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
Message from Mark Wylam
Good afternoon all.
I am delighted to announce the launch of SportsProsConnect - Tennis & Padel. This has been an exciting project to work on, and has taken more than a year to come to fruition! It all started in July 2022 with the filming of a new promo video and ended with a full re-brand and a good customer base retaining their membership through SportsProsConnect.
The rebrand has involved a slight change of name and a new logo and a fresh look. With the growth of Padel worldwide, the time had come to move into Padel. We are also still looking into the possibility of adding Pickleball into the process and definitely have room to do so! We have streamlined the platform, removing our Products and Events directory and instead working closely with different partners who we think have a lot to offer the racket sports industry.
Without a doubt, the most successful part of SportsProsConnect is our worldwide tennis and padel coaching jobs platform where we have successfully helped to connect well over 350 coaches in jobs all over the world. Due to the success of this, we have added different membership models for coaches including our Gold, Silver, and Bronze levels. Each level has several different benefits for coaches. Before the launch, we recruited more than 75 coaches to our Gold Membership level which includes video CVs created by our Video Production Team.
Within the new platform, we expect to develop our Tennis Player Profile section where we help to connect young and aspiring tennis players with mentorships, scholarships, sponsorships, coaches, academies, and much more. Watch this space for more from our Players section!
Of course, the platform would not be complete without our Academy members. Academies are an essential part of the platform as they are on the lookout to hire top-quality coaches and recruit great young tennis players. SportsProsConnect can do both and intends to be a lot more active with the placement of tennis and padel players in Academies and with Coaches.
We are incredibly excited to launch our recruitment platform. Without a doubt, the industry requires movement and innovators and starts at the top with Academies, Coaches, and Players. We intend to provide our services to all those in the industry and provide a top-quality service to those who require this!
We look forward to hearing from you all in due course!
GUEST COLUMNS THIS MONTH
Tennis Program Decision Makers
Will you allow your people to be decision-makers?
Read it here
Ashley's Tech Blog
Optimize Operations and Elevate Player Experience: Seamlessly Integrate Online Payment Solutions for Your Tennis & Pickleball Facility
Read it here
TOGETHER WITH Conga Sports
Re: Fundraiser for Tennis Professionals
Our reporting made an impact with the fundraiser for Maui teaching pros. I've come across another pro in need on Mark McMahon's LinkedIn page: Phil Flanagan.
Mark: Let's help a fellow, USPTA Professional in his time of need! Longtime USPTA professional Phil Flanagan, needs our help. Phil was recently diagnosed with lung cancer. He has spent 5 weeks in the hospital (with the resulting medical bills) and is currently not able to work. Please consider making a small contribution to Phil, as he now takes up the real fight. I invite and encourage all of my United States Professional Tennis Association colleagues, particularly members in Florida, and racquet sports professionals everywhere to help spread the word about Phil's illness and his need. Your prayers will be greatly appreciated, I know, and any contribution very meaningful.
Re: The Tennis Channels
The Gist reported under TV PROGRAMMING (attributed to David Kohl, AP)
The Commish whispered, "Some of the trends mentioned don't bode well for The Tennis Channel."
The GIST: A new poll of American television viewers indicates the majority are #TeamCharter — or, at least they're not #TeamDisney. Major takeaways from the survey suggest Charter is spot on in believing in the unbundle, and since Charter is willing to walk away from sports entirely, it's time to acknowledge that the customer is always right.
92%: The percentage of Americans who say the cost of a video subscription is important in their decision to subscribe. Two-thirds say cost is "very important," while only 24% believe sports programming is "very important" when choosing whether to subscribe.
86%: Those who opposed the notion that cable companies should have to pay a fee for customers who don’t buy ESPN. In fact, 66% of respondents "strongly opposed" this and, considering it’s the crux of the Disney-Charter dispute, it doesn't bode well for Mickey.
65%: The percentage of adults who would not pay for ESPN separately if it was an option. However, 63% don’t want cable news either, and 64% would ditch broadcast news. Reality bites.
74%: The percentage of respondents who believe ESPN has too much control over sports programming. It may be a leader among sports networks, but it's not the cash cow it used to be and if Disney continues to move away from cable in favor of ESPN+, the Charter dispute would be moot.
78%: The percentage of Americans — including 78% of sports-watchers — who prefer unbundled, cost-effective cable packages compared to expensive bundles with specialty channels. This sentiment was even felt strongly by ESPN viewers: 76% would prefer the choice to opt out of specialty channels. See ya.
Re: Sexual assault lawsuits in tennis
The Daily Mail: Transgender tennis coach who changed near students in girls’ locker room rehired by school board
Coach Andrew Geddes was sentenced to 18 years for raping four girls aged 12-17
Read the article here.
Re: Transgender issues in tennis
New York Post: 'I was raped 400 times': French tennis star Angelique Cauchy reveals hell she endured at the hands of her coach when she was 12 - and how he convinced her she had AIDS until she was 18.
The Gettysburg Area School District’s board reportedly voted to rehire a transgender tennis coach following a controversy that took place in the girls’ locker room.
Read the article here.
Re: WTA China boycott
CNN: Women’s tennis returns to China after Peng Shuai boycott
The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) kicked off its first tournament in China in more than three years Monday, ending its boycott over the uncertain fate of tennis star Peng Shuai.
Read the article here.
Re: Game fixing
iGB: Arrests made in Spain as match-fixing network dismantled
The Spanish National Police has made a series of arrests in connection with the dismantling of an organised crime group suspected of fixing sports events and using technology to place bets ahead of bookmakers.
Read the article here.
Re: Pickleball Noise
CNBC: Pickleball is loud. The people behind the trendy sport say they’re trying to fix it
America’s fastest-growing sport is looking to be … quieter? The governing body of the sport, USA Pickleball, announced on Monday a new initiative to get pickleball to pipe down by investing in changes to the acoustics of the sport. The organization will work with manufacturers and facilities to come up with solutions that will allow the sport to continue its rapid growth.
