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
Hi from Riza Zalameda from West Palm Beach, Florida
Hello, I am Riza Zalameda, a former WTA top 70 world-ranked doubles pro, an 8-time All-American at UCLA and a two-time NCAA champion. I am based in West Palm Beach, FL, and travel to my clientele for tennis and pickleball lessons. I mainly host fun group tennis experiences, like “swinging socials” and destination tennis trips so that everyone can play no matter the occasion.
With over ten years of coaching experience and PTR and USPTA L2 certifications, I have worked with students of all ages and levels. My passion for coaching stems from the wide range of places I’ve lived and the experiences I’ve been lucky to have: from New York City, leading the women’s tennis team at Columbia University, to Necker Island in the Caribbean, curating lasting memories teaching Sir Richard Branson and his guests. I take great pleasure in seeing my students' sweaty smiles across the tennis court, and I believe in the power of tennis to bring friends and families together.
RELIEF FOR MAUI
From a post by Laura Bowen, ED of USTA Florida
I applaud Laura for bringing this avenue of helping the victims of the Maui fires to our attention. She posted, "Looking for a way to help people impacted by the Maui fires? Please consider donating to the National Association of REALTORS® Relief Foundation, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit. You can have confidence that every penny donated will go to those in need. Realtors always stand ready to rebuild communities, no matter how difficult the situation."
Our hearts go out to the people of Maui as they recover from the tragic fires. When disasters strike…REALTORS® respond. Donate now to the REALTOR® Relief Foundation by texting TEAMRRF to 71777 or by going to http://spr.ly/6043P9HUW.
MAUI TEACHING PROS NEED HELP FAST
Ron Romano of the USTA Hawaii Pacific Section told me:
"We have 3 teaching pros who lost their homes and several that are out of work. The Royal Lahaina Tennis Ranch is temporarily closed. The tennis clubs and tennis resorts in the middle of the island and on the Wailea side of the island are all okay.
Cathy Nicoloff, USPTA Hawaii Division President, and I are doing a Go Fund Me to support our teaching pros on Maui. We've raised about $15,000 in 3 days. I am also working with the USTA to help support our tennis providers/teaching pros on Maui during this very tough time. I am optimistic that they will do something. Here is the link to the Go Fund Me.
The stories are heartbreaking. I am making more calls to the pros today to see how we can help them."
My take: Ron is doing his part. All we can do is send money. We have 10,000 readers. If 10% are sending 100 bucks.... Just saying.
TOGETHER WITH Conga Sports
Re: Transgender issues have arrived in Tennis Land (as I predicted 5 years ago)
The USTA's Transgender Inclusion Policy seems to be woefully misguided and threatening USTA's tournaments and leagues. Everybody with a logical thinking mind can see that. Martina Navratilova chimes in.
Many news outlets reported on this issue but Marija Zivlak of Women's Tennis Blog said it best in her article "Navratilova slams USTA for inclusion of transgenders: “Women’s tennis is not for failed male athletes."
What Marija and Navratilova are referring to is a story that appeared on Fox News: "Tennis official in Wyoming resigns in protest of trans athlete's participation in women's category."
It continues, "The president of a Wyoming tennis association has resigned in protest of the organization's decision to allow a transgender college athlete to participate in the 2023 Wyoming Governor’s Cup, citing fair competition." That (former) president is Jackie Fulkrod. She's being quoted as saying, ""I think a man playing against a woman is a very unfair matchup when it’s specifically meant for women in that specific draw," Fulkrod told the outlet. "I feel like having a transgender athlete compete in the women’s draw is against my personal integrity and what I believe and value."
Navratilova’s comment on X (formerly Twitter) was to a post from Independent Council on Women’s Sports (ICONS) co-founder Kim Shasby Jones who urged tennis organizations to change their approach, triggered by the news that Alicia Rowley, born as a male, reportedly won the women’s 55+ Grass Court National Championships and National Indoor Singles and Doubles Championship.
Our readers, of course, know why Martina chimed in and what made her criticize the USTA so decisively.
The USTA’s transgender inclusion policy states that trans athletes can compete in the women’s category if they have "declared that her gender identity is female" and that "the declaration cannot be changed, for sporting purposes, for a minimum of four years."
The policy also requires athletes undergo hormonal therapy "for a sufficient length of time to minimize gender-related advantages in sport competitions." (quote from Fox News)
The article says, "The tennis legend, who also fights for keeping people born as males out of women’s restrooms, insists that having trans women compete against biological women is not fair," and quotes her, "Come on USTA – women’s tennis is not for failed male athletes – whatever age. This is not right and it is not fair. Would this be allowed at the US Open this month? Just with self-ID? I don’t think so…"
Kim Shasby Jones
What triggered Martina's reaction was this comment from Jones: "Women’s tennis is turning into a laughing stock because of these terrible policies prioritizing the mental health and identity of men over women who have discovered a love of tennis. The women are calling us and begging for help to be allowed to play fairly. They have complained; they don’t know where else to turn.
