February 2005 Volume 33 Number 2 $5.


Industry pros are looking ahead with optimism Q Economy Q Footwear Q Racquets Q Apparel Q String Dealing with tough customers Create an activities committee Hard-court award winners
Q String Playtest Q Ask the Experts

Q Tips and Techniques

Q Science: Twistweight

SPECIAL SECTION 25 Outlook 2005 26 All Systems Go? 28 Racquets
With new construction and new materials, frames can now improve both control and power.



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Tennis industry professionals are eyeing the new year with optimism for the sport as a whole. The economy appears poised for growth, and signs are pointing to a bullish tennis market, too.

INDUSTRY NEWS 7 ASBA tech meeting has record

32 String
Research into strings and stringing are leading to a whole new understanding of their effects on play.

7 7 8 8 9 9 9 10 11 12

PTR schedules 2005 Symposium Cardio Tennis set to debut in spring TIA enhances Tennis Welcome Center program Tennis Channel adds 42 cable systems Industry veteran Nihiser retires from Head/Penn USTA names Billie Jean King to committee chair Thorlo unveils two new tennis socks Head/Penn announces organization changes Ashaway introduces multi-polymer monofilaments Olympus, USTA sign deal, discuss fashion show New “TennisMind” CD available Milk scholarships available for student-athletes

34 Apparel
In their latest lines, tenniswear manufacturers are giving players clothes with game.

38 Footwear
Manufacturers are turning to strong materials for tennis shoes that add support, not extra weight.

22 Facility-of-the-Year Hard-Court Winners
These hard-court winners are worth showing off.

12 13

DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 14 Your Finances 16 Retailing Success 20 Marketing Success

40 42 44 46 48

String Playtest: Gamma Revelation 16 Ask the Experts Tips and Techniques Science: Twistweight Your Serve, by Franklin Johnson 3


Our Serve
Continuing Ed That Connects
(Incorporating Racquet Tech and Tennis Industry)


ontinuing education is a big key to helping you succeed in this business. And there are a number of excellent choices when it comes to adding to your business knowledge and honing your skills in tennis teaching, programming, and retailing.

Publishers David Bone Jeff Williams Editor-in-Chief Crawford Lindsey Editorial Director Peter Francesconi Associate Editor Greg Raven Design/Art Director Kristine Thom Assistant to the Publisher Cari Feliciano Contributing Editors Cynthia Cantrell Rod Cross Joe Dinoffer Liza Horan Andrew Lavallee James Martin Mark Mason Chris Nicholson Mitch Rustad Drew Sunderlin Jonathan Whitbourne RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY Corporate Offices 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084 Phone: 760-536-1177 Fax: 760-536-1171 Email: RSI@racquetTECH.com Website: www.racquetTECH.com Office Hours: Mon.-Fri.,8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time Advertising Director John Hanna 770-650-1102, x.125 john@racquettech.com Apparel Advertising Cynthia Sherman 203-263-5243 cstennisindustry@earthlink.net
Racquet Sports Industry (USPS 347-8300. ISSN 01915851) is published 10 times per year: monthly January through August and combined issues in September/October and November/December by Tennis Industry and USRSA, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084. February 2005, Volume 33, Number 2 © 2005 by USRSA and Tennis Industry. All rights reserved. Racquet Sports Industry, RSI and logo are trademarks of USRSA. Printed in the U.S.A. Phone advertising: 770650-1102 x.125. Phone circulation and editorial: 760536-1177. Yearly subscriptions $25 in the U.S., $40 elsewhere. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084.

Most of you probably know about, and may have attended, the excellent annual conventions of the PTR in February and the USPTA in September, along with the USA Tennis Teachers Conference in August and, for the court construction business, the Technical Meeting of the American Sports Builders Association (formerly the USTC&TBA) in December. These annual gatherings feature top-notch workshops, lectures, seminars and on-court presentations. There is, however, one event out there that for years has remained a bit under the radar. Yet, as I found out last year—and without taking anything away from the four conventions mentioned above—it is possibly one of the best when it comes to developing and educating community tennis leaders. I’m talking about the annual USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop. This year, the CTDW (which years ago used to be called the NJTL Workshop) will be held at Sandestin Resort in Destin, Fla., Feb. 4 to 7, and if last year’s event is any guide, you can expect some wonderful and useful presentations. As Karen Ford, the USTA’s manager of Community Development, told me recently, the CTDW “provides us the chance to really connect with community tennis leaders and provide them the tools they need to grow the sport of tennis, or just build a stronger, healthier community through tennis.” Last year’s CTDW, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, drew a record 678 registered attendees, and Ford is hoping to break 700 in 2005. The key to the CTDW, though, is that the attendees, presenters, and organizers all are committed to one goal: growing tennis in their communities. The folks who attend the CTDW are the people who actually deliver the programs and have direct contact with the tennis-playing and equipment-buying public. Some are volunteers in tennis; some make their living from the sport—all stand to gain through the knowledge they come away with. The CTDW sessions I stopped in last year were well-attended, and the knowledgeable presenters fed off of the audience’s enthusiasm. It was one of the best gatherings in this business that I’ve ever been to. This year’s theme for the CTDW is “Great Ideas, Greater Communities,” and you can bet that the talented Community Tennis staff at the USTA will put together a great lineup of seminars that will easily apply to your business, and that will in fact help you get more business. As we go to press, the preliminary schedule included sessions on trends in recreational programming, USA Tennis NJTL, communication, marketing to minorities, liability and insurance, hiring a certified pro, organizational planning, dealing with volunteers, running league programs, and much more. If you’ve never been to the CTDW, or haven’t been to one in recent years, consider attending this one (for more information, visit www.usta.com/communitytennis, call 914-696-7205, or email ctdw@usta.com). You owe it to your business to find out what it’s all about. f

Peter Francesconi Editorial Director





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Cardio Tennis Set to Debut in Spring
The TIA and its industry partners have set an appropriately aggressive agenda for rollout of the Cardio Tennis program. Cardio Tennis is a new group activity that features drills to give players of all abilities a high-energy workout. Participants burn calories while playing tennis, although the focus is more on a great workout. Field tests, research, consumer surveys etc., are taking place through February and the Cardio Tennis program itself will start to roll out at industry conventions during the month. By mid-March, a DVD will be ready, and the www.partners. cardiotennis.com web site will go live. Also, applications will be accepted at the web site for approved Cardio Tennis sites. Cardio Tennis facility kits will start to ship around mid-May. The kit will include marketing tools such as a banner, a heart rate monitor map poster, counter cards, talking points for Cardio Tennis, special programs for Polar heart rate monitors, ad slicks, fliers, and more. The plan is for the consumer web site, www.CardioTennis.com, to go live in mid-June, based on having at least 500 Cardio Tennis sites signed up. Consumer advertising will begin at this time, too. Then around Sept. 1, in conjunction with the US Open, there will be a major public relations effort (based on having 750 Cardio sites). Also down the road, the TIA is planning a kid’s version, called Cardio Tennis 4 Kids. For more information, contact the TIA at 843-686-3036 or info@ CardioTennis.com.

Record Attendance at Upbeat ASBA Tech Meeting
he 2004 Technical Meeting of the U.S. Tennis Court & Track Builders Association—now called the American Sports Builders Association (ASBA)—drew a record 350 attendees to the Astor Crowne Plaza in New Orleans in early December. It was the first time the Technical Meeting drew more than 300 attendees, according to the ASBA’s Cynthia Jordan. There were about 50 first-timers at the meeting in addition to a high number of international attendees, Jordan said. The boost in attendance seemed to illustrate the upbeat assessment that many at the meeting and concurrent trade show expressed about the tennis industry. “We’ve had a lot more construction projects this year [2004], and we’re optimistic for next year,” said Rob Righter of Nova Sports. Drew Stewart of Bakko Bak Bords added, “We’re having a great year. We’ve seen different regions that typically haven’t been that strong” purchasing product. Teri Wysocki of M. Putterman summed up the mood at the trade show part of the meeting: “Tennis is up. Business is good.” Jordan said that 340 companies are now members of the ASBA, the most ever. At the Technical Meeting, nine court contractors and four track builders took the certification exams, which is the most ever, she said. The keynote speaker for the meeting was Ron Dibble, former major league pitcher and Cy Young Award winner. The ASBA Winter Meeting will be Feb. 24 to 28 at the Tapatio Cliffs Resort in Phoenix. The 2005 Technical Meeting will be Dec. 2 to 7 at the Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay in Florida. For more information, call 866-501-ASBA or visit www.sportsbuilders.org.


PTR Sets 2005 International Tennis Symposium


early 900 people from 52 countries attended the PTR International Tennis Symposium and $25,000 Championships last year, and event organizers are expecting an equally impressive turnout for the 2005 Symposium, which will be held Feb. 19 to 25 on Hilton Head, S.C. Courses will cover such diverse topics as speed training, strategy for doubles and singles, the tennis business, training junior players, fast-action drills, munchkin tennis, wheelchair tennis, sports psychology, coaching advanced players and much more. The week also includes the PTR $25,000 Championships, which crowns winners in 29 divisions in men’s and women’s singles and doubles, and mixed doubles. Also, more than 40 tennis-related manufacturers and organizations are expected to exhibit at the Tennis Trade Show. For more information or to register, visit www.ptrtennis.org or call 800-421-6289.





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TIA Enhances TWC Program for 2005
he TIA is ramping up the industry’s Tennis Welcome Center program in 2005 with new programs, quality control enhancements and increased marketing support. In the works is a “Get Connected for 2005” plan of benefits for TWCs that will include individual websites, hosting, email, online registration, find-a-game features, and more, says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. Both the trade website (www.partners.TennisWelcomeCenter.com) and the consumer site (www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com) will also be enhanced. There also will be “generic” TWC programs available called “Learn to Play Fast” and “Learn to Play Doubles,” an improved marketing manual, and a Tennis Welcome Center Parties Program. In terms of quality control, the TWC application and renewal process will now include specific criteria to determine eligibility, and there will be seminars and training workshops on customer service and local tennis marketing. In addition, the tennis teaching organizations will be adding educational certification and developing specialty courses. Better communication also is a key: The TIA plans to establish a TWC project manager position and to create 50 TWC ambassadors within the framework of the USTA sections. Increased marketing support includes a projected commitment by the USTA of at least $2 million. Some of that money will go to fund marketing efforts including advertising in consumer magazines, newspapers, and TV. The plan also includes increased signage and other opportunities at pro tournaments, marketing to retailers to get them involved in their local communities, and a National Tennis Month (May) p.r. campaign.


TTC Launches on 42 Cable Systems
he Tennis Channel 24-hour cable television network devoted to tennis and other racquet sports launched on 42 cable systems in November and December, extending its reach in California, Texas, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Connecticut and other areas. The 42 markets are: • Adelphia Communications— California: Oxnard, Carlsbad; Connecticut: Seymour, Norwich; Kentucky: Owensboro, Richmond; Massachusetts: Plymouth; Maine: Augusta; New Hampshire: Londonderry; New York: Buffalo; Vermont: Burlington. • Cox Cable—Arkansas: Morrilton, Russellville, Jonesboro; Florida: Gainesville; North Carolina: Greeneville, Rocky Mount, New Bern, Kinston, Washington/Williamston; New Mexico: Clovis; Texas: Amarillo, Lubbock, Georgetown, Plainview, Midland, Andrews, Big Spring, San Angelo, Abilene, Sweetwater, Bryan; Virginia: Roanoke, Hampton Roads. • Other—California: Sacramento (Sure West); Rocklin, Auburn (Starstream Communications); Florida: Pinellas Park (Knology); Kansas: Lawrence (Sunflower Broadband); Minnesota: Hutchinson (Hutchinson Telecom); New Hampshire: Keene (Time Warner); South Carolina: Aiken (G Force LLX).