Read the article here.
Re: USTA SoCal throws local tennis players under the bus
As expected, the USTA Southern California section made the big entrance at the last public hearing and pleaded in favor of the villain Harvard Westlake School and their plans to take 16 tennis courts away from the public. The USTA made a lot of enemies that day and lost all credibility with the tennis-playing public. We have all witnessed why I've been writing for years that the Southern California Tennis Association thinks it should be the only entity to offer tennis and make money with tennis.
My pledge: We will not stop explaining what they did and posting it everywhere. Both the CEO and the Director of Engagement & Industry Relations should resign after that shameful display of siding with the enemy of public tennis.
THIS & THAT
Andy Dowsett's Video Analysis
Andy writes, "Part of my working week is spent analysing videos."
Club-level players - I have an ever-growing list of club-level adults wanting me to give advice on how to improve certain strokes.
Juniors - Those who send in videos of match play are generally the parents of juniors.
See more here.
How to Bet on Tennis - The Complete Guide for 2023
Zach Lutz writes, "If you are curious about how to bet on tennis, where to bet on tennis and what the best available tennis betting options are, you need to read this article below. We’ll break down how to bet on tennis matches in general, as well as how to bet on tennis online."
Read it here
Men's and women's tennis tours to discuss game-changing merger
Simon Briggs writes, "The men’s and women’s tennis tours have taken the first steps towards a historic merger, by inviting executives and tournament representatives to a two-day summit in London at the end of this month.
Three years after Roger Federer called for the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) to unite, the bosses of the two organisations – respectively Andrea Gaudenzi and Steve Simon – are finally looking to align the tours and pool their assets."
Read it here.
Life at a Grand Slam: What You Don’t See on TV at the U.S. Open
Jesus Jiménez writes for The New York Times: "The commute, the fight for court time, and the sponsorship commitments make the life of a tennis player demanding during this tournament."
Read it here.
Sports Business Journal
Pickleball Kingdom to add PlaySight's connected camera video technology to facilities
Ethan Joyce writes, "PlaySight has inked an exclusive partnership with Pickleball Kingdom. The AI camera company’s SmartCourts system will be installed in all current and future Pickleball Kingdom facilities."
Read it here.
BNP Paribas Open
Sodexo Live! Named Hospitality Partner to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, Home of the BNP Paribas Open
Matt Van Tuinen writes, "World-renowned tennis facility taps Sodexo Live! to infuse world-class chefs and local Southern California purveyors into its premium hospitality experience."
Read it here.
Women's Tennis Blog
Sharapova returns to the court, plays pickleball!
Marija Zivlak writes, "Pickleball is gaining steam as more and more tennis players are trying themselves out in this ever more popular racquet sport. Maria Sharapova will partner with John McEnroe against Steffi Graf and Andre Agassi at Pickleball Slam 2 in Hollywood, Florida, on February 4, 2024."
Read it here.
Infront Bettor moves into tennis with ITF rights swoop
Infront Bettor is to succeed rival Sportradar as the distributor of global data and betting streaming rights to International Tennis Federation properties after delivering a successful bid in a request for proposal (RFP) process. (Earlier this year, Sportradar landed one of the most valuable betting rights contracts in sport, replacing rival IMG Arena as the distributor of the ATP Tour’s global data and betting streaming rights from 2024 to 2029.)
Read it here.
Women's Tennis Blog
Eugenie Bouchard transitions to professional pickleball
Marija Zivlak writes, "Eugenie Bouchard, a former Top 5 WTA player and 2014 Wimbledon finalist, will play pickleball professionally in the 2024 season. The Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) Tour announced the news on social media, marking it “one of the biggest signings of the year.”
Game Changers Blog by Oncourt Offcourt
Getting the most out of Tennis and Pickleball Training Aids
Kalindi Dinoffer writes, "Sometimes, when we lose in a game or practice, the reason for our loss is invisible. When we don’t know why we lose, we can’t make the changes we need to make to keep the losses to a minimum."
Read it here.
Sports Business Journal
Topgolf-esque Tennis Social Club to open in New York City in 2024
Joe Lemire writes, "Tennis Social Club, which bills itself as the Topgolf of Tennis, announced that it will launch in New York City in 2024. Former ATP Tour pro Tyler Kelly shared the news on LinkedIn , where he described the gamified technology as the “first tennis simulator product with a custom trained, high speed, #AI object classification system with precision tracking to ever hit the market."
Check out the video fly-through ====>
USTA Southern California on LinkedIn
Past USTA President and SoCal tennis star Franklin Johnson passes away
USTA Southern California is saddened by the passing of Franklin Johnson, a former USTA President and SoCal tennis star. The San Diego native — a national champion player, observer, executive, and tireless promoter of the game — was loved so dearly. Johnson leaves an enduring legacy as someone who dedicated his life to the sport of tennis. As we mourn his passing, we celebrate his life with great appreciation.
Read more here.
Sports Business Journal
PlaySight regains ownership, looks to capitalize on pickleball craze
PlaySight’s executive team regained ownership over the brand through a management buyout from Connexa Sports Technologies for $2 million in November 2022, SBJ's Joe Lemire reports. Connexa acquired Playsight for about $80 million in all-stocks merger back in Oct. 2021 and then sought more investment to grow and integrate its collection of technologies. But, in early 2022, global markets were already declining when Russia invaded Ukraine and accelerated that downward trajectory.
PlaySight is now on the verge of reaching profitability, Co-founder and CEO Chen Shachar said, and within the last six months has released new products: its smartphone-based Go Mobile solution as well as products trained for the emerging racquet sports of pickleball and padel.
Read more here.