Men are winning national titles, taking the place of women on team tennis, and competing in women’s tournaments across the country. We need to let the women and girls playing tennis know that they deserve to be treated fairly and recognized for their accomplishments no matter when they pick up the sport. They do not have to reach any kind of elite status.
There is already a category for male athletes to enjoy this privilege. Let female athletes enjoy the game of tennis too. Change the policy and Billie Jean King change your stance – don’t abandon these women and this sport any longer."
My warnings for years: As usual, the USTA appears woker than the most radical Transgender extremists by making sure everyone is included. The fact that this is being done to the detriment of over 50% of their members and league players (women) doesn't seem to matter. Why should it? They never ask their members when it comes to making policies. I'm sure they didn't poll us either.
Kim Shasby Jones and her statement "They don’t know where else to turn." reminds me so drastically of recent actions by other USTA sections. Foremost, the Southern California Tennis Association where player complaints are generally seen as a nuisance and where complaining league captains are being retaliated against. Can you see their faces when little old me suggested in a meeting with them to get their league staff some customer service training? I bet leaving that meeting, they were laughing their heads off saying "Not in a million years will we listen to an outsider!" They should all resign if you ask me.
This is a section where the former CEO declared in a Zoom call that they have a policy of not listening to members when making decisions.
For over a year I have posted the message that players have no voice in SoCal. But the tone-deaf CEO and the Section President don't think this is a problem. As a matter of fact, to pile on, they threw all San Fernando Valley players, many of whom are members, under the bus by siding with an organization hellbent on eliminating tennis courts and denying public access to tennis. Despicable, if you ask me. (See my post this month under OUTRAGEOUS) Henry Talbert would turn in his grave knowing what was going on in that once great USTA section, the Southern California Tennis Association. I bet they can't wait to see Transgender women messing up the adult leagues here.
Bonus Thought by a friend who analyzed the Fox News article: This has implications for the USPTA. Rob Scott is the president of the USPTA Intermountain. That means that as a candidate for the USPTA Board, Rob Scott, USTA employee, directly supports transgender women. Let that sink in.
Re: WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN AND ITS POSSIBLE MOVE TO CHARLOTTE, NC
The Center Square (North Carolina) reports:
Efforts to bring the Western & Southern Open professional tennis tournament from Ohio to Charlotte may hinge on whether lawmakers opt to appropriate taxpayer funds toward a $133 million incentive package. New owners of the men’s sanction for the Western & Southern Open, one of the world’s largest tennis tournaments held in Ohio since 1899, are considering competing bids to determine whether the event stays put or moves to Charlotte in 2026. The latter option would require the construction of a new $400 million facility, and the tournament’s owners, Beemok Capital, the family office of Charleston, South Carolina billionaire Ben Navarro, requested a third from public funding. (Article)
TENNIS FANS REACT TO POSSIBLE WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN RELOCATION
For 124 years, the world-class event has been held in Mason, but that could soon change. “I heard this was the place to be," said Courtney Graves, who traveled from Virginia to attend. "I had done the U.S. Open and everyone said, 'You need to go to Cincinnati, where you see big names.'"
“It would just seem sad that it’s been here for so long that it would leave,” said Peggy Jones, also from Virginia. Tennis fans who spoke to Local 12 expressed similar feelings about the potential move.
"It's very disappointing, very disappointing," said Todd Jackson. He and his wife, Renee, have traveled from Indianapolis to attend the Western & Southern Open for the past 11 years. They say the fan experience in Mason is one-of-a-kind.
You get to sit about 10 feet from Djokovic and Dimitrov and all the other top players," Renee said. "You can’t get that anywhere else.
Beemok Capital, the group that purchased the tournament in 2022, is still deciding between keeping it in Mason or moving to Charlotte. (Article)
Teams Wanted in:
San Diego, Orange County,
Coachella Valley, Ventura,
Sacramento, San Francisco,
San Jose, Oakland, Modesto,
Teams wanted in Washington,
Oregon, Utah, Arizona, Nevada
Contact Billy for information
Our Brand Ambassador and Coach Samora Lawson wears Cruise Control Gear apparel.
Ripley told Next TV that Sinclair is looking to move beyond its bankrupt RSN subsidiary and onto new means and ways to distribute live sports
Serbian tennis great Novak Djokovic returned to the United States this week for the first time since leftist President Joe Biden overturned a ban on foreigners who have not ingested Wuhan coronavirus vaccine products entering the country, telling journalists he has “zero regrets” about missing some of the world’s most prestigious tournaments over the policy.