Bud Nihiser Retires From Head/Penn
fter 42 years in the sporting goods industry, Head/Penn Ohio-based District Sales Manager Bud Nihiser has retired. Nihiser spent more than 13 years with Head/Penn, servicing clients in Indiana and Ohio. “I feel truly blessed to have spent my entire career in this industry,” he says. “There are coworkers and customers dating back 40 years that I still stay in contact with.” “Bud’s accounts love him for good reason,” says Greg Mason, Head/Penn’s director of marketing and pro-specialty sales. “He consistently demonstrated highest integrity and truly cared about the business.” Nihiser’s replacement in the Indiana/Ohio territory will be Steve Rothstein, who’s been in the tennis industry for 19 years.


USTA Names BJK to Chair High Performance Committee
he USTA has named Billie Jean King to chair the USA Tennis High Performance Committee. Also, Jack Kramer has agreed to join the committee as a special advisor. The committee will assist the USA Tennis High Performance professional staff, led by Paul Roetert and Eliot Teltscher, with its charge to facilitate the development of world-class American champions, providing promising players with access to the best coaching, training and conditioning. “We are fortunate to have the incomparable Billie Jean King volunteer her expertise to take on this important responsibility,” says USTA President Franklin Johnson. “We are equally delighted to have one of the seminal figures in our sport, Jack Kramer, in an advisory role.” King has worked with the USTA in a variety of capacities following her legendary playing career. She recently announced her retirement from the U.S. Fed Cup Team, which she helped coach this year, after 42 years of involvement with the team as a player, coach, and captain. Kramer was instrumental in forming the ATP in 1972 and was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968. The USA Tennis High Performance program operates from two facilities—its headquarters in Key Biscayne, Fla., and a new training center in Carson, Calif.


Thorlo Unveils 2 New Tennis Socks
horlo brand has launched two new tennis socks, to give consumers a choice of protection: Tennis Thorlos Protection Level 1 and Tennis Thorlos Protection Level 2. The new Level 1 sock is designed to provide protection for low intensity, less strenuous activities, for instance for occasional tennis players who prefer lightweight padding at the ball and heel and wear narrow-lasted shoes. CoolMax provides wicking to help keep feet dry, and the Level 1 sock will not change a player’s shoe size. The new Level 2 sock, designed for medium intensity activities that are moderately strenuous, provides medium density padding along the heel, ball, and top of the toes. It combines CoolMax and Thorlon for wicking and padding. Thorlo also offers a Level 3 sock for high-intensity activities. This product has high-density padding under the ball and heel and along the top of the toe. Tennis Thorlos are available in crew, cuff top, mini crew, micro mini crew, and roll top styles and range in price from $11 to $13. For more information, visit www.thorlo.com.






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Head/Penn Announces Organization Changes for 2005
ead/Penn Racquet Sports announces several strategic organizational changes, including restructured territories, a new regional sales manager and a new business manager for Penn. Jennifer Parker, formerly the communications manager for Head/Penn and the product manager for Penn accessories, is Penn’s new business manager. She is now responsible for managing all aspects of the Penn business including branding, packaging, pointof-sale and sales programs. Also, longtime Dunlop/Slazenger tennis manager Kai Nitsche has joined Head/Penn as the Southern regional sales manager. He brings his extensive marketing, sales, and product manager experience to managing the region stretching from North Carolina to Florida and west to Texas and the central Midwest. In other sales territory moves, designed to best fit regional climates and retailer and consumer purchase patterns, former Eastern Regional Manager John Tranfaglia is now responsible for the newly formed Northern region. His territory will include his current Northeastern markets as well as markets south to Virginia and throughout the upper Midwest. Rich Neighbor will continue as Western Regional Manager with no market changes.


The 2005 Community Tennis Development Workshop, presented by the USTA, will be Feb. 4 to 7 at Sandestin Resort in Destin, Fla. For more information, visit www.usta.com/community/tennis, call 914-696-7205, or email ctdw@usta.com. The Fischer Twin Tec 1250 FTI received the Editor’s Choice designation in the January/February issue of Tennis. The magazine praised the racquet’s “outstanding stability” and said, “Even bad strokes can produce good shots.” For more information, contact 800-333-0337 or www. fischertennisusa.com. The design-build firm ICA Sports of Olathe, Kan., recently won the DesignBuild Institute of America’s Award of Excellence—Best Project Under $15 Million for its Athletic Complex completed for Solomon Schechter Day School of Long Island, N.Y. ICA designed and constructed a 10,570-square-foot, ADA-compliant, tournament-quality gymnasium for the school five weeks ahead of the sixmonth schedule. Southern California-based tennis apparel maker Bälle de Mätch has been named a preferred vendor for 2005 by ClubCorp, a world leader in premier golf, private club, and resort experiences. ClubCorp owns or operates nearly 200 golf course, country clubs, private business and sports clubs, and resorts. For more information on Bälle de Mätch, call 949-574-7300.


Apparel and shoe manufacturer Diadora has a new address: Diadora America Inc., 6102 South 226th St., Kent, WA 98032. Phone is 253-520-8868. Web is www.diadoraamerica.com. Maria Sharapova claimed the WTA Championship title playing with a Prince Shark racquet. of Greenville, has >Dunlop SportsGeorge Andrews S.C.,Charchosen Luquire of lotte, N.C., as agency of record to promote its lines of tennis and golf equipment. The USTA has launched www.highperformance.usta.com, a website dedicated to the USA Tennis High Performance program, which facilitates the development of world-class American champions by providing promising players with access to coaching, training, and conditioning. The U.S. Davis Cup team lost the 2004 final to Spain, 3-2, in early December. The team will begin its quest to return to the Davis Cup final when it hosts Croatia at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., March 4-6 in the first round of the 2005 competition. For reality-TV fans, Wilson’s nCode racquet made the small screen for an episode of “The Apprentice” on NBC. One of the teams won the chance to play tennis with John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova in Arthur Ashe Stadium at the USTA National Tennis Center. Team members were equipped with NsixOne Tour racquets.

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Ashaway Introduces Line Of Multi-Polymer Monofilaments


shaway says its new line of multipolymer monofilament tennis strings represents the first synthetic gut on the market to combine both resiliency and durability in a single string.

MonoGut was designed for power players who want a strong string while providing good feel and control, says the company. It’s available in 16- and 17-gauge versions, as well as a hybrid set. The 16L-gauge MonoGut provides maximum durability with a highly playable string, says Ashaway, and is the most popular monofilament construction for professional players. MonoGut 17 is recommended for hard-hitters and players who find hybrids too stiff. New Crossfire MonoGut hybrid string sets combine 16L-gauge MonoGut mains and 16-gauge synthetic gut crosses for durability, playability, and tension holding. Ashaway says the sets are ideal for both hard-hitters who want a softer-playing string and power players looking for a more durable hybrid. For more information, contact 800-556-7260 or visit www.ashawayusa.com.


The String Survey Poster in the January issue of RSI is replaced with a corrected version of the poster in this issue of RSI. Please discard the old version and replace it with this new one. We apologize for any inconvenience.




Olympus, USTA Ink 4-Year Deal, Talk Fashion Show
lympus Imaging America Inc. has signed a four-year worldwide marketing partnership to expand its association as the Official Camera of the US Open and its charter sponsorship of the US Open Series, the eight-week summer tennis season that links 10 tournaments to the US Open, the USTA announced in December. The deal, for a reported $35 million, is believed to be the largest of its kind for any sport in the category of cameras, imaging, printers, and binoculars, other than the Eastman Kodak deal for the Olympics, reports the publication SportsBusiness Journal. Olympus will be designated as the “Official Camera” of the US Open and the US Open Series and will be named the “Official Binocular” and “Official Photo Image Storage and Image Printing” sponsor of the US Open. The USTA and Olympus apparently are discussing the possibility of staging a fashion show, the business publication reported. Olympus sponsors Fashion Week in New York, which occurs around the time of the US Open, and both organizations appear to be looking for crossover promotion opportunities.


New “TennisMind” CD
Sport psychology consultant and tennis teaching pro Dr. Robert Heller has released “TennisMind,” which combines visual and auditory technology to address 20 key areas to help your competitive athletes perform at their best. The two-volume mental conditioning CD/software program, written by Heller in conjunction with Subconscious Training Corp., contains lessons for developing confidence, managing mistakes, controlling anxiety, taming anger and 16 additional topics designed to help players build “emotional muscle.” TennisMind is $49.95 from The Winning Edge (www.TheWinningEdge. usptapro.com).



ritory Manager of the Year award has been presented to Chuck Heyde, who oversees New York State and Fairfield County, Conn. Also, Völkl has hired Chris Avery to handle sales for the Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky areas.


• Völkl’s Ter-


“Got Milk?” Scholarships Available For Student-Athletes
o you know of or coach a high school scholar-athlete who’s looking to get money for college? The National Milk Mustache “got milk?” Campaign has teamed up with USA Today for the eighth annual Scholar Athlete Milk Mustache of the Year (SAMMY) Awards. The SAMMY’s grant 25 college scholarships to stand-out high school seniors nationwide who have made milk their beverage of choice, excelled in the classroom and are at the top of their game. In addition to a $7,500 scholarship, each winner will attend a special awards ceremony at Disney’s Wide World of Sports and grace the pages of USA Today with their own milk mustache ad that will run in June 2005. A celebrity panel of athletes, including Andy Roddick, Michelle Kwan, Jason Kidd, Mia Hamm, Tony Hawk, and Brad Johnson, will select the SAMMY winners based on academic performance, athletic excellence, leadership skills, and community service. High school seniors can visit www.whymilk.com to complete and submit an online application, where they’ll be required to describe in 75 words or less how drinking milk is part of their everyday life and training regimen. Entries must be submitted by March 4. Finalists will be named by June.


• Bälle de Mätch has hired Wolfgang Jaeger to handle sales in Pennsylvania
and Southern New Jersey. For more on the apparel company, call 800-356-1021.

• Squash player Thierry Lincou won the World Open 2004 in Qatar in December, his fourth tourney win of the year, playing with a Tecnifibre Carboflex 150 racquet with TF305 strings. On the women’s side, Vanessa Atkinsson also won in Qatar then won the world championship in Kuala Lumpur in December playing the Tecnifibre Carboflex 130 with TF305 strings. •Former pro player Zina Garrison will continue as captain of the U.S. Fed Cup
team through 2005, the USTA announced. The U.S. will host Belgium in April in the 2005 first round.

•Dani La Grace (left) joins Bollé and Serengeti as the senior product
manager for eyewear, overseeing product development, product launches, and strategic partnerships.

•The International Tennis Hall of Fame has announced the promotion of Marguerite A. Jones to manager of tournaments and special events and the appointment of Daniel J. Medeiros as special events manager. •Timothy Neilly, 17, of Tampa, defeated Atlanta's Donald Young to become the first
African-American to win the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships Boys' 18s singles title in the event's 58-year history. Jessica Kirkland, 17, of Dayton, Ohio, defeated Russia's Alla Kudryavtseva in the girls' final to become the first American to win the Orange Bowl girls' title since Luanne Spadea 15 years ago. It was the first time since 1974 that Americans took both the boys’ and girls’ singles titles at the Orange Bowl.






Build Business, Enjoy Yourself, And Write It Off
magine an enjoyable—and educational— vacation, but with Uncle Sam picking up part of the tab. Every racquet sports business, owner, employees, even someone who is a shareholder/employee, can legitimately claim an income-tax deduction for the expenses paid or incurred in attending trade shows, conventions, and meetings. Of course, there are restrictions. A major downside is that the deduction does not apply to the expenses of attending a convention or meeting in connection with investments, financial planning or other income-producing property. But usually all that is required to qualify for conventionrelated tax deductions is that you be able to show, if asked, that attendance at the event benefited your business. If you follow the rules, the Internal Revenue Service will pick up the tab for a sizable portion of your expenses. The expenses of selling at a show or event are also deductible as legitimate sales expenses. Tax-deductible expenses include the cost of traveling by plane, train, bus, or car between your home and the event site. Also included are expenses for taxis, commuter buses, and airport limousines, baggage and shipping costs for samples or display materials, lodging and meals, cleaning, telephone, and even tips. And, don't forget the costs associated with attending the convention itself.


Generally, expenses for meals include all amounts spent for food, beverages, taxes, and related tips. That tax deduction for meals is considered “entertainment,” however, and is limited to 50 percent of the amount actually spent. To compute the convention-related meals expense, an attendee can use either the actual cost or a standard IRS amount. If you, as an individual, are reimbursed for those expenses, how you apply the 50 percent limit depends on whether your employer's reimbursement plan was accountable or nonaccountable.