Future Champions Foundation
Adam Jasick's work is making a BIG difference in Togo, West Africa
Remember Adam Jasick, our teaching pro buddy who was Head Pro at The Lakes Country Club in Palm Desert, California before becoming Director of Athletics at Onteora Country Club in Tannersville, New York?
For the Future Champions Foundation, he says that it was founded with the single focus of creating opportunities for children to lead impactful lives in their communities. Just take a look at his most recent report and then tell me how much respect you have for this man! I'll share your letters/messages in November. Read it here.
Sports Business Journal
ATP, Tennis Data Innovations, and TennisViz are collaborating on a new performance analytics platform called Tennis IQ, SBJ's Rob Schaefer reports. Available to ATP singles players on desktop and mobile devices, Tennis IQ integrates historical and real-time match data – including interactive court graphics that display patterns of play and empirical metrics like Shot Quality – for users to analyze themselves and scout opponents.
Tennis Data Innovations was created in a joint venture between ATP and its media arm, ATP Media, in late 2020 to manage ATP’s data rights and commercialize tennis data. Last year, TDI partnered with IMG Arena on an Event Centre app for tennis. TennisViz uses AI software to capture ball and player tracking data.
Sports Business Bulletin
Gauff's vast sponsorship portfolio likely to swell following U.S. Open win
Coco Gauff reportedly will make close to $10M in endorsements in 2023. U.S. Open champion Coco Gauff should see her "marketability rise" after winning the tournament for her first Grand Slam, according to Marc Berman of the PALM BEACH POST.
Read it here.
Active French player provisionally suspended pending anti-corruption charges
The International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) has confirmed that French tennis player Maxence Broville (former ATP 708) has been provisionally suspended from the sport. Broville’s suspension comes just one month after three other players were provisionally suspended. Then, Timur Khabibulin, Sanjar Fayziev and Igor Smilansky were ordered away from the court.
Read it here.
Swedish tennis player suspended over anti-corruption breach
Swedish tennis player Dragos Nicolae Madaras (ATP 220) has been provisionally suspended from the sport for a breach of the Tennis Anti-Corruption Program (TACP).
Read it here.
“Rarely has the term ‘ambassador’ been more appropriate
than in describing Coco Gauff.”
Christopher Clarey quoted Ottmar Barbian, Executive Vice President
HEAD racquet sports division
New Digital Platform: Tennismatrix.net
TENNISMATRIX.NET, an industry game-changer, is offering Tennis Directors and Pros a digital platform that's transforming how seasonal tennis events are run.
The innovative online software allows the creation of singles-only ladders and round-robin events, providing incentives and entices players to return each season.
The platform's focus on streamlining operations has been met with acclaim, enabling 100% off-court income - a financial boon for tennis pros. "It's not just about setting up ladders or round-robins; it's about building a tennis community that thrives," says Bennet Slusarz, founder of TennisMatrix.net, who also provides free support to new Directors enhancing their success. Slusarz has consistently averaged 80-90+ participants in his own events in Manhattan Beach, CA. Industry veterans like Mark McGuire and Kevin Brady have also achieved similar success, running events that draw players back every season for years on end.
TennisMatrix.net will energize your grass-roots tennis scene while adding an additional, significant revenue stream! Contact Bennet Slusarz at email@example.com or call (310) 766-2466 to learn more.
NEW TENNIS BOOK
Where is your why?
By D.A. Abrams
“Where is your Why? unpacks the thinking behind D.A. Abrams’s well-reasoned and inspiring “Formula” for success. It lays out clearly for you how to develop and execute on your Personal Plan of Attack, which will fuel your actions toward achieving the things that are important to you and ensure that all you do supports what you want out of life. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in maximizing their full potential.” —Katrina M. Adams, Own The Arena: Getting Ahead, Making A Difference, and Succeeding as the Only One.
What does success mean to you? What does it look like? And, most important, how can you go about attaining it? This may seem like a broad and somewhat ineffable subject, but we can agree, we would all like successful lives in its many facets, and we want to utilize our capacities and creativity to realize what’s important to us, so we all get what we want out of life. The good news is, as Tony Robbins says, “Success leaves clues!”
“Where Is Your Why? is an indispensable publication for anyone earnestly striving to achieve sustainable and purposeful success.” —Michon Ellis, Livewire Communications.
D.A. Abrams calls his answer to these questions the Formula for Success. He identifies his Foundation, the six core areas most important to him, to ensure he serves and succeeds in these aspects of life. He helps you state what you value. Then, he commits to a set of Personal Values that guide and inspire him in his choices and actions.
He gives you his list of 40 Precepts, actionable concepts to apply to your professional and personal life. And then he guides you through devising a Personal Plan of Attack that figures out your why and helps you to reach your goals, measure your accomplishments, and pivot to continue your growth as an employee or boss, parent or child, partner, family, and community member. The Foundation + Personal Values + Precepts + Personal Plan of Attack = SUCCESS
Find WHERE IS YOUR WHY on
Amazon www.amazon.com/dp/1733431357 I
In Canada: www.amazon.ca/dp/B0CC6S7BV9
In the UK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0CC6S7BV9
D.A. (David Anthony) Abrams is the Chief Operating Officer at Groundswell. In his role, he is responsible for accounting, finance, information and technology systems, human resources, marketing and communications, fund development, research, business development, and overall operations. Prior to joining the Groundswell, D.A. served as the Managing Director for the CFP Board Center for Financial Planning. D.A. is the immediate past Chief Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) Officer for the United States Tennis Association (USTA), a position he assumed in February 2012 and concluded in March 2019. While in the role, he focused on developing and innovating the USTA’s D&I initiatives on the national, regional, and grassroots levels. His books include Make it Happen, The Inclusion Solution, New-School Leadership, Diversity & Inclusion, Association Management Excellence, and now - Where Is Your Why? Best, D.A.
