all: 

"Das Tennisfreunde24 Magazin ist die ideale Zeitschrift für alle Tennisenthusiasten, die sich für die neuesten Trends und Entwicklungen im Tennissport begeistern ..."

The magazine can be purchased at a German newsstand or downloaded for free. The three issues from 2023 are currently available for download. To access an issue, please click on the image below. Additionally, the team is currently working on the first issue for 2024. Go here to subscribe.

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Sports Business Journal

Infosys, Tennis Australia serving up AI-powered activations at Australian Open

Infosys, the digital innovation partner of Tennis Australia for the past six years, is activating multiple AI-enabled technologies around the 2024 Australian Open, encompassing use cases in fan engagement, athlete performance and content creation.

Read more here.

The Athletic

Why Eastern Europe has become better at tennis than the U.S.

The schedule on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday afternoon had two quarterfinal matches with plenty of import for tennis fans, especially in the United States and Eastern Europe. There were big names on the court – Coco Gauff, the 19-year-old U.S. Open champion, and Novak Djokovic, the 24-time Grand Slam champion. In Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and Taylor Fritz of the U.S., they faced two players trying to punch their way into the upper echelon of the sport. Read more here.

Sports Business Journal

Tennis gets its own NFL Combine with the ATP Tour's 'Basecamp' for next-gen players

When the top eight under-21 men’s singles players convened in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in late November for the Next Gen ATP Finals, they may have helped usher in a new age of tennis — not just their prodigious on-court potential but the increasingly tech- and data-infused competition in which they participated, a harbinger of what’s to come on the men’s tennis tour. Before the tournament began, one of the courts at the King Abdullah Sports City was strewn with gadgetry: force plates, cameras, flashing lights. The ATP had organized the first athletic combine in Tour history, called Basecamp, putting the young men through a series of NFL Combine-style drills such as the 10-meter sprint, vertical jump and a pair of agility tests. Read more here.

ESPN

Alexander Zverev domestic abuse charges: What to know

Alexander Zverev will play in the semifinals at the Australian Open on Friday against Daniil Medvedev. But as the 26-year-old German looks to reach his second career major final, he remains the focus of domestic abuse allegations. On Jan. 16, as the first round of the Australian Open was underway, the Tiergarten district court in Berlin announced it had set May 31 as the start of Zverev's trial -- bringing the accusations back to the forefront.

Here's what to know about the case: Read more here.

Sports Business Journal

Australian Open shatters attendance record, lauded as 'best ever'

Attendance at this year’s Australian Open “eviscerated” the previous records, with 1,020,763 attending the main tournament (up from the previous record of 839,192) and the crowd up to 1,110,657 (up from 902,312) when the extra week of qualifying is included, according to Marc McGowan of the Melbourne AGE (Melbourne AGE, 1/29). Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said that record crowds “flocking to Melbourne Park and glowing player feedback signalled the Open had restored its status as ‘the Happy Slam.’” Tiley: “It's been the best Australian Open ever.” 

Read more here.

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DIRECTOR'S CLUB CONVERSATION WITH USPTA CEO BRIAN DILLMAN LEFT SEVERAL QUESTIONS UNANSWERED

Not only about the USPTA but also about the D-Club!

The conversation streamed on YouTube and was announced as, "The Directors Club of America hosted USPTA CEO, Brian Dillman, for an intimate conversation that transcended generations of leadership and inspired us all to believe again. This raw and honest discussion sets the foundation for an incredible future of shared success."
Go here to watch it.

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When a USPTA member shared the link with me and expressed their opinion that The Director's Club is a "scary group," it raised some concerns for me as well. After carefully observing the conversation, I noticed several deficiencies. However, it is important to note that my observations are not specifically directed at Brian Dillman, as he has a strong track record and I am looking forward to seeing his contributions as the USPTA CEO. Here are a few of the issues I identified during the conversation.

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  • Is it me or do you agree that it's quite telling that so few participants spoke up at the conversation? I had the feeling that some of those speaking out were quite disgusted with the USPTA. 

  • They were discussing the need for a mentoring initiative as if Kevin Theos and his program didn’t exist. Am I the only person noticing that? Is Kevin not doing a good job with that program? Is he maybe not getting enough support from the staff and the Board?

  • They mentioned that board members are fighting with each other. I am aware that Faisal is problematic, but the rest of the board seems positive. No? Has the struggles with the USTA caused some angst?

The Director's Club

I'm a little confused about that organization. Were they formed because the teaching pros' and tennis directors' voices weren't heard? I'd buy that, but...
 

  • Do they represent elite country clubs? I have been informed that the USPTA has long faced criticism for being exclusively focused on country club professionals. Should we entrust the future of tennis to these elite country clubs? Is it desirable for this particular group of country club professionals to have control over the future of tennis?

  • Are the Directors going to support tennis, the USPTA, PTR, and USTA? Or is their intention solely to leverage these affiliations as a means to sell memberships and expand their network of influence, potentially seeking to exert control over these organizations?

  • In light of the reported conflicts among USPTA board members, it raises questions about the directors' motivations. Are they genuinely driven by altruistic intentions or are they primarily motivated by a hunger for power?

