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April 2005 Volume 33 Number 4 $5.

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10 WAYS TO FIRE UP TENNIS!
Ideas that can reinvigorate the pro game and increase the sport’s popularity

Corporate Tennis Leagues Can Help Your Business Peter Burwash International: Still Serving at 30 Years Old Australian Open Player Equipment Log
Q Customer Relations Q Retail Signage Q String Playtest Q Ask the Experts Q Tips and Techniques Q Science

Contents

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INDUSTRY NEWS 7 PTR Symposium honors
members, facilities

7 8 8 9 FEATURES 27 10 Ways to Fire Up Tennis
Award-winning tennis writer Paul Fein says that when enthralling rivalries and charismatic characters are in short supply, the popularity of tennis doesn’t have to plummet.

Tennis Channel buys Scottsdale ATP stop USRSA announces 3 new certification testers Tail collection shines with Swarovski crystal “Grommets Network” started by USRSA K-Swiss fortifies 7.0 footwear line Wheelchair documentary to debut in April New tennis collectibles on sale Vantage Sport offers custom-built racquets Wilson adds five to Speaker’s Bureau In•Tenn releases 2nd DVD Prince debuts new T10 shoe Atlanta CTA honored by USTA Letter to the Editor: Bring tennis to PGA Show

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30 Corporate Dividends
Starting company tennis leagues in your area can be lucrative for your business, fun for employees, and beneficial for the corporations.

32 Customer Tennis
For 30 years, Peter Burwash and Peter Burwash International have been providing unrivaled service to players, vacationers, facilities, and their own employees.

36 Get Down to Business!
These two racquet sports facilities take different paths, but both lead to increased profits.

38 Australian Open 2005
Let your customers check out the equipment their favorite players were using Down Under.

DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 16 Customer Relations 18 Industry People 20 Your Finances 22 Marketing Success

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Retailing Success String Playtest: Volkl V-Rex Ask the Experts Tips and Techniques Science Your Serve, by Scott Hanover
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Our Serve
What's on Your Business Learning Calendar?
(Incorporating Racquet Tech and Tennis Industry)

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 Kristen Daley 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. Periodicals postage paid at Hurley, NY 12443 and additional mailing offices. April 2005, Volume 33, Number 4 © 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: 770-650-1102 x.125. Phone circulation and editorial: 760-536-1177. Yearly subscriptions $25 in the U.S., $40 elsewhere. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084.

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hat did you learn last week that will accelerate the continuous reinvention of yourself and your business in

order to survive, compete, and prosper in today's and tomorrow's business environment? Approximately 800 PTR pros spent the last week in February at the annual PTR International Symposium attending on- and off-court seminars, networking, comparing best practices, and intermingling with the brightest minds in the tennis community. I was also lucky enough to attend and got to sit in on these sessions:
Q Five 3-hour USTA Sport Science Courses: Sports Psychology, Biomechanics, Sports Medicine, Motor Learning, Physiology Q Keys to Mastering the Volley—Nick Saviano Q To Carb or Not to Carb?—Page Love Q Managing a Tennis Complex—Fernando Velasco Q Great Games for Teaching Strategy and Tactics—Ken DeHart Q Nutrition in Action—Dr. Sally Parsonage Q Resistance Training for Racquet Speed and Court Speed—Dr. Jeff Chandler Q How to Develop Young Kids into Champions—Robert Lansdorp Q Physiology of the Older Player—Dr. Ben Kibler, Dr. Peter Jokl, John Powless Q Recruiting and Hiring Tennis Pros—Greg Snow Q Games Galore and More!—Lisa Duncan Q From Tanking to Top Performance—Linda LeClaire Q How to Grow Your Tennis Business—Doug Cash Q Coaching Through Storytelling—Dr. Jim Loehr Q Playing Smart: With Mind, Not Just Muscle—Dr. Allen Fox Q Is Your Tennis Business Service Driven—Mark McMahon Q CardioTennis Extravaganza—TIA Q Strategies for Winning On Court and Off—Dr. Allen Fox Q Where on the Racquet to Hit for Maximum Power and Minimum Errors—Dr. Howard Brody Q Modern Tennis: Technical Solution for Tactical Problems—Brett Hobden Q The Calorie Counting Game—Dr. Bonita Marks

And, I missed many, many others, not being able to be everywhere at once! If I were a teaching pro, retailer, club owner, stringer, etc., you would have to compete against me. Do you feel just an inkling of competitive disadvantage, inadequacy, or insecurity? No? Well how do you feel up against all those who have gone to every PTR Symposium, USPTA Conference, and many other educational conferences for the past 10 to 15 years? Have you ever wondered how these folks can afford to take an entire week or more away from work every year? Hmmm, do you think there is a connection?

Crawford Lindsey Editor-in-Chief

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INDUSTRY NEWS
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS

Tennis Channel Buys Scottsdale ATP Tour Stop
The Tennis Channel has bought the ATP tennis tournament based in Scottsdale, Ariz., for an undisclosed amount. The tournament, which this year was held Feb. 21 to 27, was renamed the “Tennis Channel Open.” TTC purchased the event from Scottsdale Tournament productions, whose managing partner is IMG, the world’s largest sports marketing and management agency. IMG managed and operated this year’s event for the TTC, but starting with the 2006 tournament, the network will assume all managerial and operational responsibilities. “Owning the tournament will permit the network to continue its aggressive promotion of the sport by presenting it like no other,” says TTC President and Founder Steve Bellamy. The Tennis Channel has had programming rights to the tournament since 2002, and this year telecast more than 40 hours of play, including singles and doubles quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. Founded in 1986, the Scottsdale ATP tour stop takes place at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess hotel. The venue has played host to a series of Grand Slam champions and tennis household names during the past 18 years.

PTR Presents Annual Honors at Symposium

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he Professional Tennis Registry honored several of its members and two tennis facilities during the annual Awards Banquet in February at the Crowne Plaza Resort on Hilton Head Island, S.C. The banquet was part of the annual PTR International Tennis Symposium and $25,000 Championships (see page 9). Honorees were recognized for service, commitment, and dedication to the PTR, their communities, and the sport.
Q Professional of the Year—Angel Lopez, San Diego Q Clinician of the Year—Daniel Leal, Pike Road, Ala. Q Tester of the Year—Jose Luis Castillo, Cayey, Puerto Rico Q Coach Verdieck Award–College Coach of the Year—Patty Fendick McCain, University of Washington, Seattle Q Coach Verdieck Award–High School Coach of the Year—Susan Minchau, Johnstown, Pa. Q Coach Verdieck Award–Touring Pro Coach of the Year—Tony Huber, Cypress, Texas Q Humanitarian Award—Enrique Ninente, Hagatna, Guam Q Volunteer of the Year—Diana Seggie, Bluffton, S.C. Q Newcomer of the Year—Beverly Bourguet, Albuquerque, N.M. Q Wheelchair Pro of the Year—John Johnston, Gainesville, Fla. Q Male Player of the Year—Raj Bonifacius, Reykjavik, Iceland Q Female Player of the Year—Patricia Rogulski, Rankweil, Austria Q USTA Community Service Award—Lisa Duncan, Downingtown, Pa. Q TIA Commitment to the Industry Award—Wayne St. Peter, Westbrook, Maine Q Public Facility of the Year—Plaza Tennis Center, Kansas City, Mo. Q Private Facility of the Year—Kiawah Island Resort, Charleston, S.C.

In addition, the following were honored as PTR state members of the year: Ken DeHart, California; Luis Maria Brest, Florida; Pete Collins, Georgia; Enrique R. Ninete, Hawaii Pacific; Doug Lintala, Illinois; Ajay Pant, Kansas; Alicia von Lossberg, Maryland; Wayne St. Peter, Maine; Henry Hostetler, North Carolina; Larry Dillon, New Jersey; Todd Miller, New York; Joey Eskridge, South Carolina; Curtis Holland, Tennessee; Dan Bonfigli, Vermont; John Raker, Virginia.

Sports InterActive Forms Online Tennis Mall

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ports InterActive LLC, a new venture headed by former Prince executive Herb Sweren, has established an internet “Tennis Shopping Mall” that consumers can access through participating tennis clubs, pro shops and specialty retailers. “As part of the program, we will develop and implement a website for each club or retailer,” says Sweren. “The sites will be tailored for each client so that members/customers can schedule lessons, reserve court time, find matches, register for tennis camp and, of course, shop at the tennis mall.” Fromuth Tennis will provide inventory for the online tennis mall. According to Pat Shields, owner of Fromuth, shops must have an existing storefront and a sales volume to justify the costs of going online. “An account needs to be actively marketing their retail business and pushing product sales,” says Shields. “The website gives them a powerful new tool to generate additional sales and profits and grow their business.” Sweren says he saw the tennis site opportunity after years in the industry working with specialty retailers. “Members and customers want their pro shop or specialty store to be fully stocked with the latest merchandise, but small shop owners can’t assume that inventory risk,” says Sweren. “This takes care of both concerns. It also allows our clients to market through their website and to compete with big merchandisers while offering members a level of personal service the big boys can’t match.” Launch is expected by April. For more information contact Herb Sweren at 410-484-3322 or hsweren@sports-interactive.net.
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USRSA Announces Three New Certification Testers

Tail Collection Shines With Swarovski Crystal
ail Inc. has developed a collection of warm-ups and tops beaded with Swarovski crystals. The company is offering two warm-ups, along with a tank top with “Love 30” in crystals, to celebrate Tail’s 30th anniversary. “The response to the Swarovski crystal group has been incredible,” says Bill Evans, Tail’s vice president of sales and marketing. “Both golf and tennis shops are interested in offering them to their customers. We are re-introducing the dressy warm-up from the past with up-to-date fashion trends.” For more information, contact Amy Bentley at 800-678-8245, ext 2309.

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he U.S. Racquet Stringers Association has named three new certification testers: Q Glenster Flint of West Perth, Australia, is a Master Coach USPTA, Level 2 TCA, MRT-USRSA, and Company Director of Stringing International, which services elite touring pros and attends all Grand Slam and Master Series events. Flint is also privately contracted by players throughout the year at nonscheduled events and holds a Hopman Cup stringing contract, from 2004. He also coaches elite players. Flint has a retail shop in West Perth and a second shop planned for Brisbane. Q Al Klieber of Victoria, British Columbia, is originally from Germany, where he worked as a tennis teaching pro. Klieber played the highly competitive regional team tennis circuit in Germany for 12 years. He began stringing tennis racquets as a teenager and has over 28 years of racquet technical service experience, with nearly 14 years as a USRSA Certified Stringer/Master Racquet Technician. He has also trained five stringers to be Certified Stringers/ MRTs. He and his wife created Courtside Sports Ltd. in 1989 in Victoria, along with the online store www.court sidesports.com. Q Geoffrey Jones of G. Jones Racquet Stringing in Rochester, N.Y., received a masters degree in computer science in 1998, but he always wanted to string his own racquets. He bought an inexpensive stringing machine and learned to string by watching and talking with a certified USRSA stringer. Jones then joined the USRSA, quit his job as software engineer at Eastman Kodak, and went into the stringing business. He has since upgraded his stringing machine and became a Master Racquet Technician in 2003.

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Prince Is Official Supplier At SAP; Plans New Ball Launch
rince Sports was named the official racquet, footwear, apparel, and ball supplier to the SAP Open men’s pro tournament, which took place in Northern California in February. Prince originally had planned to launch its entry into the premium tennis ball category at the SAP Open, but the company said that due to the development efforts of Prince’s new O3 racquet technology, the ball launch will be slightly delayed. Prince says that O3 technology increases a racquet’s sweetspot by 54 percent, enabling players to hit their best shots more often. For the SAP Open, Prince collaborated with Wilson Sporting Goods to privatelabel Wilson’s US Open Extra Duty ball for exclusive use at the California event. Prince says it will launch its new premium Prince Tour ball later in 2005. For more information, visit www.princetennis.com.