Recycleballs in the News
Research shows that the average tennis ball takes 400 years to decompose, and users should adequately recycle the material to improve the environment. NewsNation's Stephanie Haines discusses what to do with old tennis balls that will still protect the planet.
How do you properly dispose of old tennis balls?
NEW TENNIS BOOK
By Ron Shields
Smart Doubles is a PROGRAM that pros/clubs/facilities can use as a creative doubles-oriented program to make tennis more Fun, Accessible, Easier, and Less confusing to learn/teach, and to generate more clinic/coaching income.
As an industry, we teach a lot of "lessons" namely privates with a shortage of teaching pros with more available courts than any country. There is definitely a "lesson" in my book for pros to generate a "shift" in how we work and deliver tennis to the largest population of tennis players.
In my view, the game of doubles is the best way to grow tennis, especially for recreational players. The recreational population supports 90% of the tennis economy - not collegiate players or playing pros. See much doubles on TV? Why? Sponsors! What do recreational players mostly play at their clubs/facilities? Doubles! Why is PB so popular?? See Will Hoag's article on page 50 in the recent RSI magazine!
I believe we as teaching pros can run our business better and improve our delivery methods so we can have more impact, effectively grow the game, and earn a better living. Singles is great for a smaller population of players, but doubles/clinics, doubles-oriented special events are twice the fun and income! It is time for change and we as local pros, not tennis executives, can make it happen. Time to work smarter!!
Regional USPTA Pro of the Year 2023
Elite Tennis Travel
CEO and Founder Adriana Isaza says, "Get ready for a sporting extravaganza like never before. The Olympics are about to set the tennis world on fire with thrilling matches and unforgettable moments. Roland Garros, the legendary home of the French Open, will be the backdrop for this extraordinary event."
VIP Open Ceremony
5-Star Hotel Accommodations
If you are interested in having your Podcast listed or featured here, please email Pat.
AT THE NET PODCAST
1st set: Our love and appreciation to be co-directors of the @fontanafinancialplanning @uspta Jr. Gran Prix - a massive team tennis event for 200 junior players and 24 coaches throughout the state of TX.
2nd set: impressions and takeaways from a blockbuster
3rd set: @daviscup … the good, the bad, and the ugly. #realtalk
4th set: The @lavercup
5th set: You will Love the 4 point plan to improve the great game by Kyle LaCroix
VIDA TENNIS PODCAST
Eat, Sleep, Breathe, Tennis... Without Burnout
SUPPORT VIDA TENNIS/ Leave a voicemail:
VIDA TENNIS PODCAST
Maximize your coaching potential! - with Emma Doyle!
Featuring the remarkable Emma Doyle! Emma is not your average coach; she's a dynamic energy and high-performance corporate coach with a rich background in international high-performance tennis coaching. Her expertise is in training managers and leaders to prevent burnout, retain top talent, and optimize performance for unparalleled success.
PARENTING ACES PODCAST
Lisa Stone with Zach Decker
How to use Kinesio Tape to Prevent & Treat Injury
Welcome to Season 12 Episode 35 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. In this week’s podcast, Lisa is joined by Zach Decker, Chief Marketing Officer of KT Tape.
PARENTING ACES PODCAST
Lisa Stone with Daniel McCain & David Howell
A New Way to Analyze Matches
Welcome to Season 12 Episode 34 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. In this week’s podcast, Lisa is joined by Daniel McCain and David Howell of 7 Shot Tennis.
WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST
Daniel Nestor Interview: His Career, Serve & Volley Mistakes, Net Mentality, & Court Recognition
Daniel Nestor is one of the best doubles players ever. He has eight men's doubles grand slams, four mixed doubles major titles, an Olympic Gold Medal, and won the Tour Finals four times.
PARENTING ACES PODCAST
Lisa Stone with Swupnil Sahai
SwingVision is Changing Junior & College Tennis
Welcome to Season 12 Episode 33 of the ParentingAces Podcast, a proud member of the Tennis Channel Podcast Network. In this week’s podcast, Swupnil Sahai of Swing Tennis comes back to share some exciting updates.
WILL BOUCEK's DOUBLES ONLY PODCAST
Dealing with Nerves & 10-Point Tiebreakers from 2023 US Open Champion, Erin Routliffe
WTA doubles player Erin Routliffe joins the show for the second time, but the 1st time as a major champion. Erin won the 2023 US Open Women's Doubles Title alongside new partner, Gaby Dabrowski.
PARENTING ACES PODCAST
Lisa Stone with Chris Dudley & David Orr
Centenary Tennis: Rising from the Ashes
Lisa chats with the Athletic Director of a small college and the Director of Tennis of its neighboring public tennis facility about what it takes to resurrect a college tennis program that has been defunded and unhomed.
HERE TO SERVE PODCAST
Here to Serve: USTA Florida and SwingVision Partnership!
USTA Florida is thrilled to announce its partnership with SwingVision an innovative way to level up your tennis game. Hear from the Head of Pro Player Relations at SwingVision, George Opelka, and learn how this is changing the way people train in tennis.
THE ORIGINAL COMMISH CHIMES IN THIS MONTH
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 any way you want. Makes no difference to the Commish. The Commish lives in the minds of all tennis professionals, tennis players, tennis organizers, and everyone with a clear and logical thought process.
Ask The Commish
I’m very conflicted about whether or not I should make hand gestures at the end of my matches, like Ben Shelton or Novak Djokovic, what do you advise?
Dear Hang Up,
Don’t get hung up on this. We say, do whatever you want, but consider the fallout. Is it all in good fun and your opponent will be fine with it? Do it! Will it create amazing drama over a tiny little gesture and thus create more interest in tennis? Do it! Will it get you punched in the face? Don’t do it!
