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Message from Rich Neher Greetings from California!

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Hello, dear readers, friends, and tennis enthusiasts.

Important update:

The next issue of this newsletter will be the first issue under our new brand, Racket Business.

 

PLEASE NOTE: The newsletter email will come from Rich@racketbusiness.com which is a new email address, so please add this to your contacts so next month’s newsletter doesn’t get stuck in your junk/spam folder.

 

Why change the name to Racket Business?

 

Tennis will still be the main sport we cover in the newsletter but we’ve been publishing increasing numbers of articles about pickleball and padel in recent newsletters, so it makes sense to have a title that encompasses all three of these massive racket sports.

 

With my new business partner Tim Farthing coming on board you will also notice a complete redesign of the newsletter and website. Tim has a wealth of experience in digital publishing so he’s spent a lot of time in creating a modern look to accompany our new name.

 

We really hope you appreciate these changes and as always we welcome your feedback.

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TOGETHER WITH Conga Sports

Re: High Price of Attending the US Open

After our continued posts about high US Open prices preventing "regular" earners and kids from ever experiencing Novak Djokovic at Arthur Ashe Stadium, a reader emailed me: "I just remembered that you were complaining about US OPEN tickets. Our daughter invited us this year and we just declined even though it would have been free for us. The fees are way way too high but we will not get the pleasure out of that. We will just go to the smaller events. I am wondering how ordinary-income people can afford this. I am in a lucky position that I don’t have to worry too much about money but this is a total show-stopper for us!" Wow!

 

Then another reader emailed me that he had to pay $180 for him and his two kids to watch qualifying matches at the Delray Beach Open. Wow again! I began to wonder whether these kinds of prices are actually helping to grow tennis at all and decided to look into it a little. 

Tournaments for adults only - the dirty little secret
of the tennis event industry

The Illusion That Expensive Tournaments Will Help Tennis Grow

By Rich Neher

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Big tennis tournaments and their prices have always been a concern of mine. The reason for this is that I grew up in a modest environment where our occasional luxury was a chicken dinner once a month on Sundays. In those days, I had to walk to school as there was no school bus. Our family of 8 was limited to one car, a Volkswagen Beetle with seating for 5. We played on the streets and were expected to be home by seven pm without fail. You get the picture.

You may question the justification for paying $60 for a ticket to watch qualifying events, such as in Delray Beach. Or wonder about paying $30 for a glass of Champagne at the BNP Paribas Open. You might even question the practice of requiring children over 12 months old to pay for an adult ticket at the Cinci Open. Or, how about ALL CHILDREN pay adult ticket prices in San Diego? I believe there are significant issues with all of these practices. 

Let's try to deeply dive into the reasons behind those exorbitant ticket prices and particularly keep an eye out for children's tickets.

Ownership needs to make money

The four tournaments mentioned above serve as prime examples of owners striving to achieve a favorable return on their investments. Understanding the ownership of the three privately owned events is quite straightforward. BNP Paribas Open is owned by Larry Ellison, the Miami Open is owned by IMG and Stephen Ross, the Cincinnati Open is owned by Beemok Capital, and the Delray Beach Open is owned by Ivan Baron. These owners have made significant investments in their tournaments and are committed to implementing a strategy akin to that of the US Open to generate sufficient profits. The fact that fewer and fewer people can afford tickets or food at their events is not a big concern as long as luxury sponsors pay their fees.

Tennis is getting more expensive.

Get used to it!

As for the US Open, it is owned by our National Governing Body (NGB), the USTA. However, matters become somewhat complex since the USTA is designated as a nonprofit organization. Or so it seems. In reality, their nonprofit status is primarily for tax purposes and on paper. In actuality, the USTA is a profit-driven institution that allocates the majority of its profits toward payroll, rather than fulfilling the intended purpose for which the IRS granted it tax-exempt status: promoting the growth of tennis. Curiously, the USTA probably views compensating their CEO with a salary of $1.4 million and granting him a $235,000 pay increase during the Covid-19 pandemic as a means of advancing tennis.

 

But why does the USTA possess such a voracious appetite for money? The answer is quite simple: extravagant spending. To alleviate a portion of their staggering $726 million debt, the USTA willingly sold the Cincinnati Open last year. And you can already see the writing on the wall in Ohio: Beemak is making millions of dollars in improvements and the prices will go through the roof.  Nevertheless, the USTA execs continue to incur expenses, providing substantial salaries in Orlando and supporting the financial needs of the 17 sections every year. The USTA's financial endeavors are driven by a seemingly unstoppable need for cash. Consequently, in an effort to appease the IRS and critics alike, they make token contributions to the USTA Foundation, offer grants to certain Community Tennis Associations (CTAs), and distribute a huge number of awards to friendly clubs and individuals who are not critical of their operations.

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Is the growth of tennis a significant concern?

Certainly not for the owners of those and most other tournaments. For the USTA, the growth of tennis is their stated mission, but the US Open is primarily seen as a means to generate revenue to fulfill that mission. Therefore, it is important to understand that its primary purpose is to generate financial profit. This is an important clarification to make.

Are any of these tournaments positioned to foster the growth of tennis?

Unfortunately, no. And here's why: They are intentionally not structured to promote the growth of tennis. To understand that, let's take another look at the US Open, as other tournaments often tend to emulate its strategy.

==> Target audience is not a growth demographic
The USTA leadership, including the Board of Directors, acknowledges that the organization has missed opportunities to foster the growth of tennis. Over the past 15 years, it has become evident that the average age of tennis players is increasing, exceeding 60 years. Regrettably, efforts to make the sport more appealing to younger generations have not materialized. However, the organization's financial objectives remain a priority, necessitating a strategic approach. 

==> Luxury brand sponsors to the rescue

To ensure the financial viability of the US Open, it became crucial to secure well-paying sponsors who can contribute to its success. Notably, the sponsors that possess substantial financial resources often cater to an older, affluent demographic. Given that the aging tennis-playing population may not always have the means to purchase luxury items like Rolex watches or Cadillacs, USTA leadership recognized the need for a slight pivot. 

==> Affluent ticket holders needed

In order to attract a wealthier audience, the USTA positioned the US Open as an exclusive event where children are not present*, catering instead to companies interested in purchasing expensive tickets for their executives and clients. This arrangement is further enhanced by the USTA's nonprofit status, allowing ticket purchases to be tax deductible. It is interesting to observe how circumstances can come full circle in unexpected ways.

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The double whammy for regular people: They can't afford ticket prices and they can't write them off.

==> Cadillac proves I'm right

Here's what Jack Morton Worldwide, the branding agency for General Motors wrote about Cadillac at the US Open. "Cadillac is not on the radar of many luxury buyers because they consider the brand to be second-tier. To change this and create emotional demand, we built a partnership portfolio to connect with luxury buyers through their passion for tennis. In 2022, we executed a multi-year agreement to add the iconic U.S. Open Tennis Championships to Cadillac’s portfolio of marquee events like the PGA Championships – major partnerships our target audiences know and love and will help Cadillac’s mission of championing big dreams and bold ambition and build “brand for me” desire among fans.

The pinnacle of the US Open experience is the VIP hospitality suite, the highly-coveted asset within Arthur Ashe Tennis Stadium where VIPs are treated to exceptional viewing of world-class tennis and elevated hospitality. We gutted, redesigned and rebuilt the space before the start of the tournament and delivered an experience that blew people away with many fans saying they “would buy a Cadillac just to spend another session in the hospitality suite!”.

The US Open Tennis Championships delivered on our goals, engaging over 850,000 fans onsite and providing the brand with nearly 64 hours of branded television exposure through the camera-visible signage. Most importantly the brand impact study showed that the three most important metrics – “brand for me”, “brand opinion” and “likely to consider” – all posted double digit increases blowing past ingoing benchmarks."

==> However, I think Jack Morton was wrong

Here's why:

1. "Brand for me?" I have reason to believe that the majority of Wall Street ticket holders prefer luxury vehicles such as Mercedes, BMW, Audi, Porsche, Tesla, and Lexus, rather than a Cadillac.

2. "Double-digit increase?" If none of the 850,000 fans have ever considered purchasing a Cadillac and only 22 individuals showed interest in the spacious interior, can that be considered a significant double-digit increase?