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SGMA Has New President, Location
om Cove is the new president and CEO of SGMA International, which owns The Super Show. Cove replaces retiring president John Riddle. The organization, which also will be moving its headquarters from Florida to Washington, D.C., by June, says Cove is expected to bring about a transformation of the 99-year old SGMA and its role as the voice of the sporting goods industry. “SGMA is committed to our core missions of helping our member companies improve their business and promoting the interests of the sporting goods industry to the trade, media, government, and consumers,” says Cove. “Whether it be through a trade show, an education seminar, a research product or a lobbying event, SGMA needs to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and ideas, with the goal of improving our members’ ability to succeed.” SGMA International is the global business trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry.

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Ferris State, Head/Penn Form Partnership

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erris State University’s Professional Tennis Management program has formed a three-year partnership with Head/Penn. Head will be the official racquet and Penn the official ball of the PTM program. Ferris State’s PTM program is the only four-year program that is fully accredited by the USPTA. Graduates earn a bachelor’s degree in business/marketing/professional tennis management and a USPTA professional certifi-

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INDUSTRY NEWS

USRSA Starts “Grommet Network”

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he U.S. Racquet Stringers Association has started a “Grommets Networking Program” so that members can find out-of-production grommets for older frames. The free program is handled via email. Members looking for a set of grommets send an email to grommets@racquettech.com, then that email is forwarded to all members on the “grommets list.” A USRSA member who has that particular grommet contacts the member directly to arrange payment and shipping. “We will simply be trying to help put members who need grommets together with members who have the grommets,” writes USRSA Executive Director David Bone in an email to the USRSA membership. The USRSA does not get involved in the transactions nor does it receive any portion of the sales.

PTR $25K Championship Winners

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irko Jovanovic of Hilton Head Island, S.C. won the men’s open singles title at the 2005 PTR $25,000 Championships in February during the PTR International Tennis Symposium. He beat Carlos Bracho, also of Hilton Head, 6-2, 6-1. The women’s open singles event was won by Jolene Watanabe of Bluffton, S.C., who beat Christine Damas of Hilton Head, 6-0, 6-1. In men’s doubles play, Jovanovic and Bracho teamed to take the open crown. The 2005 PTR event featured play in 23 different divisions.

USTA Pro Circuit Hits 91 Locations
he 2005 USTA Pro Circuit will include 91 events and nearly $3 million in prize money comprising the world’s largest developmental tennis tour. The USTA Pro Circuit brings world-class professional tennis to 26 different states in communities ranging in size from Troy, Ala., to The Bronx, N.Y. Sixteen tournaments will be held in the Top 10 markets across the country. This is the fifth straight year that the USTA Pro Circuit calendar will feature more than 90 tournaments. The USTA increased the number of men’s Challengers and upgraded the prize money of three women’s events in order to provide young American players ranked in the No. 75 to 200 range the opportunity to earn more ATP and WTA Tour Ranking points. “One of our goals this year, along with that of our High Performance group, is to increase the opportunities for players at the Challenger level to earn more ranking points,” said Brian Earley, Director, USTA Pro Circuit. “The USTA Pro Circuit also remains one of our most effective means of creating excitement for the sport. The local tennis communities rally around these events and they are a great vehicle for generating new fans and recreational players.”

K-Swiss Fortifies 7.0 Line
-Swiss introduces the new Defier RS and the Mid version of the Ultrascendor in its 7.0 System footwear line. The company says the Defier RS is engineered to stand up to intense play, with a TecTuff high-abrasion toe wrap to create a barrier between the court and the foot, and abrasion-resistant DragGuard in the toe and heel of the Aosta 7.0 rubber outsole. The Ultrascendor Mid features Secure-Fit Lacing System to provide ankle support, says K-Swiss. The padded Achilles Support with Heel-Grip Lining grips the sock to minimize heel slippage. For more information visit www.kswiss.com.

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Wheelchair Tennis Documentary to Debut in April

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hampions on Wheels,” the first documentary on wheelchair tennis, will debut in April at the Palm Beach International Film Festival. The film, from director/producer/journalist Grace Shafir, tells the stories of world-class wheelchair tennis athletes and their determination, athleticism, zest for life, and desire to be seen for their abilities, not disabilities. Shafir shot more than 130 hours of video, following such athletes as Sharon Clark, Beth Arnoult, Larry Quintero, Nick Taylor, and Steve Welch. The story opens

at the Paralympic Games in Sydney and ends four years later at the Paralympic Games in Athens. Footage also includes interviews and comments by such stars as Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Serena and Venus Williams, Jennifer Capriati, Chanda Rubin, and Bob and Mike Bryan. The film is narrated by actor Daryl Mitchell of TV’s “Veronica’s Closet” and “Ed.” The documentary was made for PBS. For screenings in your area, visit www.wheelchairchampions.com.

SHORT SETS
Pete Sampras and Maria Sharapova headlined a roster of present and former athletes at Legacy Villas Desert Smash Presented by Jaguar and Land Rover benefiting the Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation, held March 9 to 10 at La Quinta Resort & Club in California. The event launched the 10-year anniversary of the foundation, which was founded by Tim & Tom Gullikson and their families after Tim was diagnosed with brain tumors in 1995.

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The Tennis E! > In February,Television airedChannel and for Entertainment the “Serving Tsunami Relief” player and celebrity tournament, which took place in Houston Feb. 1 and raised over $500,000. The US Open Series, a six-week summer tennis season leading up to the US Open, has added the women’s Acura Classic in San Diego to its roster, which will be played Aug. 1 to 7. The Series now includes 11 tournaments.

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The Open women’s final in which for Tennis” is new train- > > “Right Angles to keep hand aand wrist in SerenaAustralian defeated Lindsay Davenport Williams ing aid designed the correct position for various shots and to develop “muscle memory.” The original design is available for license or sale to manufacturers or marketers. For more information, write Dept. 03-CUT-255, ISC, 217 Ninth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, or call (412) 288-1300 ext. 1368, or visit www.isc-online.com. in three sets was ESPN2’s highest rated and most-viewed tennis event ever, earning a 1.5 rating and viewed in an average 1.35 million households.

The 8th edition of the SGMA International Activewear Color Card has been produced for Spring/Summer 2006 and Fall/Winter 2006/2007. The Color Card forecasts 24 directional colors for the activewear market. It’s available to SGMA members for $30; nonmembers for $50. Visit www.sgma.com.

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Andre Agassi joined the U.S. Davis Cup team for the March 4 to 6 tie against Croatia at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif. He joined teammates Andy Roddick and Bob and Mike Bryan. sophis> Auto-Ref Inc. of Canada, owner ofprovide ticated technology designed to instant, animated video replay from various angles to improve line-calling accuracy, received a U.S. patent recently, which covers technology relating to an optical line monitor for tennis matches.

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> straight and eighth 4-0 to win at the Munson Inc. Wis., will >Tennis Court of Glendale, April 5 athold ondStanford beat Kentuckyoverall title its seca Seminar on the
Manchester Suites Hotel East in Milwaukee. Nine court construction professionals will offer advice on how to build, maintain, and reconstruct courts. Cost is $50 per person and includes handouts, refreshments, and lunch. Visit www.munsoninc.com or call 414-351-0800. USTA/Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Women's Team Indoor Championship at the University of Wisconsin's A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium. At the National Men’s Team Indoor held at the Mid-Town Tennis Club in Chicago, top-seeded Baylor beat Virginia 4-1.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Gullikson Foundation Unveils New Logo
The Tim & Tom Gullikson Foundation to help brain tumor patients and their families deal with the social, emotional, and physical challenges of the disease has unveiled its 10-year anniversary “Tenacious Teamwork” logo. The organization was founded by former tennis pros Tim and Tom Gullikson and their families after Tim was diagnosed with brain tumors.

New Tennis Collectibles on Sale
ce Authentic, a new sports marketing company in Tampa, Fla., is producing tennis trading cards, player posters, and signed framed photos, as well as selling game-worn apparel and merchandise. The 2005 Ace Trading Card Debut Edition Set hit the market at the end of last year with 99 cards, including the first officially licensed rookie cards of Maria Sharapova, Justine HeninHardenne, Tim Henman, David Nalbandian, Nadia Petrova, Dinara Safina, Tatiana Golovin and Marat Safin. The set also included cards for Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Paradorn Srichaphan and Anna Kournikova. “There is currently a great demand for tennis trading cards as well as tennis memorabilia,” says Ace President Todd Goldman, who also is the publisher of Tennis Life Magazine. “With the increased interest in tennis and its personalities, these products will quickly find a niche.” To order, call 800-600-4364.

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Corrections 

The suggested retail price for PowerAngle racquets is $179, and the website for more information is www.PowerAngle.net. Both were listed incorrectly on RSI’s Racquet Selection Map in the March issue. The toll-free number for PowerAngle is 877-769-3721.

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• Tom Russ is the new manager of sports promotions for Prince Sports, responsible for all player and event promotions in the U.S. including the recruitment and management of touring pros, junior, collegiate, and senior sponsored players. For the past four years, Russ was the competition team/promotions director at Babolat. • Junior standout Donald Young, a Head Team Elite member, won the Australian Open junior boy’s singles event and, at 15 years, 6 months, became the youngest boy to win a Junior Grand Slam and the youngest to reach No. 1 in the history of the ITF junior rankings. Also, Head Team Elite member Victoria Azarenka of Russia won the girl’s title at the Aussie Open. • Pro Guillermo Coria debuted Prince’s new O3-engineered racquets at the Australian Open.
Prince says O3 improves sweetspot and speed. For more info, visit www.princetennis.com.

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• Billie Jean King is the chair of the USTA’s USA Tennis High Performance Committee, which assists the High Performance professional staff in developing world-class American champions. Also on the committee is pro Michael Chang, who will serve a two-year term, and tennis legend Jack Kramer, who will serve as a special advisor. • Rising tennis star Scott Oudsema has signed on with SFX Sports Group for marketing and representation. • Jennifer Capriati and Fila have parted company, unable to agree on terms of a new
contract. Capriati had been wearing Fila clothes since 1999.

• Bill Riddle, Cumberland University’s men’s and women’s head tennis coach, was named
the 2004 USPTA Tennessee Tennis Professional of the Year. Riddle is the president of the USPTA Tennessee Chapter and director of tennis at the Bluegrass Yacht & Country Club.

• David Butterfield (at right) is the new director of tennis at Cheeca Lodge &
Spa on Islamorada in the Florida Keys.

• The USTA has named Kathy Francis to the newly created position of Managing Director, Community Tennis Marketing and Development. Francis will be responsible for the development and implementation of the USTA’s Community Tennis marketing initiatives, focusing on new advertising, promotion and programming to grow participation and frequency of play on a national and grassroots level.

• Lindsay Davenport and Serena Williams will lead the U.S. Fed Cup team against Belgium April 23-24 at the Delray Beach Tennis Center in Delray Beach, Fla. • The International Tennis Hall of Fame promoted Linda M. Johnson, to the associate director of development from director of the annual fund. • University of Florida Senior Hamid Mirzadeh won the USTA Sportsmanship Award
recently at the USTA/ITA National Men’s Team Indoor Championship.

• Eiichi Kawatei of Tokyo, Japan, is the 2005 recipient of the Golden Achievement
Award, which is presented by the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of contributions to tennis in the fields of administration, promotion, or education.

• George Hovsepian of Acworth, Ga., is the 2004 Member
of the Year for the Georgia Professional Tennis Association.

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I ND US T RY NEWS

Vantage Sport Offers Custom-Built Racquets

Wilson Adds Five to Speaker’s Bureau
atrick McEnroe, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Luke Jensen, and Murphy Jensen have joined the Wilson Speaker’s Bureau program, sharing their passion for the sport with the tennis community. The former touring pros currently use Wilson’s nCode racquet technology and are also part of Wilson’s Advisory Staff. “The Wilson Speaker’s Bureau is focused on educating the community about the excitement, competitiveness, and history of tennis,” says Jon Muir, U.S. director of sales and marketing for Wilson Racquet Sports. “We are honored to have such a distinguished group of ambassadors helping to share this important message and shape future generations of leaders, players, and fans.” Other members of the Speaker’s Bureau include Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Vic Braden, Peter Burwash, and Wayne Bryan.