Commish would like to thank everyone who kept the phone hang-up thing going on Social Media for weeks. Commish thinks more histrionics in the game and a little more Jimmy Connors attitude will bring more interest.
There seems to be a change at the top of some major organizations. What do you think about the incoming Trish Faulkner reign at USPTA?
Dear Concerned Member,
The Commish always wishes everyone to succeed at doing good things at all times. We hope that the USPTA with its incoming president and soon-to-be-announced new CEO, does a great job.
Commish feels compelled to advocate for the outsider. There need to be more women coaches. A wider variety of coaches need to serve and be served, and that also includes some old white guys, don’t forget about them, because they are the bulk of the membership at this time. Sometimes the Commish is an older white guy, sometimes gay, sometimes Black or Brown, or whatever you can imagine. Commish is often a young coach who simply wants a foothold in the game and make a career.
Commish strongly recommends that incoming leadership understand “Get Woke, Go Broke”. The words bigot, anti-_____, and other divisive language should probably not be used privately or publicly in doing TENNIS business. If serving EVERYONE is the aim, they will do quite well. If they try to override and subvert the general values of the organization, then you can count on future World Conferences having even fewer than 200 members attending.
Organizations that are bleeding members, and not recruiting many new ones should probably not anger the existing base.
I’m concerned because Darth Vadar told me that I better submit to the empire of pickleball or be fired from my job.
Dear Tennis Coach,
Stick to your guns, and use the force to find your way. You may have to go elsewhere to find a place in the sun where organizations like the USTENNISA, the USPTENNISA, and the PTENNISR, don’t forget their mission. Rumor has it that USTA is going to fund building pickleball courts. Commish says, change your name, change your mission, or get back to tennis. What an amazing legacy these turds will have when they hindered the growth of tennis, and maybe presided over its destruction in some locales, when all along they should have had single-minded focus. Let those other games or sports find their own leadership, instead of acting like a parasite on tennis. But that doesn’t help you now, you need to be at a tennis place, doing only tennis. Start your job search, and let them miss you, wondering why Tennis Coach left.
THE REAL BACKGROUND STORY ABOUT THE USTA SEEKING EQUITY INVESTMENTS
The article in Racquet Sports Industry was headlined "USTA Launches 'USTA Ventures' Strategic Investment Initiative." I can imagine how this was playing out at USTA headquarters in Orlando.
The story is quite funny, actually, given their track record of working with tech companies. But, obviously, with the US Open success, they are in the “money growing on trees” mode again.
Here is the most likely scenario of how this announcement was made:
USTA Board member Mr.G. (or his brother, girlfriend) has a financial interest in XYZ Tech company. They need more funding. He thinks a) the US Open or b) the USTA’s Pickleball strategy could benefit from their technology. He convinces the Board to invest in that company. With that investment comes a paid seat on that company’s Board.
Mr.G. is President and CEO of ICG, a private equity firm based in Atlanta, Ga. He is also Chairman/President/CEO of TOP, a portfolio company of ICG which Mr.G. founded 18 years ago.
USTA General Counsel A.H. says, “Hold your horses, we are a nonprofit. We work through committees. We can’t just make a decision like that without showing how it will support our mission of growing tennis.”
The Board decides to establish a Committee with true and tried followers and Mr.G. as Chair. To keep the Board members in line, every one of them gets an extra 10 tickets for the 2024 US Open President’s Box for friends and family. Mr.G. gets 20 tickets.
The first company being approved will be XYZ Tech. Mr.G. gets the seat on their Board. His company’s shares of XYZ Tech will double in value within a year, unless…
Unless the USTA does what they always do, appoint a low-level employee or a nephew of the CEO as liaison to XYZ Tech, someone who has never managed a tech project. No one is able to define the parameters for the project and the project scope will be redefined every 3 months.
Within 2 years, nothing of value has been created by that company whose value is sliding to penny stock, and the entire USTA investment is lost.
THE USTA AS SEEN THROUGH THE EYES OF THE
ROLLING STONES (HU?)
I always thought about comparing iconic songs with real-life people, situations, and organizations. Since I am a big Rolling Stones fan, I decided to start with them by looking at the USTA.
YOU CAN'T ALWAYS GET WHAT YOU WANT (1969)
That song reminds me of Mark Leschly's futile attempt to create a working alliance with the USTA to make UTR the quasi-standard in tennis ratings. Little did he know that the USTA executives sitting across from him had no intention of cooperating with him but were hell-bent on picking his brain for the planned copycat version of UTR which is what we now know as the problem-plagued World Tennis Number. I'm sure Mark wouldn't find it funny but I think it's hilarious. How about turning it into a Broadway show?
CAN'T YOU HEAR ME KNOCKING (1971)
That song was written with Tennis Club Business in mind. Don't you think? We've been knocking on the USTA's door with our reporting for the last 5-6 years. Unfortunately, Kamperman and Smith issued an order to all USTA employees at the 2019 Annual Meeting: "Ignore the Noise." Very few people at national or sectional level ever reply to any of our articles and keep the communication channels open. I could basically write whatever I wanted without it ever being officially challenged. How about this headline for an upcoming story: "Katrina Adams gave birth to two-headed goat."
You're laughing? When I emigrated to the United States in 1985 and went grocery shopping for the first time at a Safeway supermarket in the Philadelphia area, I noticed a newspaper at the checkout stand with a similar headline on the front page: "Eleven-year-old gave birth to two-headed goat." The newspaper was the National Inquirer. I was impressed thinking this must be a real official publication and asked myself, "What are the goats having?"
UNDER MY THUMB (1966)
Oy. Touchy subject. A lot of tennis businesses and publications are dependent on the USTA and their advertising dollars. They understandably refrain from ever criticizing their sugar daddy. But I'm sure many of them secretly love to read our critical reports. I remember one of them whose name I won't mention sent me a thousand dollars once with the note "Keep up the good work." Loved it and still love and respect that guy!