If a family member or other person accompanies you, neither you nor the tennis business can deduct their travel expenses unless that individual 1) is your employee; 2) has a bona-fide business purpose for the trip; or 3) would otherwise be allowed to deduct the convention expenses. For a bona-fide business purpose to exist, the attendee or the business must prove a real business purpose for the individual's presence. Incidental services, such as typing notes or assisting in entertaining customers, are no longer enough. Consider a tennis business owner, John, who, along with his wife, Mary, drove to Palm Springs to attend a convention. Because Mary is not John’s employee and even if her presence serves a bona-fide purpose, her expenses will not be tax deductible. John pays $165 per night for a double room. A single room costs $135 per night. He can deduct the total cost of driving his car to and from Palm Springs, but only $135 per night for his hotel room. If he uses public transportation, he can deduct only his fares. As mentioned, as an alternative to the actual cost method, both self-employed business owners and employees can deduct a standard amount for their daily meals and incidental expenses. However, even when this standard allowance is used, records must be kept to prove the time, place, and business purpose of any travel or convention attendance. Unfortunately, if your employer is related or is an incorporated business in which you are more than a 10 percent owner, the standard meal allowance can’t be used. The standard meal allowance is the official federal Meals and Incidental Expense (M&IE) rate. During 2003 and into 2004, the standard rate for meals varied between $35 and $45 per day for most areas of the U.S. Maximum per-diem rates, including lodging, varied between $125 and $204 per day in 2003. Whether you use the standard M&IE rate or not, make sure you back up all your deductions with receipts

and other records. The expenses of exhibiting or actually selling at a trade show or other event are also tax deductible business expenses. Even where the business is engaged in direct sales to the public, the expenses, for the most part, are tax deductible. However, expenses incurred in creating a unique display or booth may not qualify for an immediate income tax deduction. But if that display or booth is for one-time use, if it is not adaptable to other events or venues, then perhaps an immediate tax deduction as an expense for property with a useful life of one year or less might be in order. Otherwise, depreciation rules come into play.

What if you decide to combine the convention with a vacation? If the trip was "primarily" for business and, while at the event, you extended your stay for a vacation, made a nonbusiness side trip, or had other nonbusiness activities, you may still deduct your business-related travel expenses. If, however, the trip was primarily for personal reasons, the entire cost of the trip is a nondeductible personal expense. Naturally, you can deduct any expenses you have while at your destination that are directly related to attendance at the trade show or convention. In reality, the agenda of the convention does not have to deal specifically with your business. It is enough that you can reasonably be expected to gain some business benefit from attending or exhibiting. So when the USTA, PTR, USPTA, ASBA, TIA, or other industry groups get together, either locally or nationally, consider all you stand to gain by attending the events, with the added incentive that it’s a legitimate tax deduction. Q

Mark E. Battersby is a tax and financial advisor, lecturer, writer and author in Ardmore, Pa.





Tough Customers?
Every retail operation will come up against people who make life difficult. Here are some strategies to help you keep things under control.


Illustrations by Kristine Thom

ifficult customers can be a challenge to any business. They can negatively impact other customers, your employees, your bottom line, and your stress level. To a large degree, “difficult” is a matter of perception. “Difficult” for one person may be “manageable” to someone else. The owner's or employee's personality, tolerance, and people skills will go a long way to influencing this perception. These factors, along with others such as the store policy, inventory, expertise, pricing and so on, can sometimes turn a satisfied customer into a difficult one or a difficult one into a satisfied one.

What type of person or situation do you find most difficult to handle? Think about the times you've felt annoyed, angered, or frustrated following a phone call or faceto-face interaction with a customer. Recall the situation, what happened, what

thoughts were going through your mind and what your feelings, mood, and emotions were like. Was it someone who was very demanding? Very loud? Was the person looking for a deal? Was it one who often brings items back? A customer who wants “extra” or special treatment? A namedropper? A person who blames the equipment for their poor performance? See if you can identify a particular pattern or style of person that you find most difficult to take. Each of us has a sensitivity that can be easily triggered and can lower our tolerance and ability to manage certain customers and situations as effectively as we would like. Knowing our own vulnerabilities can help us develop strategies to handle tough situations more successfully while taking less of a toll on us emotionally. Awareness is the first step in learning to effectively manage difficult people. For example, if you are impatient with people who are slow in making decisions, are unclear about what they want, or

change their mind frequently, you may benefit by learning how to be more tolerant, patient, or understanding. Putting yourself in the customer's shoes can help you learn to see things from their point of view. If you are too sensitive about being liked or approved of by others, you may fail to set or enforce established policies and procedures and be vulnerable to being taken advantage of by certain types of individuals. By learning to care less about what others think about you, it will be easier for you to communicate more assertively with others and to better tolerate occasional criticism.

Frequently, the phone is the first point of contact a customer has with your business, and it can set the tone for what's to follow. Of course, personal contact in the store is always important, too. Here are some questions you need to


ask about how you and your employees deal with customers, both on the phone and in person. Q On the Phone: How accessible is your business by phone? Is the line often busy? Is the customer put on hold for more than a few seconds? If they want to speak to you, are you often not available? Does a person answer the phone, or are callers put through a maze of voice prompts? Are the people answering the phone trained properly? Can they give prompt, knowledgeable replies to most common questions? Do they seem to care about the caller's question and genuinely want to help? Do they go the extra step to get the answer the customer is looking for or call them back shortly once they find out? Q In the Store: Are customers greeted and offered assistance? Are they given space to browse and not feel pressured? Are employees prompt, polite, and service-oriented? Do they make efforts to “build” rapport with customers? Are items well-marked, organized, and accessible to the customer? Are employees trained in providing customer service? Do they have accurate knowledge of the products they sell? Do they know who to refer to for questions or additional information? Do you role-play or rehearse sticky situations, like someone walking out of the store and “forgetting” to pay for an item? Are your policies clear, written, and posted? Whether it's your hours of operation or return policy, are you consistent and reliable in what you say and what you do? Your customers can be a great source of valuable information if you provide them easy ways to tell you how they feel about your store, products, policies, prices, employees, services, etc. Do you provide a suggestion box to solicit comments from customers? Do you have an in-house customer-satisfaction survey or send out surveys to existing customers? Do you periodically invest in paying peo-

ple to call or visit your business and provide you feedback on their experience as “customers”?

In spite of your best efforts to work on yourself, surround yourself with good employees, and establish excellent business practices and procedures, you will at some point run into people who make you question if you really want to be in business. Here are several “customer types” you may encounter, along with some options for dealing with them.

Characteristics: This “type A” personality is always in a hurry and seems to be in dire need of immediate service all the time. Not only are they always in a rush, but also they seek to rush others to accommodate them. Their reasons for instant service are similar: “My car is doubleparked”; “There is only five minutes left on the parking meter”; “I'm late for a doctor's appointment.” They may crowd you physically, interrupt you on the phone, and generally appear anxious and uncomfortable. Strategy: Acknowledge their presence and indicate that you will be with them just as soon as you can. If possible, give them the approximate time in minutes until you can help them. Ask a co-worker who may be less busy to assist them or suggest they might come back at another (specific) time when it is likely to be less crowded and you will have more time and attention for them.

less. If you have an item that is 10 percent off, they'll ask you to sell it to them for 20 percent off. They may have facts to back up their request for an additional discount, such as an ad from a competitor, or they may make up a story and attempt to “bluff” you into giving an additional discount. Strategy: If your mark-up warrants it and the customer buys things frequently at your store, you may be able to justify an additional discount. Beware, for they may tell other customers of yours who will want a similar discount. Another strategy is to offer a justification for your price in terms of your superior service, selection, convenience, etc. A third strategy is to make your own bargain. For example, “I can give you 20 percent off, if you buy three racquets instead of one.”

Characteristics: This is the type of customer who likes to shop but not to buy. They try on lots of clothes many times, ask detailed questions ranging from where the garment was made to what famous athlete is promoting it, and so on. They take up a fair amount of your time and energy, and rarely do they make it worth your while. Strategy: If you have the time and it's not terribly busy, you may choose to politely answer their questions. If not, you can tell them you need to assist another customer and should they be ready to make a purchase, they can catch your eye and you will be happy to assist them in taking the merchandise directly to the counter.

Characteristics: These people love to bargain. It really doesn't matter what they are bargaining over. Whatever your price is, they will ask to have it for




“The balls seem fine to me but I want you to be happy, so here's another can. However, if this can is not suitable either, there is nothing more I can do since it is from the same batch and brand, and that's all I carry.” “At this point, Mr. Smith, it may be that you would feel more comfortable with a 'customized' racquet, which we are able to provide at very competitive prices.” Alternatively, you can charge a daily user fee to try out loaners and apply it to the cost of a purchase. 3. “I recognize that people are not perfect and am tolerant of the sometimes annoying behaviors of others.” You'll be amazed at how simply being able to affirm to yourself that you can handle these types of difficult people and situations will help you cope better dayto-day. Dealing with difficult people is a part of life, and dealing with difficult customers is a part of every business. Accept the fact that you'll be faced with some tough customers, work with it, and remember, “Don't take life (yourself or others) too seriously, or you will never get out alive!” Q
Dr. Robert Heller is a performance enhancement psychologist who works with athletes, business owners, and executives to perform at their best. He is the director of “The Winning Edge” in Boca Raton, Fla., and can be reached at 561-451-2731 or robertheller@adelphia.net.

Characteristics: The perfectionist is highly critical and rarely satisfied. The clothes don't look quite right. The racquet was supposed to be strung at 55 pounds, but it doesn't feel quite right to them. It must be strung too loosely. The can of balls they just opened seemed a bit dead. The first five racquets they demoed didn't have the desired feel; can they demo a sixth racquet? Strategy: Give them the benefit of the doubt, but set limits: “The racquet was strung at 55 pounds, and we recently calibrated the machine so we know it was correct when we gave it to you. Many factors can affect playability…”

Keep in mind that we've only scratched the surface here—the types of difficult customers and situations you may encounter in your business can be enormous. For some general coping strategies, adapted from my CD program “TENNISMIND,” try repeating these “affirmations” every day for the next month: 1. “I can handle difficult situations with skill and composure.” 2. “When conflicts arise, I stay calm and in control.”





Form an Activities Committee To Promote Your Events



uccessful retail merchandisers in shopping malls across the country create promotional events so often and so well that we hardly ever notice being lured into their stores. But for most of us, our event programming seldom consistently generates the kind of participation we would like. Here are some tips to consider if you want to increase participation at your events. Keep in mind that each part of the country will always have its own specific ways to maximize participation.

and responsible hard-workers who are also very busy. It’s long been proven that busy people are most often the ones who get things done. Call the group your “event committee” or “activities committee” and realize that this group will be your promotional workforce, so take good care of them. At the first meeting, offer them a free one-hour clinic with refreshments beforehand. Make them feel special and you’ll have a much greater chance of creating a highly productive group.

The first steps are to set your goals and get a committed group to work together to achieve them. The best people to have on your committee are enthusiastic

Work with your committee to establish an annual calendar of events. Too many tennis directors just sit down at


their computers and create the annual list by themselves. Wrong approach. Let your committee do the driving. Your job is to subtly navigate from behind the scenes. Get a commitment from each as to which events they will participate in themselves and also that they will each sign up a certain number of players.

The committee should meet monthly, always including that free clinic and refreshments. Schedule these meetings within a week after each monthly event, and limit the meeting portion of these gatherings to 30 minutes. The three main topics are: (1) To briefly review successes and failures of the event just held and put those notes in a file for that specific event, (2) to break into subcommittees to finalize plans for the next monthly event, and (3) to discuss any other general business for the committee. Note that these meetings must start punctually and end punctually. Get a good person to facilitate the meetings to keep them on track and focused, otherwise, they will not succeed.