  • A plausible argument can be put forth that the Directors bear resemblance to the TIA - an organization with good intentions in its inception, yet ultimately becoming another insignificant entity within the myriad of tennis organizations. (The TIA was established with honorable intentions. Would anyone lament its absence if the TIA were to cease operations?)

  • I fear that the Directors Club may indeed want to become the next TIA. This raises the concern that it may create another separate entity attempting to control the sport.

  • If clubs and professionals choose to invest their time and resources in this venture, there may be concerns about the potential impact on their ability to contribute to the industry.

Where do you believe this organization is headed? Is there a specific role it can fulfill in the sport? Will the organization continue to exist in the next five years? Only time will provide the answer.

The USPTA member who sent me the link is a funny guy. He asked, "Would it be appropriate for some of the Director mucky-mucks to write an article for the next newsletter regarding their role in the sport given that they have anointed Brian as its savior?"

I have reached out to Jarrett Chirico, the founder of the Director's Club, multiple times via email and LinkedIn messages, but unfortunately, I have not received a response. This is not the first time I have attempted to contact him, and I am disappointed that he has chosen not to reply. It appears that he is comfortable with the USTA's "ignore the noise" mindset, which is disappointing given the circumstances.

COURTRESERVE - OUR JANUARY RELEASE IS LIVE!

We are thrilled to share the latest updates and exciting new features added to the CourtReserve platform. Check out the highlights below and be sure to view our full release notes for more!  

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Leagues Time Restriction

We’ve introduced a new setting to Leagues which will add a Time Restriction to Rotations. This setting provides a more efficient pace, adding flexibility to points per rotation.
LEARN MORE

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Notification Tracking

See the Admin/Sub-Admin who sent Bulk Emails, Texts, and Push Notifications.

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Expanded Use of Discounts

Reservations & Events by Day

Configure free reservations, event registrations, or free hours for different membership types on a DAILY BASIS.

Exclude Free Reservations

Reservations and events that are initially free can now be EXCLUDED from "Discounted" reservations and event registrations.

Novak Djokovic Gives A Hilarious Reply When Asked About
The Secret Of Winning Tournaments

“TAKE OFF YOUR SHOES, CLIMB THE TREE, AND HANG UPSIDE DOWN FOR 33 MINUTES AND 3 SECONDS, AND YOU’RE GOING TO WIN A GRAND SLAM.”

Seen on thesportselite.com

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If you are interested in having your Podcast listed or featured here, please email Pat.

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AT THE NET PODCAST

Instagram: Raheel Manji

Wow, this was meaningful and inspiring! Three sets with tour player, NCAA standout, and CEO of @missioneliteperformance ….
here’s to the remarkable Raheel Manji!

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AT THE NET PODCAST

Instagram: Katri Koehle

A funny, inspiring, and informative three setter with the wonderful Katri Koehle from @tennisyellow [tennisyellow.com]

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AT THE NET PODCAST

Instagram: inSLAMnia

@australianopen inSLAMnia special. On and off the court, what was “ripper?” What made you say, “bugger off!” The dubs. The singles. Special segment: tennis players and their financials.
Enjoy the great game. Get some sleep after the AO! Let’s go!

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.36: Figuring out life and tennis after competing at the highest levels- with Milagros Sequera!

Dive into the latest episode of Vida Tennis for an inspiring journey with Milagros Sequera, a former top-ranked player in both singles (Top 48) and doubles (Top 29) on the WTA tour. Representing Venezuela in two Olympic games and achieving a Wimbledon mixed doubles semifinalist title, Milagros shares her incredible tennis career story.

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.37: Rock and Rolling at the net- with Ed Krass!

Dive into the latest episode of Vida Tennis featuring the One-on-One doubles and rock and roll king Ed Krass. As the founder and director of One-on-One Doubles Tournaments— an exhilarating tournament style sanctioned by both the USTA and UTR—Ed brings a unique and wildly entertaining flavor to the court.

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.38: Our favorite moments from the tour this year- with Paul Munkholm and Billy Hanson!

Tune in for a fun new episode of Vida Tennis with Paul Munkholm and Billy Hanson from The Ball Boys Podcast. Learn about their story and passion for tennis, how their podcast came to life and stay for some very special Vida Tennis Awards for 2023

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.39: Don't let your mind be your #1 opponent- with Meike Babel!!

Join us for an exclusive dive into the remarkable journey of Meike, a tennis sensation who soared to the 27th rank in singles and 45th in doubles during her illustrious 10-year career in the WTA. With an impressive record of 19 Grand Slam appearances and proudly representing Germany in the Fed Cup, Meike's athletic prowess is undeniable.

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.40: Viewing the tennis industry through a sports management lens - with Tim Bainton!

Discover valuable insights into the world of sports management in this week's episode of Vida Tennis featuring Tim Bainton, President of Blue Chip Sports Management. Tim, a professor at Marymount University's College of Business, Innovation, Leadership, and Technology, is a seasoned expert in Sports Management, Marketing, Communication, Analytics, and Organizational Management.

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.41: Building up the Professional Tennis Registry- with Dan Santorum!