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antage Sport International of England has launched a custom-build racquet brand. According to the company, players can order racquets built to their specifications at prices competitive with mass-market brands. “Previously, if you wanted to have a racquet made to your requirements, you either had to be a highly ranked professional tennis player, or pay over $400 to a specialized racquet technician,” says Paul Angell, founder and CEO of Vantage Sports. Through its website, www.vantagetennis. com, Vantage allows players to select options to define a racquet that best suits their playing style and physical ability. The options include technical specifications such as head size, string pattern, stiffness, racquet length, and weight/balance. Vantage also offers a selection of handle shapes, grip types, grip sizes and two cosmetic options. Once they are personally configured, the frames can be ordered directly from Vantage online. In addition to custom racquets, Vantage also offers a range of “prebuilt” frames and a line of accessories including bags, strings, and grips. Purchasers also get their own code that can earn credits and discounts. For more information, or to find out how to add Vantage to your existing racquet shop offerings, visit the website or email listings@vantagetennis.com.

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PTR Names Anderson Master Professional

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irk Anderson of New Fairfield, Conn., was named a PTR Master Professional at the annual awards banquet at the PTR International Tennis Symposium in February. Anderson joins an elite group of 21 others in the 11,000-member PTR to earn that designation. Also, Anderson, is one of only five in the world to hold Master Pro certifications from both the PTR and the USPTA.

Anderson is the department director for recreational coaches and programs at the USTA, which provides services and resources to coaches and tennis leaders throughout the U.S. who are involved with recruiting new players and retaining them in local programs.

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In•Tenn Releases 2nd DVD Issue

BYU-Hawaii Breaks Its Record
he top-ranked Brigham Young University–Hawaii women’s tennis team broke its own NCAA record in February by winning its 104th consecutive dual match, defeating University of Hawaii–Hilo, 8-1. The Seasiders, who began NCAA Division II play in the fall of 1998 and won their first 103 matches, now have a 2071 record.

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n•Tenn, the DVD tennis magazine, recently released its second issue. This new edition contains more than two hours of tennis action, with 65 percent of the video devoted to improving the viewer’s tennis play. The issue features Jim and Linda McIngvale and their tennis program for the Houston Independent School District, a feature on Andy Roddick’s Foundation, and a segment on two young players and their tennis development. The DVD also features Computerized Tennis Lessons, Drills, Tips, Conditioning, guidance on when to restring your racquet, and what kinds of strings to use to improve your play. Former Davis Cup doctor George Fareed reports on preventing injuries, and sports psychologist Allen Fox reports on how to prepare for a match. For more information about In-Tenn, visit ww.intennn.com.

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Prince Debuts New T10 Shoe

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L E T T E R Bring Tennis to the PGA Show?
To The Editor:

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I'm writing to you with the hope that you will disseminate the proposition outlined below. What prompts me to do this is the current sad state of affairs of the tennis industry. I walked the 2005 Super Show in Orlando in January, and for the first time since the Super Show's Atlanta inception in 1985, my company was not an exhibitor. There were only seven small companies representing tennis at this year's Super Show. The PGA has a golf show in Orlando, and this show likewise is not doing well. Quite a few facilities across the U.S. are golf and tennis. Wouldn't it make sense to collaborate with the PGA and become part of their show? Maybe the USTA and the TIA can be the combined tennis body to represent tennis manufacturers at the PGA show. This can be a win-win for all. They have an experienced show management group, a good Orlando location, and would probably welcome the infusion into their lackluster show attendance. Gene Niksich President, Unique Sports Products

rince says its newest tennis shoe, the T10, is as aggressive in appearance as it is in performance. The light gray performance shoe is part of Prince’s Agility Series, which the company says is designed to provide a tailored, comfortable fit by hugging the foot from heel to toe and supplying support and stability. “The T10 provides unsurpassed support and comfort for serious players who are looking for fast-moving responsive foot-wear on a number of different playing surfaces,” says James Lin, Prince’s product development manager. “This shoe gives them better stability and gripping traction for quick starts and stops.” The T10 shoe will be featured on Competitive Edge, a series running on ESPN2, Fox Sports Net, and The Tennis Channel. In addition, in-store POP and regional advertising will be a part of the launch campaign. For more information, visit www.princetennis.com.

Atlanta CTA Honored by USTA
he Atlanta Community Tennis Association (ACTA) has been selected as the 2004 National Community Tennis Association of the Year. ACTA was honored before more than 600 community tennis leaders at the annual USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop held at Sandestin Resort in Destin, Fla., Feb. 4 to 7. ACTA was founded in 1980 as a non-profit, volunteerrun tennis league. Today it operates under the leadership of a board of directors, an executive committee, Executive Director Matt Olson, and a full-time staff of five people who facilitate a diverse breadth of tennis programs and services that extend to over 35,000 adult members and 45,000 participants. “Through its exceptional tennis programs, dedicated corps of volunteers, strategic community partnerships, effective planning, and pervasive marketing and public relations, the Atlanta Community Tennis Association has become a thriving organization,” says Lee Hamilton, the USTA’s executive director.

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We welcome your letters and comments. Please email them to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

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RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

customer

RELATIONS

Ten Easy Steps to a CustomerFriendly Tennis Facility
op retailers spend a considerable amount of time researching and analyzing what motivates the consumer to make a buying decision. Much of this research reveals that buying decisions are oftentimes emotionally based. We first want something, and then we rationalize the decision to buy it. Successful retailers capitalize on this aspect of buying by making their customers feel comfortable and at home in their stores. And this same concept can hold true for tennis facilities looking to attract and keep new customers. By tradition, some tennis facilities and their personnel can give off an intimidating appearance for newcomers. Perhaps it's putting forth the image that tennis is “stuffy” or for the “elite.” Perhaps it is a facility that is “dated” and just needs a renovation to keep pace with the times. There could be a myriad of other reasons, but the result is that many new customers never get up enough courage to come in. If they do, they feel uncomfortable and leave quickly—empty-handed. A large part of customer service is creating a seamless experience. When customer expectations are met or exceeded, the result is exponential growth in both revenue and customers. With the Tennis Welcome Center campaign, the idea is for new and returning players to have a fun, friendly, non-threatening first experience in tennis, so they’ll continue to play the game. At right are some tips designed to make your facility customer-friendly. It's what happens after the customer arrives that determines whether you'll keep them. Welcome customers with great people, great attitudes, and an inviting environment. Get them involved with your programs and staff. Get to know them, not only as customers, but also as people. They'll buy, they'll come again, and they'll tell their friends and neighbors. Q

BY GLENN ARRINGTON

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Q Website: If you have a website, create and manage a dedicated area on your home page for new players or former players looking to get into tennis. Provide easy-to-follow information about programs, events, and services for newcomers. Q Telephone: This is generally where the “first impression” comes from. Think pleasantry, sincerity, and brevity. Work to train phone staff on all available programs and services. Remember, you are sending a visual snapshot of your tennis operation through the telephone line. Q Facility Entryway: By creating an exciting and visually appealing entryway, you can create a secondary “first impression” with the customer. Consider window displays, creative landscaping, fresh flowers, and exterior signage to direct newcomers and visitors to the appropriate area. Q Greet Customers Warmly and Genuinely: We’ve all been in stores where we feel like intruders. Make every effort to approach the new customer as soon as possible and let them know you are there to help. Q Set the Tone With Music: Soft jazz or mood music can create a warm and relaxing environment for your facility and help put customers at ease. Q Create a New Player Area: Develop a special area within your facility to showcase information, photos, and special activities designed for new players and new customers. Q Create a New Player Guide: Have informative packets available for inquiring customers and new players to acquaint them with your facility and the policies and procedures. Also include discount coupons for new equipment and programs. Q Display Prices and Programs: Consumer radar (suspicion) goes up if the customer has to inquire too much about the pricing structure. Have a list of available programs and pricing clearly displayed and available. Q Help Educate Your Customers: One of the most often overlooked and best ways to gain customers is to be the information provider. Consider providing complimentary information on health and wellness, nutritional tips, tennis vacations, tennis instruction, how to choose a tennis racquet, etc. Once you are perceived as the trusted expert, you have a customer for life. Q Get Personal: Let your customers get to know the people behind the scenes. A simple biography and photo of staff members, including their hobbies and personal interests, can prove helpful to relationship-building. Also, work to arrange opportunities for staff to spend time on the tennis court with the customers they serve.

Glenn Arrington is the USTA’s product manager for Tennis Welcome Center, and is a PTR and USPTA pro.

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INDUSTRY

people In Chicago, a Courtless Tennis Program for Countless Kids
ee that man in Chicagoland? The one with no tennis court but with a legion of children who owe their love of the game to him? That’s Mark Miller. He’s changed how tennis caters to youngsters in the Chicago area, and he’s aiming to expand his catering business nationwide. Miller’s passion and business grew from an epiphany he had in the fall of 1996. He was watching his then-3-yearold daughter participate in a tennis clinic that used a shortened court. “That’s when I came up with an idea,” Miller remembers. “I said, ‘I’m going to teach tennis to little kids, and I’m not going to use a tennis court.’ “ The tactic, Miller says, is that by not limiting clinics to schools and neighborhoods with tennis facilities, tennis reaches a broader audience. “So I can expose literally thousands and thousands of kids to tennis because I don’t use a tennis court,” he says. “I go to a gymnasium, classroom or recreation room and use that facility.” Eight years later, Miller’s Munchkin Program is a hit in Chicago. It has spread to 70 locations in 45 Chicagoland districts, and programs have opened in Indiana and Wisconsin. Munchkin Program—which also incorporates soccer, Nerf football, T-ball and other sports—has seen plenty of press, too, having been covered by ABC News, NBC, CNN, the Chicago Tribune and national magazines. “Mark is

BY CHRIS NICHOLSON

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a tennis entrepreneur—we need more Marks out there,” says Jeff Giles, the director of community tennis development for the USTA’s Midwest section. “He works out arrangements with schools and, more importantly, day-care centers, and sets up short-court tennis, takes balls and little nets, and takes the program right to the facility. And he’s doing a great job. He’s energetic, he’s passionate, and he understands the social and psychological benefits that tennis can have to the youth in a community.” One of the keys of Miller’s success is that he passes the responsibility of marketing onto the respective communities. This not only allows him to focus on teaching the children, but also reduces his overhead. “The beauty of my business is I don’t have to continually market it because the park districts do,” Miller says. “I never touch registration, I never advertise.” Despite the success of the whole Munchkin Program, there’s one aspect that’s particularly close to Miller’s heart. “I want to raise money to help underprivileged kids—kids with diabetes, with cancer, with any kind of disability whatsoever,” Miller says. “My big passion is the Parents and Me program, where these parents spend quality time with their kids. I want to be in every park district imaginable doing this. We’re trying to fight kids’ obesity as well as promoting family togetherness through the game of tennis.”

A future part of the program is a coloring book that will be handed out free to participants. The book will cover not only tennis, but also nutrition, exercise and self-esteem and will be paid for by a corporate sponsor. With everything going so grand, what’s next for the Munchin Program? Expansion. Miller wants to see the program eventually go nationwide, through what he calls a “franchise with no fran-

chise fee.” (Interested parties can get more information by visiting www.munchkinprogram.com.) “What I look for in my staff is they just have to be great with kids and be reliable, and I’ll teach them the rest,” Miller says. “I’ll even take someone who doesn’t know how to play tennis, because I have a step-by-step manual that tells them everything.” The growth might take a while, but if Miller’s success in Chicago is any indication, it will be steady and sure. “We’re just going step by step,” Miller says. “Go to one state, go into another state, go into another state. We’re really trying hard to grow the game of tennis through this.” Q

18 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

$

YOUR

finances
BY MARK E. BATTERSBY

Choosing the Best Organization for Your Business
hat is the best entity for operating your tennis facility or shop? For tax purposes, the predominant forms of business enterprise are the regular, socalled “C” corporation; its pass-through small-business cousin, the “S” corporation; a partnership; a limited-liability company (LLC); or a sole proprietorship. To choose among those entities is to choose among significant differences in federal income tax treatment. Although many of the tax law’s provisions apply to all entities, some areas of the law are specifically targeted for each type of business organization. Unfortunately, there is more to choosing the right structure for a tennis business than just tax considerations. Not only will the decision have an impact on how much is paid in taxes, but also it will affect the personal liability faced by the principals, the operation’s ability to raise money, and the amount of paperwork required.