Investors are seeing opportunity in pickleball. But as pingpong has demonstrated, even if a huge number of people play a sport, it’s no guarantee that the masses will watch it. Credit...
New York Times
Pickleball fever is sweeping the country. Everywhere you look, people are picking up the sport as participation has incredibly more than doubled in the past three years. Courts are popping up in locations far and wide. But even as pickleball becomes more popular than ever, there seems to be one area in which the sport’s growth seems to be hitting a brick wall.
The city’s most iconic location will allow tennis enthusiasts to play for free.
It's a vision training wearable to improve its athletes’ neuro fitness.
Sports Business Journal
SLOANE STEPHENS AND LEYLAH FERNANDEZ RECEIVE WILD CARDS FOR THE UPCOMING CYMBIOTIKA SAN DIEGO OPEN PRESENTED BY RESMED
WTA 500 Tournament Scheduled for September 9-16, 2023 at San Diego's Barnes Tennis Center
Rafael Nadal named Infosys ambassador in new three-year partnership (late breaking: and so did Iga Swiatek!)
Infosys has added 22-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal on a three-year partnership as an ambassador. It’s the tennis great’s first collaboration with an information tech company.
Sports Business Journal
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia has finally been confirmed as the host for the ATP Next Gen Finals, as tennis follows the likes of Formula One, boxing and football.
But when the brilliance did come on Sunday,
quality sunglasses were required.
Christopher Clarey's Tennis & Beyond, August 20, 2023
(about the 2023 Cincinnati Final which saw Djokovic beat Alcarez 5-7, 7-6, 7-6)
MULTIPLY THE LIFE OF YOUR TENNIS AND PADEL BALLS
Multiply the life of your tennis or padel balls with the Bounce tube by recreating a pressurized environment of new balls at the end of each game.
Recreate a pressurized environment at the end of each tennis game. A new can of balls is under pressure (the "pshhht" sound). This means that the pressure inside the ball is higher than the atmospheric pressure. Once it's opened, balls start losing pressure as they are made of porous rubber. By keeping them under pressure between games, they will not lose pressure anymore and you'll play with balls that bounce better, much longer. Pre-order here.
HEAD PRODUCT NEWS
Penn's commitment to sustainability shown in environmentally improved tennis ball can
Penn, America’s #1 selling tennis ball brand, announced on August 23 that their tennis balls just got a whole lot more attractive – through improved recyclability and faster biodegradability of their cans.
Penn tennis ball plastic cans have been enhanced to be more efficiently recycled. The new design includes a shorter removable sleeve (covering two-thirds of the can instead of the full can), which means less ink is used and it can be more easily separated by automatic waste separation technology.
The new cans also have another environmentally friendly feature. Because approximately 90% of all plastics end up in landfills, rather than get recycled, the biodegrading process is particularly important.
Most plastics take hundreds of years to break down, but Penn is injecting an organic additive produced by Midori Bio Inc. into its new PET cans and plastic lid caps. So, if the cans are not recycled and end up in a landfill, they will break down within only 3-5 years.
For more details about Penn’s sustainability efforts and the improved tennis ball cans, please see the press release.
TAYLOR MADE ADVERTISING
Adding Artificial Intelligence To Your Marketing Plan!
The latest marketing topics surround adding Artificial Intelligence (AI) to market your businesses. My advice is to start with adding AI to the tools you are already using and then monitor your results before and after adding AI. To that end, here are a few common marketing tools you can start with to add artificial intelligence to your marketing plan and improve your results.
Add AI to Your Email Marketing: If you are using an email marketing tool like Constant Contact to connect with your subscribers and past customers, try the artificial intelligence copywriting tool to see if you can improve your results.
RACE FOR THE FASTEST GROWING RACQUET SPORT
The fastest-growing racket sport in the world among amateurs isn’t Pickleball …
ROME — Record prize money of nearly $1 million at this week’s tournament in Rome.
Padel, the fastest growing racket sport in the world among amateurs, is also making big strides at the professional level.
“In Italy — and the world — this sport has no limits,” said Angelo Binaghi, who oversees the sport as president of the Italian tennis and padel federation in a country where it is growing the fastest.
The nine medals handed out at the European Games in Poland represented the first time the sport was contested at an event organized under the Olympics umbrella. Teams from Spain — the worldwide leader in padel — won gold in men’s and mixed doubles, while Italy won in women’s doubles.
“It was a big step for our sport,” International Padel Federation president Luigi Carraro said. “We showed that we have all of the necessary characteristics to become an Olympic sport.”