STREET FIGHTING MAN (1968)
That's him. Mr. Javier Palenque. The original "Hold their feet to the fire" warrior and a good friend of Tennis Club Business. Mr. Persistance. You may not like his style but you secretly love his analyses, don't you? Javier calls for change but can't get through to anyone at the USTA and their Board. Too bad. Maybe he should offer them money, the only language they seem to understand. Do you think they would agree to a meeting if he makes it worth their while?
SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL (1968)
And you thought I had nothing positive to write about the USTA? Well, wrong, I do. There is plenty of positive stuff and I'm guilty of not saying it often enough. My beef is always with top executives at Lake Nona and some executives in the sections. But below them is an army of middle managers and lower employees who are really the backbone of the organization. They have no say in big decisions but without them, nothing would ever be accomplished. I'm thinking about all those league coordinators, volunteers, JTT staffers, and community tennis folks. I applaud them and their good work!
And now I'm running OUT OF TIME (1966)
HOW WILL A.I. IMPACT TENNIS?
Embrace this new world as an asset and not a threat
Most important, almost every prediction of the impact and influence of A. I. (Artificial Intelligence) is still mostly speculation. This will definitely be true for the tennis industry. Which is why, most of those invested in the world of tennis, are taking a “wait and see,” position. But there is one thing for sure, it is highly likely that in the future, the coaching and teaching sector of tennis will be strongly impacted. Although the initial impact of A.I. will likely begin at the top level of the game, don’t be surprised if all levels of play are eventually addressed.
ARE YOU SERIOUS?
US OPEN LEADERSHIP AGING OUT?
Am I the only person in our tennis universe thinking the US Open and the USTA is represented by a bunch of old farts? Holding speeches, giving out trophies, trying to get a few seconds in the limelight - is there anyone under 60 or not looking like a very wrinkled 70? I mean, come on. Yes, the average age of U.S. tennis players is something like 55 but if we want to attract younger people we have to show them younger leadership. No? I dare you to prove me wrong.
HAGGERTY RE-ELECTED. Wait-what?
Speaking of old farts. The ITF re-elected David Haggerty to another term as President "comfortably defeating" the German challenger Dietloff von Arnim according to sportsbusiness.com. We will now have to put up with the man who made nothing but boondoggles in his position until 2027. I just want to give you one reason why he should have been comfortably defeated: Davis Cup! (See more about Davis Cup in OUTRAGEOUS) My question: How did he convince so many member delegates to vote for him? How much money was promised to their countries?
USTA SEEKING EQUITY INVESTMENTS?
The article in Racquet Sports Industry was headlined "USTA Launches 'USTA Ventures' Strategic Investment Initiative." The article's first paragraph stated, "The USTA has launched USTA Ventures, through the USTA Strategic Investment Committee, which will be charged with evaluating a broad spectrum of long-term investment opportunities. The focus will be on acquiring potential equity stakes in technologies and other companies that will help to advance the USTA’s mission of promoting and developing the growth of tennis in the United States, and elevating experiences at the US Open, which is owned and operated by the USTA."
I have a feeling this was born out of the same mindset that made the USTA copy UTR and create WTN. I was wracking my brain thinking about what single expense item in the USTA sections and for money-hungry USTA National is so big a factor that it’s worthwhile doing it themselves. And then it dawned on me: Online registration and ticketing.
For the regular USTA programs that are heavy users of online registrations, like leagues and tournaments in the sections, it’s the old “technology partner” The Active Network that still does it through Tennislink. Although the USTA had somewhat of a falling out with them, they still need them since ClubSpark seems to be far from creating an NTRP-compatible platform similar to Tennislink. Online registration fees are a multi-million dollar expense item for players and USTA National doesn’t see a penny from it. In SoCal, League fees are $30 per season and team and an order fee of $3 per registration is going to the Section and the Tennislink registration fee stays with The Active Network.
For the US Open, it’s Ticketmaster that’s charging 16.5% per ticket and a $2.95 order fee for the USTA. Let’s say they sold $200M worth of tickets. That Ticketmaster fee is a whopping $33M. That’s a mighty big carrot for the USTA to sink money in a new ticketing venture. Maybe they are already talking with a target business. Even if they half the ticketing fee, they could save something like $16.5M for the US Open and more for other events. (The San Diego Open uses Seat Geek which charges 18.75% plus $2 for the tournament)
The article states: The focus will be on acquiring potential equity stakes in technologies and other companies that will help to advance the USTA’s mission of promoting and developing the growth of tennis in the United States and elevating experiences at the US Open, which is owned and operated by the USTA.
Do you think I’m getting close to their true intent? And think about the possibility of offering ticketing and online registration also for Pickleball events…. I see a $450K raise for Lew Sherr very soon!
Tennis Channel streaming Pickleball 24/7 now
The Professional Pickleball Association and pay-TV network The Tennis Channel are teaming up in a push to further popularize the sport.
Tennis Channel will have the rights to produce and air a vast majority of the matches on its pay-TV and streaming platforms, as well as create a 24/7 free, ad-supported streaming channel dedicated to pickleball.
Wow. We saw it coming, didn't we? The Tennis Channel's tennis programming is called boring by its viewers, main advertisers are staying away, and the business is probably losing Sinclair Broadcasting a lot of money. Now they are putting their eggs in the Pickleball basket. Will that work out for them? Time will tell.
Is it time for a name change? My best guess: The Racquet Channel.
Only the Top 100 players make a living in tennis?
Javier Palenque pointed out that it's mainly 256 tennis pros that support 7,500 full-time and 13,500 part-time GS employees in one of his latest articles WHY TENNIS IS ROBBING THE PROS. He also mentioned that only the Top 100 actually make a living playing on the tour. I put this theory to the test and selected 3 players each from the ATP and WTA tours. I didn't select players that were in the Top 100 high up previously and then moved down as they got older (and there are plenty of those!)