3. "Blew people away" It is highly doubtful that someone would claim they would buy a Cadillac solely to have access to the hospitality suite. Their statement seems unlikely and lacks credibility.

In my opinion, placing trust in Lew Sherr's rhetoric and considering the US Open as a worthwhile sponsorship investment for Cadillac was a mistake. I anticipate that the agreement with the US Open will not be renewed in the coming years because the very fans the USTA is targeting don't drive Cadillacs and probably will not buy them.

*Here's why I call the US Open the most family-unfriendly grand slam!

It appears that the primary audience for the sessions at Arthur Ashe Stadium consists mainly of business professionals from New York, who may not prioritize bringing their children to the event or having kids running around while they enjoy their overpriced Honey Deuces at their company's expense. It wouldn't be surprising if Lew Sherr devised a strategy to ensure that Rolex and Cadillac, the event sponsors, enjoy his measures to minimize the presence of children during the main matches. These measures include the introduction of Fan Week and Kid's Night, as well as the decision to charge full adult prices for children over the age of 2. Voila! Problem solved.

If you tell me one more time that the US Open is family-friendly,
I have to question your ability to think and understand
what's really going on.

The big "Adults Only" tennis conspiracy

What do the US Open, BNP Paribas Open*, Cincinnati Open, Miami Open, and San Diego Open (and likely other U.S. tournaments) have in common? They do not cater to children in the main draw matches. It is important to reflect on this observation. You are skeptical? Do you believe that Kid's Days, Fan Weeks, and other related events before the main draw are sufficient evidence of their inclusivity towards children? Reconsider. These seem to be intended to encourage adults to attend the main draw matches without their children. This fact is worth noting.

Here are the policies of some tournaments that seem to have adopted the USTA's stand on rejecting children. Mind you, not all post their policies on their website. I had to call Miami and San Diego.

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Is the Cymbiotika San Diego Open the

most family-unfriendly tennis tournament in the USA?

The individual on the phone in San Diego seemed rather uneasy while informing me that all children are required to pay the full price at the SD Open. It is quite surprising to learn that if I attend the event with a 5-month-old and wish to purchase a $90 ticket for a moderately good seat during the quarterfinals, I will be charged $180, along with a $29.70 fee and a $2.06 "Order Fee." This accumulates to a total of $211.76, all while I hold the toddler in my arms. Do you find this to be an appropriate pricing policy? Imagine a family of five with kids aged 6,8,11. They would pay almost $500 for the pleasure of showing their kids some great women's tennis. (To the ignorant tennis pro who questioned on Facebook why a 5-month-old baby should be at a tournament while he can write off all expenses, I say: tell that to mothers with children who want to see tennis and don't necessarily have money for babysitters like you.)

Here's an example of the Cincinnati Open and their stated children's policy. I can only shake my head at this terrible policy.

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In Conclusion

The USTA leadership and the Board face challenges in their flawed strategy. It is evident that the target audience they should attract find it difficult to afford the US Open. The reliance on increasing prices and securing large sponsors to sustain the financial aspect of the US Open is precarious. The potential consequences of the cash cow failing, for any reason, would lead to the collapse of the entire system, with a dwindling fanbase to rely on for support. However, it appears that their fervent pursuit of Pickleball may be driven by this very concern.

Tennis tournament organizers find themselves in a challenging predicament. With the average age of tennis enthusiasts increasing each year, there is a lack of younger individuals being drawn to the sport in sufficient numbers to foster its growth. High-end sponsors are primarily interested in targeting older individuals and business professionals due to their higher discretionary income. Consequently, these demographics are more likely to purchase expensive tickets and indulge in overpriced food options. Conversely, children and younger individuals often struggle to afford attending main draw matches. It is reasonable to assume that tournament owners are aware of this dilemma and can envision a future where the older generation fades away, leaving empty stadiums devoid of spectators. Large numbers participating in the Free Fan Week and Kid's Night events will not be sufficient to prevent the tournaments from facing financial difficulties.

*As for other events, I have been attending the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells for more than two decades, and I genuinely appreciate the tournament. In recent years, I have been fortunate to receive media credentials. Nevertheless, I cannot ignore the steep prices of tickets, food, and even a bottle of water, which can be quite unsettling. What speaks for the BNP Paribas Open: parking is free and it is without a doubt the best non-Grand Slam tournament in the nation. Ground passes start at $10 and give you access to Stadium 2, all smaller stadiums, and all practice courts. You can see a ton of amazing tennis for a pretty good price! Also, students get a 30% discount on tickets.

My takeaway: Events like the US Open are not able to grow tennis. Most events make the owners money with no concern for tennis' growth. The US Open only makes sure the USTA and the sections survive another year. Shame, really.

Tennis tournament organizers find themselves in a challenging predicament. With the average age of tennis enthusiasts increasing each year, there is a lack of younger individuals being drawn to the sport in sufficient numbers to foster its growth. High-end sponsors are primarily interested in targeting older individuals and business professionals due to their higher discretionary income. Consequently, these demographics are more likely to purchase expensive tickets and indulge in overpriced food options. Conversely, children and younger individuals often struggle to afford attending main draw matches. It is reasonable to assume that tournament owners are aware of this dilemma and can envision a future where the older generation fades away, leaving empty stadiums devoid of spectators. Large numbers participating in the Free Fan Week and Kid's Night events will not be sufficient to prevent the tournaments from facing financial difficulties.

Re: SEXUAL DISCRIMINATION

KTLA 5: California tennis coach accused of sex crimes against teen student

A Santa Barbara man has been arrested for allegedly committing sex crimes against a juvenile student he was coaching. Peter Aibor Jeschke, a 50-year-old man who lives in Santa Barbara, was arrested Friday morning. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department says Jeschke was taken into custody at the tennis courts in the 1400 block of Park Place.

Read more here.

JAVIER PALENQUE ON LINKEDIN: A Plea for Congressional Intervention of the USTA

For years I have been asking to meet with the leadership of the USTA to point to them how the culture is wrong and how the Ol'd boys need to leave the sport, they only hurt it. 

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All Chairman of the Board and CEOs refused to acknowledge how bad and dangerous the culture of the USTA is, much less grant me a meeting to be held accountable and fired. Much like USA Gymnastics, remember? In this case of sexual harassment, institutional neglect, and self-protection (the status quo) by the USTA leadership, the matter is for you to read and conclude. Read more here.

NBC 10 Philadelphia: NJ tennis coach accused of showing naked photo of himself to teen girl

A South Jersey high school tennis coach and private instructor is accused of showing a naked photo of himself to a teen girl.

Ovidiu Dragos, 60, of Moorestown, New Jersey, is charged with endangering the welfare of a child, promoting obscene material to persons under 18-years-old, stalking and harassment. Read more here.

Re: Match Fixing, Doping & Other Crimes

ITIA: French tennis player suspended for seven years

Maxence Broville failed to co-operate with an ITIA investigation

The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) can today confirm that French tennis player Maxence Broville has been suspended from the sport for a period of seven years and fined $5,000 for failure to co-operate with an ITIA investigation. 

Read more here.

Women's Tennis BlogNastase on Serena doping: “If the truth came to light, all big tournaments would disappear, all sponsors would leave.”

Ahead of Simona Halep’s recent three-day hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport in Switzerland, former Romanian world No.1 tennis player Ilie Nastase bluntly pointed to preferential treatment of American athletes. Nastase specifically alleged that Serena Williams likely engaged in doping practices but the truth was never allowed to come to light because it would’ve had a major negative economic impact on the sport.
Read more here.

ESPN: Tennis player Jenson Brooksby has suspension reduced by 10 months

American tennis player Jenson Brooksby's suspension for missing three doping tests will end on March 3, 10 months earlier than the original date, the International Tennis Integrity Agency said Thursday. The ITIA said it reached an agreement with Brooksby to reduce the ban from 18 months to 13 and backdate it to when the third missed test allegedly happened.

Read more here.

REUTERS: Tennis Halep sues Canadian company over supplement linked to doping suspension

Former world number one Simona Halep is suing the Canadian company that produced a nutritional supplement that she believes led to her being handed a four-year ban for doping that could end her career. Halep is seeking more than $10 million in damages from Quantum Nutrition, which operates as Schinoussa Superfoods, after testing positive at the 2022 U.S. Open for Roxadustat, a drug often used by people with anaemia.