To stay organized and focused, set up promotional timelines for all events. For example, at three months ahead, list the event in your club newsletter, on your website, and on your bulletin board. Insert a flier of upcoming events into all pro-shop purchases and mailings. Two months ahead, post a sign-up sheet and start it off with your own committee members who are committed to participate. Have each of them commit to sign up four more players each. One month ahead get all the details together in your monthly committee meeting.

mittees and takes in all the revenues from entry fees. The other extreme is where the players or members do everything. Guess which one always has the largest participation? The member-run programs, of course. Your goal should be to support your committee by doing the work they don’t have the time or desire to do. We won’t cover the potential details here, but you will get a feel for your duties very quickly. It all depends on the strength of your committee. After all, the strongest tennis event programming in the U.S. is run largely or entirely by volunteers. Look at the history of the USTA or Atlanta’s renowned ALTA. The bottom line? At your facility, be generous with your members. You should earn an appropriate percentage of the income, but make sure there is never a perception from your committee that you are making too much money off an event they are organizing. What they do with their share of the proceeds is up to them. A few ideas are: (1) Start an emergency fund for a member who may face a personal crisis. (2) Start a scholarship fund for promising juniors to get more private or group lessons. (3) Buy a new ball machine or backboard for the club.

While all these ideas sound good on paper, this is where they will stay unless you take the first step. And remember— while initiating a committee and getting it started takes effort, the real trick is maintaining it year after year. You need to see the long-term goal of maintaining your committee as the key to its success. And, of course, make the journey fun for your committee members and enjoyable for yourself. If you have fun, your chances of success increase tremendously.Q
Joe Dinoffer is Master Professional for both the PTR and USPTA. He speaks frequently at national and international tennis teacher workshops as a member of both the Head/Penn and Reebok National Speaker's Bureaus. He is president of Oncourt Offcourt Inc. and has written 16 books and produced more than 30 instructional videos.

This can be touchy and tricky. As manager or tennis director, you need to maintain a global view in order to keep your committee active and motivated. The two extremes are the “one-man show,” where the tennis director does everything without the help of any com-



These hard-court award winners are worth showing off.



ighting for night play and a backboard/“bang” board seem to be the big attractions with the six outdoor hard-court winners of the Racquet Sports Industry/ American Sports Builders Association 2004 Facility-ofthe-Year Awards. Four of these winners (Carlton Woods, Corash Tennis Courts, Logansport High School, and Hunnewell Tennis Courts) went the extra mile and put in lights to extend playing hours. And three facilities (Carlton Woods, Ona Orth Athletic Complex, and Hunnewell) put in practice areas, either with a backboard on one of the courts or a “bang” board in a separate area, so as not to interrupt match play. The six projects ranged from the four-court Allenwood Tennis Center (which is the only project to list a “cush-

ioned” surface) to the 10-court Logansport High School facility. Allenwood and Hunnewell also were upgrades of existing facilities; the four others are new projects. Facility managers seem to realize how important shade is for players. Four of the projects included adding shade shelters between or alongside the courts, and many included water fountains, too. Spectator seating next to the courts also proved popular among this group. And the Corash Tennis Center, on a university campus, also had a safety phone installed with a direct line to the campus police. But for these new and upgraded outdoor hard-court facilities, it’s a safe bet that the increased activity they’ll receive will be a plus for membership and revenue. Q —Peter Francesconi

Corash Tennis Courts at Clark University
Worcester, Mass.
(Nominated by Geller Sport Inc., Boston) Number of Courts: 6 (acrylic) Architect/Engineer: Geller Sport Inc. General Contractor: David W. White & Sons Surface: Nova Sports Windscreens: M. Putterman & Co. Nets: Lee Tennis Posts: Edwards Sports Products



For details on the 2005 Outstanding Tennis Facility Awards, contact the ASBA at 410-418-4875 or email info@ustctba.com.

(Nominated Number of C Architect/En Surface: Ver Backboard: Windscreens Nets: Lee Te Posts: Edwa


Logansport High School Tennis Facility
Logansport, Ind.
(Nominated by Leslie Coatings Inc., Indianapolis) Number of Courts: 10 (acrylic) Specialty Contractor: Leslie Coatings Inc. Surface & Fencing: Leslie Coatings Inc. Windscreens: M Putterman & Co. Lighting: LSI Courtsider XL Nets, Posts, Center Straps, Pipe: Ball Products Acrylic Color: Latex-ite

Ona Orth Athletic Complex at Bethel College
St. Paul, Minn.
(Nominated by Anderson-Johnson Associates Inc., Minneapolis) Number of Courts: 6 (acrylic) Architect/Engineer: Anderson-Johnson Associates Inc. General Contractor: Glenn Rehbein Excavating Specialty Contractor: All-Surface Specialties Surface: All-Surface Specialties Surfacing: Vance Brothers Fencing: Century Fence

Allenwood Tennis Center
Great Neck, N.Y.
(Nominated by DeRosa Tennis Contractors Inc., Mamaroneck, N.Y.) Number of Courts: 4 (cushion) General Contractor: DeRosa Tennis Contractors Posts, Shade Shelters: Lee Tennis Court Surface: Deco Systems Nets, Windscreens: J.A. Cissel Manufacturing

well Tennis Courts

, Mass. (no image available)

The Club at Carlton Woods
The Woodlands, Texas
(Nominated by Trans Texas Tennis Inc., Houston) Number of Courts: 6 (acrylic) Architect/Engineer/General Contractor: Trans Texas Tennis Inc. Surface: Laykold/Advance Polymer Technology Lighting: RLS TE-1000 Championship Nets, Posts: Edwards Sports Products Backboard: Bakko Bak Bord

by Geller Sport Inc., Boston) Courts: 8 (acrylic) ngineer: Geller Sport Inc. rmont Tennis Court Surfacing Bakko Bak Bord s: M. Putterman & Co. ennis ards Sports Products




ou’ve heard optimistic reports for the tennis industry before, including in these pages. But this time, we really mean it. So much has happened in 2004, on so many fronts, that tennis really does appear to be poised to break loose in a big way, in terms of tennis participation, retail sales, increased play, court construction, etc. Recent initiatives by the USTA, Tennis Industry Association and many other groups involved in tennis are getting the ball rolling, and getting more and more key people and groups involved in the longterm health of the sport. It’s still a little too early to see increases

in the participation numbers, but, finally, the trend does appear to be upward. New programming and initiatives, such as the Tennis Welcome Centers and a major focus on the fitness that tennis provides, are certainly helping. Some of these initiatives are under way now, and they’re being refined and fine-tuned to get the best results. The following pages will tell you about the trends in the economy, participation and what manufacturers have in store to help you anticipate your customers’ purchasing trends. It’s fair to say that 2004 was a building year for the sport. And now, in 2005, we should start experiencing the growth.


The economy appears poised for “reasonable” growth, and signs are pointing to a bullish tennis market, too.


ith the frenzy of a heated presidential election and the war in Iraq, the state of the U.S. economy has at times been treated like a media afterthought; not forgotten but drowned in a sea of more urgent headlines. As we head into 2005, the economic reports remain mixed and anything but explosive—consumer debt remains at record levels and interest rates are heading up. But many analysts suggest that the overall economy (which grew by 3.9 percent in the third quarter of last year) is again poised for moderate growth and modest gains in employment in 2005. What exactly does this mean for tennis retailers? One of the country’s leading financial watchdogs, Gary Wright, CEO of G.A. Wright Marketing, a direct marketing and fulfillment company in Denver, is putting a positive spin on the short-term future of America’s economy. “I’m reasonably optimistic that the economy will continue to grow,” Wright says. “It’s not booming, but the unemployment rate is low and the economy seems to be growing at a reasonable pace.” Modestly upbeat assessments like Wright’s abound in

economic circles, though that alone probably won’t help anxious tennis retailers sleep a whole lot more soundly at night. However, Wright says that today’s economy does show clear signs of favoring the niche retailer who’s done his homework. “Our research has shown that specialty retailers with a narrow niche have been doing well, especially when they focus on specific areas,” says Wright, including thorough knowledge of your customers, what those customers want, and especially a significant focus on customer service. “I’d look very carefully at your service component and make sure it’s superior to the competition.”

Cooperative Effort
Economic indicators and retail strategies aside, a more cohesive, well-oiled industry is one of the biggest reasons for optimism in 2005, according to Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis. “Regardless of any economic indicators, our goals for tennis are still very much the same,” Kamperman says. “If I was a retailer looking at 2005, I’d be sure to remember that last year tennis launched several major initiatives,”


such as the Tennis Welcome Center program and the US Open Series of professional tournaments, along with the major “Come Out Swinging” ad campaign—all of which generated significant exposure for the sport. “We had over 100 million media impressions from the ads, mostly in non-tennis media, and the celebrity involvement was incredible,” says Kamperman. “We even have Donald Trump pushing tennis.” Kamperman expects a snowball effect as both initiatives head into their second year. “We’re locked and loaded and we’re going to take it to an even higher level in 2005,” he says. “Effective marketing takes repetition, and we’re going to create even more awareness. As a result, I’d be somewhat bullish right now if I were a retailer.” Recent projections by the Tennis Industry Association should provide more encouragement: Though total participation numbers are flat, total “occasions” or number of times played increased slightly, meaning a rise in more frequent players. That’s backed up by projected tennis ball sales, which are up about 6 percent for the year. “This is one of the best indicators of how tennis is doing over a full year,” says Jim Baugh, president of the TIA. Baugh also notes that pre-strung racquet sales were up—by an impressive 12 percent—a sign that interest among new players could be on the upswing. “We had a good year in 2004, and I see nothing on the horizon that should change this around,” says Baugh, who projects a 5 percent growth in racquet sales in 2005, with overall participation growth expected to match those numbers. That optimism is echoed in the court construction field, too. The December Technical Meeting of the American Sports Builders Association (formerly the U.S. Tennis Court and Track Builders Association) drew a record 350-plus attendees to the event and trade show in New Orleans. Many—from court builders to materials and equipment suppliers to surfacing companies—said they had more business in 2004 than they’ve had in previous years. “Tennis is on an upswing—all my contractors were busy [in 2004],” says Carl Peterson of J.A. Cissel Manufacturing Co. “We’re designing more facilities than ever,” adds Sheldon Westervelt of Global Sports & Tennis Design Group. “Tennis is up, business is good,” says Teri Wysocki of M. Putterman. “We’re having a great year,” adds Drew Stewart of Bakko Bak Bords. “There were a lot more construction projects in 2004, and we’re optimistic for next year,” says Rob Righter of Nova Sports USA. In 2005, the USTA will provide more money for the Adopt-a-Court program to upgrade and repair existing facilities. And a new USTA program kicks off that will offer seed money for new projects. Head/Penn Racquet Sports’ Kevin Kempin says the recent uptick in sales of luxury goods bodes well for specialty retailers, and for tennis itself, and he’s encouraged

that tennis balls and racquet sales revenues are both up for the first time in several years. “As an industry, we have our eyes on the ball,” Kempin says. “There are definitely some rays of sunshine out there.”

Questions and Challenges
Some clouds remain on tennis’s horizon, however. Baugh says Tennis Welcome Center “ambassadors” will be implemented to help local clubs improve their interaction with fledgling players in 2005, as only 51 percent of TWC facilities saw an increase in new players this year. “We have to improve the quality of our delivery systems,” Baugh says. A continuing question mark for many is how to best manage the internet explosion. Recent statistics by the Pew Internet & American Life Project say that a whopping 128 million Americans go online, and of those 78 percent research a product or service before buying it, and 65 percent buy products online (in higher income families, these percentages are even higher). But using the internet as a viable marketing tool without stepping on retailer toes remains a minefield for the manufacturers. “It’s like not advertising in a magazine,” says Katie Curry, vice president of marketing and merchandising for The LBH Group, which includes Lilys of Beverly Hills, LBH, Wimbledon and Fancy Pants apparel brands. “We need to be careful about how we support our independent retailer, but also have an online presence. You have to let people know you’re out there.

"We had a good year in 2004 and I see nothing on the horizon that should change this around," says Baugh.
“It aggravates some of our accounts,” adds Curry, “but the retailers are generating sales through their own websites, and we have to work it into our mix, even if we don’t like it. It’s a sales and marketing tool and it’s here to stay.” But with unprecedented industry cohesiveness, decent economic forecasts and solid marketing strategies in place, tennis’s fortunes for 2005 are looking up. “I think we’ve learned a lot last year and that will continue,” Baugh says. “I’m not looking for big booms in the sport, because I don’t think we’re quite ready to handle that. I want slow, comfortable, manageable growth. I think we’re in good shape.”