LEARNING AND NETWORKING
PTR West Coach Coaches Summit
Interesting speakers at University of San Diego
I don't go to industry conventions a lot but couldn't resist combining a business trip to San Diego with peeking in on a PTR event. On Thursday, August 10, I picked 3 speakers to listen to. One because I like his teaching philosophy (Frank Giampaolo). Another because I never listened to her (Dr. Michelle Cleere). And the third because I like her podcasts (Lisa Stone).
Frank talked about the need to know how our kids are wired. Whether those kids are judges or perceivers, for instance. Or, extroverts vs introverts. Frank called tennis parents the "ship's motor or anchor." They need to know their kid's personality (or identity) and how they most likely approach solving problems during a match. Fascinating stuff, to be honest.
I liked Frank's dissection of a tennis junior's week and how much time is actually left for practice. The week has 168 hours. If you deduct 56 hours for sleep, 30 hours for school, 10 hours for homework/schooling, 4 hours for hobbies, and 12 hours for family meals, there's just 56 hours left for tennis practice. Make the best of it!
DR. MICHELLE CLEERE
I have to admit that I had never ever listened to Dr. Cleer but now I'm glad I did. The mental training coach with a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology reported that most players don't understand the mental issues coaches talk about nowadays. She focused on the term focus and challenged the audience to state how long a person usually stays focused. The answer nobody guessed: 10-15 seconds.
Our athletes must know what focus is and where their focus should be at any given time. Be present but when you stray off, know how you can get your focus back. That's something everyone can learn. She gave some good examples of music exercises helping athletes learn to focus and refocus. Interesting: Focus on one small thing to bring your focus back.
I liked how Dr. Cleere talked about the importance of understanding confidence and explained the four pillars of confidence in tennis:
Others (like body language)
Dealing with moments in and around tennis
As a fan of Lisa and her podcasts for her company Parenting Aces, I couldn't wait to hear her live for the first time. And she didn't disappoint! Enjoying the college journey was her topic and picking the right school. Lisa recommends parents check the "College Fit" section on the UTR website. Starting out by looking at 50-100 schools is a good strategy.
For the initial contact with a school, Lisa suggests an email stating facts about the player and other useful information. Better even, add an action video link on YouTube plus a tournament schedule. Make sure you send reminders and updates every three months.
I liked Lisa's classification of tennis students:
Join a D1 College and you're an Athlete Student.
Join a D3 college and you're a Student-Athlete.
MY TAKE: Overall, a first-class experience for me because of the quality of the speakers. Time well spent! The event could have gained from a larger attending crowd that Thursday but kudos to the PTR for putting it on despite low sign-ups. Speaks volumes about the organization. (I would have loved to go to the USPTA World Conference this year but can't make it, unfortunately. Another opportunity with first-class speakers. If you are a tennis pro and have the budget, this is a must for you!)
Multiple Participant Lesson Spaces in
Full Court Tennis
Individual Lesson Spaces are designed for personalized one-on-one development, where coaches analyze videos and communicate directly with individual players to track progress effectively. While Individual Lesson Spaces can be useful for coaching, Full Court Tennis offers even more coaching tools for you to explore.
However, when coaches work with larger groups or cover multiple topics, Multiple Participant Lesson Spaces become invaluable. Think of Multiple Participant Lesson Spaces as your center where you bring coaches, players, and parents together to share content, track progress, and performance.
AT THE NET PODCAST
Instagram: Brian Teacher
VIDA TENNIS PODCAST
Join us in this exciting episode as we dive into the world of sports psychology in tennis with none other than Josh Burger! Josh is the founder and sport psychology coach of Tiebreaker Psych, an esteemed organization offering top-notch sport psychology services to athletes and teams of all sports, ages, and skill levels.
PARENTING ACES PODCAST
Lisa Stone with Danielle McNamara
Danielle McNamara rejoins Lisa to discuss why grades are important to high schoolers hoping to be recruited to play college tennis.
THE COMMISH CHIMES IN THIS MONTH
Three topics were brought to the attention of an old friend of TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS, The Commish. And boy, did they add some interesting views to those topics. For our new readers, here's our definition of The Commish as posted in 2021:
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 anyway 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.
RECENT QUESTIONABLE USTA DECISIONS - SUDDENLY I UNDERSTAND: FREE BOOZE!
I mistook the smiling executives for people happy with their salaries. Now we know there is another reason...
A few months ago, I posted the image of 12 USTA top executives and pointed out the reason they smiled because no one made under $500K annually. (Well, maybe Marisa Grimes is not quite there yet) And at least 3 of them make over a million dollars in annual income.