Read more here.

Women's Tennis Blog: Romanian tennis player shares shocking info about Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy: “Athletes are given some substances”

An 18-year-old Romanian player, Maria Sara Popa, has accused Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy of administering “substances” to junior players, adding a new layer to the ongoing doping controversy surrounding Simona Halep.

Read more here.

Sports Illustrated (Jon Wertheim): Simona Halep’s Doping Case Challenges Tennis’s Policy on Responsibility and Punishment

The 32-year-old appeals a four-year ban while her former coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, reunites with Holger Rune, raising questions of accountability. Read more here.

Tennis.com: Miami tournament director James Blake fined $56,250 for violating betting sponsorship rules

Former world No. 4 James Blake, who has served as tournament director for the Miami Open since 2018, has been fined $56,250 by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA). Blake was found to have unintentionally violated his sport’s betting sponsorship rules, the ITIA announced Wednesday. He was also issued a suspended fine of $131,250 and a suspended ban of 18 months, both of which are avoidable unless he breaches policies again during an 18-month period that began February 9, 2024. Read more here.

Radio Prague: Czech Tennis Federation embroiled in massive fraud scandal

The Czech Tennis Federation is embroiled in a massive fraud scandal. Ten people have been charged in the wake of Tuesday’s raid on the federation’s headquarters, among them its president Ivo Kaderka.

Read more here.

Re: Saudi Arabia

ARAB NEWS: Frankly Speaking: Is tennis the next ‘Grand Slam’ for Saudi sports?

Tennis is fast becoming a popular sport in Saudi Arabia with thousands of young people, including women and girls, signing up to clubs and taking part in tournaments across the Kingdom, Arij Mutabagani, president of the Saudi Tennis Federation, has said. Read more here.

Re: New Tennis Facility Projects

Daily Camera: Jane Angulo: Proposed tennis complex runs roughshod over Boulder’s environmental goals

Investors are planning to build a huge tennis complex on private property practically in the middle of the Gunbarrel Conservation Area on 79th St. And one thing for sure is at play — the legitimacy of Boulder’s stated goals to protect our climate and the environment.

Developers apparently want to build in phases; the first phase includes 26 tennis courts covered with seasonal bubbles, a 7,000-square-foot clubhouse and two swimming pools on land located within an Area III-Rural Preservation area (the highest level of land protection in the Boulder Valley Comprehensive Plan). Operating hours will be from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. They are promising a regional attraction with clinics and tennis tournaments and such.

Read more here.

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Congratulations to the team representing the city of North Hollywood, for emerging as the champions of the second SoCal season of City Slams® team tennis tournaments. They have now earned the esteemed title of Southern California City Slams Champions. Kurt Mac Millan (center), Partner at Cognitive Wealth Management, our Season 2 Local Sponsor, graciously presented the team with their well-deserved trophies.

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A RECOVERING TENNIS POLITICIAN

By Dave Miley

Dave Miley worked for 25 years at the ITF and ran the ITF’s biggest department for 17 years, overseeing a US ten million dollar departmental budget. During this time, the department had a reputation for always delivering high-quality projects and for consistently working for the interests of tennis and the member nations that own the ITF. Dave Was responsible for the introduction of the combined ranking in Junior Tennis in 2005 and the launch of the Tennis Play and Stay Campaign in 2007. He drove the rule change for 10 and under competition adopted by the ITF AGM in 2010 and the adoption of global standards for the education of coaches worldwide. He also developed and launched in 2003 the first global ratings system for tennis – The International Tennis Number (ITN) and launched the successful World Tennis Day in 2014.

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A recovering Tennis Politician!!!

In 2019 I had the chance to meet up with Al Gore, former US Vice President, at a climate change conference in Oporto. At the time I was a candidate for ITF President and he wanted to discuss with me how Tennis could contribute at the international level to the efforts to limit climate change and global warming. As you will know he lost the US presidential election in 2000 to George Bush by a very small number of votes. During our time together he asked me who I was running against and how my campaign was going and then he joked with me that he was “a recovering Politician”. I now know what he meant!

Many people have messaged me recently asking me why I have not been posting anything over the past 5 months. Let me explain.

Over the past 6 years, I have been actively involved in Tennis politics-running for ITF President and ITF Board in 2019 and in 2023 running for the ITF board as Tennis Irelands candidate. I think in 2023 I ran quite a good campaign for the ITF Board but in Cancun, in September I lost out for the board position by just 2 votes.

Now I want to say here congratulations to the 14 people that were elected to the Board and I wish them all the best for the next 4 years. I hope they can work together to both challenge and support the ITF President, CEO and staff and to help make the ITF a more effective and successful organization. The ITF is facing big challenges especially with their main events, the Davis and BJK Cups, and I hope they can help the ITF to be stronger as the controlling body of tennis especially in front of the ATP and WTA tours.

I have to say that it was tough to lose so narrowly the board election. I was quietly confident but in politics it’s not so easy to judge how things are going. It was a bit like losing an important tennis match after having match points and for a while it’s hard to forget and to put the loss in perspective. But luckily, I have a great family and so many friends both inside and outside of tennis that and after a few sleepless nights and the help of a special Spanish Rioja vaccine, I was able to put the loss behind me!

I have since October, immersed myself again in my role as Tennis Director of Kazakhstan Tennis and am enjoying very much what I am doing and the impact I think my department team ( with the help of our many good private coaches) are having on Player development here. In 2023, Kazakhstan qualified for the finals of the Junior BJK cup and Davis Cup (beating Australia in qualifying both weeks 2-0) finishing 9th in the girls finals and 10th in the boy’s finals. We also had 5 Kazakh juniors playing the recent Australian Open with one 16 years old boy, Amir Omarkhanov reaching the quarter finals of the singles.

It’s very busy. Last week we finished our National under 14 championships which followed a Tennis Europe 16 and under event. We are also this week hosting an ITF level 2 Coaches course in Astana and I am attending today the second week of J60 junior ITF events in Karagandy. This will be followed in late February by two 15K combined men’s and women’s WTT events.

At the same time our Davis Cup team was playing in Argentina, and despite missing our top three ranked male players we lost a very close tie 3/2 with the deciding match being 7/6 in the third set to Argentina after our players had two match points. A tough loss but a great effort by the team.

Yes, I admit it - I am officially a recovering Tennis Politician….but it’s not so bad!

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

USTA Florida: USTA Florida Revitalizes AMPLIFY Initiative Bringing Support to Organizations, HBCUs, & More
 

Back in July of 2020, USTA Florida couldn’t sit around any longer and watch as racial inequality was staggered throughout the tennis community. The organization launched the AMPLIFY Project, to engage and boost participation from the Black community in tennis. Now, USTA Florida has revamped the initiative, putting an emphasis on coaches and volunteers, partnerships, and Historically Black Colleges and Universities. 

One area of focus that must be tackled is increasing the number of people, specifically coaches and volunteers, to help teach and organize tennis within black communities. By offering more tennis programs to black communities, there will be growth of participation among black players. “We need to stay active, turn over those rocks and really explore new areas that nontraditional tennis has,” said George Henry, Director of Tennis at Play Tennis Gainesville and member of the AMPLIFY Project Team. 

Read more here.

CRAZY IDEA?

US Open tennis courts in midtown Manhattan? Real estate investors scramble to repurpose planned 61-floor office building's lot across from Madison Square Garden amid 'apocalypse' in corporate real estate

A demolished hotel in Manhattan could give way to US Open tennis courts if one real estate investment trust has its way. Vornado Realty Trust is weighing the construction of tournament-worthy tennis courts at the site of the former Hotel Pennsylvania across Seventh Avenue from Madison Square Garden.

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The lot had been planned for a 61-floor office building, but is second-guessing that proposal due to a sharp decline in demand for corporate real estate in Manhattan following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read more here.