With new construction and new materials, frames can now improve both control and power.



he tennis world’s equivalent of the search for the grand unified theory has been the never-ending quest to deliver more power without sacrificing control, or vice versa. For years, things haven’t worked out so well. If a racquet delivered extra zip, the control was compromised. Produce a frame with outstanding control, and you have to swing as hard as the pros to generate juice.

All That’s Changing
This season, racquet manufacturers have gone back to the drawing board, altering the way frames are constructed and adding new materials to improve control and power. The zero-sum game that’s bedeviled companies for years is no longer in play. With the latest technology, racquets give you greater command of your shots and allow you to him them harder, too. Now advanced-player racquets combine the control you expect with the extra power you’ve always wanted. Frames for “tweeners”—players between intermediate

and advanced levels—have a refined balance of control and clout. And you’ll be surprised at the increasing number of game-improvement racquets with oversize and super-oversize heads that aren’t only appropriate for players with abbreviated strokes, but also for players who want to take slightly longer, faster cuts who no longer have to worry about sending their shots into the next county. Today’s oversize racquets allow them to harness the power. “The rules are changing,” says Bruce Levine, racquet advisor for Tennis magazine. “More and more racquets can be used by more and more players. It’s an exciting time.” The season’s new racquets represent a big step forward, as you’ll see below. And you can expect yet another manufacturer to announce a major development in its frames in the coming months. With new constructions and materials, all these sticks will play better than those of even a few years ago. Net result? They’ll improve your customers’ games, and increase your bottom line.

While Babolat is changing the shape of the frame, Dunlop is adding softer materials to theirs for a more forgiving feel. Its new M-Fil 2 Hundred, an update of the advanced player’s 200G, has fiberglass and magnesium in the head, at the 3 and 9 o’clock positions, to give the racquet a flexible, soft feel reminiscent of a wood racquet. Dunlop’s adding similar materials to the M-Fil 3 Hundred, which has a slightly bigger head, and the gameimprovement M-Fil 7 Hundred. “We want to make our racquets more comfortable on the arm,” says Martin Aldridge, group product manager, tennis, for Dunlop. “It’s been one area where we’ve wanted to improve our racquets, and we’ve done that with our new multi-filament technology.”

Dunlop M-Fil 3 Hundred & M-Fil 7 Hundred

Babolat Aeropro Drive & Aeropro Control

Babolat is redefining how the racquet’s throat should be built. The Aeropro Drive has (you guessed it) an aerodynamic beam that resembles the wing of an airplane (and the unique beam also is in Babolat’s new Aeropro Control racquet, too). Its purpose is to allow tournament-caliber players to swing faster and therefore generate more racquet-head speed, for power. The frame combines the new throat with the widebody head of the Pure Drive Team (Andy Roddick’s racquet). The head features the Woofer grommet system, which increases both power and control by enhancing the trampoline effect.

Whereas Prince is changing the construction of its racquets in a visible way, Wilson is altering the racquet’s make-up from the inside with its nCode technology. With nCode frames, Wilson uses silicone dioxide crystals to fill the microscopic spaces between the thousands of graphite fibers—the basic building block of a racquet—for a more solid feel and greater stability on off-center hits. Fans of nCode can look forward to the new nVision, a head-heavy tweener racquet that’ll pump up your shots, particularly off the ground and on serves. The popular H Tour, which has been used by the likes of Lindsay Davenport, is now the nTour. Like its predecessor, it’s a solid frame that’ll appeal to baseliners who can drive the ball. If you’re an advanced serve-andvolleyer, doubles player, or all-courter, Wilson’s got you covered with the head-light nPro.

Wilson nTour & nPro


Your customers will probably be excited when they get a look at Prince’s latest racquets. The company is introducing O3 technology: huge grommet-less holes, dubbed O Ports, on the sides of the head that are designed to significantly increase the sweetspot and improve maneuverability. How does it work? The holes allow the strings maximum freedom of movement, which means the stringbed has more “give” on impact. This, in turn, expands the sweetspot. And the friction from the strings rubbing against the frame dampens vibration. The huge holes enable the frame to cut through the air faster, making it easier to swing. Prince also says that the O Ports, by forming arches along the side of the head, increase the frame’s stability on off-center hits. This spring, Prince will release at least two O3 racquets. The O3 Red is for improving intermediates, while the O3 Silver, a super-oversize, will appeal to players with short to medium-length strokes. Because of the dampening properties of the O3 technology, you should tell your customers that if they typically use a vibration dampener, they’d enjoy the racquets’ muted sensation, whereas those who prefer not to use a vibration dampener may be turned off. Prince also plans to introduce the O3 Tour, though it’s waiting until one of its pro players uses the racquet on tour before it hits retail. As of this writing, Guillermo Coria was testing the racquet.

Prince O3 Red MP O3 Silver OS



Head Size (sq. in.) Length (inches) Weight (grams)

Balance (cm) Balance (inches)

Flex (RDC) Swingwt (RDC) Pattern (MxC)

2 0 0 5
Power Level Price MSRP

Babolat BABOLAT Aeropro Control Aeropro Drive Drive Z Lite Drive Z Max Drive Z Tour Pure Storm MP Team Pure Storm Team DUNLOP Dunlop M Fil 2 Hundred M Fil 3 Hundred M Fil 5 Hundred M Fil 7 Hundred Maxply McEnroe (70 Holes) FISCHER Fischer Twin Tec 1250 FTi HEAD Head Liquidmetal 1 Liquidmetal Heat PRINCE Prince AirDB Midplus AirDB Oversize Diablo XP MP Diablo XP OS O3 Red MP O3 Silver OS TECNIFIBRE Tecnifibre T Feel 275 XL T Feel 290 XL T Feel 305 T Feel 305 XL T Fight 315 T Fight 325 VOLKL Volkl Catapult 4 Gen II Catapult 8 V-Engine Tour 10 MP Gen II Tour 5 Tour 6 Gen II WILSON Wilson H-Cyclone H-Rival 112 H-Rival 96 nPro nProStaff 95 nProSurge nTour 105 nTour 95 nVision Pro Staff Blitz

98 100 100 107 100 103 98 95 98 105 110 98 118 110 102 100 110 96 110 105 118 107 102 98 98 98 98 105 100 98 105 100 115 112 96 98 95 100 105 95 103 100

27.00 27.00 27.00 27.20 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.25 27.50 27.00 27.75 27.38 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.50 28.00 27.25 27.75 27.50 27.50 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.40 27.50 27.25 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.90 27.50 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.00

343 324 274 272 298 298 311 346 309 279 268 320 272 258 295 295 288 326 299 294 270 294 297 321 316 334 345 289 307 339 274 289 251 256 285 311 298 313 297 305 277 280

32.25 33.75 36.00 37.00 34.75 34.50 33.75 32.75 35.00 34.75 35.50 34.00 36.00 37.50 34.25 34.25 35.00 33.00 35.25 34.50 37.50 36.00 35.00 33.25 35.00 33.00 32.50 34.25 33.50 32.25 34.25 33.50 38.75 38.50 36.25 33.25 34.25 33.25 35.50 35.50 36.50 35.50

877-316-9435 • WWW.BABOLAT.COM 12.70 71 341 16x19 2373 $179 13.29 69 337 16x19 2325 $179 14.17 68 306 16x19 2081 $169 14.57 68 321 16x19 2382 $169 13.68 74 316 16x19 2338 $169 13.58 68 313 16x20 2192 $179 13.29 64 320 16x20 2007 $179 800-277-8000 • WWW.DUNLOPSPORTSONLINE.COM 12.89 13.78 13.68 13.98 13.39 14.17 14.76 13.48 13.48 13.78 12.99 13.88 13.58 14.76 14.17 13.78 13.09 13.78 12.99 12.80 13.48 13.19 12.70 13.48 13.19 15.26 15.16 14.27 13.09 13.48 13.09 13.98 13.98 14.37 13.98 58 337 18x20 1857 $169 63 308 16x19 1902 $179 68 293 16x19 2144 $199 67 294 16x19 2275 $209 67 333 16x19 2186 $159 800-333-0337 • WWW.FISCHERTENNISUSA.COM 63 297 16x20 2373 $240 800-289-7366 • WWW.HEAD.COM

65 306 16x19 2270 $120 66 297 18x19 1999 $140 800-2 TENNIS • WWW.PRINCESPORTS.COM 70 68 69 69 73 78 65 72 68 70 65 60 69 64 64 64 61 75 70 72 70 59 59 67 63 63 58 302 16x20 2114 $170 312 16x19 2450 $170 325 16x20 2260 $190 326 16x19 2722 $190 312 16x19 2451 $250 320 16x19 3166 $300 877-332-0825 • WWW.TECNIFIBRE.COM 323 16x19 325 14x18 315 16x19 342 16x19 318 18x20 327 18x20 800-264-4579 • 2359 $190 2506 $190 2099 $170 2463 $170 2026 $170 2000 $170 WWW.VOLKL.COM

304 16x19 2313 $190 301 16x18 1975 $190 322 16x19 2020 $180 283 16x19 1902 $130 293 16x18 1787 $150 800-272-6060 • WWW.WILSON.COM 315 317 323 304 315 305 334 340 316 304 16x19 16x20 16x20 18x18 18x20 16x19 16x20 16x20 16x20 16x19 2961 2610 2344 2085 1766 1800 2408 2086 2102 1763 $160 $150 $150 $200 $170 $200 $220 $220 $180 $120



Research into strings and stringing are leading to a whole new understanding of their effects on play.


esearch in the string field in the last several years has revealed some perplexing, contrary-to-expectation conclusions that are leading to a new understanding of racquet strings and, possibly, a new vocabulary to go along with it. What are some of these research conclusions? Most have to do with the role of tension in string performance, and many cause more questions than answers.

racquet slower (i.e., assuming the player does not compensate with a faster swing) with tight strings but with the same spin, the spin-to-speed ratio will be greater, and the ball will bounce as if it has more spin. So, tight strings do not in themselves cause more spin, but they might cause the player to create more spin. The adage might thus be rewritten to read, “String tight if YOU want to add more spin.”

Tension and Power
Perhaps the most startling revelation is how altering string tension affects power (ball velocity). The old adage “string loose for power, tight for control” still holds, just not to the extent that we previously thought (i.e., looser strings will not change power by 20 percent, 10 percent, or even 5 percent). If you drop string tension by 10 pounds, the percentage gain in ball velocity will be less than 1 percent (about .7 percent), or about .4 mph on a 60 mph ground stroke. That is certainly not significant enough that you can feel the difference in the ball leaving your racquet or see during its flight. But it can add several inches to the depth of your shot, which is significant depending on your usual consistency level and when viewed over the long-term of an entire match. The ball travels farther for two reasons. First, it actually is traveling a bit faster, so it will land deeper. Second, because the ball stays on the racquet longer with looser strings, the player will swing through a larger arc during this time and the ball will, therefore, take off at a higher angle and travel farther. So the increased depth is due to both an increased launch speed and angle. If we can’t see or feel the power difference during the hit, but only infer it by where the ball lands, and if the increased depth is due to speed and angle, perhaps the old adage should be revised to “string loose for depth and tight for safety.”

Tension and Stringing
But what does stringing tight or loose really mean? What you feel when the ball hits the strings is the consequence of the stringbed stiffness. Every string material, construction, gauge, and tension, as well as every racquet head size and string-pattern density contribute to stringbed stiffness. But all that most players ask for when they go for a restringing is a particular tension. The tension is the closest thing to a universally used indicator and prescription of stringbed feel. That is fine if you use the same string in the same racquet. But tension in itself is not a common denominator between different racquets and strings. Stringbed stiffness is, however. A stringbed stiffness reading that is the same in two different racquets with different strings should make the racquets feel very similar; two different size racquets at the same tension would not. Knowledgeable stringers can compensate by adjusting tension to make racquets feel similar, but wouldn’t it be easier if there was a universal comparative such that a player would come to know what value they like, regardless of the racquet or string being used? There are two problems with establishing a universal stringbed standard—one logistical and one technical. The logistical problem is that stringbed diagnostic machines are expensive and not widespread. The second problem is that a stringer could never consistently combine all the variables listed above to satisfy the new customer who comes in with a new racquet and new string saying, “String this up to a 70 (a typical RDC diagnostic machine reading) stringbed stiffness.”