Dive into a fresh episode of Vida Tennis this week as we welcome Dan Santorum, the CEO of the Professional Tennis Registry. Dan is a prominent figure on several USTA National committees and holds pivotal roles on industry boards, including the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Tennis Industry Association, and the National Public Parks Tennis Association. 

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

How to Game the Ratings ft. Robert Gomez & Todd Widom

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 1 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. We are thrilled to kick off the year with two amazing coaches, Robert Gomez and Todd Widom, helping us understand the role of ratings and rankings in our children’s tennis development.

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

Life Beyond the Pro Tour ft. Danielle Lao

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 2 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. Those of you who have followed college tennis for a while will recognize Danielle Lao as a standout in her four years playing at USC. If you follow the pro tour as well, you will also recognize her from her ten years battling her way to achieve her goal of playing in a Slam.

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

Happy 50th to Tennis:Europe ft. Martin Vinokur & Jessie Young

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 3 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. Martin Vinokur is back, this time with one of his coaches, Jessie Young, to discuss Tennis:Europe, a unique travel-and-tennis opportunity for teenage players.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Jonathan Stokke Interview: How to Fix Your Toss, Read the Serve, & Volley Tips

Jonathan Stokke is a former tennis player at Duke where he was an All-American in doubles. He played in the US Open twice and coached at Duke for several years after playing. He now resides in South Carolina where he coaches junior players and adults.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Ben Rothenberg Interview: Reforming Pro Doubles & His New Book on Naomi Osaka

Ben Rothenberg is one of the most prolific and influential tennis journalists of the last several decades. He covered tennis for the New York Times for over 10 years, has contributed to The Racquet, and has been featured on BBC, CNN, and many other major news networks.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Joel Myers Interview: Doubles Skills for 3.0 to 4.0 Level Players

Joel Myers is a USPTA Elite Professional tennis coach, the 2021 USPTA San Diego Pro of the Year, and the tennis director at Coronado Tennis Center in San Diego, California. He also is a former Division 1 college player from Australia with professional aspirations before injuries ended his career early. Joel also has nearly 120,000 followers on Instagram (@joel_myers_tennis), where he shares his coaching advice.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Styrling Strother Interview: Transforming the Practice Court for Doubles

Styrling Strother is an innovative tennis coach who trains junior players and adults to transform the way they practice and think about the match court. He is a Tennis Performance Trainer (TPT) with the International Tennis Performance Association (ITPA), a PTR Professional Coach, a best-selling author, and the founder of Styrling Strother Tennis, a player development program located in Cary, NC.

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HERE TO SERVE PODCAST

Episode 108

The first Here to Serve podcast of the year features USTA Growth, Learning, and Leadership Team members Natalie Pedroze and Rory Curren. Join us as USTA Florida Executive Director, Laura Bowen asks the guests what goes into goal planning, how to focus on professional growth, and how to use the resources around you.

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HERE TO SERVE PODCAST

Episode 109

USTA Florida Executive Director, Laura Bowen sits down with USPTA CEO, Brian Dillman to talk about one of the hottest topics in all of tennis; coaching. Learn about what is working well in the coaching space, why tennis needs more certified professionals, and what innovative changes are being made.

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

High School Tennis - What to expect as a players and a parent

Conan & Jenna talk to two very well known high school coaches in San Diego. Darice Carnaje & John Levelier give us all the information for players and parents on joining the high school tennis team. 

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Conan & Jenna are talking match strategy

Today's podcast is a little different in a great way! Conan &Jenna are talking about their own match experiences and different strategies that you can take into your own matches.

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Special guest John Broderick, President of the San Diego District Tennis Association (SDDTA)

We talk to John about how the SDDTA is celebrating their 50th anniversary. This episode is full of San Diego Tennis updates, funding, and even the impact of pickleball.

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Yoga with Kalindi: Low Lunge Stretch

Join Kalindi to learn this gentle lunge stretch for all levels, using the Foldable Yoga Mat. To learn more, visit www.TheFoldableYogaMat.com.

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Yoga for Tennis Players with Margot B.

Join USPTA tennis pro/Yoga Alliance certified yoga teacher Margit Bannon in this dynamic sequence for Arms Overhead Pose, a great warm-up before your tennis play...

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LITTLE STAR LIGHT

Importance of Remembering, Being Emotionally Alive, Cultivation of Authenticity

It is exciting to have you as a listener of Little Star Light, a podcast dedicated to sharing stories of courage and inspiration with our hosts and guests during uplifting, entertaining and intriguing conversations.

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LITTLE STAR LIGHT

Laura Alden Kamm, Part 1 - Medical Intuitive, Best Selling Author, “Walking MRI”, Spiritual Teacher

Laura Alden Kamm is a medical intuitive, called a walking MRI for her abilities and accuracy, a bestselling author and a spiritual teacher. Since a child Laura grew up with heightened knowingness and she could see the unseen. In her 20’s Laura became ill, suddenly went blind and died.