BNP PARIBAS OPEN IN INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA

Special Events

The 2024 BNP Paribas Open will feature a number of amateur and exhibition tennis events interspersed with the two full weeks of ATP and WTA tournament action. Explore these other exciting events taking place the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

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SAFEGUARDING TENNIS

Unveiling Tennis' Silent Crisis: The Urgent Call for Safer Sporting Environments

First part of a series by Rubén Herrera

Rubén Herrera is a former Division I Student-Athlete at Jacksonville State University where he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Science in Business Administration.
Ruben lives in Coblenz, Germany. He loves people, technology, and sports, especially tennis. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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In a recent report, the World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted a staggering statistic - approximately 1 billion children aged 2–17 years globally have experienced physical, sexual, or emotional violence or neglect in the past year, significantly impacting their lifelong health and well-being.

 

Regrettably, the harrowing experiences of players like Adrienne Jensen, Fiona Ferro, and Maximilian Abel serve as stark reminders that our sport is far from safe. No one is immune to its risks.

 

The concept of safe sports has gained traction in recent years, encompassing three core components: anti-doping, anti-corruption, and safeguarding. Today, we hone in on safeguarding, an essential aspect highlighted by the International Tennis Federation (ITF), which asserts that “everyone has the right to enjoy tennis in safe and inclusive environments, free from all forms of harassment, abuse, exploitation and poor practice. Everyone must be vigilant and report any concerns to ensure that children and adults at risk of harm receive effective protection.”

 

The crux of the issue lies in the paradox that while everyone is theoretically responsible for safeguarding, in practice, this responsibility often goes unfulfilled—a phenomenon known as the bystander effect. The tragic case of Kitty Genovese exemplifies the repercussions of bystander inaction, serving as a sobering lesson for us all.

 

Currently, the LTA stands out as a trailblazer in taking concrete steps towards addressing this issue, mandating the presence of a Welfare Officer and Welfare Ambassador—an example from which we can all learn.

 

Moreover, despite the existence of well-crafted policies, procedures, and educational resources by governing bodies such as the ITF and USTA, they often languish unnoticed within the depths of their websites. Furthermore, the absence of mandatory "Safeguard certification" for those working in tennis underscores the sluggish pace of change. My research shows that the USPTA and PTR are offering some solutions. Tennis Europe has a mandatory one-time course on safeguarding for traveling coaches. The USTA has a “Get approved” program which is also a start.

 

Transparency remains another critical challenge, as the true extent of safeguarding efforts and their efficacy often elude scrutiny. However, there are glimmers of progress, such as the USTA's collaboration with Debevoise & Plimpton LLP to review and enhance its protocols for preventing and addressing abuse.

 

The complexity and legal ramifications surrounding safeguarding further compound the issue, leaving many unsure of where to begin or how to proceed. Yet, despite these obstacles, the imperative to create safe environments for our players remains undiminished.

 

Education, prevention, and reporting emerge as the primary pillars of action. Let us start with education.

 

So, what is safeguarding?

Safeguarding, in essence, is the proactive action taken to promote the welfare of athletes and protect them from harm. This multifaceted issue requires a nuanced approach to comprehend and, more importantly, act upon it effectively.

The principles on how to navigate this space will apply to different situations. We need to start by asking better questions and understanding the answers.

 

What is happening? What kind of harm is it?

To address safeguarding concerns, it is crucial to recognize the various forms of harm that can affect people. These include harassment, abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual), neglect, discrimination, hazing, grooming, and bystander inaction. Importantly, these issues are applicable across different situations, emphasizing the universality of safeguarding principles.

 

Who is causing it?

Harm can be inflicted through power relationships (e.g., coach-to-athlete, parent-to-athlete) or peer-to-peer interactions (e.g., teammate-to-teammate).

Where is it taking place?

These incidents may occur both online and offline, necessitating a comprehensive approach to monitoring in both contexts.

 

How can I help?

If a person is in harm, contact the authorities right away. You can also report to the governing body. If it’s an issue like bullying or discrimination, report it within your organization. Have safeguarding policies publicly displayed, and ensure they are known by everyone.

 

In forthcoming discussions, we'll delve into the global landscape of safeguarding, best practices for communities, and actionable steps to protect athletes and staff alike. Additionally, we'll share valuable resources to empower you in this endeavor.

 

In conclusion, by prioritizing safety and demonstrating our commitment to safeguarding, we not only distinguish ourselves as responsible entities but also set the standard for professionalism in our sport. I urge you to share this article within your community, sparking conversations and collective action towards safer sports for all.

Ken De Hart on the recent PTR International Conference at Saddlebrook

USPTA Master Professional and PTR International Master professional Ken DeHart has been teaching tennis for over 30 years at both the recreational and performance level. He was the 8th inductee into the PTR Hall of Fame joining celebrities like Arthur Ashe, Billie Jean King, Dennis Van der Meer, and Dr. Jim Loehr. Based in San Jose, California, Ken is a published writer, having co-authored the original "International Book of Drills" with Dennis Van der Meer and his book, "Mastering your Tennis Game." As a National Tester for the Professional Tennis Registry, he helps train and certify tennis-teaching professionals. He enjoys being a mentor to anyone who loves the game of tennis. Ken is a Charter Member of the PTR and the PPR (Professional Pickleball Registry.) The Director of Racquets at Alpine Hills Tennis and Swimming Club in Portola Valley, CA says, “My goal is to assist in providing continuing education for tennis-teaching professionals and coaches.”

The 40th Annual PTR International Conference in Review!

The PTR was founded in 1976 by Dennis Van der Meer, from educational and instructional necessity. The PTR would grow into the largest international teaching pro organization. Known for its excellent member service, educational pathway, and creativity, it has always been a leader in coach education.

1984 the first PTR Conference was held at the Holiday Inn on Hilton Head Island. Hilton Head is acknowledged worldwide as the home of the PTR and Van der Meer tennis. The term, PTR Conference, was replaced by International Symposium, as termed by Dennis Van der Meer, as a more professional acknowledgement that what happened each year was more than just a conference. The PTR and most recently the PPR has grown tremendously under the leadership of the current staff and team.  That growth creates its own challenges for staff office space and annual symposium requirements.  A decision was made to move to Saddlebrook in Tampa, Fla by the PTR Board.

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This year in 2024, the International Symposium was indeed moved to a venue that once was the leader in top-level tennis development, Saddlebrook Resort. The once-hallowed tennis grounds have become a little outdated, but new ownership has promised to make changes in the near future that will benefit the PTR and PPR in many ways.

Moving to Saddlebrook this year, before all the renovations, did not create a positive image for the almost 700-plus attendees. First impressions are lasting impressions. The resort did not have time to update important features to impress the PTR attendees.

Looking at the glass half full, there are accommodations, 25 clay courts, red clay courts, grass courts, and Padel courts including plans to create a stadium court for future events.

There was an amazing group of speakers for both tennis and pickleball. Each day there were a trifecta of presentations to attend both on court and off court. James Blake, Mike Barrell, Doug Cash, Emma Wells, AJ Pant, Butch Staples, Tom Ruth, Carl Maes, Nick Saviano, Dean Hollingsworth, Len Simard, Leo Alonso, Mark McMahon and Ivo Karlovic to name of few. In addition to the Conference presenters, there were several PTR Master Classes that focused on specific courses of interest for the PTR attendees. 

The International Conference Opening Ceremony is a PTR tradition to honor the international roots of the PTR and those who annually attend. The Parade of Nations features a country's flag followed by that country's representatives, a PTR tradition. The PTR Trade Show is an important feature of the PTR week event.  It was a sell-out with a waiting list in a spacious conference room. There were vendors from most tennis, pickleball, tennis services, PTM programs, and IT services from the industry.

Monday night's opening act featured an International Master Pro meeting, a VIP reception, and the Head Welcome Party that allowed long-time PTR friends to reconnect and meet new attendees to the 40th PTR International Conference.  It was announced, somewhat surprisingly, during the PTR update that Saddlebrook would become the new PTR International Headquarters.  This news came as a bit of a shock to most of the attendees who had such a deep love for the history and glory of Hilton Head Island and the PTR for 38 of the 40 symposium-year history.

On Tuesday evening, a very efficient but effective Awards Dinner was held followed by DJ-driven music and dancing.  Simon Gale, from the USTA National Campus, was honored as the PTR Pro of the Year.

The 8 original Master Professionals were recognized as well as all the current International Master Professionals. Patricia Markova from Slovakia and the late John Powless were introduced as a new PTR International Master Professional that evening. Tennis greats, Mary Pierce and James Blake were highlighted for their contribution to the PTR and the Tennis Industry.