Tension and Spin
Another old adage says, “String tight for spin.” Lab tests at the University of Sheffield, England, have shown that string tension has virtually no effect on spin. Yet players insist they get more spin. What gives? The answer is probably two-fold. First, because tighter strings produce less depth, the player swings harder to get the depth back. A faster swing will then produce more spin. The second explanation is based on an illusion of more spin. If the ball is leaving the

Tension and Player Perceptiveness
Virtually all players assume that they can tell the difference between different tensions. Some claim to be able to identify a difference of a pound or two. Tests have been performed (Professors Rod Cross and Rob Bower) that bring that claim into question. In a test of 41 advanced recreational players, only 11 (27 percent) could determine a dif-


ference of 11 pounds or less. In fact, 15 (37 percent) couldn’t correctly identify the difference even when the tension between two racquets varied by 22 pounds. Using earplugs to dampen auditory clues lowered the success rates even more. Players were only allowed four hits with each racquet, so the only data the player was interpreting was feel, not an accumulated history of location of ball placement that could be used to deduce string tension. Some players said that they noticed a difference, but then incorrectly chose which racquet had a higher tension.

These findings, of course, bring into question what players really feel or think they feel and how they describe what they feel. If they can’t properly differentiate the feel of power, spin, and tension, what do they feel? What is actually felt is the shock and vibration of the handle hitting the hand. This sensation is made up of the rotation, translation, and bending of the racquet. You don’t actually feel the strings, but rather you feel how they alter the duration and amplitude of the thump and buzz of shock and vibration. The brain has to analyze this informa-

tion and turn it into the vocabulary of “feel.” As such, it is an interpretation, not a raw feel. And there is not enough information in this impact feel alone to produce the rich vocabulary that players use to describe the sensation—crisp, dead, grabby, clean, springy—nor is there enough information to determine the amount of power or spin. The natural conclusion is that players “experience” the string; they don’t just feel it. This is a holistic experience that includes feel, sight, sound, intellectual interpretation based on the placement results of many shots, and how the player knowingly or unknowingly alters his stroke as a result of those shot results. The interpretation then becomes the lens through which a player describes his “feeling.” And then, the player attributes the cause of this post-facto interpretively constructed “feeling” as a characteristic of the strings—“these strings have a lot of bite.” It’s a convoluted web we weave. However, there is no denying that string materials, tensions, gauge, etc. alter the performance outcome of a racquet and the player. Future string research will help clarify these phenomena and help us talk about them, but in the meantime, we will simply have to interpret each other’s string babble. After all, we all know what we mean…right?

Mfr ALPHA ALPHA Alpha Vengeance String

Gauges 16L Construction Monofilament

Materials Polyester

Length (Feet) 40 23/20 660,1000 20 20 20 40,360 40,360 40,360 20/22 40 40 22/18 41 40 40 40 40 20/20 40,770 40,66 Color Silver

2 0 0 5
Cost $6.90 $4.00 $32,$40 $4.50 $18.25 $8.50 $12.95,$116.55 $12.95, $116.55 $15.95, $143.55 $13.95 $32.00 $7.00 $13.00 $37.00 $9.30 $14.50 $9.95 $9.95 $17.00 $26.00 $10.50

800-922-9024 • WWW.ALPHATENNIS.COM 800-556-7260 • WWW.ASHAWAYUSA.COM
Metallic Silver/White Gold Blue Natural Light Orange Natural Natural White White/Natural Natural Natural White/White Natural White Natural Silver Gold, Yellow Silver/Natural Volkl Yellow Natural

ASHAWAY ASHAWAY Ashaway Crossfire Monogut 16L/16 Hybrid Multi-Polymer/Nylon Ashaway Monofire XL 16,17 Monofilament Polyester BABOLAT BABOLAT Babolat Pro Hurricane + 16,17 Monofilament Polyester Babolat VS+ 16,17 Multifilament Natural Gut Babolat Xcel Premium + 16,17 Multifilament Nylon GAMMA GAMMA Gamma Prodigy 16,17 Solid Core w/ Wraps Nylon Copolymer Gamma Revelation 16,17 Multifilament Nylon Copolymer Gamma Zo True 17,18 Monofilament Polyester Gamma Zo Sweet 17/17 Hybrid Polyester/Nylon Copolymer Gamma Natural Gut Tour 15L,16,17 Multifilament Natural Gut GOSEN GOSEN Gosen Tecgut Remplir 16 Multifilament Promilan & Polyurethane HEAD HEAD Head Protector 16 Hybrid Nylon & Rubber/Nylon & Rubber PACIFIC PACIFIC Pacific ToughGut 16 Multifilament Natural Gut PRINCE PRINCE Prince Lightning Power 16,17 Solid Core w/ wraps Polyester & Nylon TECNIFIBRE TECNIFIBRE Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 18 Multifilament H2C& NRG Microfil./Polyurethane TOALSON TOALSON Toalson Cyber Blade Tour Thermaxe 123 17 Monofilament Polyester & Thermoplastic Toalson Cyber Blade Tour Thermaxe 127 16L Monofilament Polyester & Thermoplastic UNIQUE UNIQUE Unique Tourna Hybrid 17/16 Hybrid Polyester/Natural Gut VOLKL VOLKL Volkl V-Rex 16L Monofilament Co-Polyester WILSON WILSON Wilson Reaction 15L,16,17,18 Solid Core w/Bundle Wraps Nylon

877-316-9435 • WWW.BABOLAT.COM

800-333-0337 • WWW.GAMMASPORTS.COM


800-554-3707 • WWW.UNIQUESPORTS.US 800-264-4579 • WWW.VOLKL.COM 800-272-6060 • WWW.WILSON.COM



In their latest lines, manufacturers are giving players tenniswear with game.


Bälle de M


253-520-8868 www.diadoraamerica.com

800-423-5208 www.marciagolfandtennis.com

800-678-8245 www.tailinc.com


497 35

800-421-4474 www.lbhgroup.com

Lily’s of Beverly Hills
800-421-4474 www.lbhgroup.com

800-421-4474 www.lbhgroup.com


800-932-7535 www.lejay.com

561-491-9000 www.ellesse.com



Manufacturers are turning to lightweight yet strong materials for tennis shoes that add support, not extra weight.
Less is more. That’s the philosophy shoe manufacturers are taking this season. They are producing lighter shoes than ever to help players get to the ball faster. “But the conundrum had always been, how do you reduce the shoe’s weight without compromising stability?” says Dr. David G. Sharnoff, a podiatrist in Shelton, Conn., and a footwear advisor to the WTA Tour. “And you don’t want to lose too much cushioning, either, or else players won’t want to wear the shoes because they’ll be uncomfortable.” The solution has presented itself in the form of lightweight yet strong materials, such as thermoplastic urethane and graphite, that companies are using for arch and heel supports. These types of materials are also placed on the medial (big-toe) side of the shoe to help prevent inward roll, which is a common problem known as overpronation. Consider the Yonex SHT-304. It has graphite in the midsole, under the arch, and it weighs a mere 12.8 ounces for men and 10.3 ounces for women. That’s feather-light compared to what was being offered even just a few years ago. Another new lightweight is the Diadora Speedzone. It features the Air Flow Competition Comfort Bridge, which combines a perforated insole and a lightweight arch support piece


Adidas A3 Accelerate
with holes cut into it, so your foot doesn’t heat up. The Speedzone is the perfect example of how companies are not only using lighter, stronger support materials, but also incorporating ventilation into them. “It’s a three-fold benefit,” Sharnoff says. “Reduce the weight, increase the breathability, and enhance support.” Nike achieves all three with its Air Zoom Vapor Speed. It has a breathable synthetic upper and a low-to-the-ground ride, which increases stability on quick changes of direction. “Think car racing,” Sharnoff says. “On sharp turns, you want your car to be close to the track to avoid tipping over.” The Adidas A3 Accelerate is also designed for the court instead of a stroll in the park. Instead of using foam, such as ethyl vinyl acetate, for the midsole, which virtually every shoe company does, Adidas has created a thermoplastic urethane midsole, with columns that help guide your foot to a proper landing and cushion the blow. These support structures are also supposed to aid in take-off. Because TPU is stronger than foam, the shoe’s cushioning will last much

Diadora Speedzone


when you come to a hard stop. (Footnote: The T10 is made for players, particularly juniors, who have a narrow foot and found the last Quiktrac model too roomy in the forefoot.) Other excellent shoes this season include the Reebok Upset DMX, the K-Swiss Defier RS, and the New Balance CT/WCT 802. These models are not the lightest of the lot, but they’re hardly clodhoppers, either. And if you’re looking for all-around shoes that can be worn for the court, and beyond, these just might be your Cinderella slippers.

Prince T10
longer, yet it’s a light material so Adidas is able to produce a durable shoe weighing less than 1 pound (for a size men’s 9 and women’s 7). “It’s important for the consumer to understand that a high-performance shoe typically won’t offer a ton of cushioning,” Sharnoff says. “It should be comfortable, but strong players want to ‘feel’ the court much like they want to ‘feel’ the ball. As long as you know this, and know whether a shoe is designed for high-performance or allday, you can’t go wrong.” If stability is a concern, the Prince T10 is worth a look. It uses supple TPU support straps, called 4Foot Wrap, that allow you to thread the laces through the upper for a snug fit and to prevent your big toe from smashing into the front of the shoe

K-Swiss Defier RS

New Balance WCT 802

Adidas: 800-448-1796 • www.adidas.com Diadora: 253-520-8868 • www.diadoraamerica.com K-Swiss: 800-291-8103 • www.kswiss.com New Balance: 617-746-2421 • www.newbalance.com Nike: 503-671-6818 • www.nike.com Prince: 800-2-TENNIS • www.princetennis.com Reebok: 781-401-5000 • www.reebok.com Yonex: 800-44-YONEX • www.yonex.com




Gamma Revelation 16
Gamma Revelation is a new multi-core, multi-wrap string formulated for players who want to use a multifilament string and are looking for the greater control that comes from a stiffer string.
Revelation is available in 16 and 17 gauge in natural only. It is priced at $12.95 per set of 40 feet, and $116.55 per reel of 360 feet. For more information or to order, contact Gamma at 800-3330337, or visit www.gammasports.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself. outer coating seems a bit fragile, and the crosses pull through the mains like a polyurethane string. Revelation knots up nicely, and is easy to string overall, a characteristic noted by our playtesters. No playtester broke the sample during stringing, reported problems tying knots, or experienced friction burn. Two reported problems with coil memory.

(compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 0 somewhat easier 13 about as easy 22 not quite as easy 2 not nearly as easy 0

Gamma Revelation 16 generated aboveaverage scores in every category across the board, including playability, durability, power, control, touch/feel, and spin, with even better scores for tension holding, comfort, and movement. With no low score in any category, this gives Gamma Revelation 16 a strong above-average overall score. Our playtesters liked the durability of Revelation 16 compared to their favorite string, and our lab test shows good tension retention. There’s a lot to like about this string, and with its durability, you have plenty of time to enjoy its characteristics.