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from that applied to S corporations, partnerships, LLCs, and sole proprietorships. These entities, often referred to as “passthrough” entities, do not pay an entity-level tax on their earnings. Only the owners of these entities are taxed on their share of the business’s earnings.

GOING IT ALONE
The easiest structure is the sole proprietorship, which usually involves just one individual who owns and operates the retail business or facility. The tax aspects of a sole proprietorship are especially appealing because income and expenses from the business are included on the sole proprietor’s personal income tax return. Of course, as a sole proprietor, a retail shop or facility owner must also file Schedule SE with Form 1040, which is used to calculate how much self-employment tax is owed. And don’t forget that quarterly payments of estimated taxes are due from selfemployed tennis professionals and business owners. Naturally, there are a few disadvantages. Selecting the sole proprietorship structure means that the owner or proprietor is solely responsible for the operation’s liabilities. As a result, a sole proprietor places his or her own assets at risk, subject to seizure to satisfy a business debt or legal claim.

general partners. Obviously, unless many passive investors are involved, limited partnerships are not the best structure to use. One of the major advantages of a partnership is the tax treatment it enjoys. A partnership does not pay tax on its income but “passes through” all profits or losses to the individual partners. Each partner is required to report profits from the partnership on his or her individual tax return. Even though the partnership pays no income tax, it must complete and file a parternship informational return, Form 1065. Personal liability is a major concern for many facility owners, especially those employing a general partnership. Similar to a sole proprietorship, general partners are personally liable for the partnership’s obligations and debt. Partnerships are also more expensive to establish than sole proprietorships because they require more extensive legal and accounting services.

THE TAX QUESTION
Of all business entities, the C or regular corporation is subject to the toughest tax bite. The earnings of an incorporated tennis shop or facility are taxed twice. First a corporate income tax is imposed on the tennis operation’s net earnings and then, after the earnings are distributed to shareholders as dividends, each shareholder must pay taxes separately on his or her share of the dividends. Naturally, a corporation can reduce, or even eliminate, its federal income tax liability by distributing its income as salary to shareholder-employees who actually perform valuable services for the corporation. Although this can reduce taxation at the corporate level, those who receive profits from a corporation in exchange for services must pay tax on the amount received, which is treated as salary. Fortunately, there is some relief available to individual shareholders who currently benefit from the new, lower tax rate on dividends. This scheme of taxation differs radically

INCORPORATING THE BUSINESS
Using the corporate structure for a tennis operation is, as mentioned, more complex and expensive than for other types of business entities. The resulting corporation, however, is an independent legal entity, separate from its owners. As such, the corporation must comply with more regulations and tax requirements. The biggest benefit for the owner of an incorporated business is the liability protection he or she receives. Although the courts are increasingly “reaching behind” the corporate structure, for the most part, a corporation’s debt is not considered to be that of its owners. Another plus is the ability of a corporation to raise money. A corporation can sell stock, either common or preferred, to raise funds. Corporations also continue indefinitely, even if one of the shareholders dies, sells his or her shares, or becomes disabled. The corporate structure also comes

PARTNERING UP
If the tennis business will be owned and operated by several individuals, take a close look at partnerships. Partnerships come in two varieties: general and limited. In a general partnership, the partners manage the business and assume responsibility for the partnership’s debts and other obligations. A limited partnership has both general and limited partners. In a limited partnership, the general partner owns and operates the business and assumes liability for the partnership, while the limited partners serve as investors only; they have no control over the operation and are not subject to the same liabilities as the

20 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

with a number of downsides. A major one is higher costs. Corporations are formed under the laws of each state with their own set of regulations. A corporation must also follow a more complex set of rules and regulations than either a sole proprietorship or a partnership. And, don’t forget that other downside: the double tax paid at both federal and state levels.

S CORPORATIONS
An S corporation is merely an incorporated business that has chosen to be treated as a partnership for tax purposes. It offers some appealing tax benefits while still providing its owners with the liability protection of a corporation. With an S corporation, income and losses are passed through to shareholders and included on their individual tax returns. As a result there is just one level of federal tax to pay. On the downside, S corporations are subject to many of the same requirements corporations must follow resulting in higher legal and accounting fees. They must also file articles of incorporation, hold directors and shareholder meetings, keep corporate minutes and allow shareholders to vote on major corporate decisions. Another major difference between a regular corporation and an S corporation is that S corporations can only issue one class of stock despite the limit of having up to 75 shareholders. Experts say this can hamper the tennis operation’s ability to raise capital.

NO LIMITS TO THE LLC
While the S corporation remains the mostused entity for small businesses, the limited-liability company or LLC introduced in 1997 is a fairly recent phenomenon. An LLC is a hybrid entity, bringing together some of the best features of partnerships and corporations. LLCs were created to provide business owners with the liability protection that corporations enjoy without the double taxation. Earnings and losses of an LLC pass through to the owners and are included on their personal income tax returns. Although it sounds similar to an S corporation, the LLC has no limit on the number of shareholders. In fact, any member or shareholder of the LLC are allowed a full participatory role in the business’s operation.

To set up an LLC, articles of organization must be filed with the secretary of state where the facility, retail shop or other tennis business will operate. Some states also require the filing of an operating agreement, which is similar to a partnership agreement. Like partnerships, LLCs do not have perpetual life. Some states stipulate that the business must dissolve after 30 or 40 years. Technically, an LLC dissolves when a member dies, quits or retires. Despite its popularity and the attractions, LLCs also have disadvantages. Since an LLC is a relatively new entity, its tax treatment varies by state.

FINDING THE RIGHT ENTITY
The annual tax return provides one incentive to reconsider the options for your tennis business. Entities with more than one member are allowed to elect corpo-

rate status on the annual tax returns. Thus, an entity that is a partnership under state laws may elect to be taxed as a C or S corp for federal taxes by using Form 8832 (Entity Classification Election). Unfortunately, under those so-called “check-the-box” regulations, entities formed under a corporation statute are automatically classified as corporations and may not elect to be treated as any other kind of entity. Changing circumstances, changes in the tax laws and even the success of the tennis business might prompt a reassessment of the form your retail shop or facility operates under. It makes sense to ensure you are using the best entity to provide your business—and you—with the most benefits and consistently lowest tax bill.Q

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

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

21

&

marketing

SUCCESS

Ideas That Can Help You Sell More Racquets

BY JOE DINOFFER

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hen I managed pro shops and players wanted me to recommend a racquet, I usually walked them over to the display area and asked them what color they liked. This overly simplistic advice underscores something far more important. People play tennis largely for fun and for the satisfaction of improvement. Their racquet is as important to them as the clothes they wear, the car they drive, the cell phone they use, and the house they live in. They will select it largely because of an emotional reaction. And, yes, color is important. Each year racquet manufacturers come up with higher performance, more sleek, and more high-tech equipment. Even the names of the frames are hot. For instance, Head’s “Liquid Metal Series.” It sounds like the nearly indestructible and ultra-cool she-

villain in Terminator 3. Or Babolat’s “Pure Drive,” which Andy Roddick uses. Who doesn’t want to hit their shots “pure” like Roddick, whatever that means? Or Prince’s “Shark,” reminding us of that tenacious and sometimes deadly fish. The point is that the racquet companies are working for us. They conceive, design, and promote new racquets each year to tickle your players into trying them out and ultimately purchasing them. The question is, how can we take advantage of the work that they are investing in our business? Here are a few ideas to help you cash in on the investments the racquet manufacturers are making in the industry. Someone will be selling racquets to players. It may as well be you.

DEMO RACQUET RACK ON COURT
For under $50, you can purchase a professional-looking portable racquet center that will hold a dozen or more racquets. Have the pros at your facility bring it out on the court when they teach drill sessions and clinics, or simply keep it on the court for back-to-back lessons. Players will be eager to try new racquets, and you may just make a few quick sales.

DEMO RACQUET CENTER IN SHOP
Get a second racquet rack for the shop and, if you buy into this marketing concept, have a double set of demo racquets as well. Then, train your desk staff to ask all players going out to play if they would like to try a

22 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

demo racquet. They should already be asking the players if they need a can of balls, so have them ask, “You’re on Court 6. Have fun. Do you need a can of balls? Would you like to try out a demo racquet free of charge?”

month will definitely help sell at least one extra racquet. With an average profit margin of $75 to $100 per racquet, isn’t it worth the effort?

PAY ATTENTION TO THE DEMO DETAILS
Treat your demo racquets like you do your car when you have it detailed. The racquets should always look and feel perfect. Strings, stencils, grips, etc., should all be in excellent shape. If they don’t look and feel terrific, who will want to buy them?

PLAYER POSTERS OF FRAMES
Take advantage of pro player posters that the racquet companies distribute. But don’t just use scotch tape or masking tape to hang them—that looks tacky. Frame them nicely. And ask your racquet manufacturer for an autographed copy of the poster. Tell them that you are framing them in the shop, so it will last for years, and that some of the other racquet makers are helping you with this project. You may not get every player’s autographed poster, but if you’re persistent, you’ll most likely get a few. 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.

LIST THE TOP PROS’ EQUIPMENT
Everyone loves a celebrity. Look in Tennis magazine or check on the internet for a current list of the Top 10 ATP and WTA players or check out the Australian Open log on pages 38-39. Type up their names along with the brand of racquet and frame style that each player uses. Then, spend 30 minutes or so and take your computer print-out of this list to a nearby copy center and have it enlarged to poster size. Buy a nice frame that makes it easy to slip the poster in and out each month and hang it in the middle of or next to your pro shop’s racquet display area. You’ll be surprised at how much attention it gets. This idea is also a great icebreaker or conversation starter for your staff members who help customers with racquets. But, remember, the key is to update the list monthly. A little extra time each

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retailing

SUCCESS

Signs of the Times
Use captivating graphics to capture more sales.
BY CYNTHIA SHERMAN
without changing the architecture,” says Nisch. To make this economically feasible, see what a Kinko’s-type of store can do for you.

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s a retailer, do you know what some of your best weapons are when the economy is weak? Signage and graphics. That’s according to Display and Design Ideas magazine’s 2003 Signage and Graphics Industry Survey. If sales flatten out or decline and you have to cut retail staff, point-of-purchase signage can help pump up your business. But graphics and signage can do much more for you. Today, consumers are looking for diverse, newer, more eclectic shopping venues. Malls are losing consumer traffic yearly, says Mike Tesler, president of Retail Concepts in Norwell, Mass. Research has shown that people aren’t responding to the homogenized look— stores that look like other stores, Tesler says. “This is where the pro shop and the sports specialty retailer has a real chance to stand out.” Graphic design gurus are pushing new techniques that can make even small pro shops and stand-alone tennis retailers stand out, ensuring their graphics dollars make the biggest impact. Here are some timely tips from retail industry pros.

Use technology as a means of communication: Don’t just
rely on the traditional, brief print signs and large-format graphics, says Tesler. Consider using computer screens or small kiosks to provide information from the vendor directly to the shopper. Ken Nisch, president of JGA Services in Southfield, Mich., also emphasizes the importance of digital imaging for in-store graphic displays. “It’s all about creating an environment and experience—not just a 3by-5 graphic,” he says. Pro shops and smaller tennis retailers should consider using computers and DVD players to “leverage the content in their environment” and create high-energy, dynamic graphics, Nisch says.

Put images on vinyl and board stock: To capture
consumers’ attention, Dean Henkel, creative director of Innovative Media in Madison, Wis., suggests what he calls “grand-format imaging”—putting images on flat-board stock or more flexible vinyl overlays. Adhesive-backed vinyls—which can adhere to walls, floors, fixtures, windows, etc.—can be peeled off and changed frequently for a new look, at a relatively low cost.

Incorporate graphics into display space: Jeff Gill,
managing principal of design firm MCG Architecture in Irvine, Calif., suggests incorporating graphics into the design of the display space. “You can use a repetitive band that wraps around the periphery of the space, typically above the merchandise,” Gill says. “It serves to highlight product and is very effective in small locations where the graphics band acts as a strong element due to its repetitive nature.” This kind of graphic is more stationary as it is generally silkscreened or painted on other types of surfaces. In a larger store, larger-than-life graphics boards can be used as a backdrop, drawing attention to a particular part of the store and highlighting the product. This draws attention to the displays themselves and enhances the product’s appeal.