Added features included a $25,000 PTRW Tournament on the clay courts of Saddlebrook.  The morning was a USTA/PTR sponsored Awards Breakfast, a duo of speakers each hour, Cardio Triples with Michele Krause, and a DJ'd party with dancing to close the tennis part of the 2024 PTR International Conference.  Thursday's schedule included PTR Level 1 Certification, semi-finals of the PTRW  $25,000 women's tournament, Padel lectures, and the KK&W Business Program. Friday through Sunday included level 1 certification for PTR, PPR, PCR as well as the completion of the WTA Pro Circuit event.

The week in review:

*Presenters were high level

*Saddlebrook was excited to host the PTR Conference and become the host site for the PTR going forward.

*Getting to and from the presentations indoors and outdoors required quite a walk.  To accommodate, presentations were only 40 minutes to allow moving to the next presentations.

*Accommodations were spotty, and a bit antiquated in some situations.

*Hotel staff were not adequately prepared to register guests efficiently with only 1 person at the desk in most situations.

*Parking was not an easy experience for PTR attendees who drove to the event or rented a car.

*Transportation from the Tampa Airport featured a shuttle for $55 or Uber for about $60 plus dollars and required quite a travel time commitment.

*Having only 1 small restaurant to service lunchtime or evening patronizing by PTR attendees was challenging at best because of limited space and staff.

*Directions to accommodations and routes to presentations required lots of getting familiar with - a lot due to just the new environment I am sure.

*The PTR Trade Show required leaving the main building and walking to another building but that building was spacious enough to accommodate a record number of the sold-out venue.

*The PTR Staff are always the best, servicing registration, questions, and directions with a friendly smile.

*Name badges were effective and the lanyards indicated a participant's level of achievement in some situations, ie, IMP, presenter, etc.

*As expected, many PTR members missed the Hilton Head experience as part of the PTR International Conference.

*There were several USTA staff and officials at the event including USPTA representatives.

*The PTR is currently the only USTA-accredited teaching pro organization.

*There were many PTR banners placed around the Saddlebrook grounds.

*There are plans to add padel courts to the resort.

*Who from the experienced PTR Staff will make the transition from Hilton Head to Tampa and continue to preserve the PTR experience?

 

2024 Overall evaluation: 

1. Quality-related topics and presenters were a plus.

2. The new owners have plans calling for major renovation and expansion.

3. The Hilton Head experience will be sorely missed, including the ghost of Dennis Van der Meer shadowing his dream - the PTR on the Island.

4. Final results will be confirmed from the Conference Evaluations by the attendees and we will wait and see on promises made.

 

Your opinion is appreciated,

 

Thanks to all my friends, 

 

Ken DeHart

Found on Facebook

VERY INTERESTING POINTS FROM ARNAUD CLEMENT ABOUT THE FRENCH FEDERATION'S YOUTH TRAINING PROGRAM

Arnaud Clément is a French former professional tennis player and Davis Cup captain. Clément reached the final of the 2001 Australian Open and achieved a career-high ranking of world No. 10 in April of that year. Partnering Michaël Llodra in men's doubles, he won Wimbledon in 2007 and two Masters titles.

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Arnaud Clement posted:

Young players are not building themselves well, trying to make them become the absolute best at 8-9 years old, 9-10 years old, 11-12 years old, sending them systematically to international tournaments. That's my opinion. You don't build a player like a robot. Today the FFT has a plan: at this age it’s done like this, there are many hours and many tournaments, in this category there are even more hours and more tournaments. There is even talk of increasing working hours for 6-7 year olds... Tennis is evolving, I know, but kids are not being thought about. With the idea of absolutely wanting a guy who wins Roland Garros, you manage to disgust children who will probably disappear very quickly. The decline in practitioners could also be due to this.

11-12 yr olds are 11-12 hours weekly tennis training for the best, with pressure on aids that will be cancelled or reduced in case the child does not want to participate in the program. You can't do the same with everyone, it can't be a rule. (... )

We also forget to educate and explain to parents that in 95% of cases the child will not become a professional and will not earn a living playing tennis. We're not honest enough about this. Frustration and detachment can be generated, without it being a training experience.

You need to forget the champion you absolutely want to have. In the federal discourse, the words “game” and “fun” are no longer used. The goal is to win, that is all. But tennis at the base isn’t this. And the game, the fun and the winning is incomparable either! And to be honest, all three go together. You need to find your passion again, to make it a pleasant and educational journey. You don't play sports to earn millions and become pro.”

Prise Marteau

@arnaudclementofficiel, extracted from an interview given to L’EQUIPE: bit.ly/31HoWBO. #patremondegui #tennis #tennislove #tennislife #tennisprocess #tennislearning #tennislife

Tennis celebrity and two-times Australian Open Singles Champion Johan Kriek chimed in:

"So true! I never played to make money. When I saw my first SAB Open at Ellispark in Johannesburg at age 15 and I saw Connors and Co I knew this is what I was destined to do. So I left SA for Austria when I was 17.

The constant training and tournaments at a very young age is not ideal. Kids need to be kids too! A delicate balance to keep them “wanting it”. I know, I have an 11 and a 13-year-old. Not easy…."

Changing of the Guard at the USPTA Native American Task Force

 

After 4 years from 2020 until 2024, Craig Bell's tenure as the USPTA's Native American Task Force Leader has come to an end. The Native American Task Force is one of 7 USPTA DE&I initiatives together with the  Women's Task Force, Asian-American Task Force, Hispanic Task Force, LGBTQ + Task Force, Adaptive Task Force, and African American Task Force.

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Who is Craig Bell?

If you don't know Craig Bell, you must have been living under the proverbial rock for the last 5 decades. That's 50 years, folks, considering he started out working for the Woodlake Racquet Club in Oklahoma City in 1974!

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Craig's list of credentials is (almost) as long as Ken De Hart's! And that does says something. Here it goes:

 

Craig Bell

  • USPTA Native American Task Force Leader (2020-2024) 

  • Proud Member of the Chickasaw Nation

  • At The Net Podcast, Co-host

  • USPTA Master Professional

  • USPTA Pickleball Professional 

  • PTR Tennis Professional

  • PPR Pickleball Professional

  • USRSA MRT

  • Director of Racquet 

How Craig became the USPTA Native American Task Force Leader

Craig says, "I saw some correspondence sent out by John (Embree) at the beginning of 2020 (I think) about all the great DE&I Task Forces that were being set up and who the leadership was and all the great things that they were doing.  I wrote back and said something like, "Hey, where are the Native Americans in this group - how come we are being excluded??"  John wrote back and said he didn't realize I was Native American and would I be the Task Force Leader. I thought to myself, why not as I called out USPTA for not recognizing the Native Americans, then I better put my money where my mouth is! And that's how I became the Native American Task Force Leader and have been doing so for the last 4 years."

From the USPTA website:  The USPTA recognizes and appreciates diversity and inclusion within the game of tennis and its membership of tennis professionals. By promoting the USPTA as a more diverse and inclusive organization, we will enrich the sport of tennis and add a deeper, richer, and broader experience for everyone. Diversity and inclusion permit the USPTA and its members to embrace the world and also allow the organization to reflect its society.

Craig Bell: "I always try and do my best, if I'm going to be involved with a project\group\association - especially if I'm in a leadership position.  And since there was no paved road for the Native American Task Force that I was aware of, I figured we needed to really help get the word out and about concerning all the great things that are going on that don't get reported in the "mainstream" media!  Zoom meetings to get members talking to each other, newsletters, spotlights, podcasts, encouraging them to speak, mentor other tennis professionals out there, put out that you are a Proud Member of your Native American nation - mine is Chickasaw and I'm really proud to be a 4th Generation member from the Dawes Tribal Roles with my Grandfather, 7 generations ago being the Chief - Levi Colbert.  I couldn't let him down!

 

Happy to help bring more visibility to all those out there making a difference in their neck of the woods!"  