But our old friend, The Commish, told me "It's the booze that made them smile." I read that the USTA executives happily announced that they extended the partnership with 'Grey Goose', a "landmark partnership" that launched the (way overpriced) Honey Deuce drink at the US Open. The USTA also announced they partnered with Maestro Dobel® Tequila to make the world’s first Cristalino the first “Official Tequila” of the US Open. Wow, that's a lot of alcohol, friends. The Commish heard through the grapevine that all of the executives are getting free booze while those partnerships are active. I can't wait for more bad decisions down the USTA Brilliance Pipeline like the Transgender Ruling. Stay tuned, people. Prost!
THE TENNIS CHANNEL LOST ANOTHER 1.8M HOUSEHOLDS. IS PICKLEBALL TO BLAME?
Between 2019 and 2021 TC lost 20 million households. Now they lost another 1.8 million between January and August this year. Why?
TC CEO Ken Solomon will probably explain the loss of viewership with the usual excuse of "cable-cutting trends in the U.S." While Ken may have a point, we were secretly told by an old friend of this publication, The Commish, that there is a much more likely culprit for this disastrous downward spiral: Pickleball. The Commish is privy to some delicate and top-secret intel he often gets from Board members and other insiders. This intel points in the direction of former TC viewers that are sick and tired of seeing boring Pickleball coverage replacing exciting tennis matches. He says, "All the news media is reporting that Pickleball is not a sport people find interesting enough to watch on TV. It seems TC was betting on the wrong horse here. They should have gone with Curling instead. Compared to Pickleball, that is an exciting sport!" Ouch.
TROUBLE ON THE TENNIS HORIZON - ITF AND TWG GLOBAL FORM BILLIE JEAN KING CUP LIMITED
From the ITF website: The International Tennis Federation has signed a partnership agreement with the Sports, Media, and Entertainment arm of TWG Global, the holding company led by businessman and philanthropist Mark Walter.
Dave Haggerty needs a win for his upcoming reelection bid. I get that. The Billie Jean King Cup needs a shot in the arm. I get that, too. Billie Jean King wants to add to her legacy after the World TeamTennis league seems to completely falter right now in the wake of Covid and all its ramifications.
When our old friend The Commish, heard that the billiejeankingcup.com website is down, they jumped in and raised a warning finger. "Two things are zapping my confidence in this new partnership. 1. The fact that the ITF retains 51% vs BJK and TWG's 49% is not very reassuring given the ITF's record of screwing up big programs like the Davis Cup. And 2. I heard that the company responsible for redoing the BJKCup website is ClubSpark. Oh boy! I hope the site will be ready in time for the next Cup Finals in Seville, Spain (November 7-12). Looking at ClubSpark's record with Serve Tennis and the WTN, I'm quite skeptical."
There you have it, friends. You heard it first here. I hope Haggerty is not being reelected so we can get back to successful business at the ITF! It's weird for me to see that BJK is aligning herself with that man.
IF YOU LOVE YOUR JOB, YOU NEVER WORK A DAY IN YOUR LIFE
We hope to continue to grow and develop our skills, while at the same time enjoying
the time spent doing so.
If you’ve taught long enough with many young players under the age of 10, you will notice that when you go to pick up balls, they seem to have a great affinity for collecting the balls on their rackets and almost always try to build the highest pyramid possible. This is often best accomplished with their racket lying on the court. They don’t factor in that eventually they will need to lift this fragile masterpiece and face the Jenga-like challenge of getting all the balls into the basket. With group lessons, this often becomes a contest.
BPR Business & Politics
Clement Reix sanctioned for TACP breaches
ITIA News (International Tennis Integrity Agency)
Women's Tennis Blog
Alexis Musialek has been banned from tennis for life by the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) following anti-corruption breaches.
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) confirmed that three tennis players – Timur Khabibulin, Sanjar Fayziev and Igor Smilansky – have been provisionally suspended pending consideration on sanction following multiple breaches of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme (TACP).
COLLAPSE OF THE WORLD TENNIS NUMBER?
(POWERED BY ITF)
Don't say I haven't warned you. The ITF calls it "Real-time skill level rating." A USTA insider calls it a "Shit Show." What is behind the recent ITF order to change the entire WTN algorithm?
The information came too late for me to start researching and adding an article to the August newsletter. I was told by a USTA insider whom I trust 100% that for the past year, basically, everyone was unhappy with WTN. Why? Because no one was confident in the accuracy of the ratings.