- Franco Agamenone (Argentina/Italy) age 30. ATP 200. On tour 13 years. Career-high 108. Made so far $409,843.
- Raúl Brancaccio (Italy) age 26. ATP 185. On tour 2 1/2 years. Career-high 121. Made so far $292,571.
- Michael Geerts (Belgium) age 28. ATP 268. On tour 3 years. Career-high 212. Made so far $165,325.
- Arianne Hartono (Netherlands) age 27. WTA 174. On tour 5 years. Career-high 156. Made so far $ 430,063.
- Martina Capurro Taborda (Argentina) age 25. WTA 200. On tour for 7 years. Career-high 200. Made so far $ 43,060.
- Nigina Abduraimova (Uzbekistan) age 29. WTA 195. On tour 7 years. Career-high 144. Made so far $ 505,783.
I'm finding that Javier is correct. Once you make the Top 100 (ATP and approx. Top 115 (WTA), you can make a living on the pro tours if you put in the time and keep playing. A good example for that is Steve Johnson, 33, career-high 21, now 211, made almost $8M. All he won is four ATP Challenger Tour titles and four ATP Tour 250 titles.
Another example is Astra Sharma (Australia) age 28. career-high WTA 84, now 161. Made $ 1,663,688 and won only 2 singles and 3 doubles titles.
USTA and Pickleball - reading between the lines...
For months, I've been saying that USTA executives do their darndest best to hide their real involvement in Pickleball. The reason is simple: They don't want us members to know how much Pickleball they are already involved in and planning for the future. They are scared of that reaction. I was told the entire staff in Orlando is reading Tennis Club Business and so are the Board members. They know I'm questioning their mission statement and I'm for changing their name if they continue with the Pickleball courtship. We are not supposed to know how many Pickleball courts they already have at the National Campus in Orlando (4 permanent, 8 temporary) or what kinds of huge Pickleball tournaments are already creating revenue (PPA Hertz National Championship, Central Florida Amateur Open, IABA Pickleball Tournament, Orlando Pickleball Series, Special Olympics State Championships & Pickleball Invitational, possibly many more.) For those tournaments, they have to add another 25-50 temporary PB courts.
Now, to illustrate what I mean, the website for the National Campus only talks about courts so they don't have to mention the Pickleball and Padel courts. The first photo shows what's on the website - a pretty picture with lakes and tennis courts. The second photo is the same image but includes the area covered up.
Now, why am I showing you all this? Because the USTA announced in a press release on September 9: USTA Commits $3 Million to Refurbish up to 200 Courts Across America in Coco Gauff's Name as Part of New US Open Legacy Initiative. You notice that they are speaking about courts and not tennis courts? Furthermore in the article they write "the refurbishment of up to 200 courts across the country" and "$3 million to reinvigorate courts at public parks and facilities across America."
I smell a rat! Some of this money will undoubtedly go to turning tennis courts into Pickleball courts. If that happens, folks, we will be on them like a big, fat rat trap!
Btw, Javier Palenque's recent post is an eye-opener as far as the USTA's inability to prevent the conversion of tennis courts to PB is concerned: "MORE TENNIS COURTS LOST FOREVER, AND USTA’S EXECUTIVES GET BONUSES."
And even more of an eye-opener is Javier's latest post: THE COLLAPSE OF TENNIS AND THE USTA LEADERSHIP DOES ABSOLUTELY NOTHING. Get ready to weep, folks.
USTA paying sections a $30M bonus?
When I first heard about this, I thought oy, how much of this bonus is going to grassroots tennis? Or, will this be 100% consumed by executive salary increases, a hiring spree, and League Captain's gifts? You know, the usual when USTA execs see money growing on trees. So I sent an email to all section executives asking what they intend to do with the windfall.
Only two upstanding executives have replied. (Thank you) I learned that this may not be a bonus at all but part of the Growth Catalyst Fund. "The USTA Board has committed to invest up to $30 million to accelerate the growth of the game, spur innovation, and bolster local Section, District, and industry efforts. The Growth Catalyst Fund is expected to be invested in areas such as public facility growth, coach recruitment and development, and growing participation. These grant funds will be distributed over the coming years to and through all the sections."
That sounds a little different, folks. We're still committed to staying on the ball here. Especially when it comes to the two sections we had in our cross-hairs the last few years, PNW and Mid-Atlantic. We don't want the funds to go to hiring a dog sitter. Right?
I am yearning for the years of John Callen at USTA Southern. He was always the first to answer questions and communicate what was really important. Sigh.
My biggest concern: Since the USTA is encouraging the sections to start up and organize Pickleball Leagues, and the sections that do it need to hire more staff, is the majority of this $30M not intended to support those Pickleball activities?
People need to realize pickleball is the kiddie pool of tennis. Pickleball players need to take off the floaties and try tennis because they’re missing out on the opportunity
to thrive in the deep end.
David Pendleton, The Poly Post
COLLEGE TENNIS - THE DEAL OF A LIFETIME
Support college tennis in your community!
College tennis is one of the most underappreciated market segments in the tennis industry.
The match format is exciting to watch and challenging for the athletes.
College tennis serves a niche market of 18- to 24-year-old high-frequency players who play at varying levels.
College tennis is the best of all worlds. Athletes can get a formal education while learning life lessons as an athlete in a competitive tennis program.
Dr. Jim Loehr has identified what athletes value most from competing in sports based on his 45 years of research. His comments coincide with those made by University of Colorado letter winners at a recent reunion in Boulder (Go Buffs!)
Shout-out to Emma Doyle for a very good article titled Baseline Chat – Insights into on-court Coaching.
Shout-out to Ken Thomas of Radio Tennis for always putting on an entertaining and informative show wherever he's reporting from.