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Craig Bell: "My thought when I started as the Native American Task Force Leader was to (1) identify who the Native American tennis pro's were across the US - I didn't really know who was Native American - I now know a few more than I did 4 years ago; (2) spotlight all the things that Native American pro's were doing as most are off in obscurity not getting recognized (nationally) for the many great things they are doing to help their communities and (3) keep the lines of communication open between every USPTA pro who is Native American - especially those who want to be a little more involved."

Craig Bell: "I think we've identified about 50 or thereabout, USPTA Native American tennis professionals across the US.  Over the years, I have hosted a couple of Native American Zoom meetings, we had a newsletter spotlighting Native American tennis pros and we have hosted various Native American pros on our At The Net Podcast."  

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Some of the goals Craig developed back in 2021

a. Get the word out about USPTA Native American tennis professionals

             * write articles in the USPTA monthly magazine promoting Native American tennis

             * speak at upcoming Division conferences\conventions

b. Provide mentorship to any upcoming Native American tennis professionals

c. Each person on this Task Force reaches out to their nations\tribes to see what they can do to advance tennis within their respective nations\tribes

d. Ask each person to start\develop a social media platform\podcasts, if they haven’t already, and start tagging posts such as: #nativeamericantennis #usptanativeamericantennisprofessionals

Craig Bell: "It's certainly been enjoyable to get to know many of my USPTA Native American tennis professional brethren - through the Zoom meetings to newsletter articles to our podcast, I think we've met some really great people out there trying to make a difference in their own part of the world.  I do wish USPTA National would do a little more "spotlighting" Native American pros. I enjoyed my time as the Native American Task Force Leader. I really didn't know what to expect from the Task Force but mostly, who the USPTA pros were that identified as Native American, like myself.   It was interesting and hopefully, I helped get the conversation going about all the great things that USPTA Native American pros were doing for the Great Game."

NEXT MONTH

We'll hopefully be able to speak with the new USPTA Native American Task Force Leader Pete Peterson and get his views and plans.

INTRODUCING WTCT AND THEIR RECENT SAN DIEGO WORKSHOP

Women Teaching & Coaching Tennis

(WTCT)

The Mission  

Women Teaching & Coaching Tennis (WTCT) is a not-for-profit organization whose primary mission is to encourage, mentor, train and educate women of all ages who are interested in or currently teach and coach tennis at all levels. We are women who have played professionally, taught and coached high school and college tennis as well as coached touring professionals. Read the article.

“I advocate for tennis and our constituents”

USTA SoCal Director – Engagement & Industry Relations Nancy Abrams at the 2024 PTR Racquet Conference after recently justifying throwing thousands of San Fernando Valley tennis players under the bus and celebrating the closure of 16 perfect tennis courts.

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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: Joel Drucker

Three fun and informative sets with our favorite living scribe and #tennis #historian Joel Drucker!

1. His beginnings as a tennis player and as a writer.

2. Insights on recreational adult tennis and sage advice on #juniortennis

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.42: What's good for your heart is good for your club- with Michele Krause from Cardio Tennis!

Tune in for a heart pumping episode of Vida Tennis featuring Michele Krause, co-founder and global expert of Cardio Tennis! As the founder of InTENNsity Fitness and a Cardio Tennis consultant for the USTA, Michele brings a wealth of experience. Featured on Tennis Channel's one-minute clinics and reality shows like Bulging Brides,  and The Biggest Loser, Michele is an international speaker and trainer, conducting over 500 educational courses in tennis and fitness worldwide.

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VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.43: From the courts to the course, we are one and the same- with Megan Padua Buzza!

Dive into a new Vida Tennis episode as we hit the links and welcome Megan Padua Buzza, who I know from my time at the Maidstone Club where she was the head pro for junior golf for 15 years!
Megan holds certifications from both the PGA and LPGA, a testament to her expertise. Recognized as a Top 50 LPGA Teacher and one of Golf Digest’s Best Young Teachers in America, Megan is also distinguished as a Top 50 Growth of the Game elite

VIDA TENNIS PODCAST

Epi.44: How to create memorable experiences- with Robyn Duda from RacquetX!

Dive into the latest episode of Vida Tennis, where we're thrilled to host Robyn Duda, the co-founder and managing director of RacquetX. Robyn's expertise in event strategy has earned her accolades from globally recognized brands like Coca-Cola, Spotify, Visa, and IBM. As the founder of Robyn Duda Creative and The Change the Stage Initiative, she's committed to amplifying underrepresented voices in the events industry. 

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

Funding a Pro Career ft. Jamie Loeb

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 4 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. Former NCAA Women’s Singles Champion, Jamie Loeb, joins me this week to discuss her transition from junior tennis to an outstanding career at the University of North Carolina to her current status on the WTA Tour.

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

Brand Building to Offset Tennis Costs ft. Anthony & Gwyneth Britton

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 5 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. https://parentingaces.com/articles/brand-building-to-offset-tennis-costs-ft-anthony-gwyneth-britton/

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PARENTING ACES PODCAST

Rally Hopper ft. Ken Bright

Welcome to Season 13 Episode 6 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. They say necessity is the mother of invention. This week’s guest, inventor and CPA Ken Bright, definitely supports that statement!

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Quinn Gleason Interview: WTA vs ITF, College Tennis vs Pro, & Lessons from the US Open

Quinn Gleason is the WTA's #107 ranked doubles player. She reached the top 100 for the first time in 2023. Quinn played college tennis at Notre Dame. I chatted with Quinn during the Australian Open while she was wrapping up some off-season training.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Net Play Strategy AMA: Improving Reactions, Lob Coverage, Transition Volleys, & More

This is an AMA (ask me anything) episode on net play strategy. My new Masterclass on net play strategy for doubles is live and on sale through Sunday so I wanted to answer your questions on the topic to kick off the launch.

I answer 7 of your questions about net play including:

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Will Blumberg Interview: In-Match Adjustments, Tiebreaker Advice, & Partnership Adjustments

Will Blumberg is the #93 ranked doubles player on the ATP Tour. He was a 10-time All-American at North Carolina and made the finals of the 2024 Dallas Open where this conversation was recorded. Will and I sat down on his day off in Dallas to discuss his career, the pro doubles tour, and strategy.

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WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST

Neal Skupski Interview: Practice Drills, Scouting Opponents, & Mixed Doubles

Neal Skupski is one of the best doubles players in the world over the last several years. He's a 3-time Wimbledon Champion, winning 2 mixed titles (2021, 22) and 1 men's title (2023), former world #1, and a recent Australian Open mixed doubles finalist. 

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HERE TO SERVE PODCAST

Episode 110

Join Laura Bowen and USTA Florida Board President-Elect, Chuck Gill on this episode of Here to Serve. Learn why he first got involved with tennis, what made him want to serve on the USTA Florida Board of Directors, and much more. The USTA Florida and USTA Florida Foundation Board of Directors application is now live and we want you to apply!

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HERE TO SERVE PODCAST

Episode 111

On this episode of Here to Serve, USTA Florida Executive Director, Laura Bowen is joined by Florida A&M University Tennis Head Coach Rochelle "Nikki" Houston and Play Tennis Gainesville Director of Tennis George Henry, who coached at Bethune-Cookman, another HBCU. Learn about the rich history of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Florida, how the landscape for them is expanding, and how tennis at these colleges and universities has developed over the last 75 years.

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Hot Tennis Topics with Max & German

Max Weishan and German Ziella debate about who is the best 19 year old to ever play pro tennis, drug enhancements, and more! Enjoy the episode and let us know your thoughts down below!

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Pro Stringer Matt Previdi on Racquet and String Technology

Matt Previdi is the man when it comes to all things strings and racquets. He talks about how he strung Nadal's racquets, what kind of strings are a best fit for you and so much more! If you want to follow his Facebook page Unstrung Heroes here's the link:

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Director of Performance Mind UCSD - Brian Alexander

Brian is a USA Olympic Waterpolo player who turned his sports career into a Certified Mental Performance Consultant. Brian works at UCSD with all of their sports programs and works with so many talented athletes. He also has his own practice for athletes of all ages. Listening to his story and experience really shows his passion

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Body Health with Sidney Lowry

Sidney Lowry sits down with Jenna and Conan and talks all about body health and recovery. We cover stretching to major injuries. Listen for those key stretches to keep your body healthy.