We tested the 16-gauge Revelation. The coil measured 42 feet 8 inches. The diameter measured 1.31 mm prior to stringing, and 1.24 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 72 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 67 RDC units, representing a 7 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. Revelation added 12.8 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 37 USRSA playtesters with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 20.4. At well over 42 feet, the coil felt just about long enough to do two midsize racquets. The string feels clean, and we did not get any kinking or twisting. The string is so smooth we had to concentrate to grab it while stringing the crosses. The

(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 0 somewhat better 10 about as playable 11 not quite as playable 14 not nearly as playable 2

(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 1 somewhat better 11 about as durable 21 not quite as durable 3 not nearly as durable 1

Our playtester ratings indicate that this is an extremely well-balanced string with solid strengths and no weaknesses. Our playtest results indicate that Revelation 16 could very well be a good string for oversized and super-oversized racquets, especially considering the length of the coil and its slightly stiffer nature. If you think that Gamma Revelation might be for you, fill out the coupon. The first 500 USRSA members in the continental U.S. to respond will receive a free set of Gamma Revelation and be entered in a drawing for five free sets and a T-shirt. —Greg Raven Q

From 1 to 5 (best) Playability Durability Power Control Comfort Touch/Feel Spin Potential Holding Tension Resistance to Movement 3.5 3.5 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.3 3.2 3.6 3.4




This string provides plenty of power, control, and feel, all in one string. That’s surprising. It holds its tension a reasonable time, and there is very little movement in the mains. It was relatively easy to string and there wasn’t much coil memory. I’d recommend this string to my customers, especially all-court players. If priced right, this string will be a big seller. 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Instinct strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina 16)

From the first point, unbelievable power and control, which continued through the next two or three matches. Easy stringing, normal tension loss, movement was minimal. 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Big Bang strung at 57 pounds CP (Head Ultra Tour 17)

I generally like thinner strings, but this string played extremely well for a 16 gauge. This is a more powerful string than I’m used to. ‘Lively’ would be a good way to describe it. The string lasted much longer than I thought it A nice string (depending on the price), but not would. It frayed right from the 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using outstanding in any one area. first time out, but it actually 4.5 male all-court player using Head Radical OS Wilson Tour 95 strung at 60 pounds CP played better as time went on. strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Advantrex 15L) (Luxilon Ace 18) This string is a keeper. I’d make room in my inventory for it. I don’t like it, and wouldn’t recommend it. 4.5 male all-court player using 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Bandit Dunlop 300G strung at 65 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Competition 1.20) strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic 16)

Very little coil memory. A very easy string to install. Plays nicely. Good control, power, and touch. Also, comfortable to play with. Even though it’s a heavier-gauge string than I normally use, I enjoyed playing with it. 4.0 male all-court player using Fischer Pro No. 1 strung at 64 pounds CP (Gamma XP 17)

“Good overall string.”

“ “

I really liked this string. It played equal to my regular string, with adequate power and good control. 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.2 strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“ “

For the rest of the tester comments, USRSA members can visit RacquetTECH.com.

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Great string! It felt good from the start. It seemed to take a little bit longer to break in, but after that I really enjoyed it. I would definitely use this string. 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson H6 strung at 63 pounds LO (Babolat Conquest 16)

Gamma has generously offered to send a free set of Revelation 16 to the first 500 USRSA members who request it. You will also be entered into a drawing for five free sets of Revelation 16 and a T-shirt!

After about five hours of break-in, the strings performed beautifully. Response was crisp throughout the test period. Easy on the arm, great touch, and with minimal loss of tension. There was no trampolining or problems of control and yet adequate power. It held up terrifically for a soft string. Would very much recommend it. 5.0 male all-court player using Head i.x6 OS strung at 61 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG SPL 16)

To get your free set, just cut out (or copy) this coupon and mail it to: USRSA, Attn: Gamma Revelation String Offer, 330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084 or fax to 760-536-1171 Offer expires Feb. 15, 2005 One set of free string per USRSA membership Offer only available to USRSA members in the US

FREE! Gamma Revelation 16!
Name: USRSA Member number: Phone: Email:
If you print your email clearly, we will notify you when your sample will be sent.

I am impressed with this string! It had an ample amount of power, and it resisted movement well. The tension held up right until it broke, but it never felt harsh. I wouldn’t hesitate to stock this string in my shop. 5.0 male all-court player using Prince Tour Diablo strung at 66 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon 17)





Your Equipment Hotline
DO YOU KNOW ANY COMPANIES that might sell longer tennis racquets—up to 32 inches—even if they’re only for recreational play? OF THE RACQUETS WE KNOW to be currently available, the longest are 28.5 inches and are available from Cayman and Wilson. For longer racquets that are no longer being manufactured, check with sellers of used sporting goods equipment, such as Play It Again Sports, and eBay. know how much pro racquets weigh (total weight) and what the balance points are.


YOU HAVE A SECTION that tells the racquets, strings, and tensions used by some of the top pros. Do you have any information regarding how they set their racquets up? I need to

WE DO HAVE INFORMATION on a few players, past and present, and some of it we’ve published over the years. However, this information is sometimes proprietary, always difficult to come by, and in virtually every instance it is academic to everyone but the player involved (and his racquet technician, of course). There’s no one “pro” racquet, and no pro’s racquet is going to make you play like a pro. It is worth noting that some pros use racquets that are custom-made for them, so that even knowing all the specifications, you still wouldn’t be able to duplicate its feel and playability. We conducted an experiment last year, in which we measured all the specs of a racquet

from a well-known player who uses a custom racquet designed and built for him. We then took a retail racquet that looked identical—except for the graphics—and had the same flex. Using lead tape (60 grams of it!), we modified the retail version so that its measurements on a Babolat RDC exactly matched those of the pro’s racquet. We then played with these two racquets, which had identical length, weight, headsize, balance point, flex, and swingweight, and found that where the pro’s racquet was a joy to use, our “identical” racquet felt to be an assembly of disparate components flying in loose formation. The difference was in the “lay up,” or the way the racquets are constructed at the factory. (This is not to say that you cannot use lead tape to match one racquet to another, but rather that the more similar the racquets are to start with, the better your results will be.) Ultimately,


you need to find what you like, regardless of what others are using.



I’M LOOKING TO BUY four older racquets, but from what I understand, the racquet that interests me changed specifications during its lifespan, so I need to do more than find four of them—I need to find four that match. Do racquets have serial numbers or some kind of marking so you know what batch they came out of? This would be a big help in my search.

ent vendors that had virtually identical specifications, and we’ve had five racquets purchased at the same time from the same vendor that while similar in weight, balance, and swingweight, had flex measurements ranging from 63 to 67. What this means is that no matter how carefully you buy your racquets, you’ll still need to have them measured to see how they match up.


WHILE SOME RACQUETS DO HAVE serial numbers, even if you had the manufacturing information to translate between the serial number and manufacturing batch, it would be of only marginal utility. Each of the racquet manufacturers has certain amounts of “tolerance” for specifications in its products, so even two racquets from the same batch can vary. If that variance is more than you’re looking for, then it doesn’t matter that the racquets are from the same batch. We’ve had two racquets purchased years apart from differ-


AN OVERSEAS CUSTOMER of mine wishes to purchase some tennis balls. I am of two minds about selling to him, because sometime back when I tried to purchase the pressurized balls overseas from stores in the U.S., they refused on the basis that the lack of air pressure in the cargo bay of the plane would flatten the balls. Is this true? AN UNPRESSURIZED CARGO HOLD at high altitude will have extremely low pressure. Pressurized tennis balls—and for that matter the pressurized cans in which they come—would not flatten if exposed to

this low pressure. If anything, they would expand. We checked with Dunlop, and they tell us there is no problem shipping tennis balls via air freight. Penn tells us that their R&D team has determined that the length of exposure to low pressure during air shipment is not long enough to do any damage, despite the pressure differential. With that said, a shipment of tennis balls can become damaged in ways that have nothing to do with internal pressure. During a recent shipment of a case of tennis balls from Southern California to Seattle, the original carton was utterly destroyed. When the shipment arrived, the cans of balls had been repackaged in another, larger box, which was found to contain an electric pencil sharpener that was part of someone else’s shipment. If you decide to fill this customer’s order, we recommend surrounding the original carton of tennis balls with padding, and enclosing it inside another stronger box. —Greg Raven Q
We welcome your questions. Please send them to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA, 92084; fax: 760-536-1171; email: greg@racquettech.com.



Readers’ Know-How in Action
While I love the new format of this year’s Stringer’s Digest, the volume with the stringing instructions does not lay out flat as did the previous Digest in the 3ring-binder. To remedy this, I took my stringing instructions volume to Office Max and had it converted to a spiral-bound book. The cost was $3 plus tax, and they did it while I waited. Kinko’s and Office Depot also offer this service. Alpha string sample pack (5 sets per pack) to: Bob Provines, MRT, San Antonio, TX you stretch it between two starting clamps. Unfortunately, I don't always have 40 feet of space to stretch out a string. Also, here in the Pacific Northwest it is often raining so I can’t count on being able to take it outside. To work around this situation I screwed a bicycle hook (photo) into a stud in the back of my garage. When I need to prestretch a string I tie small knots in each end, loop the center around the bicycle hook and put both ends in a starting clamp. Then I put some tension on it and hold it for at least 45 seconds. 5 sets of Gamma Synthetic Gut 16 to: Dan McManus, Auburn, WA



With the growing popularity of polyesterbased strings, a hazard exists with the tag end of the knots. Most of us trim the string with diagonal pliers (side cutters),

While applying the two-line stencil to the Babolat Pure Drive and Pure Control racquets I noticed that the ink often splatters onto the white part of the frame adjacent to the stenciled area. To keep the frames free of ink I decided to use a piece of 2inch masking tape to cover the four white areas where the stencil will be. I cover the frames after the strings have been removed and before mounting the frame for stringing. You will find that the string can easily be pushed through the tape where it covers the grommets without disrupting your string job. After the stencil is applied the tape is easily removed and there is no ink on the frame. 5 sets of Volkl Power Fiber 18 to: Aex Armstrong, High Bridge, NJ which will leave a sharp edge on each side of the cut. If you or the player should brush this trimmed end across your finger (or other body parts) a moderate to fairly severe scratch is possible. A simple way to avoid this is to slightly mash the trim cut across the sharp ends with pliers that have a flat blade. This smoothes out the sharp edges, thus preventing a scratch or cut. 5 packs of tourna Grip (3 sets per pack) to: Bill Thompson, MRT, Farmville, VA

After 11 years of stringing, it just now hit me how to handle putting dampeners in racquets with dense string patterns. I simply put the dampener in as soon as I have the center mains tensioned and the clamps out of the way. No more bent fingernails, no expletives needed. Also, because I do this early in the string job, it’s easier to remember that I need to reinstall the dampener. 5 sets of Prince Lightning XX 16 to: Randy Stephenson, MRT, Dallas, TX


Don’t whip the string through your hands too fast. The end of the string can hit you in the eye. When you get near the end of the string, slow down. Also, when trimming the string near the knot, don’t get your face too close. The piece you cut can hit you in the face or eye. I’ve strung thousands of racquets since the mid1970s, and both of these occurrences happened to me on the same day. Gosen T-shirt to: Don Dwyer, MRT, Los Angeles, CA —Greg Raven Q
Tips and Techniques submitted since 1993 by USRSA members, and appearing in this column, have all been gathered into a single volume of the Stringer’s Digest— Racquet Service Techniques which is a benefit of USRSA membership. Submit tips to: Greg Raven, USRSA, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92804; or email greg@racquettech.com.