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LITTLE STAR LIGHT

Laura Alden Kamm, Part 2 - Medical Intuitive, Best Selling Author, “Walking MRI”, Spiritual Teacher

Having another chance at life, Laura with her always present as a child otherworldly connections and further honed abilities became an international respected medical intuitive and spiritual teacher. Laura has clients and students in 148 countries. Laura’s NDE, (Near Death Experience), caused partial blindness, yet her super inner spiritual sight is extraordinary. 

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HERNON CHOUSA CONVERSATION WITH JAVIER PALENQUE

Javier Palenque is a multifaceted executive, entrepreneur, and tennis enthusiast with a unique perspective on the sport. You can explore more of Hernan's work on his website, https://www.hernanchousa.com/. 

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ATLANTA TENNIS PODCAST

Episode:#01 Shaun Boyce & Geovanna Boyce

Personal Trainer Fitness Coach Geovi offers 24 ideas for your 2024 rejuvenation. She breaks them down into the three pillars of Body, Mind, and Soul so you can take as much or as little as you want.

ATLANTA TENNIS PODCAST

Ten Minutes of Tennis

The RIGHT Racquet for Your Game; with Special Guest Arturo Nieto

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

USPTA Elite Pro Albert Ochoa shares a drill that helps young athletes with volleys by using high-five.

 #QuickTipTuesday!

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

USPTA Elite Pro Katie Dellich shares how she is able to navigate through teaching her students when she gets stuck for 2024's first #QuickTipTuesday!

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

USPTA Elite Pro Ryan Johnson demonstrates how to return a serve in pickleball.

 #QuickTipTuesday!

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

USPTA Master Professional Marcos del Pilar teaches you how to manage the bottom of the court without taking any risks. #QuickTipTuesday!

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TENNIS - PROSE

For the tennis fan who wants to know more

 

Biofile Ann Grossman-Wunderlich Interview

By Scoop Malinowski

Read it here

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February

 

Feb 1 + 2   PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register.

Feb 2, 3, 4 USPTA Level 2 Portland, ME, Register.

Feb 3 - 11  PTR International Racquets Conference, Tampa, FL, Register

Feb 3 + 17 USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom Via Zoom, Register.

Feb 4  Darryl Cummings Day at Old Dominion University 

Feb 5, 6, 7 USPTA Level 2 Hutchinson, KS, Register.

Feb 5 + 12 USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register.

Feb 7 + 14 USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register.

Feb 8-12 + Mar 20-24 PTR Level 3, Orlando, Miami, Register

Feb 8, 9, 10 USPTA Level 2 Irving, TX, Register.

Feb 9-18 Delray Beach Open, Delray Beach, FL, Tickets 

Feb 15   USPTA Town Hall Mtg with Pres. Faulkner, CEO Dillman, Register

Feb 18+19  WTCT Coaching With Heart Workshop, San Diego, CA, Info

Feb 19+20  USPTA Level 1 In-Person Workshop, Orlando, FL, Register

Feb 19-21 CourtReserve 2024 Catalyst Conference, Orem, UT, Register.

Feb 20-22+Apr 16-18 PTR Level 2, Portland, ME, Register.

Feb 21-23+Apr 17-19 PTR Level 2, Dorchester Ctr, MA, Register.

Feb 23  Netflix Slam at Mandalay Bay Resort, Las Vegas, NV, Tickets

Feb 24, 25, 26 USPTA Level 2 Cerritos, CA, Register.

Feb 24 - Mar 3 San Diego Open WTA 500, Information

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FEATURED EVENT: DESERT SMASH INDIAN WELLS, CA

CHARLIZE THERON TO HOST DESERT SMASH 2024
To Benefit The Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project

Read the press release here

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March

March 2 + 3 PTR Level 1 In Person, Dallas, TX, Register

March 2 + 3 PTR Level 1 In Person, Sumter, SC, Register

March 2 + 3 PTR Level 1 In Person, Franklin, TN, Register

March 4 - 17   BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, CA, Tickets

March 5   Desert Smash, La Quinta Resort + Club, La Quinta, CA, Tickets

March 5 + 12   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 5   Tennis With The Stars, Omni Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa, Rancho Mirage, CA, Information + Tickets

March 7 + 14   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 7 + 14 PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 9 + 10 PTR Level 1 In Person, Sinking Spring, PA, Register

March 9 + 10 PTR Level 1 In Person, Memphis, TN, Register

March 9 + 10 PTR Level 1 In Person, San Jose, CA, Register

March 9 + 10 PTR Level 1 In Person, Orlando, FL, Register

March 9 + 16   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 11 + 12 PTR Level 1 In Person, Winston Salem, NC, Register

March 12 + 19 PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 11 - 13 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Boynton Beach, FL, Register

March 15 - 17 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Aurora, IL, Register

March 16 + 17 PTR Level 1 In Person, Kendall (Spanish), FL, Register

March 16 + 23 PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 17   BNP Championship Sunday Experience with Tommy Haas, Indian Wells, CA, Information + Tickets
March 18 - 31 Miami Open, Miami, FL, Tickets

March 20 + 21 PTR Level 1 In Person, Lexington, SC, Register

March 22 - 24 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Phoenix, AZ, Register

March 22 - 24 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Indian Land, SC, Register