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Pro Tennis Umpire Bob Christianson

Bob is a retired Pro Tennis Umpire and served for about 44 years. He has chaired a number of pro matches in his day such as Conners, McEnroe, and many more. Hear his stories and input on official rules in tennis.

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TENNIS PROS OF
SAN DIEGO UNMATCHED

Tennis Professional Rudy Rodriguez

Rudy has done some amazing things throughout his life and tennis was always the center. Hear his amazing story and journey.

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2024 PTR Int'l Racquet Conference
We had an amazing time at the PTR International Raquets Conference!! Did you catch our Infinity Play System out there?

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Yoga for Tennis Players with Margot B.

Margit Bannon, USPTA tennis pro and Yoga Alliance yoga teacher reviews OnCourt OffCourt's Foldable Yoga Mat.

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Atlanta Tennis Podcast

10 Minutes of Tennis

THE 5 ELEMENTS OF TENNIS

@shaunjboyce talks to world-renowned tennis coach Justin Yeo, Australian in Puerto Rico, about the FIVE elements of tennis: Physical, Tactical, Technical, Emotional, and Mental.

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Andy Dowsett: System 9

6 EASY STEPS IN LEARNING THE SERVE

In this video, Andy Dowsett shows you how your child/player can learn how to serve in easy steps, leaving you with the correct fundamentals throughout. 🎾 Check out our blog for full notes on how to teach this stroke: https://system-9.com/6-easy-stages-learning-serve/

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

It's #QuickTipTuesday! Tennis industry expert Greg Lappin explains why networking is important and gives tips on how to make it happen.

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

#QuickTipTuesday! USPTA Master Professional Emilio Sanchez demonstrates how to best make use of the backhand slice 

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USPTA: CERTIFICATION

More Level 2 - Professional workshops are on the way! Get certified to teach tennis full-time at a workshop near you. Register for a workshop in the first quarter of the year.

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

USPTA director of education and certification, Ramona Husaru, shares her technique on how to properly maintain a two-handed backhand grip. 

USPTA: Addvantage

February's virtual issue of Addvantage is here!
Hear from our new CEO, understand his priorities, see your membership benefits and more

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USPTA: QUICK TIP TUESDAY

We heard your feedback, and we're proud to announce we brought a Level 1 - Instructor certification workshop to an in-person format in Orlando this week! See our current lineup of Level 1 certification workshops

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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 2 + 16   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, 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 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

PPR Pickleball Calendar

PCR Padel Certification Calendar
USPTA Pickleball Calendar

USPTA Padel Certification Calendar

USPTA Platform Exam Calendar

USPTA Division Conference Calendar

Here’s a Complete Guide to the Charlize Theron-Led Star-Studded Event Ahead of Indian Wells Showdown

April

April 1, 2, 3   USPTA Level 2 In Person, Hutchinson, KS, Register

April 2 + 16   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 4 + 11   PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 4 + 18   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 6 + 7 PTR Level 1 In Person, Reston, VA, Register

April 6 + 20   USPTA Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 8,9,10   USPTA Level 2 In Person, Boynton Beach, FL, Register

April 9,10,11  USPTA Level 2 In Person, West Des Moines, IA, Register

April 12,13,14  USPTA Level 2 In Person, Cumming, GA, Register

April 13 + 14 PTR Level 1 In Person, San Diego, CA, Register

April 13 + 14 PTR Level 1 In Person, Owensboro, KY, Register

April 13 + 20   PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 16 + 23   PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 19,20,21  USPTA Level 2 In Person, Aurora, IL, Register

April 19 + 26   PTR Level 1 Via Zoom, Register

April 20 + 21 PTR Level 1 In Person, Franklin, TN, Register

April 20 + 21 PTR Level 1 In Person, Wheaton, IL, Register

April 20 + 21 PTR Level 1 In Person, Stratton Mountain, VT, Register

April 27 + 28 PTR Level 1 In Person, Steamboat Springs, CO, Register

April 20,21,22  USPTA Level 2 In Person, La Jolla, CA, Register

April 24,25,26  USPTA Level 2 In Person, Berkeley, CA, Register

April 26 + 27 PTR Level 1 In Person, Cumming, GA, Register

April 26,27,28  USPTA Level 2 In Person, Cherry Hills Village, CO, Register

April 27 + 28 PTR Level 1 In Person, Fort Walton Beach, FL, Register

April 27 + 28 PTR Level 1 In Person, Fremont, CA, Register

April 27 + 28 PTR Level 1 In Person, Springfield, MO, Register

April 29,30, May 1  USPTA Level 2 In Person, Wilmington, DE, Register

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

WHAT IS YOUR RACQUET SPORT OF CHOICE?

Do you and/or your clientele play only tennis as your racquet sport of choice?

Takes less than a minute to reply.

Do it now!

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BE A VALUED PRO AND PROVIDE BOTH INSTRUCTION AND MATCHMAKING

A Tennis Pro is a Facilitator on a Mission​

Despite some of the naysayers, tennis is still a healthy and viable business.  The demand for lessons, equipment, and court time is still growing, slower than in the past, but still growing.  The number one concern now is with all the new racket sports coming into the scene, we tennis pros, just like on the competitive court, must raise our games.  With these new upstart racket sports, the competition for the customer is on, and those who will come out on top are quickly learning that the overall value of their service is premium. 

Read the article.

BIG ONCOURT OFFCOURT GIVEAWAY

 

OnCourt OffCourt Product Donations

 

OnCourt OffCourt product donations can be sent to you by the case pack/carton. We are not charging you for the products, however, we will bill you for the cost of shipping about 30 days after you receive your order along with a $3 per case pack (carton) handling fee. 

 

If you would like an estimate of the shipping cost, please let us know and provide your shipping address.

 

Below is a list of the available products, please email victoria@oncourtoffcourt.com (and copy kalindi@oncourtoffcourt.com) with the list of which products you would like from the attached and the quantities (please stick to case pack quantities - the minimum we can ship is 1 case pack) and your shipping address.

Oncourt Offcourt's Free Educational Offerings

 

Our blog: https://blog.oncourtoffcourt.com/

 

Our game changers webinars: https://go.oncourtoffcourt.com/game-changers-club/

 

Free trainings: https://go.oncourtoffcourt.com/

 

Free YouTube videos: https://youtube.com/@OncourtOffcourt?si=XjO3j96MRhiGJQ6b

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THE IMPACT OF 'ED' ON TENNIS

It is time for the tennis community to adopt a tennis-related ED mindset

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This article recommends that city, state, or regional tennis clusters implement economic development (ED) principles into their operations to stimulate growth and improve the tennis experience for players.

Over the past six decades, there were only two short periods of significantly increased tennis participation - after the Battle of the Sexes in 1973 and a result of COVID-related policies in 2020. Neither growth spurt occurred because of intentional industry programs or ED efforts to stimulate tennis participation.

Read the article.

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A Day in the Life of a Professional Tennis Coach

By Mark Gellard of First Strike Tennis

First Strike Tennis was founded in 2013 by renowned tennis coach Mark Gellard, who has spent the last 15+ years training the world’s most elite tennis players. Mark has provided his services to both the Kazakhstan Tennis Federation (KTF) and the prestigious ‘Star River Team’ in China, as well as working with some of the most successful players in the world including Martina Hingis, Kristina Kucova, Melinda Czink, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Zarina Diyas, Danka Kovinic, Panna Udvardy, Shelby Rogers, and Magda Linette.

Mark obtained a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Alabama where he played NCAA division 1 tennis, and has subsequently become one of the few professional tennis coaches in the world to also become a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the NSCA.

 

He currently sits as a member on the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) CPAC where he works to improve the status of the professional tour through a multitude of projects.

A Day in the Life of a Professional Tennis Coach

 

As a professional tennis coach on the WTA tour, my journey alongside Polish player Magda Linette for the past six years has been a whirlwind of evolution and growth. The tennis landscape is ever-changing, demanding that both players and coaches adapt and improve continuously. In this article, I aim to shed light on the day-to-day life of coaches on the tour, offering insights and guidance for aspiring coaches looking to hone their craft and potentially make their mark on the ATP or WTA circuit.