Tesler suggests using features and benefits, price point, and short sentences in graphic visuals throughout the store. A shop needs to create its own interpretation of why a consumer should buy a specific product or brand of equipment or apparel and be able to briefly communicate that visually.

Signage needs to communicate:

Signage needs to coordinate: This is a good
place to establish a shop’s personality. Store graphics need to be coordinated so there’s a unity of branding and image that a shopper associates with that particular store. Don’t use signage solely to push sale items, says Tesler. Graphics and signage can do so much more for your business.

Try digital “slip covers”:
Another use for digital imaging is “slip covering,” as Nisch calls it—creating covers for tables or other fixtures through digital imaging. Digitally enlarging and enhancing an image of a racquet, ball, or other tennis-related element and using it as a slip cover for a display “gives the store a new face

Use your imagination: You should be seeing the trend by now. You need to capture the shopper’s attention, and communicate your message. Nowadays, there are so many options available to customize your look and brand your store.Q

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THE PRO GAME

10 WAYS TO FIRE UP TENNIS
Enthralling rivalries and charismatic characters make tennis boom, but the sport doesn’t have to plummet in popularity when they are in short supply. Here are 10 ways to fire up BY PAUL FEIN tennis, from an award-winning tennis writer.
Shockingly, the most exciting and athletic playing style exemplified by McEnroe, Becker, Sampras, Gonzalez and Navratilova and decades of Australian stars from Sedgman to Court to Rafter—is almost extinct. Imagine football without the forward pass or boxing without body punching and you get the bleak picture. Tim Henman, now 30 and never a champion, is the only Top 10 serve-volleyer, and less than a dozen top 100 players frequently do it. Among the women, only Aussie Alicia Molik and American Lisa Raymond, 31, serve and volley even occasionally. What’s the remedy? Gradually reduce the allowable overall width of the racquet head from the current 12 1/2” (31.75 cm) to 10” (25.4 cm). That will significantly decrease the tremendous power and vicious spin that today’s high-tech racquets generate and help redress the imbalance now favoring baseliners. Increase the importance of grasscourt play—where serving and volleying is most effective—by scheduling Wimbledon a week later to add another week of grass tournaments. And create some new grass-court events during the year. Get rid of slow, abrasive hard courts that unduly favor groundstrokers. Encourage talented youngsters to improve their volleying skills so they can develop their serving-and-volleying as juniors. Contrasting styles create sensational match-ups, such as McEnroe-Borg, Sampras-Agassi and Navratilova-Evert, that feature diving volleys, leaping smashes, scintillating passing shots and cunning lobs. Otherwise, tennis fans suffer baseline blahs from a menu limited almost completely to forehands and backhands whacked by incomplete players.

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IP #1: BRING BACK SERVING AND VOLLEYING.

For the past 30 years newspapers have published a confusing array of tennis rankings and lists that turn off, rather than enlighten, sports fans. Want to know who’s No. 1 and who’s in the Top 10? It’s no easy task! The men’s game, for example, gives us the ATP Champions Race which often conflicts with the ATP Entry Rankings (viz. the “real” rankings), which are different from the US Open Series rankings during the summer. We also are barraged with not one but two doubles rankings: team and individual. To bewilder us further, we get weekly prize money lists, which are meaningless because they combine singles, doubles and mixed doubles earnings. Then, of course, the ITF crowns its own annual men’s and women’s champions—such as No. 3-ranked Anastasia Myskina in 2004— which don’t always coincide with the year-end ATP and WTA No. 1 players. Enough already! Team sports, such as the NBA, NFL, NHL, and MLB, clearly and simply tell us who are the best teams and the order of the rest with standings. No conflicts, debates, or confusion. Tennis, both an individual and team sport, can and must create easy-to-understand and informative “standings,” too. These ground-breaking, weekly Top 10 singles standings would include the player’s last name, country, point average, most recent results (such as round reached in last tournament) and next scheduled tournament. Doubles standings would include the Top 5-ranked teams with a similar format. These Monday-morning standings would provide aficionados with all they need to know.

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IP #2: CREATE INFORMATIVE AND CLEAR STANDINGS.

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Big-time tennis is blessed with so much depth that unknowns and lesser lights test and upset favorites regularly. Hardly anyone outside their countries, though, had heard of Tomas Berdych, an 18-year-old Czech ranked No. 135, who shocked world No. 1 Roger Federer at the Athens Olympics, and No. 447 Chris Guccione, an 18-year-old Aussie who ambushed No. 3 Juan Carlos Ferrero at the 2004 Sydney International. Who are these guys, and where do they come from? Inquiring fans want to know. Starting in 2005, doubles players, generally much less known by spectators, should be required to wear their full names and countries on the back of their shirts, dresses and warm-up suits. Singles players would follow suit in 2006. Then there’d be no more “Come on, whatshisname!” cries from the crowd.

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IP #3: IDENTIFY THE PLAYERS.

intently if you know them,” points out former doubles champion Pam Shriver, now a TV analyst. “Tennis stars need to be accessible on game day before competition as well as after.” To strengthen the player-fan connection, tennis should copy golf and conduct Pro-Am events benefiting charities before Tennis Masters Series and International Series tournaments. On the last weekend players could also stage adult and junior camps and seminars when the courts have opened up.

Tennis is often compared with boxing, another mano a mano fiercely competitive individual sport. Dramatic entrances and colorful announcements magnify the already ear-shattering noise and exciting anticipation at title fights. Renowned ring announcer Michael Buffer’s famous “Let’s get ready to rumble!” climaxes his engaging introductions of the boxers and whips fans into a frenzy. Boxing great Sugar Ray Leonard once said, “When I heard [those five words], it made me want to fight. I couldn’t wait to get it on.” Tennis should copy that format or create other dynamic pre-final formats at non-Grand Slam tournaments. Playing the national anthems of both finalists would heighten patriotic fervor and also rev up partisan onlookers.

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IP #4: REV UP TOURNAMENT FINALS.

Whatever happened to the colorful and fun nicknames of yesteryear? I remember when players got tagged with memorable monikers such as “Muscles” (Ken Rosewall), “Snake” (Ross Case), “Rocket” (Rod Laver), “Nails” (Bob Carmichael), “Gentleman Jack” (Crawford), “Hacker” (Fred Stolle), “The Wizard” (Norman Brookes), and “Killer” (Darren Cahill). And those are only Australian men, for starters. Catchy sobriquets are rare today with the best being “The Beast” (Max Mirnyi), “The Mosquito” (Ferrero) and “Scud” (Mark Philippoussis). No one asked me, but how about “The Mad Russian” for Marat Safin and “Pocket Rocket” for Justine Henin-Hardenne?

TIP #6: NICKNAME PLAYERS.

TIP #7: DRESS LIKE CHAMPS, NOT CHUMPS.
Sex sells and not just for tennis babes whose outfits range from attractively classy to seductively skimpy. For the past 10 years, however, men’s attire has gone downhill fast with baggy shorts that look more like crumpled underwear and shirts with sleeves down to the elbow. Some dorks even wear baseball caps when playing indoors. What are they trying to hide, anyway? A survey a while back revealed men tour players boasted an awesome 6.9 body fat percent average. The best sartorial innovation this century is the sleeveless shirt worn by German Tommy Haas, Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Carlos Moya, and American James Blake. Hey, guys, show those muscles. Chicks dig them!

Sports like NASCAR are way ahead of the game because devotees feel they “know” the stars of their sport. Fans chat with Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers minutes before they risk their lives at breakneck speeds. “We all know you follow someone’s career more

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IP #5: CONNECT PLAYERS AND FANS.

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IP #8: STOP THE STALLING.

Sports fans crave action. But the disturbing truth is that men’s singles matches, in particular, provide much too little “action time.” Typically, the ball is in play only

28 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

10 to 15 percent of the total match time, compared to a far more entertaining 30 to 50 percent in other leading sports, such as football, basketball and soccer. To reduce the “dead time,” tennis should put a 20-second clock on court, like the shot clock in basketball, and when the buzzer goes off, the player loses that point if he hasn’t served. The WTA Tour should get rid of the ridiculous two “bathroom breaks” rule and limit on-court visits by trainers—that typically last three to five minutes—to once in best-of-three-set matches and twice in best-of-five-set matches. And neither tour should adopt a rule allowing players to challenge line calls. It’s yet another boring and unnecessary time-waster.

RESUSCITIP #9:DOUBLES. TATE

Back in 1991 former doubles star Frew McMillan rightly observed: “The way tournaments treat doubles reminds me of a grocer who has a good product but won’t put it out on the shelf. The people would buy the product if they saw it, but most of them aren’t even aware it’s available because of the way it’s hidden from view.” Doubles is the event that recreational players favor, and as Aussie great John Newcombe once said, “A good doubles match can be one of the fastest and most exciting of all sports

events.” Here’s how doubles can reach its pro potential. Q Start doubles on Wednesday to encourage first- and second-round singles losers to enter. Q Televise all doubles finals after the singles. Q Assign an ATP and WTA communications director to doubles only, and publicize leading teams with a major promotional campaign. Q Immediately follow the 7 p.m. singles match with a doubles match—or start the doubles at 6:30 p.m., followed by a singles at approximately 8 or 8:30 p.m. Q Require matching shirts and shorts for doubles teams. Q Have doubles teams appear together in autograph sessions. Q Have doubles teams conduct “Kids Days” so that doubles is explained and showcased. Q Nearly double the measly 17 percent of Tennis Master Series total prize money (and 20 percent overall) that doubles receives to 30 percent.

To help reverse the epidemic of injuries, exhaustion and burnout, shorten the grueling season so that it ends in October with the Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals. Reduce the Davis Cup World Group from 16 to eight teams and from four to three rounds and play the first round in April so that the previous year’s champion will reign for at least six months. This 10-week “off-season”—still small compared to other sports—will benefit fans, too. We’ll actually start to miss the sport and will eagerly look forward to its January return in Australia. Q

TIP #10: FIX THE SCHEDULE.

Award-winning tennis writer Paul Fein’s book, Tennis Confidential: Today’s Greatest Players, Matches, and Controversies, published by Brassey’s, Inc., was listed No. 1 among tennis books by Amazon.com and BN.com. Information about the book and how to order it can be found at: www.tennisconfidential.com. His second book, You Can Quote Me on That: Greatest Tennis Quips, Insights, and Zingers, will be published by Potomac Books, Inc. (formerly Brassey’s, Inc.) in March 2005. For more information, visit www.tennisquotes.com.

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

29

GROWING THE GAME

CORPORATE DIVIDENDS
Starting company tennis leagues in your area can be lucrative for your business, fun for employees, and beneficial for the corporations. B Y K R I S T E N D A L E Y

A

n increasing focus on the growth of corporate tennis programs not only stands to benefit companies across the country, but also tennis teaching pros, facilities and retail shops. And, in addition to promoting the healthful attributes of the game, corporate tennis programs will bring new players into the game. At least 30 corporate tennis leagues currently exist in the U.S.—both intercompany leagues where different corporations play each other, and intracompany leagues made up of teams within the same company. This year, the USTA and World TeamTennis are joining forces to grow corporate tennis programs, with a goal of finding 10 metropolitan markets this year to start leagues. The partnership has already proved fruitful—a new league has begun in Atlanta, under the auspices of the Georgia Tennis Association. “World TeamTennis is fun, exciting, quick and co-ed,” says Delaine Mast, WTT national program coordinator for the recreational leagues. “The USTA has a desire to grow the game. So it’s a very good partnership.” As a teaching pro or facility manager, you should look for companies in your area that are ripe to start corporate tennis. It could be a lucrative venture for your business, and there are a lot of advantages to everyone involved, including employees themselves and the companies they work for.

uct manager for Adult Tennis, is that “these programs provide a really nice platform for team-building within an organization.” Meanwhile, facilities that host such programs also see substantial benefits, most obviously in increased revenue from equipment and retail sales, league fees and court fees. Tennisport Incorporated, a private facility in Long Island City, N.Y., is the home of “Corporate League Tennis,” a program that brings 26 New York City companies together for tennis competition and camaraderie. According to manager Doris Sterling, approximately 25 percent of league participants over the past 10 years have become club members. In particular, the facility’s pro shop has noticed that the number of racquets they’ve restrung has increased substantially as a result of the corporate program. Another benefit of corporate tennis for a community and/or tennis facility is the potential for sponsorship opportunities. “When a business participates in the corporate tennis program, and sees the benefits to its employees, it is more likely to support the cause of tennis,” says Julie Pek, executive director of the USTA Kentucky district. Kentucky Fried Chicken, headquartered in Louisville, has participated in a corporate tennis program for the last five years. “Because of this awareness of tennis, and some very influential employees, KFC was a major sponsor of the USA League Southern Sectional Championships in 2001 and 2002,” says Pek.