March 22-24 + April 19-21  PTR Level 2 In Person, Fremont, CA, Register

March 22 + 29 PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

March 23 + 24 PTR Level 1 In Person, Winnetka, IL, Register

March 23 + 24 PTR Level 1 In Person, Wenham, MA, Register

March 23 + 24 PTR Level 1 In Person, Brooklyn, NY, Register

March 23 + 24 PTR Level 1 In Person, Bryan, TX, Register

March 24 - 26   RacquetX Conference, Miami, FL, Tickets

March 27 - 29 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Berkeley, CA, Register

March 27 - 29 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Queens, NY, Register
March 28 - 31 Elite Tennis Travel: 4th Annual Havana Open 2024, Information

March 29 - 31 USPTA Level 2 In Person, Bloomington, MN, Register

U.S. CONGRESS ASKED TO INVESTIGATE THE USTA

 

The USTA (Sigh)

Whenever there is a discussion related to racquet sports, and no information is available from the USTA, there are typically two possible explanations. Either they are actively working on a project behind the scenes but prefer to keep it confidential from their members and the general public, or they are attempting to conceal some uncomfortable truth. The best example that illustrates the first scenario is their current and future involvement in Pickleball. As for the second scenario, a prime illustration would be the occurrence of sexual harassment claims, lawsuits, and settlements. In this case, I will focus on the latter issue while endeavoring not to taint your perception of the USTA and its top executives.

Kylie McKenzie

Do you recall our April 2022 edition? Among our featured articles was one titled "USTA Sued by Kylie McKenzie," where we shared an article about the talented tennis player Kylie McKenzie.

A publication titled AZCentral published an article on March 29th with the headline: "Phoenix tennis player Kylie McKenzie files lawsuit against USTA for alleged sexual assault by coach."

The article states that Kylie McKenzie's attorney, Robert Allard, claimed that prior to McKenzie's alleged assault, the coach, Aranda, had also assaulted a high-level executive within the USTA. Allard further alleged that the organization was aware of this incident. In response to these allegations, Chris Widmaier, the USTA Managing Director of Communications, released a statement denying any knowledge of the incident.

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As a result of these conflicting statements, it raises the question of whether the USTA's denial was truthful or if it was an attempt to cover up the situation. (Photo: Kylie McKenzie and her lawyer Robert Allard. Photo credit: Michael Chow/The Republic)

More Developments

Meanwhile, additional stories have emerged, such as the one uncovered by Brian Ross on Brian Ross Investigates, titled "Lawsuit - USTA Failed to Protect Young Athletes from Sexual Abuse." This video, posted on YouTube in May 2021, highlighted a case in the USTA Northern California section where a male player was subjected to abuse by a professional from the ages of 13 to 15. The abuser was eventually convicted and is presently serving a prison sentence of 255 years.

In an article written by Matthew Futterman for The Athletic on October 5, 2023, titled "U.S. Tennis Accused of Downplaying Sexual Abuse and Silencing Pam Shriver," one aspect of the larger sexual predator case involving the USTA was explored in detail. The article revealed an alleged systematic cover-up by the USTA and an attempt to dissuade Pam Shriver from getting involved. Notably, USTA Deputy Chief Legal Officer Staciellen Mischel emerged as the individual who advised USTA NorCal ED Steve Leube against disclosing the identity of the abusive professional and who also interacted with Pam Shriver. A month earlier, Futterman had already written an article in the New York Times about the McKenzie case titled "Amid U.S. Open Fanfare, U.S.T.A. Fights Questions of Its Handling of Sexual Abuse."

I am unfamiliar with Ms. Mischel, however, it is important to note that she reports to Andrea Hirsch, the USTA's Chief Operating Officer and General Counsel. Ms. Hirsch holds a prominent role within the organization and is well-regarded. It is likely that Ms. Mischel consults with Ms. Hirsch before making any public announcements. These dynamics are crucial to understanding the organizational structure and decision-making processes at the USTA. An insider described Ms. Hirsch as one of the 'good old boys' Javier Palenque is always writing about. She makes at least $1.3M a year and "knows where the skeletons are buried at the USTA."

Triple Threat Before the U.S. Congress

When this 260-page document landed in my Inbox, it was the first time I heard about this action by three highly regarded individuals. Upon googling the topic, I came across an October 5 article in Business Wire titled "Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard and Leading Sexual Abuse Advocates Urge Congress to Investigate the US Tennis Association Over Its Failure to Protect Athletes. Congress presented with substantial evidence that USTA avoided implementation of measures to better protect athletes in the face of rampant sexual abuse.

Quotes from the Business Wire article with some of my comments: "Backed by dozens of documents from the US Tennis Association (USTA) showing a callous disregard for the safety of athletes, leading sexual abuse advocates are calling for Congressional intervention and an investigation into USTA leadership." Hmm, leadership? This all happened before Lew Sherr became CEO. At the time, it was mainly Kamperman and Smith running the show with various Presidents and Board members. Sherr was the Chief Revenue Officer. There are a few key decision-makers who have been present for a long time now. Andrea Hirsch, COO and GC. Ed Neppl, CFO. Staciellen Mischel. Then there is Dario Otero who last month celebrated 49 years working for the USTA. He's the Managing Director HR.