I like multifilament strings and they benefit greatly from prestretching. The best way to prestretch a string is to tie a small knot in each end and have a friend help Situation: When you start the short side on the wrong side of frames with a unique short side, such as Wilson Rollers, Mitt Rockers, Fischer, or the new Prince O3 frames. Solution: String the first cross with the short side. This will resynchronize the pattern and you're back in business. You won't have to cut off the long side and convert it to a two-piece string job. I purposely start the short side on the wrong side to make use of the one cross to reduce tension loss on the last main on the short side. 5 sets of Wilson Stamina 16 to: Albert Lee, MRT, Potomac, MD


FOR SALE: LIVE IN PARADISE! Full service Tennis Shop for sale on St. Croix in the US Virgin Islands. Established 2-1/2 years. Good regular business with room to grow. Good location and good lease. Nice cash income for retired or semi-retired. Must be able to give lessons. $15,000 for all including stringing machine, new ball machine and inventory. Contact smitty33333@msn.com for details. FOR SALE: Head Ti-S4 tennis racquet, 4-5/8 grip, 107 sq.in. frame, 27-1/2 inches long. Comes with full cover. Racquets never been strung. String will be sent with each frame. Asking: $45 each plus shipping. Contact: Jon Miller at jonmiller1@netzero.net FOR SALE: Mega Age Racquets. Eight (8) M-2’s. Assorted grip size. $35 each plus shipping. Four (4) large Top Spin tennis bags $10 each plus shipping. Contact: Bob Payne at 716/373-1469 or email: racquets@localnet.com FOR SALE: Prince Mono Mach 1000, 125 sq.in., 29 in. length. Asking: $80. Contact: David Dunlap, McMinnville, TN 37110 • 931/473-6357 WANTED: Wilson Sledge Hammer 3.8 Power Holes, 112 sq.in., 4-1/4 grip. Contact: David Dunlap, McMinnville, TN 37110 • 931/473-6357
USRSA membership dues: $99 annually. (CA residents add 7.75% sales tax. $106.67 total.) Canadian Members add $20 (US) for postage costs. US Total: $119. Mexican Members add $25 (US) for postage costs. US Total: $124. All other International Members add $36 (US) for airmail postage costs. US Total: $135. Membership includes: 10 issues of Racquet Sports Industry, the five-volume Stringer’s Digest, free consultation, free classified advertising and access to the member's-only website.
USRSA 330 Main St., Vista CA 92084 Tel: 760 • 536 • 1177 President Patrick Curry Partner/Business Development Steve Schein Executive Director David Bone, MRT Managing Editor/Webmaster Crawford Lindsey Advertising Director John Hanna Design/Art Director Kristine Thom Technical Support Dot Hogen, MRT; Greg Raven, MRT Membership Services Nancy Crowley, Barbara Smith Shipping/Receiving Pat Regan USRSA TECHNICAL ADVISORS Warren Bosworth Professional stringer, racquet designer and industry advisor Dr. Howard Brody Professor Emeritus of Physics, Univ. of Pennsylvania; Science Advisor, PTR Ron Carr R&D Manager, Gamma Sports Rod Cross Associate Professor of Physics, Univ. of Sydney, Australia Bill Severa Director of Technology, Innovation and Design Group,Wilson Racquet Sports Steve Davis VP of Next Generation, Prince Sports Dr. Simon Goodwill Research Assistant, University of Sheffield, UK Dr. Carl Love Professor Emeritus, Metallurgy; President, Love Sports Enterprises Bill Mitchell Director R&D, Powers Court Tom Parry Product Development Manager/ Pro Tour Services Manager; Volkl Tennis GmbH Roger Petersman Business Manager-Accessories, Head/Penn Racquet Sports



science A New Twist on the Twistweight Of a Tennis Racquet O
ne of the most important parameters of a tennis racquet, the “twistweight,” is rarely reported on. It is relatively easy to determine a racquet’s weight (all it takes is a scale) or a racquet’s balance point (a knife-edge and a ruler are needed). The swingweight of a racquet can be determined if you have a racquet diagnostic device, which is commercially available, but somewhat expensive. To the best of my knowledge, there is no commercially available instrument to determine twistweight , yet it is an important parameter that greatly affects how a racquet plays. weight, the less the racquet will twist when the ball impacts off-axis. In other words, it will be more stable against miss-hits. In addition, because energy goes into a racquet’s spinning motion when there is an off-axis impact, the ball will rebound with less speed. The power you get out of a racquet degrades the further your impact is from the axis, but not as badly when the racquet has a large twistweight. Since twistweight is a measure of the racquet’s stability against twisting and its uniformity of power, you might assume the bigger the twistweight, the better the racquet. This is not always the case. As the racquet’s twistweight increases, the racquet’s maneuverability decreases, so you must balance one against the other. Do you want a more stable racquet that has a more uniform response across its face or do you want maneuverability? A top-flight player with excellent eye-hand coordination, who rarely hits the ball off axis, will choose maneuverability. The recreational player, who tends to hit the ball over a larger area of the head, should go for stability and uniformity of response.


The technical definition of twistweight is the sum of the square of the distance of every bit of mass in a racquet from the long axis. This definition does not directly help a player, since that sum is an impossible calculation. The wider the racquet’s head, the greater is the twistweight. Since twistweight goes as the square of the distance the mass is from the axis, if a racquet is 25% wider (10 inches versus 8 inches) it will have a 50% greater twistweight. Adding lead tape at 3 and 9 o’clock will increase the twistweight, but adding tape only at 12 and 6 o’clock will not increase the twistweight.

The twistweight (also known as the polar or roll moment of inertia) is a measure of the stability of the racquet to resist twisting around the racquet’s long axis. If you hit a ball dead smack in the center of the head, the racquet will recoil, but not twist around its long axis. If you hit a ball and inch or so away from the axis toward the 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock side of the strung area, in addition to recoiling, the racquet will twist around its long axis. The bigger the racquet’s twist-

In the laboratory, twistweight can be measured using a calibrated torsion pendulum. Since players and tennis technicians do not usually have a torsion pendulum handy, this is not a good solution for the average person. There is a theorem in physics that says the twistweight (or polar moment) is the numerical difference between the swingweight (or moments of inertia) measured around the other two axes of the racquet. This is fine, if you can measure swingweight to an accuracy of a fraction of a percent. Since this accuracy is not readily achievable, this is also not a good method for determining twistweight. There are several other possible solutions to the problem. The racquet manufacturer could list the twistweight of their racquet or the USRSA, which publishes the specifications of most racquets available on the market, could list twistweight in their annual Racquet Selection Map. Another solution is that the twistweight of a racquet can be measured by using the

Figure 1


Figure 2

frames by just taking m (mass of the frame) and multiplying it by D2 (the head diameter, D, squared). If all you want to do is compare two frames, it does not matter what units you use for m and D, (grams, ounces, inches or centimeters) as long as you use the same units for both racquets. This method will NOT work well if the manufacturer has added extra weight at the side of the head as Wilson did in its PWS racquets or as Prince presently does in its Triple Threat frames. In general, the value of the mass times the square of the diameter is about 16 to 18 times the measured twistweight. This means that using the mD2 formula and dividing by 17 will usually get you within 10% of the correct twistweight value. For racquets like the Prince Triple Threat series, the value is about 14.5, which means that those frames are somewhat more stable than a frame of comparable weight and size that does not have the extra mass added in the head

In a study of college varsity players, it was found that they could distinguish two racquets apart if the twistweights differed by more than 5%. In a related study, the same players required a difference in swingweight of at least 2.5% to distinguish two otherwise identical racquets (same balance, total weight and twistweight) from each another. Adding 5 grams to the racquet head at the 3 and the 9 o’clock locations increases the twistweight by about 10%, so a good player should be able to distinguish it from an unaltered frame.Q

Figure 3

procedure given on page 48 of the book The Physics and Technology of Tennis and using equation the following equation:.

The method is shown in Figures 1 and 2 and it is relatively straightforward. You simply tap the racquet to set it in a pendulum motion, time how long it takes to make 10 swings, and you plug your numbers into the formula. A problem arises if the balance point is outside of the strung area of the head, which is true in many cases. Then the procedure is more complicated as shown in Figure 3 and described in the book of page 49. To get around this difficulty, you can shift the balance point well up into the strung area by adding weight to the tip and then use the method shown in Figures 1 and 2. Weight added at 12 o’clock will NOT change the twistweight, since it is on the axis of the racquet (it will greatly change the swingweight and balance, so remember to take the weights off after the measurement). To test this method, the

twistweight of a racquet was measured with no extra weight on the tip, 50 grams added and then 100 grams added. The twistweight came out the same in each case, as long as the total mass (racquet plus addition) is used in equation at left. There is, however, a simpler solution to the problem. Since it is only the relative value of the twistweight from one racquet to another that is of importance, not the actual value of the twistweight that is needed. The twistweight of a frame scales fairly well with the mass of the racquet multiplied by the square of the head diameter. This is fully explained in The Physics and Technology of Tennis and is presented here in Figure 4. A player can easily compare the relative twistweight of any two Figure 4



Your Serve
Expanding Tennis’s Reach
The new USTA president lays out his agenda to grow the sport and to BY FRANKLIN JOHNSON advance the stature of tennis in the U.S.


he new year brings a great deal of personal excitement for me, having been granted the opportunity to lead the USTA for the next two years as its president and chairman of the board. I realize that the challenges of this position are many. But thanks to a heartening new era of cooperation between the many and varied entities within our sport, the USTA—and all of tennis—stands poised for a significant surge. As I step into my new role, tennis’s potential is evident. Of course potential, in and of itself, is not enough. We know that we have a great sport that offers advantages unmatched by other athletic endeavors. Tennis is physically and mentally challenging. It is fun and promotes fitness. It is a family sport that can be played for a lifetime. We need to advance the stature of tennis in America to the level existing in other countries. We need to do it now. The USTA’s mission is simply stated: To promote and develop the growth of tennis. But the formula for substantial growth and the sport’s long-term health is not so simple. Indeed, the growth of tennis in the U.S. has been disappointing. Despite several initiatives and considerable expenditures, we still are faced with statistics that show a decline in U.S. tennis participation over the past 15 years and a rather serious decline over the past four years in the number of frequent players. If this sport is to surge upward, we need to look inward. Everyone with a stake in the game needs to examine what we are doing. What’s working? What isn’t? What can be improved? What has been disproved? Initiatives are not unlike investments: Some pay great dividends, other fall flat. As a sport, we need to make changes where past approaches are not working and encourage and support those that are. That’s the best—the only—way to ensure that our efforts have impact. One area particularly vital to the game’s growth and long-term health is public parks. For that reason, it is an area upon

which the USTA plans to focus a good deal of attention and energy. Public parks are where I learned to play tennis, and where the majority of people in this country first pick up the game. Sadly, tennis facilities in many of our parks today are in disrepair and have little tennis activity. We need to change that. We’ve established some great relationships with the leaders of the National Recreation and Park Association, and it’s been encouraging to see the strong support that tennis enjoys in that association. The USTA has created a new Tennis in the Public Parks Task Force, and we’ll be working closely with the NRPA, stepping up our efforts with grants to fund court repairs, tennis pros, and programs in public parks. This parks effort will be partnered by tennis-loving volunteers at the local level calling upon their city’s park and recreation officials to ensure that tennis is getting its fair share of the recreation dollar. This local advocacy for our sport will be a key element to our strategy. Once we get people playing, we’ve got to keep them playing—and keep them playing often. One of the best tools for producing frequent players are leagues, and we intend to make a major effort to grow league tennis through an improved marketing plan. The focus of that plan should not only be to promote significant growth in USTA types of leagues, but in all league play. Leagues help make tennis a regular part of people’s lives. More regular play translates into more frequent players. Other avenues of pursuit in an effort to create more frequent players will be getting more people involved in tournament tennis and developing more of a presence for tennis on college campuses. We need to better drive home the myriad social, mental, physical benefits of the sport. To that end, we believe that “Cardio Tennis,” which combines tennis drills with a cardiovascular workout, will appeal to those who have limited time and want to enjoy tennis

and still meet their aerobic and fitness goals. Whatever the initiative, it’s important that we never lose sight of the fact that tennis should be fun. We need always ensure that the social aspect is a major player in all of our efforts. Fun equals frequency. Most important, we must achieve better diversity throughout our sport. We must reach out and be more inclusive and spend the marketing dollars necessary to bring more multicultural participants into tennis. Penetrating the large, rapidly-growing Hispanic community has been a particular challenge. But this is a market of such potential—and such importance—that we must be aggressive in our pursuit. Tennis is a game that grows from its grassroots upward. Many of us recognize that the marketing of tennis at the section and local level cries out for major improvement. We will be devising new approaches and providing increased funding to achieve better results. We have recently had some great national marketing but need to buttress that with strong local marketing to be truly effective. As an association, the USTA is always open to new and better ways to expand our reach and get more people playing tennis. I am heartened by the unprecedented spirit of cooperation with the teaching pros and other industry partners that the sport today enjoys and feel fortunate to be assuming my new role at a time of such harmony. Working together, I sincerely believe that we can elevate the stature of tennis in the U.S. and fulfill the promise of our potential. Q
New USTA President Franklin Johnson has been on the USTA board of directors for eight years. He was a managing partner of the accounting firm Price Waterhouse. We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.