Lack of accuracy
The quality of ratings is quite important if you proclaim to be the world-leading rating system. And especially, if you have ambitions to introduce WTN into the biggest U.S. tennis program, the USTA adult league system, a huge money-maker for the sections. The best indicator of whether this will ever happen is the USTA's 5-year renewal of the contract with The Active Network, the company that stores, manages, and updates Tennislink. NTRP is a central part of Tennislink. If WTN numbers are not accurate or better than NTRP, there is no way they would switch.
Why is WTN not accurate?
There are a number of reasons for that lack of accuracy. For the USTA data, I'm pretty sure the WTN calculations are not using Benchmark data which makes NTRP ratings so darn accurate. If you don't count the issues with computerized self-rating and cheaters as well as sandbaggers, NTRP year-end ratings are extremely accurate because they go through several iterations of calculations with regular match data and Benchmark data from sectionals and nationals.
At sectionals, players play against players from different areas within a section, so there is a lot of crossover play that filters down into all areas of a section. Similarly, at nationals, players play against players from different sections, so again, crossover play results filter through Benchmarked players into all sections. It's not 100% perfect, but still, you can be reasonably sure that a 3.5 in Seattle playing a 3.5 from Dallas will be competitive. WTN calculations don't do benchmarking which means that WTN 29 player from Dallas could beat the WTN 29 from Seattle quite handsomely and vice versa.
There are other crossover play opportunities that are missed, e.g. Juniors and Adult players, high-performance juniors, and pro players.
From an international standpoint, and that's where the ITF felt they needed to intervene, crossover play just isn't happening. French and American or Australian players just don't compete against each other on a regular basis. That's why we always see Germans coming to the USA saying they are intermediate players and beating the crap out of our 3.5s and 4.0s.
Those changes in the algorithm happened during the past month. Kevin Schmidt of Schmidt Computer Ratings wrote in his Blog July 29, "I wrote a few days ago about the recent significant change to WTN ratings that the USTA sent a notice out about, and many players saw their WTN get larger (worse) overnight, some in the high single digits, but others went up 10 or more."
So far, we are seeing some catastrophic results. A WTN 13 player suddenly gets a 23 rating. He plays mixed doubles with a WTN 29 woman and she ends up with a 21 rating. The much-touted gender neutrality went straight out the window for the World Tennis Number. I'm hearing those impossible jumps in ratings are happening all over the country.
Kevin Schmidt writes, "All of this highlights the challenge of a single algorithm that tries to put all tennis players in the world on the same scale. Whether it is age groups or countries or other geographic grouping, you will inevitably have islands, or cohorts as the FAQ says, that all play each other, but have little to no play with other islands or cohorts. When this happens, the algorithm has very little data to go on to reasonably ensure players from those different groups are appropriately rated relative to each other.
This is probably the biggest challenge for the WTN, and as such one would have hoped a lot of effort would have gone into reviewing this and getting it right prior to launch. If adult USTA League players were rated in the teens and similar recreational players from Europe were in the 20s, that should have been one of the first things that was reviewed and stuck out. Similarly, if all juniors regardless of age were clumped together, or juniors relative to adults seemed off, this could have been observed far earlier and addressed before WTN was launched."
I really hate to say "See, I told you so." As a former NTRP trainer on the USTA Tennislink Team, I have been warning for the last 3 years about ClubSpark and the ITF not being able to handle a new rating system. The egos of ITF and USTA executives were way too big to admit that adopting an existing and functioning rating system (UTR) or improving their own system (NTRP) was the best cause of action for them. Noooo, they'd rather spend millions of dollars with an inexperienced company (ClubSpark) and an inexperienced in-house team in a botched rip-off job cooked up by the previous administration. Sad.
USTA SECTIONS PLANNING PICKLEBALL LEAGUES?
Say it ain't so. We heard rumors and started to poke...
We received another email from a concerned USTA member in the (troubled) Pacific Northwest section of the USTA. When I say troubled, I mean the leadership, of course. A USTA section is only as good as their leadership as I have proven many times before. (See the SoCal section in OUTRAGEOUS this month.)
The emailer wrote about several issues at PNW:
1. Outrageous salaries. The three top executives in that nonprofit organization took home $875,000 in 2021, according to the last form 990 available. It's likely that closes in on a million dollars (or more) by year-end 2023. (Is that the reason why they are late with publishing the 2022 numbers?)
2. Board/executive decisions. A decade ago they had a good group of leaders with Bill Leong as ED. "Things were moving along. Now there's a new ED and a Board that doesn't play much tennis. Tournaments are nothing compared to what they used to be. Not sure what the endgame is. Looks grim. "
3. Pickleball. "Now they want to run Pickleball Leagues, as well."
Really? A USTA section running Pickleball Leagues? Could that be? I decided to poll all sections and send the ED/CEO the following question: "For the record, would you mind stating whether your section is planning to organize Pickleball Leagues?"