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The article continues: "Nancy Hogshead, Olympic champion, civil rights lawyer, and CEO of Champion Women, a nonprofit providing legal advocacy for girls and women in sports, Child USA CEO Marci Hamilton, and Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard attorney Robert Allard submitted the 260-page document to members of Congress." Nancy Hogshead is recognized by our audience for her advocacy in safeguarding women's sports, particularly in relation to transgender matters. Robert Allard, on the other hand, serves as Kylie McKenzie's legal representative.

"All three leaders agree that the way USTA has handled sex abuse claims is far below industry standards resulting in dangerous conditions for athletes. The document paints a picture of an organization determined to put its image over the safety of athletes. Based on USTA documents, the organization refused to publish a list of known predator coaches for fear of being sued. As a result, then coach Normandie Burgos sexually abused at least one athlete before he was finally arrested, convicted and sentenced to 250 years in prison." The suggestion being made is that if the parents of the abused athlete had been aware of Burgos' status as a sexual predator, they would have had the option to remove their son from the program.

"In other documents, the USTA for years battled efforts by the USOC (now the USOPC) to force the organization to better protect athletes from sexual athletes. In a 2012 email from USTA to then USOC CEO Scott Blackmun, USTA objects and delays mandated changes that it states would increase its exposure to lawsuit liability." The following screenshots are from the 126-page document and represent a few examples of how USTA staff requested changes to the proposed USOC wording for rules on safeguarding children:

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The article continues: "With a leadership team more concerned about its image than protecting athletes, the USTA allows coaches to progressively stretch boundaries, eventually leading to the sexual harassment and assault of primarily women players. Revered Hall of Fame tennis player Pam Shriver is on record stating, “The point has to be made very clearly- these kinds of relationships are not appropriate, and there will be consequences for those who cross the line. This is a widespread problem and we need a broad-spectrum alliance if we are going to address it.” Shortly after speaking out, Shriver was warned by a USTA attorney to “be careful.” Pam Shriver, of course, has had her own challenges with inappropriate coach/player relationships and came out with it in 2022. (HoF Tennis Player Pam Shriver Details ‘Inappropriate Relationship’ With Former Coach.)

"The document states that the USTA has “created a dishonest and unhealthy culture within the sport of tennis. Rather than supporting victims, USTA silences them through threats and intimidation so as not to assume any liability or financial responsibility as an NGB.” The group is asking Congress to immediately investigate the USTA and to force the necessary changes, including the removal of USTA personnel, to protect athletes across the country." Good luck with that. At the USTA, individuals are not being removed; rather, they are being reassigned to other positions. Additionally, removing staff members involved in any dispute could be perceived as an acknowledgment of guilt.

“USTA is 20 years behind the sex abuse and assault curve,” said Marci Hamilton. “It is long past time to become athlete-centered and a force for athlete well-being. All these cover-ups in USTA and elsewhere in the culture keep the poison circulating in their system.” The good news: USTA CEO Lew Sherr has enlisted two lawyers at Washington-based firm Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to look into its safeguarding policies and procedures to protect players from sexual misconduct and other abuse. Daily Journal wrote on January 4 in an article titled The US Tennis Association is reviewing its safeguarding policies and procedures"Lew Sherr, the CEO and executive director of the organization that runs the U.S. Open and oversees the sport in the United States, wrote about the review in an email sent Thursday to the USTA Board of Directors, various staff and volunteers and obtained by The Associated Press. As part of efforts “to prevent harm to athletes and respond to reports of inappropriate conduct … the USTA has retained David O’Neil and Mary Beth Hogan of Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to review our policies and procedures for preventing, reporting, and responding to reports of abuse, including sexual misconduct,” Sherr wrote."

The Business Wire article ends: For more insights into the culture of the USTA, read The Athletic. Click here for the PDF document presented to Congress - https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Pw7F-5Atxi5aPTOwo72Xf36PAWuY_dZi/view?usp=sharing

USTA IN CALIFORNIA - CAN IT GET ANY WORSE?

We are currently conducting research on an alleged incident involving USTA NorCal and their decision to eliminate tennis clubs' voting rights, as stated in their Bylaws. We anticipate that this story will be ready for publication in March.

Regarding USTA SoCal, the battle for 16 tennis courts has concluded, and unfortunately, we were unsuccessful. The LA City Council's decision appears to have been influenced by the actions of the USTA SoCal leadership. It is disheartening to see the disregard they have shown towards their own members and the thousands of tennis players in the San Fernando Valley, who will be left without courts when Weddington Golf & Tennis closes on April 2nd. These actions of the USTA in Southern California raise concerns. It is puzzling why they continue to involve local players in adult leagues, but that is a separate issue. There is definitely an addictive quality to USTA Leagues that keeps people engaged.

What is most disappointing is the lack of accountability demonstrated by the local USTA leaders and Board members who have failed to explain their actions. It is disheartening to see their silence. Where are Bob Kramer, Bill Kellogg, and all the other executives who are profiting from SoCal tennis tournaments and receiving numerous accolades? It seems that as long as the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club remains successful with its high initiation fees ($110,000), expensive memberships (642/month), and lengthy waiting list (10 years), they dismiss the concerns of the thousand players further north.