G

OOD FOR THE COMPANY

FIND THE RIGHT FORMAT

Corporations that offer employee-fitness programs benefit in a number of ways. The Health Partners Research Foundation has found that increasing physical activity to moderate levels can lower health care charges by $2,000 per employee. In addition, physically fit employees are known to demonstrate better job performance. What’s more, adds Glenn Arrington, USTA prod-

Corporate tennis play formats are flexible. Arrington suggests that facilities interested in hosting a corporate tennis program look into what the company wants from the program, and use that as a guide to achieve a balance between the league’s needs and those of other members and visitors. According to Sterling, the corporate league takes over the Tennisport courts between 8 and 10 p.m. on weekdays, and 6 and 8 p.m. on weekends, a time convenient for other members. There are several ways to market a tennis program to a company

30 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

How to Start a Corporate League In Your Area
Q Contact a company’s Human Resources department: Tell them of the benefits a corporate league can have to both the company and its employees. Most companies, especially large firms, should find the health-care cost savings and increased productivity of workers quite appealing. See whether the company can subsidize all or part of the cost of the league for its employees. Q Get the word out: Once you have the OK from H.R., use every resource available to get the word out to company employees. Try to find a “point person” in the company who can act as your liaison for the league; possibly someone in the personnel department or maybe a tennis player from that company that you already teach or know from your facility. Then have him or her send email blasts to fellow employees and have notices posted on bulletin boards and in company newsletters and corporate-wide memos. Have your point person manage the sign-up list for the league. Q Find out the best play format for the new league: Contact your USTA section, district or CTA or World TeamTennis to figure out which format will work best for the league. Some formats are better for beginner players and may also include clinics and practices to help them improve their games. Make sure you can carve out court time that is compatible with the employees’ schedules. Q Hold a welcome party: Pick a date and open up the facility, or at least a few courts, for a party for the employees. Have snacks and beverages (see if the company can help fund this), organize round-robins, drills and clinics. Make sure you address all the different levels of play you may get, from rank beginners to advanced players. And above all, keep it fun and make sure that employees have a chance to socialize with each other when not playing. Q Work the league season: Be in constant touch with league members, through emails and notices on bulletin boards and in company newsletters. List the league standings each week. Q Hold a season-ending party: Give awards, and encourage current players to bring new people into the league. Also take this opportunity to have them sign up for the next season.

and its employees. “We have 32 courts that we need to fill, so we need to look at every avenue,” says Michael Woody, managing director at Midland Community Tennis Center in Midland, Mich. To get companies interested, he appeals to their human resources or personnel representatives, pitching the center’s “Play Tennis Fast” program as a healthy lifestyle program for employees. Going straight to an existing tennis player is another way to start or grow a corporate league. One employee could bring in a group of colleagues to participate in a league, or approach his or her employer about sponsoring a program or a team. Woody has found offering corporate tennis to be an effective tactic in growing the game and his business—the program yields about 200 new players and 100 new members a year. He considers it an “important piece” in a collaboration of programs that help build the business’s bottom line. “If we didn’t market to corporations, we’d lose 1,000 hours” of court time, he explains, which equates to about $10,000 in revenue. Arrington sees the promotion of corporate tennis as an efficient way to market to a group quickly and get a substantial return. “I think corporate tennis is an untapped market at this point,” he says. “It has enormous potential to reach the 25-to-45 age group.”Q

Illustrations by Kristine Thom

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

31

INDUSTRY SUCCESS

CUSTOMER TENNIS
For 30 years, Peter Burwash and Peter Burwash International have been providing unrivaled service to players, vacationers, facilities, and their own employees.
BY PETER FRANCESCONI
eter Burwash gave me my first formal tennis lesson. It happened 17 years ago at Seabrook Island Resort in South Carolina. And I was intrigued—by Burwash himself, by his pros, by his teaching methods, by his whole positive outlook toward life and tennis. I think Burwash would be happy to know that now, after having taken lessons from many different pros over the years, I still remember— and more importantly, still use—at least two key Peter Burwash teaching points: On the serve, “hit up, snap down” (I remember him sitting crosslegged on the court at the baseline and “snapping” the ball over the net and into the service court), and, in the ready position, hold the throat of your racquet with your non-racquet hand, with your index finger on the strings to help “set” the direction of the head for the next shot. When everything else starts falling apart during a match, these two simple tips help me regain my balance. Then I remember what a great time I had that long weekend 17 years ago and how much I learned about playing and enjoying the game. And I consider how lucky I was to have my introduction to tennis be from someone who has such a huge passion for the game. “Second, living in Hawaii, I’d hear from people who said they had visited three or four different islands and would get different instruction from each pro, with no consistency from one to the next. “Third, I just had an incredible life on the tour and had a chance to play in 74 countries. I thought, it would be nice if people could have this travel experience even if they weren’t able to play on the pro tour. “I thought a tennis management company was a brilliant idea. I didn’t realize that by 1975, there were 16 others doing the same thing,” he says. “Right now, of those original 17, we’re the survivors. We’re the one still standing. And it’s been very gratifying.” Currently, PBI manages the tennis at 69 sites around the world, and there are 101 tennis professionals in the company. “I’ve personally interviewed 10,586 pros,” says Burwash. “And these are long interviews—10 to 14 hours. I believe that the president of the company should do most of the interviews and take time with them, so you get it right. I’m stymied today with how many people do one- or two-hour interviews. You can’t really learn that much in that time.” Pros who survive the interview process still have a long way to go, however—450 hours of training, crammed into one month of 15-hour days. Prospective PBI pros spend 130 of those training hours on court, learning about basic teaching methods, how to give private and group lessons, and various on-court programs. But, says Burwash, “We don’t teach systems; we teach individuals. We teach a setup concept and terminology that will allow customers to go from one PBI facility to another. That consistency and continuity of communication is very important and leads to very loyal customers.” The other 320 hours of training are off the court and in the classroom, where PBI pros learn about the business. But they don’t just learn about their little area of tennis; PBI pros are schooled in all aspects of the resort and club business. “We have courses about what a hotel manager does, what convention bookers and meeting planners do, how each

NTENSIVE I

TRAINING

It was 30 years ago this past February when Burwash started Peter Burwash International, which manages the tennis operations at some of the world’s most exclusive resorts and clubs. In 1975, Burwash, who grew up in Canada and was living in Hawaii at the time, was fresh off the pro tour, having played professionally since 1967, winning 19 singles and doubles titles. “When I was on the tour, playing at clubs and resorts around the world, I saw how a lot of tennis operations were set up,” says Burwash, “and three things struck me. First, in those days, there were a lot of tourneys at resorts, and I’d interact with resort managers and they’d be looking for a pro. So I thought, maybe there’s room for a management company to supply pros to resorts.

SOLE

SURVIVOR

32 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

department in a hotel fits into the whole scheme of things, classes in writing, understanding the media, how to put together a press release, how to take photos, budgeting, court construction, lighting, court maintenance, computers, and much more,” says Burwash. “It’s very intensive.”

The idea behind the training is to make the PBI tennis pro a partner with the host facility, with an understanding about what these resorts and clubs deal with daily and how they can become more profitable. “We can put together a tournament to help generate room business, and we help bring meetings to these facilities,” says Burwash, adding that it was his suggestion that brought the USTA Annual Meeting to the Westin Rio Mar Resort & Casino last year, a PBI facility in Puerto Rico. “We train our guys to be proactive,” says Burwash. “Originally, we were just service people. Now we’re service/management people to help the fiscal health of the property along. While our pros are not employees at these resorts, they are department heads. The resorts know that we’re in the business to help them sell rooms.” PBI pros also go through a 150-item checklist regularly on how to take care of the tennis courts and equipment. “All these details ensure that we remain fiscally responsible” to the resort or club, says Burwash. “But,” he adds, “no decision on our part is going to be based on dollars; it’s going to be on, can we deliver the service. The first day of training, we say to pros, ‘You’re coming into the service business, not the tennis business.’”

BECOMING

PARTNERS

“We’ve turned down quite a few over the years,” says Burwash. “The No. 1 reason is for a lack of service mentality—the owner or manager doesn’t really see service as critical. No. 2 would be security. We’ve had offers to go to different places that aren’t really safe. No. 3 is that we’ve carved out a niche of being in five-star operations, so our customers have come to expect that. We generate customers who trust us.” And for 30 years, the customer is what PBI is all about. “We have a strong corporate policy of never charging if the customer doesn’t get it,” says Burwash. “I expect all of our pros, if they don’t succeed in a lesson, to give the lesson for free. Also, if we are one minute late, we give the lesson for free, and the pro pays a $50 fine to the [host] company. The customer is the winner. I wish more service businesses would do that—if you don’t get the job done, don’t charge. “I would average 20 to 25 letters a week commending the excellent service,” he adds. “I think we’ve had two negative letters in the 30 years, and they were both our fault and we ended up covering the cost.” Communication within the PBI organization is also key, both for serving the customer and serving the host facility. Burwash sends out a message to all his pros two or three times a week, he says. Also, every PBI pro must send out a newsletter at least four times a year to all the other pros, sharing information about their successes and failures. “We’re very conscientious about sharing where we go wrong,” says Burwash. “If you don’t communicate your mistakes, they continue to happen.”

And that brings up another key distinction of PBI pros. “We look at how we are being perceived,” says Burwash. “The image of the average tennis pro is extremely poor. If a pro comes out with his shirt hanging out, looking like a slob, I’m not going to have a lot of faith that this guy knows what he’s talking about. “I was doing a conference last year and the general manager at the resort said to me, ‘Why do tennis pros have to dress like such slobs? Look at the golf pros—they’re all dressed well and clean-shaven. What is it with you guys?’” says Burwash. “That’s what I hear. Owners don’t want to put money into tennis because it’s perceived like such a slobbish sport. They can’t get past that perception to see that the purpose of the courts is to generate room revenue. “One of the major complaints is that pros either miss lessons or show up late to them,” he adds. “Tennis has it over golf in practically every segment, but what golf has over us is a much higher degree of professionalism. This lack of professionalism in tennis pros drives me crazy. “To me, it’s just common sense on how you dress, how you act, and how you present yourself,” says Burwash. “Most of our properties, they’d throw us out if we presented ourselves that way.”

D RESSING

FOR SUCCESS

EMPLOYEE

SATISFACTION

With PBI pros, the rigorous interview process, the intensive training, and the constant communication pay off big. Burwash says he’s never laid off anyone in his company over the 30 years. Ten of his pros have been with him since day one, and the most junior person at PBI headquarters at The Woodlands in Texas has been with him for 24 years. Pro Dan Aubuchon joined PBI 26 years ago, when he graduated from college, and now is the tennis director at the Bighorn Golf Club in Palm Desert, Calif. “There are two things that Peter did that really keep people in the company,” he says. “One is that the challenge is always changing and moving. Whatever you want to get into, Peter will help you. I’ve gotten into consulting and design

C USTOMER

SATISFACTION
April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

While PBI is installed at 69 sites in 32 countries to date,

33

work, coaching pro players, running clinics for new PBI coaches. “The other thing is the people,” Aubuchon says. “The people you spend time with are incredible. I’m as close to these people as I am to my family.” Adds Chris Dwyer, PBI’s executive vice president and COO, “Peter’s enthusiasm is contagious. It keeps you going. He keeps challenging and encouraging. He gives you a lot of freedom to take the initiative.” Dwyer, whose main job is matching pros to resorts, has known Burwash since his days living in Canada. Burwash’s respect for his pros also runs deep. “I’ve never taken a penny from another pro; I’ve never received one cent from the company,” Burwash says. “I have no salary. I make my money on speaking engagements, books, articles. “For me, loyalty is a two-way street,” he adds. “Today, employers are not loyal to their employees, yet they want their employees to be loyal to them. I’ve always felt that if your employees are happy, that’s going to be truly reflected in how they treat the customer. “I speak to major corporations, and I find that one of the reasons they’re struggling today is that the president is so focused on the bottom line that they spend all their time worrying about that instead of taking care of the employees,” says Burwash. “You’d better make it a neat environment to come to work in. Everyone has my direct line and email and can contact me any time. I spend three to four hours a day just talking to the pros individually.”