The following sections have replied with a NO: Southern California, Northern, Northern California, Southwest, Midwest, Texas, Florida, Middle States, Eastern, Hawaii Pacific, Caribbean, and Southern.
The following sections have replied with a YES: Mid-Atlantic. (They are already running some pilot leagues)
The New England Section ED/CEO wrote, "The USTA New England Section has an active task force that is evaluating whether it is in the Section's and tennis' best interests within our region to engage with pickleball to further the Section's mission. Their evaluation is still underway."
The Southern ED/COO added "...we leave it up to our State Associations and Community Tennis Associations to make decisions regarding organizing or promoting pickleball leagues at the grassroots level."
The following Section leaders have chosen not to reply at all: PNW (why am I not surprised?), Intermountain, Missouri Valley.
In the meantime, I learned from this USTA Mid-Atlantic web page that this seems to be a USTA national-initiated program."...the USTA is excited to pilot team-based pickleball leagues in select cities throughout the country in 2023. Teams will have the opportunity to advance to invitational events to compete against other winning teams from across the country." I assume the public hasn't heard of it because the USTA does its best to hide the extent of its involvement in Pickleball. For good reasons.
My question: Do USTA sections that are running Pickleball Leagues have to change their mission statement?
I'd love to read what our readers think about this topic and have put it in the September 1-Question Survey. (scroll down)
WHAT ABOUT THE MILLENNIALS THAT EVERYONE DREADED TEN YEARS AGO?
It is important to understand the ongoing transition between generations
It is a done deal! After years of debate, the Millennials are in the majority. Generation X is exiting stage-right, and the number of Baby Boomers is beginning to drop off.
The transition between generations matters to society, the workforce, and the tennis industry because the different groups have different priorities. Will those different priorities matter? Read the full article
Shout-out to Novak Djokovic for showing us that when it comes to endurance, skill, and willpower, nobody beats a Serb on hard courts!
Shout-out to Serena Williams for the birth of her second child, a girl named Adira River Ohanian.
Shout-out to Wilson Sporting Goods for celebrating their 4th year of partnership with the US Open.
USTA SOCAL - A BUNCH OF SELF-SERVING, MONEY-HUNGRY BULLIES OR AMATEUR BUS DRIVERS READY TO ROLL OVER THEIR OWN MEMBERS?
I would have never thought that anything or anyone could drive me from being a Community Tennis Organizer to a Radical Community Activist. My friends know me as an even-keeled, balanced guy who rarely loses his temper. What or who changed that? My own USTA section, Southern California. You read about my plight of saving 16 courts at Weddington Golf & Tennis in my hometown of Studio City near Burbank and Los Angeles from being turned into condos, senior homes, and now an athletic center for rich kids. Let's look at all the players in this modern-day drama.
The Weddington Family
A few generations ago, sometime in the 1890s, the Weddingtons were letting the public use the property with a 99-year agreement with Los Angeles Parks. When the time was up, a new generation of Weddingtons was trying to cash out and turn the property into condominiums with a large underground parking garage, and no tennis but golf.
That project failed because of neighborhood uproar so the family tried another route. How about Senior Homes instead of condos? That failed, too and the community thought the fight was over and we could keep our beloved golf and tennis facility for the public.
Not so fast. In 2017, the family sold the 16-acre property to Harvard Westlake School and they had plans to re-develop the land into the River Park Athletic Center. The community was all geared up to start the fight all over again. When we learned that the plans included two large soccer fields with a stadium, a big swimming pool, a 3-court basketball gymnasium, an underground parking garage, and no golf but 8 tennis courts, we knew the nightmare would continue. The prospect of 2-3 years of construction with no tennis and no golf, plus thousands of construction trucks navigating the busy roadways, was all we needed to roll up our sleeves once more.
In the past 3 years, tennis players and teaching pros were subject to harassment from management. Daily hours were cut. Harvard Westlake tennis team and students not on that team were given booking priorities. Management did everything they could to limit the public's access to tennis courts. I'm sure the goal was to eventually show the Los Angeles City Council that the public really didn't book the tennis courts that much.
During that time, tennis players, golfers, and teaching pros of both sports aligned with the nonprofits "Save Weddington", "Save LA River Open Space", and "Studio City Residents Association" as opponents to the project. During open hearings, Harvard Westlake used every trick in the book to spike the discussions with parents who for the most part didn't even live in our city. They urged them to say "We are lifelong Angelinos" and other nonsense to make it appear they are local residents. The school representatives and those parents used lie after lie after lie to convince the organizers of those hearings (Planning Commissions etc.) that this is a project the community wants.