If the decision were mine, I would take action by shutting down the USTA office and driving the CEO out of town. In my opinion, his behavior brings disgrace to the entire tennis community. Furthermore, I would dissolve the entire Board and restart the USTA section from scratch. 

CRUSADER JAVIER PALENQUE - IGNORED BUT FEARED?

If you have been following our reporting, you are aware that we hold the USTA accountable whenever possible. Our mission is to empower those who lack power, and throughout the years, we have uncovered multiple instances of misconduct by USTA executives at the national office. I gather information from various sources, primarily insiders in Orlando or the sections, combine it with my own experience from a previous working relationship with the USTA, conduct research on the allegations, collaborate with others, and begin writing. More often than not, my assessments are accurate, as if I were mistaken, I would expect to be corrected. However, the organization-wide approach of "ignoring the noise" imposed by Smith/Kamperman prevents anyone from contacting me and offering clarification. Unfortunately, it appears that everyone is blindly adhering to this directive, as evidenced by the actions of the USTA SoCal leadership after I exposed their disgraceful behavior.

Javier Palenque's "Holding their feet to the fire" campaign is different and based on two things: 1. His expertise as a Management Consultant and 2. His love for tennis as a player and father of a junior player. I had the pleasure of meeting the "Crusader" as I call him in December of 2017 in Miami, his hometown. His deep love for our sport is evident when you talk to him. He is full of ideas and has the ability to extract a lot of information from an organization's tax returns.

You may not like his style or his choice of words but deep inside you know he is spot-on with many of his analyses and accusations. In 2021 I quoted Javier: "Tennis is a blue-collared sport played by white-collared kids. To succeed, you need blue-collared ethics and values. Why are those Eastern European kids and adults succeeding? They are using their blue-collared values and work harder." In his June 2021 article "How can this be, USTA?" Javier describes USTA Executives as plagued by management myopia. "It is a form of business nearsightedness whereby companies focus on selling products and services, rather than seeing the “big picture” of what consumers really want."

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Javier has published more than 430 posts regarding the USTA thus far. As of today (January 29), he has shared evidence of the USTA staff blocking his emails again after his attempted nomination for the Board. I have thoroughly read, if not all, most of his articles. In my opinion, the most crucial matters he consistently emphasizes in relation to the "inept" USTA leadership are:

NO GROWTH IN TENNIS

I agree with Javier's assessment that the data provided by Sports Marketing Survey (SMS) may not align with reality. The reported payment of $2,349,085 by the USTA to SMS in 2022 appears questionable. Upon analyzing ball sales, it becomes evident that the claim of there being 23 million tennis players in the U.S. is highly unlikely. Furthermore, the average age of a U.S. tennis player surpasses 60, indicating a lack of effective strategies for engaging young individuals in our sport. While the USTA was quick to attribute a growth spurt to Covid-19, it is important to recognize that this does not necessarily indicate genuine organic growth within our sport. Unfortunately, it seems that the USTA is passively witnessing the gradual decline of tennis while simultaneously benefiting from substantial salaries. This situation is truly regrettable.

US OPEN FOR THE RICH ONLY

The US Open appears to primarily cater to an affluent and well-known clientele. This approach, according to Javier, does not align with the potential for tennis expansion. It is disheartening to observe a lack of interest in including young tennis enthusiasts in major events, presumably to accommodate the preferences of sponsors who may not appreciate the presence of children while enjoying $38 glasses of Moet Champagne. Ultimately, it is evident that the companies and individuals who can afford to write off the cost of tickets do not contribute to the growth of tennis as a whole. While it may sustain the financial aspects of the sport, it does not prioritize the development of grassroots tennis. Mr. Sherr, it seems your strategy may have overlooked a significant opportunity. Let's hope it's not too late to seize it!

TOO FEW KIDS PLAYING TENNIS

The statistics are remarkable. In a country with a population of 232 million, the number of children actively engaged in tennis is less than one hundred thousand. This fact deserves some reflection. Moreover, it is disheartening to note that a significant portion of talented young players abandon the sport altogether due to instances of cheating and a lack of concern at USTA tournaments. This unfortunate reality is a source of frustration for many, and Javier consistently reminds others of this unsettling truth.

PURPOSELY HIDING OF PARTICIPATION DATA

Yes, that is indeed the situation for the USTA. They may be reluctant to disclose data that indicates a decline in membership, a decrease in participation in leagues, and a significant decrease in interest among children. Consequently, this information is not made public. The approach they seem to employ is the notion that "if you don't see it in the news, it hasn't happened." It is indeed an interesting modus operandi, especially when considering how a publicly traded company would handle a similar situation. And how about hiding their involvement in pickleball and not doing anything to stem the tide of tennis courts being converted to pickleball courts?