Shout-out to the Lisa and Douglas Goldman Tennis Center in San Francisco for winning the USTA's 2023 Outstanding Facility Award.
Shout-out to Christopher Clarey for writing an outstanding article about Coco Gauff on his blog TENNIS & BEYOND: Coco's Time - Gauff's US Open breakthrough.
Shout Out to SoCal's Simon Paek for receiving the coveted 2023 USPTA Alex Gordon Professional of the Year Award.
DAVIS CUP DISASTER + USA TEAM
CAN THE DAVIS CUP BE SAVED?
Dave Haggerty's Boondoggle will haunt him forever
Haggerty challenger Dietloff von Arnim said before the election, "The absence of blue-chip brands at last weekend’s Davis Cup matches across Europe is the surest sign yet that the format is dead and a leadership change is required at the International Tennis Federation."
Reuters reported "Dragging the Davis Cup out of financial doldrums after the termination of its $3 billion agreement with Kosmos Tennis will be among Dietloff von Arnim's top priorities if he is elected ITF president."
The Reuters article continued, "The ITF said earlier this year it had in place financial contingencies and would operate the 2023 Davis Cup qualifiers and finals as scheduled, with the Final 8 taking place in Malaga, Spain, in November.
The Kosmos agreement had led to the revamp of the men's team competition, which was founded in 1900. The usual home-and-away ties played over a few weekends during the course of the year were scrapped.
That format was replaced in 2019 with one home-and-away round of ties that was followed by 18 teams competing in one city for a week-long climax to the season."
Haggerty, what the Dickens did you do
with our Davis Cup?
Remember the years, decades, when we had home and away matches with audiences of many thousands, ten thousand? I remember the Bryan Brothers Foundation enabled thousands of kids to travel to those matches. It was something to cheer for. And now? They played a match in Croatia with Frances Tiafoe in front of 74 people. Come on!
And they re-elected Haggerty? I still can't believe it. The USTA supported him, of course. Not only because he's an American and ex-USTA President but also because they are always trying to do their best to go against the grain and tick off a lot of people. Because they can? It shows you what kind of people run that organization. And that includes the Board of Directors.
May I remind you?
USTA supported letting Transgender women play adult leagues unchecked.
USTA Board decided not to support American College Tennis players the same as other nations do.
USTA Board authorized the organization to go into debt to the tune of $726M.
USTA Board authorized a $230,000 pay raise for Lew Sherr in the middle of a Pandemic.
USTA Board authorized wasting hundreds of millions of dollars on Player Development.
USTA recommended Sections to start Pickleball leagues.
BECAUSE THEY CAN! No checks and balances for the rogue Board of a "nonprofit" organization!
But I digress. The question was: Can the Davis Cup be saved?
I say (enthusiastically) YES! Here are three things I would change:
1. Take the ITF out of planning, organizing, and running the event. Give it to someone more experienced in successfully running traveling events. How about Live Nation, the company that knows how to successfully run events? Make sure Haggerty is not involved at all.
2. Stop making it an annual event. That's too taxing on the touring schedules of the stars. Make it a biennial event. Every two years seems about right and adds to the excitement (see the excitement FIFA creates with the World Cup every 4 years).
3. Revert back to home and away ties. Capitalize on the feeling of pride when the US team plays some of their matches in front of a home crowd. And wasn't pride a feeling that created the Davis Cup in the first place?
RACIAL TENSIONS ON THE US DAVIS CUP TEAM?
Was 2023 like 2014 all over again?
After reading how badly Frances Tiafoe lost in Croatia, I wrote in the mid-September issue of Tennis Club Business, "Is this the second time after San Diego 2014 that racial tensions have created big problems in the US Davis Cup team?" Now why would I write a line like that you may ask? Here's why: Two pictures are still burned in my mind from an event where idiotic decisions from the organizers led to another disastrous loss. I don't want to mention the names but they are very close to the USTA Southern California. Those people decided that importing red clay from Italy and putting it in a baseball stadium with tennis bleachers would give them an advantage over the British team. I'm still shaking my head.
But I digress again. Here are the two pictures in my mind I remember.
When both teams lined up in front of the national flags listening to the National Anthems, the Brits stood there arm in arm, a very close-knit team. On the other hand, the US players couldn't get enough distance between them. Only the Bryan Bros were standing close to one another. Hmmm, I thought.
I think the above photo is a bit misleading. It's a photo op before the matches and the photographer probably told them to stand closer and smile.
The Bryan Bros and Sam Querrey were sitting together on the bench. When Donald Young, who replaced John Isner on the team, came out from the locker rooms, they all got up and left. Young was left sitting alone on the bench. Remembering the clashes and disagreements Young had with the USTA Player Development people, I thought hmmm again. What's wrong with that picture?
You know me, I have that keen sense of something's wrong. But - am I right or am I seeing something that isn't there?
Last week, I got a phone call from a friend who is much closer to the Davis Cup team than I will ever be. And he's someone I trust 100% who never had a problem speaking his mind and never had a reason to give me bull. He confidentially assured me there was absolutely no racial tension in Croatia. He gave me some more background to cement his statement and you know what? I have no reason to doubt his words.
THERE WAS NO RACIAL TENSION ON THE US DAVIS CUP TEAM IN CROATIA!
I guess the guys just had a couple of bad days in Split. Happens to all of us. Right?
And I was probably wrong about San Diego, as well. Or was I?
We had 103 responses and 56 left some very interesting comments.
"Should the USTA and its sections be involved in the planning and running of Pickleball Leagues?"
See the comments again in the LETTERS section.
TCB Survey October 2023 - This month we have 2 questions.
1. "How do our readers rate our job of holding the USTA's feet to the fire?"
2. "Do you find our mid-month issue informative or should we focus just on the monthly issue?"
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