When the opponents won a big battle in that war by having the Planning Commission declare the Weddington site a historically valuable monument that could not be altered, our own City Council member, Paul Krekorian, voted against it and let the initiative fail in the end. At that time, we knew that the cards were stacked and not in our favor.
The USTA's Unforced Error
At a time when we all thought "It's not a done deal yet" and geared up for another public meeting on August 24, the USTA Southern California section and their CEO Trevor Kroneman inserted themselves into the fight - on the wrong side!
Back story - Not far from the Weddington site, Los Angeles Valley College has 8 pretty good, lighted tennis courts with parking locked up on Burbank Blvd. No one is using the site because the school doesn't have a tennis team anymore. I remember asking the school officials to let the community use some courts but the insurance requirements were so extremely high, we couldn't go through with it.
In the process, I discovered that Harvard Westlake School obtained exclusive rights to the courts 5 years ago and found a sponsor paying for resurfacing all of them. This was done in anticipation of the HW tennis team needing courts during the construction of the Athletic Center on the Weddington site.
Last month I discovered something else. The USTA Southern California was secretly negotiating with HW to use the 8 courts at LA Valley College for their own programs. It seems understandable from their standpoint since they saw many SoCal tennis courts disappear over the last 20 years and didn't know what to do about it. USTA usage of the 8 courts would eliminate the public, of course. Unless they join USTA programs and accept cheating, sandbagging, and less-than-stellar customer service from their league staff. That's just a given here in SoCal.
Quid Pro Quo - That back story explains what happens next. I assume HW told USTA SoCal's Kroneman that access to those 8 courts has to come with a price. Get on our side in the fight against the entire Studio City community with all golf and tennis players and announce it publicly. And so they did. Like puppy dogs looking for a treat. However, in their press release, the USTA made it sound like this is a brand-new facility that's adding 8 brand-new tennis courts. Nowhere did they mention they're tearing down 16 existing, lighted, open-to-the-public courts in an arrangement where the public will get little to no playtime.
Kroneman must have thought it was OK to throw thousands of local tennis players under the bus and get access to 8 courts now and another 8 courts once construction is over - for USTA programming. Better than helping the community in their fight to keep 16 courts and a thriving golf community going for the public and all the local teaching pros.
But there is another back story. I heard that the USTA SoCal section has entered into an agreement to build a large tennis and Pickleball center near LAX airport with 24 tennis courts and 12 Pickleball courts, named "Lulu' Place." They signed a 50-year lease worth $65 million. That's approx. $1.1 million per year. Not sure how any sound organization could get such a huge commitment but there is this devilish voice in my ear telling me that in order to pay that much money, those courts need to be busy 18 hours a day. All of them. I can see the twisted USTA SoCal minds going in a weird direction that only makes sense for them and no one else: "The fewer tennis courts within 20 miles of Lulu's place, the better the chances for our new courts to be super busy." Can you see that, too? What do they care about the thousands of local players that don't participate in USTA Leagues? Eight fewer courts at Weddington? Those players should sign up for leagues and we'll find them courts. The rest can go to hell!
Henry Talbert would turn in his grave
knowing what was going on in that once great USTA section,
the Southern California Tennis Association.
I have since called for a boycott of USTA Leagues in SoCal to hit them where it hurts most: in their pocketbook. If I had the time, I would organize large protests everywhere. That's how strongly I feel about this betrayal.
Here's what players are saying:
"Other courts in the area are already packed day and night. Losing Weddington will have a major impact on court availability on those courts and all the others in the surrounding area."
"I have no idea how the USTA can think this is a good thing for the tennis community."
"USTA is atrocious! I filed an official complaint about a cheating captain (name withheld) who abused and literally black-mailed players. I never heard back with any kind of a reaction or even the respect of a reply."
Where do we go from here? Not sure, to be honest. As far as the decision-making process by the City of Los Angeles is concerned, I guess money talks. That's what it probably comes down to. As far as the USTA SoCal's betrayal is concerned, I can promise you this: We will not forget, Mr. Kroneman!
If you want to tell Trevor Kroneman what you think of the USTA's involvement in the Harvard Westlake/Weddington saga, please write to him at email@example.com but don't expect a reply. The USTA SoCal generally doesn't care about what outsiders think about their decisions. According to the previous CEO, they never listen to USTA members in their decision-making process.
We had only 31 readers respond to the August question. Apparently, this is a non-topic for our readers.
"Are you OK with the high prices for US Open tickets and the fact that children over 2 years of age have to buy full adult tickets? (Optional: Please tell us in the comments whether you're planning to go this year.)"
See the comments again in the LETTERS section.
TCB Survey September 2023 -
"Should the USTA and its sections be involved in the planning and running of Pickleball Leagues?"
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