H OME

AND AWAY

world, addressing such companies as American Express, Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, Chemical Bank, the American Cancer Society, Cornell University, Pacific Asia Travel Association, the USPTA, and the USTA. His topics can range from leadership, to motivation, to health and fitness, to service, to tennis, and more. For nearly 25 years he spent more than 300 days a year on the road, averaging about 264,000 air-travel miles annually. But, he says, “I’m trying to get smarter.” For the last eight or nine years, he says he’s averaged about 150 days on the road, packing more into each trip so he’s able to spend less time away from his family—wife Lynn and adopted daughters Kimberly, 14, and Skyler, 9. Home for Burwash now is Carmel Valley, Calif., where the family moved from Hawaii in 1999. “We came to buy the Gardiner Tennis Ranch,” says Burwash. “When John Gardiner wanted to sell, he called me and said I was the only one he trusted the property to. I raised the money in 24 hours, then there was a zoning dispute and my lead investor panicked, then prices rose and it didn’t happen.” Now Burwash runs the 12-court (10 hard, two clay) Carmel Valley Ranch. The director of tennis at Carmel Valley Ranch is Bruce Haase, who has been a pillar of the PBI organization since its founding, says Burwash. Burwash also has written 10 books, including the still popular “Tennis for Life.” But only two of his books are about tennis; the others are on life and motivation. His latest book is “Dear Teenager,” which deals with teen suicide and getting through the tough teenage years. Among his many successes on court, Burwash started wheelchair tennis. “In February 1975 we founded the nonprofit International Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis,” he says. “We put down the first rules and had the first tournaments. When Brad Parks formed the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis, we felt he would be a better spokesman for the sport.” Burwash also started a tennis program for prisoners at the Hawaii State Prison. “In 18 years, of all the guys in our program, only one returned to prison after being let out,” says Burwash. “They were absolutely my favorite group to teach; they were truly the most appreciative, and their deportment on the court was impeccable. I still keep in touch with some of them.” The program ended in 1993 when the prison needed the court space to build more cells. But community service remains a key for PBI today. “I ask all of our pros to give two to four hours a week of community service on behalf of the sport,” says Burwash. “If they can’t, then PBI isn’t for them.” For Burwash, though, and for the three-decades-long success story of PBI, it comes down to one very simple business philosophy. “My No. 1 role is to take care of the employees,” he says. “The employees’ No. 1 role is to take care of the customers. And, magically, the customer takes care of the bottom line. “We’ve made money for 30 years with that philosophy.” Q

Burwash’s speaking engagements take him around the

34 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

INDUSTRY SUCCESS

PROMOTIONS THAT WORK WORK
These two racquet sports facilities may be taking different paths, but both are leading to increased profits.
BY MARTIN RINEHART

W

There are two Club Fits in upscale Westchester County, a northern suburb of New York City. I headed for the one in Briarcliff, N.Y. (the other facility is in Jefferson Valley).

T

hat makes some racquet sports facilities busier than beehives? That's the question I put to some folks in the industry. “You've got to talk to Beth Beck at Club Fit,” said Denise Jordan, executive director of the USTA Eastern Section. “You've got to talk to Richard Millman at Westchester Squash,” said Simon Haysom, a national-level amateur squash player. Well, they were both right. I found out that Beth Beck and Richard Millman may have different ways of doing business, but both are amazingly successful. You, too, can learn some valuable lessons from what Beck and Millman are doing at their facilities.

HE MULTIDIRECTIONAL APPROACH

The place is immense, with acres of parking, and on the Thursday morning I stopped by, the lot was nearly full. I met co-owner and President Beth Beck in the lobby, which was buzzing with activity. “We're having a party tonight to celebrate our 30th birthday, so it's a bit more hectic than usual,” she said. “We're expecting over 800 people.” That, I later learned, was only 10 percent of the membership! Beck took me on a tour, starting at the nursery where a dozen or so little kids were noisily playing. We got a welcoming wave from the room's supervisor, who kept right on playing with the kids. (The secret: Hire someone who loves playing with kids and still has 360-degree vision.) Next door is the playroom for the older kids, which was empty since all the kids were in school. But the room looked like heaven for 10-yearolds: dozens of things to climb, balls to throw, games to play—and no hard edges. We visited the two indoor hard tennis courts that are the survivors of the original six. Later we stopped by the seven new, bubbled Har-Tru outdoor courts. Quick count: two empty, two playing singles, five with pros teaching lessons. Not bad for midday, mid-week. Next, it was on to the gym facilities that have taken over from

four of the original courts. That would be about 24,000 square feet and, like the parking lot, it was nearly full. After that, we went out to the new pool area. “We used to have just one pool,” Beck said, as I looked at the three-pool facility. “Some people wanted to swim laps, some were there for water therapy, and the kids wanted to play. It just didn't work.” When I visited, there were lap swimmers in the lap pool and a seniors class in the therapy pool. The kids' pool will fill up after school. I met Patty Irwin, the aquatics director, who explained the different temperatures they keep their pools: cooler for the lap swimmers, warmer for therapy. I'm beginning to see a pattern: attention to every detail. When we visited the seven bubbled courts, I realized that they were turned 90 degrees from the summer layout shown on the website. By switching from a northsouth layout in summer to an east-west layout, Club Fit gained one extra court space under the bubble. Again, they don't miss a single detail. The six racquetball courts were upstairs, and they were empty. “Look . . .” Beck said, with a note of real pain in her voice, “they'll be full tonight with the leagues, but still . . .” She takes the empty space personally. The club was built by a group of doctors

36 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

during the 1970s tennis boom. Beck was asked to run a failing facility while the doctors decided what they would do with it. Eventually, Beck and a partner bought it. “We turned the corner when we stopped selling court time and started selling monthly EFT [electronic funds transfer] memberships,” she said. “That took a bit of courage, but it's really the key to the club because you don't get into the renewal process.” With EFT, dues are automatically deducted at the beginning of every month from a member's checking or credit-card account. That was in1982 when EFT was a novel idea. Today, Club Fit in Jefferson Valley is undergoing a $10 million renovation. “You've got to keep investing; you can't stand still,” said Beck. In return for that investment, you can ask your customers to pay. “We raise rates about 4 percent every year, whatever the economy's doing,” she said. Today's customers pay $120 a month for a 12-month, EFT commitment. Finally, I asked about marketing. “We do a little of everything: mail, newspapers, www.clubfit.com. Our biggest advertising is cable television during the US Open,” Beck said. “But basically it's all word-of-mouth. We offer $50 to anyone who brings in a new member.” She added that members prefer the money rather than getting, say, a free month. “They really like to get that check.” Over the years the Club Fits have become models of a modern racquet sports and fitness facility. Tennis alone doesn't work for them; tennis and a good variety of other fitness activities work. Trying to sell court time doesn't work; electronically paid memberships work. Having one swimming pool doesn't work for them; creating three pools, while not realistic in most demographic areas, suits Club Fit members best. It's all about what the members want and need.

Pat and Richard Millman, both squash pros, created Westchester Squash in Mamaroneck, N.Y., in 1998. It's a four-court facility in a converted warehouse in an industrial bit of southern Westchester County. It's not visible from any road likely to be driven by a potential customer. On the other hand, if you know where you're going, it's convenient by highway and train. Westchester Squash is nothing but

A SINGULAR FOCUS

squash. You can play squash, get squash lessons, buy a squash racquet, or have yours restrung, but that's all. If you want to lift a weight or swim a lap, you'll have to go elsewhere. Despite not having other activities to draw in members, Westchester Squash was a success from day one. Richard Millman says it took three years for the wordof-mouth to make it the place to play squash. Today it's a Mecca for squash enthusiasts—the facility hosts international-level tournaments. Millman began to expand as other owners of squash facilities (usually near-empty facilities) sought out the Millman magic. Westchester Squash now manages three four-court locations, keeping a dozen professionals busy. “There are three things you need to run a successful squash program,” Millman told me. “First, you have to have a clean facility. I've seen private clubs where they wash their walls once a year. I used to teach at a place where they washed the walls every other day and you could tell that the second day wasn't as good as the first.” Millman's walls are washed every morning. “Second, you have to have good 'program managers,'” he said. “Some people call them teaching pros. Here, we have program managers. They have to be good with squash, they have to be good with people, and they have to organize and manage the squash businesses. “Third, you have to have multiple profit centers,” he continued. “We have initiation fees and our EFT memberships.” It's the same revenue model as the Club Fits. But memberships are only a start. “Then we have leagues. Lessons are a major profit center. Our junior programs are another. We have school programs where we give away court time but charge for the coaching. We have tournaments here. We have coaches available to go with players to tournaments such as

the nationals.” Millman, himself an internationally-ranked player, has coached many of America's top squash players. Listen to Millman for even a short time and you can add a fourth item to his list: a love of squash that is contagious. He even entertains pure sales thoughts. “Parents know that their kids have a better chance of getting into an Ivy League school if they're good squash players,” Millman said. This sort of thinking works well in an area like Westchester County. Millman is just as excited about programs that bring squash to inner-city kids. Today, Westchester Squash is a partner in programs that bring squash into urban areas in New York and three other cities. He wants to make squash a sport for everyone. Like Beth Beck, Millman says word-ofmouth is his big seller. There's even a conductor on the commuter rail line who announces, “Mamaroneck Station, where the world-class squash players play.” Millman advertises in a squash magazine, at www.WestchesterSquash.com and in the Yellow Pages. Also, he credits the tournaments they host as promotional opportunities. For Millman, it's all about providing the best squash experience possible.

THE COMMON THREAD

Look closely and you can see that what Beck and Millman have in common is a passion for what they are doing. And that translates into an attention to details that make the Club Fits and Westchester Squash facilities some of the best in the business. Each of Beck's pools is at the right temperature. Millman's walls are washed every morning. But also, their passion is contagious. It shows in the way Patty Irwin takes care of the pools. It's reflected in the way Millman's program managers work. And you can bet that all the members of Club Fit and Westchester Squash feel that passion, too. That's why they keep coming back, and bringing their friends. Q
April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

37

PLAYER EQUIPMENT LOG

The U.S.’s Serena Wil with title wins at the using natural gut stri ful of male pros in th chart in your store, s

MEN
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Rank

Round Reached
S F S W 4 1 3 3 Q Q 4 4 4 3 Q 2 2 2 Q 3

Roger Federer Lleyton Hewitt Andy Roddick Marat Safin Guillermo Coria Carlos Moya Tim Henman Gaston Gaudio David Nalbandian Andre Agassi Joachim Johansson Guillermo Canas Tommy Robredo Fernando Gonzalez Nikolay Davydendo Mikhail Youzhny Tommy Haas Nicolas Massu Dominik Hrbaty Feliciano Lopez

Player Name

Country

SUI AUS USA RUS ARG ESP GBR ARG ARG USA SWE ARG ESP CHI RUS RUS GER CHI SVK ESP

Racquet Brand

Wilson Yonex Babolat Head Prince Babolat Slazenger Wilson Yonex Head Yonex Wilson Dunlop Babolat Head Head Dunlop Babolat Fischer Babolat

Racquet Model

N Six One Tour RDX-500 Pure Drive + Liquidmetal Prestige Mid O3 Tour Pure Drive Pro X-1 N PRO RDX-500 New Coming Soon RDX 500 Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 300G Pure Storm Plus LM Radical MP Liquidmetal Instinct 200g Pure Storm Plus Pro Extreme FT Pure Drive plus

Racquet Headsize
90 90 100 93 100 100 95 95 98 107 90 95 98 98 98 100 95 98 95 98