DEBT AND ALLOCATION OF RESOURCES

The tenure of Gordon Smith and Kurt Kamperman is commonly associated with a period of significant spending for the USTA. However, it is important to acknowledge that indiscriminate spending can have adverse effects on a legitimate company. Despite the allure of having the US Open generate substantial revenue, accumulating a debt of $726 million to the extent of having to sell a major tournament like Cincinnati is a cause for concern.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that spending has not ceased entirely. The following list highlights five independent contractors among a total of 128, who are currently engaged in business activities associated with the USTA. While some contractors have delivered quite questionable outcomes (e.g., SMTIDS, Clubspark), others maintain a sponsorship relationship with the US Open (IBM). This prompts the question of who else may be benefiting from the significant financial investments made by the USTA. Additionally, the involvement of EPAM Systems raises the question of whether they have been contracted for $3.923 million to address any technological infrastructure issues caused by US Open sponsor Deloitte. An interesting consideration indeed.

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Asked about his view on the fact that the USTA is ignoring and blocking him, Javier replied: "The USTA has not engaged in communication with me despite my six years of contributing 412 articles, and I believe there are three primary reasons for this lack of communication.

1. They are unaware of the extent of my knowledge, and they fear that I might expose additional information if they initiate communication, I will hold them accountable.

 

2. The organization seems to rely on maintaining a surface-level image and deceive much of the public, expecting individuals not to connect the dots that may reflect the level of their incompetence. I, however, have been diligent in scrutinizing their actions, potentially leading to uncomfortable legal questions, and ending in self-protective behavior on their part.

 

3. I assert that the USTA operates as a questionable not-for-profit, potentially deceiving the government, its sponsors, and the tennis community. Their resource allocation proves this statement.

In essence, when faced with the prospect of truth and accountability, the USTA chooses silence, hoping to ignore my presence. I contend that the leadership is incompetent, substantiated by a record of mediocrity, a failure to create value for others, and significant wastage of time and resources daily. If there is no outcry, they seem content to prioritize their nefarious self-interest over the future of the sport."

My conclusion: The USTA Board of Directors appears to view Javier Palenque as a non-conformist who challenges their established beliefs. They seem to be threatened by his unconventional approach. Additionally, the Board and section leadership seem to associate their ability to secure President's Box tickets at the US Open as a measure of their success in growing the sport of tennis. Sad!

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TENNIS ACADEMIES WEAKNESS

Which feeds the ego is a difficult drug to give up

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Most everywhere you go today, you will find someone who has started up a new tennis academy for juniors.  If that is the case, this tennis model must be doing something right.  They are located anywhere there are tennis courts, private, clubs, and public courts.  So why are they so popular, but equally important, do they have the ability to stay viable going forward? It should be pointed out, this article is not a criticism of tennis academies, but rather an observation of the business model. Because tennis needs both growth and sustainability, we need to continue to evaluate high-performing sectors of our industry that have become very successful.

Read the article.

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SUNSHINE AND IN-MIGRATION - SECRETS TO GROWING THE GAME

There are many ways to grow the sport

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In mid-2023, TIA released reports summarizing tennis participation by 16 USTA sections (Only 2022 Hawaii data is available). It reported that larger sample sizes allowed them to perform data analysis at the sectional level. The analysis for this article looks at the relationship between sunshine and in-migration, participation, and the percentage of core players in a section. Read the article.

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Racquet Sports Live Match Streaming
for the Rest of Us

By Cesar O Andrade, CEO. Racquets! AppSuite LLC

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In the 80s, Apple - long before becoming the most valuable business on the planet - drove "the computer for the rest of us" concept into what is now part and parcel of the conscience of the information age. At the time, only large companies were the territory of "serious" business computing and, you had to be a determined and gifted nerd to make productive use of emerging small personal computers.
Read the article.

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TENNIS LIFE OBSERVATIONS

By The Commish

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The Commish is not just one single person, it is a real and true thought experiment of many different entities. That's also why the Commish has no preferred pronouns and you can call the Commish anything and any way you want. Makes no difference to the Commish. The Commish lives in the minds of all tennis professionals, tennis players, tennis organizers, and everyone with a clear and logical thought process. And no, Rich Neher is not The Commish! (Does that photo look like him? LOL) Read the article here.

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Elevate Your Club’s Engagement with CourtReserve’s
Dynamic Communication Suite
 

By Ashley Owens

So, you’ve launched your club (congrats!). But what now? How can club owners build and cultivate loyal relationships with their members and players? Modern communication methods––like emails, text messages, push notifications, and global announcements––are vital for ensuring you’re actively engaged with your club’s community. CourtReserve’s communications solutions enable you to stay in constant and direct interaction with members, allowing you to foster member engagement, create thriving communities, and elevate visibility in a competitive landscape!

 

Our high-powered communications suite not only ensures seamless operational updates, but also offers a built-in marketing tool, allowing club owners to strategically promote their business and drive foot traffic into their facilities. With these solutions, clubs can make announcements, advertise upcoming events, offer exclusive promotions and provide real-time updates/reminders on all bookings to their players.

 

Text Messages

CourtReserve’s Text Message alerts are a game-changer for club owners who desire a modern, direct approach to immediately engage with members. In this digital age, most people prefer to communicate through texts over phone calls, so this method is a surefire way to know a player will check your messages in a timely manner. Consider Text Messages for promoting last-minute offers, flash promotions, or limited-time discounts that require immediate attention and invite members to quickly take action!