Staying Present and Focused

In the fast-paced world of professional tennis, results matter. High performance is synonymous with winning, making it essential for coaches to maintain focus on the present moment. Instead of worrying about future attributes or qualifications, concentrate on the here and now. Develop a clear coaching philosophy centered around mental, physical, technical, or tactical aspects of the game and continually refine it to perfection.

Vision and Modern Technologies

A successful coach must possess a vision not only for themselves but also for the players they guide. Utilize modern technologies such as video analysis and scientifically proven protocols to enhance training sessions and performance assessments.

Having a well-defined plan is crucial; each day presents an opportunity for improvement, and arriving on the court prepared is non-negotiable.

Embracing the Law of Marginal Gains

The principle of the law of marginal gains suggests that significant improvements can arise from minor, incremental enhancements across various areas. Strive to identify opportunities for a 1% improvement in every aspect of coaching, knowing that collectively, these small gains can lead to substantial progress for the player. Consistent dedication to growth and refinement is key.

Paving the Path to Professional Coaching

For aspiring coaches dreaming of a career on the professional tour, commitment to personal development and continuous learning is paramount.

Embrace opportunities to gain experience at all levels of the game, seeking mentorship from seasoned professionals and immersing oneself in the intricacies of coaching.

Stay resilient in the face of challenges and setbacks, knowing that each obstacle presents a chance for growth.

In conclusion, the journey of a professional tennis coach is one of perpetual growth, adaptation, and dedication. By staying present, embracing innovation, and committing to constant improvement, aspiring coaches can pave their path to success in the dynamic world of professional tennis coaching.

 

Mark Gellard B.S.B.A., C.S.C.S.

Mark@FirstStrikeTennis.com

www.FirstStrikeTennis.com

+(1)-561-900-4191

Mark Your Calendars

WEBINAR! SMARTER COACHING FOR THE 21ST CENTURY

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Our webinars offer firsthand insights from top-tier coaches actively working with the world’s leading tennis players.

March 15th and 16th from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Zoom Meeting

Baseline Vision - Remarkable New Product For Tennis

I received the Baseline Vision unit late last year, and it was only last weekend that I had the opportunity to test it. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, I was unable to do so earlier. But I am glad to finally have the chance to evaluate its capabilities. The main purpose of acquiring this unit was to assess its accuracy in making line calls. I believe that if the price becomes more affordable, companies like Conga Sports, could greatly benefit from incorporating this device into our new flagship program, City Slams® Team Tennis Tournaments, which we plan to expand to 150 markets nationwide.

Read the review.

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Master Your Digital Presence: Transform Your Website with

Elevated Branding and Cutting Edge-Tech 

By Ashley Owens

In this digital age, establishing a strong online presence is no longer a luxury. It’s a necessity! Especially for new sports clubs that have to compete with a saturation of competition everywhere. But just any old website won’t do these days.

 

Your digital presence is your first hello, so making a memorable first impression is key. Having both a clear branding identity and an easy-to-use website that streamlines your memberships, reservations, events/programming, instructor schedulers for lesson booking, and more should be your new golden standard.

 

But web development agencies and contractors can set you back thousands of dollars. So, utilizing an all-in-one club/instructor management and reservation software that provides the tools you need to create a website can be a huge money AND time saver (less back and forth with a contractor!).  

 

Because let’s be honest: a lot of us aren’t web designers, and as busy sports club entrepreneurs or instructors, we need something foolproof and straightforward when it comes to building a website. That’s why it’s important to employ a software system that allows you to create website content seamlessly.

 

Create a Branded Online Portal

For a branded website, consider software that provides an easy-to-use website builder tool, like an Online Portal. Clubs and instructors should opt for a platform that offers Reservation Schedulers, Instructor Schedulers, Membership Registration Sign-Up Forms, Announcements, the ability to embed video, photo, and text content, and more! Customization via colors, logo uploads, and fonts also helps strengthen a business’s brand identity, so finding a system that allows for personalization is optimal.

 

Utilizing Widgets

But maybe you already have or want a completely custom website built to share with your players. More power to you! You can still simplify the website creation process with the advent of Widgets–tiny pieces of external code that you can embed into your website. 

 

Widgets present a unique opportunity to take advantage of useful features you won’t have to build from scratch with a web developer. Software systems that include Widget capabilities, like Schedulers, Membership Registration Sign-Up Forms, Events Calendars, and more can transform your website into a hub of efficiency for both your players and staff. 

 

Scheduler Widgets

Scheduler Widgets are indispensable for sports clubs, offering simplified reservation management for courts, lessons, events, and beyond. With intuitive interfaces that are accessible via your website (and mobile!), clubs can efficiently accept bookings, optimize instructor scheduling for lessons, and manage events smoothly. 

 

Membership Registration Sign-Up Form Widget
A Membership Registration Sign-Up Form Widget is an invaluable tool for sports clubs that want to seamlessly intake memberships, as well as capture and store vital member data. Through customizable fields, clubs/instructors can tailor the registration process to fit their unique needs. 

 

Events Calendar Widgets

Events Calendar Widgets allow clubs to centralize practice sessions, matches, and social events in one place. This further simplifies coordination, eliminating scheduling headaches for all!

 

In today's modern world, people seek convenience, accessibility, and engagement, and having a robust online platform is key to meeting these expectations. However, creating an aesthetically pleasing website that reflects your tailored branding can help you become a household name in your community. 

 

And that’s where we step in! Head over to CourtReserve to discover our Online Portal (website builder tool) and Widgets that can help transform any bland website into a captivating digital masterpiece that leaves a lasting impression AND drives foot traffic and sales to your business!

'Inside Tennis' Faux Pas - Did LMU not want to spring for an ad or did Bill Simons not like a player's passport?

 

 

The "SoCal College Digest" section of Inside Tennis's COOKOO FOR COCO issue listed a bunch of players but conveniently forgot the one with a Russian passport who happens to be one of the most highly decorated and promising LMU players: Veronika Miroshnichenko, coached by Susan Nardi.

 

Susan wrote to Bill Simons, "In your last issue, you mentioned several local college players who have gone on to the pros. There was no mention of LMU recent graduate Veronika Miroshnichenko. She was named LMU Female Athlete of the Year 2023. Then after getting her Masters goes and wins a 60K in Alabama the next week. Currently ranked 312 WTA singles. Double wise she won 6 titles last year. Currently, her doubles ranking is 209.

 

BTW... Veronika has done all of this with her Grandparents getting bombed in Ukraine.

See the article about her: "I will throw away my Russian passport": the tennis player born in Moscow considers herself a Ukrainian, currently changing her citizenship.

 

Now you know all about this amazing young lady."

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"Best Andy Roddick, Nick Kyrgios & Andy Roddick impression ever" according to The Tennis Channel. You be the judge.

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Online Finds - Reader Comments - Outrageous News

Reader Comment: Cymbiotica San Diego Open

 

"There is literally no one in the stands for any matches in San Diego. It’s on now 9:30 pm Pacific Time. Empty stadium. Maybe give away tickets to every girl's team in the area. Awful optics."

 

Reader Comment: US Open Ticket Prices

 

"I have to say out of the political fray but you are so right about tickets, USTA, and kids. A lot of us know it but have to kiss the ring."

LinkedIn Post by Tony Grassadonia: Video "Why Isn't Tennis As Popular In USA As It Was In The 80s & 90s?

 

"Totally true and there is way more. I would say that extremely lousy caliber “pros” in the USA has had a lot to do with this, for the past several decades, and it’s only gotten worse. All respect, but even the the guy or gal making french fries at McDonald’s knows how to actually make the fries. As well has had some form of professional training. Not to mention, has worked a lot of hours in the field. Again, no metric used. Completely ridiculous and embarrassing.

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Reader Comment: Pickleball Participation Numbers

 

"Hi Rich,  I found this and thought you might be interested. It seems to me to be a much more reliable source than others that claim 34 million pickleballers."


PICKLEBALL GROWS 52% AS AMERICANS INCREASE ACTIVITY IN 2023: DATA VIZ

ATP Press Release: ATP & PIF announce multi-year strategic partnership to accelerate the growth of global tennis

 

I can't wait for Martina Navratilova to chime in on the Saudi Sovereign Wealth Fund's involvement in ATP tennis.

Do you like our content? If you do so, please consider supporting us.  For as little as $1 a month, you can help ensure the long-term future of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS.

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