String Brand

Luxilon/Wilson Babolat/Luxilon Babolat Luxilon/Babolat Luxilon Luxilon Babolat/Luxilon Toalson Luxilon Luxilon Luxilon/Babolat Kirschbaum Luxilon Luxilon Luxilon Pacific Babolat Luxilon Kirschbaum Luxilon

WOMEN
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20

Rank

Round Reached
F W Q S 4 Q 4 4 DNP Q 2 4 S Q DNP DNP 4 4 3 DNP

Lindsay Davenport USA Serena Williams USA Amelie Mauresmo FRA Maria Sharapova RUS Anastasia Myskina RUS Svetlana Kuznetsova RUS Elena Dementieva RUS Venus Williams USA Jennifer Capriati USA Alicia Molik AUS Vera Zvonareva RUS Nadia Petrova RUS Nathalie Dechy FRA Patty Schnyder SUI Justine Henin-Hardenne BEL Elena Bovina RUS Karolina Sprem CRO Silvia Farina Elia ITA Francesca Schiavone ITA Paola Suarez ARG

Player Name

Country

Wilson Wilson Dunlop Prince Head Head Yonex Wilson Prince Dunlop Fischer Babolat Head Head Wilson Head Fischer Prince Fischer Prince

Racquet Brand

N Tour N3 300G Turbo Shark MP Liquidmetal Instinct Liquidmetal Instinct RDX-500 MP New Racquet coming soon Tour Diablo 300G Pro No One FT Pure Drive Team Liquidmetal Prestige MP Liquidmetal Prestige MP N Tour Liquidmetal Instinct Pro Tour FT Triple Threat Graphite OS Pro No. One NXG Graphite

Racquet Model

Racquet Headsize
95 110 98 100 100 100 98 110 95 98 98 98 98 98 95 100 98 110 98 100

Babolat Wilson Babolat Babolat Luxilon Luxilon Luxilon Wilson Babolat/Luxilon Luxilon Luxilon Luxilon Babolat Kirschbaum BDE Luxilon Tecnifibre Luxilon Luxilon Prince

String Brand

38 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

lliams and Russia’s Marat Safin kicked off the 2005 Grand Slam season in style in January Australian Open. As the chart below shows, Williams is one of the few women pros still ings in her racquet. To further illustrate this march toward polyester strings, only a hande Top 20 are using natural gut, and all of them use it as part of a hybrid system. Post this so your customers can check out what their favorite players are using.

Big Banger Alu Power Rough/Natural Gut VS Team/Big Banger Alu Power Pro Hurricane/VS Team 16 Big Banger Alu Power Rough/VS Touch Big Banger Original Big Banger Original Big Banger Timo 18/ VS Team Natural Gut Cyber Blade Tour Thermaxe 127 Big Banger Original Big Banger Alu Power Big Banger Alu Power/VS Team Natural Gut Super Smash Honey Big Banger Original Big Banger Alu Power Big Bangert Alu Power Polygut Blend 17 VS Touch Big Banger Alu Power Super Smash 17 Big Banger Original

String Model

16L 16L 16 16 16 16 18 1.27mm 16 16L 17 1.2 16L 16L 16L 17 16 17 16

String String Gauge Tension
25/23.5 56 73 52 60 51.6 59.5 64 66 23.5kg 25/27kg 26kg 53 -

Nike Nike Reebok Adidas Adidas Nike Adidas Diadora Yonex Nike Yonex Sergio Tacchini Adidas Fila Asics Adidas Lotto Nike

Footwear Brand

VAPOR S2 Nike MAX Breathe FREE Nike Figjam DMX Reebok Barricade III Adidas a3 Accelerate Adidas MAX Breathe FREE Nike Barricade III Adidas Protech DA2 Diadora SHT-304 Yonex MAX Breathe FREE Nike SHT-304 Yonex KDY Sergio Tacchini Barricade III Adidas X-Point Fila Asics Barricade III Adidas ATP Machine speed Lotto Nike

Footwear Model

Clothing Brand

VS Touch Natural VS Touch Pro Hurricane 17/VS Touch 17 Big Banger Timo 18 Big Banger Alu Touch Big Banger Alu Power Natural VS Touch 16/Big Banger Alu Power Big Banger Alu Power Big Banger Alu Power Monotec Supersense VS Touch Natural Gut Super Smash Spikey BDE Performance Big Banger Timo X-Tra Dynamic 1.33 Big Banger Original Big Banger Alu Power Tournament Nylon

String Model

String String Gauge Tension
15L 16 16 17 18 16L 16L 16 16L 16L 16L 16L 16 17 16 17 16 16 18 15L

63/64 67 57.2 56/52 51/48.5 65 28 57.3/55.1 52/50 -

Nike Nike Nike Nike Nike Fila Yonex Reebok Fila Adidas Adidas Adidas ASICS Adidas Adidas Sergio Tacchini Diadora Lotto

Footwear Brand

Air Zoom Thrive Nike Nike MAX Breathe FREE Nike VAPOR S2 Nike Nike X-Point Fila SHT-304 Yonex VESW DMX Reebok X-Point Fila Barricade III W Adidas Barricade II W Adidas Barricade III W Adidas Gel Enqvist ASICS Barricade III W Adidas Barricade III W Adidas Sergio Tacchini Kynetech W DA2 Diadora ATP Supreme Lite Lotto

Footwear Model

Clothing Brand

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

39

string Völkl V-REX
V-Rex is a new monofilament polyester string from Völkl. According to Völkl, VRex is a unique co-polyester developed specifically for today's serious aggressive player who demands precise control and reliable durability. Due to a patented manufacturing process, Völkl says that V-Rex maintains tension exceptionally well, which ensures its unique performance longer than conventional polyester strings. And where conventional polyester strings can feel harsh, Völkl tells us that V-Rex offers a soft yet elastic feel.
V-Rex is available in 16L in yellow only. It is priced from $8 per set, and $120 for reels of 770 feet. For more information or to order, contact Völkl at 800-264-4579, or visit www.völkl.com. ry is about what you would expect, but blocked holes are no problem. The string has enough texture to it so that it doesn’t slip through your fingers when weaving the crosses. Thirteen of our playtesters rated it about the same or easier to install than their favorite string, while 18 rated it not as easy to install. No playtester broke a sample during stringing, 13 reported problems with coil memory, 5 reported problems tying knots, and 3 reported friction burn.

PLAYTEST

there, Völkl V-Rex might be just the string they need. —Greg Raven Q EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 0 somewhat easier 4 about as easy 9 not quite as easy 18 not nearly as easy 0

ON THE COURT
According to our playtesters, Völkl V-Rex really stands out in our Control, Resistance to Movement, and Durability categories. In the Control category, our playtesters gave V-Rex second place of all the strings we’ve tested to date. In Resistance to Movement, they gave V-Rex third place of all the strings we’ve ever tested. And for Durability, they gave V-Rex fourth place of all the strings we’ve ever tested, with 25 of our playtesters also saying that V-Rex has better or much better durability than other strings of similar gauge. What’s more, our playtesters think V-Rex is well above average in Spin Potential, and Holding Tension, and above average in Power. These ratings were good enough to give Völkl V-Rex an overall above average score. Only two playtesters broke the test sample, one at 18 hours, and one at 70 hours.

IN THE LAB
We tested the 16L (1.27 mm) gauge VRex. The coil measured 41’11”. The diameter measured 1.27 mm prior to stringing, and 1.23 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 71 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 66 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. V-Rex added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 31 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. The average number of hours playtested was 23.8. Out of the package, V-Rex feels and strings up like other polyesters, with low elongation during tensioning. Coil memo-

OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 0 somewhat better 4 about as playable 7 not quite as playable 17 not nearly as playable 3

OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 8 somewhat better 17 about as durable 6 not quite as durable 0 not nearly as durable 0

CONCLUSION
Völkl V-Rex is yet another solid option for players seeking the durability that comes from using a polyester string, as along with that durability comes control, resistance to movement, spin potential, and power. This is a great combination for any string, and more than a third even found the playability better than average. If you have customers who take a full swing at the ball and need a string that can hang in

RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best) Playability Durability Power Control Comfort Touch/Feel Spin Potential Holding Tension Resistance to Movement 3.2 4.5 3.3 3.9 2.7 2.8 3.5 3.5 4.0

40 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

I love this string. Coil memory is not a minus, for it strings up quick and clean. Tension is still near where I strung it, 25 hours of play and a month later. Lots of pop, great power, but under control, even with my oversize frame. Still feels great. 3.0 male all-court player using Völkl Catapult VI OS strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma XP Pro 17)

TESTERS

This string plays more like a synthetic gut than a poly. I am surprised at the playability and power it has. It maintains tension very well and does not move at all in a 16x18 pattern. Depending on price, I would consider using this string. 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Pro Staff ROK strung at 68 pounds LO (Luxilon Ace / Babolat VS Tonic 18)

TALK

This monofilament feels very stiff out of the package, but is both fast and easy to string, with little to no coil memory and very short pulls on the tension head. My first reaction on court was that it has less “pop” than my current string, but I’d adjust the tension to compensate if I tried it again. It has significantly better ball grab than my current string. I’m hitting my best slices and topspins ever—even This is a string I love to play with. Stiff stringbed, string doesn’t better than with hybrids I’ve tried. There is move. Great control. Lets me supply the absolutely no string movement for quite a power I need. Solid feel. Great. Let me while, and amazingly, the string has an know what it is! unexpectedly soft feel at impact. This 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson H string should sell well to young power hitBlaze strung at 70 pounds CP (Luxilon ters who want a soft feel, great grab, spin, Alu Power 16L) Very responsive for a poly. I would and durability. even recommend it over the present 3.5 male all-court player using Gamma Overall pleased with the string. Really Diamond Fibre F-9.0 strung at 65 pounds leading poly strings.” had good “pop” on flat serves and still LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 17) had plenty of kick on spin serves. 5.0 male all-court player using Babolat 3.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson This string has a great combination of Pure Drive Zylon strung at 50 pounds CP Pro Staff 6.5 strung at 62 pounds CP (Wildurability (its strongest feature) with comson Sensation 16) (Forten Kevlar / Gosen Polylon 17/16) fort and control. After 20 hours of play, the strings have yet to end up out of place. I like this string right from the start. I After stringing, I was expecting it would be hard on my arm, but I’m feel I can do anything. The only setback was tension loss after a while. pleasantly surprised. Some members used my racquet as well, and they liked it very much. 3.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung This is a good string. No pain in the elbow as with many poly strings. at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16) 5.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Rave strung at 54 pounds CP (Head IntelliTour 17) I found nothing special about this string—a standard poly with good durability and control, but no feel. There are plenty of other This string plays slightly better than most polyester strings I’ve tried polys I like more. Stringing was easy, no problems. in the past, but still maintains most of the qualities of a poly. Excellent 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.0 strung at control, durability, and resistance to movement, but comfort and feel 60 pounds LO (Wilson Natural Gut 17) are below average. I would like to try this string in a hybrid with a softer synthetic gut in the crosses. Could be a winner in that setup. Relatively difficult to string, but this is a good choice for players 4.0 male all-court player using Völkl V1 Classic strung at 58 pounds who use huge amounts of spin, and for those who use control and LO (Babolat Tonic 16) feel. This string is not for recreational players, as power must be generated by the player’s technique. This string could be reliably recomThis string has a very comfortable feel from the first hit. Tension mended to frequent string breakers. holds up nicely. Nice combination of power and feel. Stringing was 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Hyper Hammer 2.3 strung slightly more problematic. It was stiff enough to make knots more diffiat 66 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16) cult. Not a flexible string during installation. 5.0 male all-court player using Prince More Control DB 800 strung at For the rest of the tester comments, USRSA members can visit RacquetTECH.com. 63 pounds LO (Prince 16)

“ “

I like this string. It hits great. I will use it when I find out the name. 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson H5 strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson NXT Max 16)

“Much better than most other polys.

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

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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ask
Q

the EXPERTS

Your Equipment Hotline
RACQUET SPECS
IS THERE A GENERAL GRIP SIZE used for stating specs on new racquets? I'm starting to receive some new frames from Wilson and it appears as though the specs quoted for unstrung racquets were done for a 4-3/8” grip. My new nPro Surge was right on the money and it has a 4-3/8” grip. However, the nTour is a 4-1/2” grip and it differs. Are the specs posted on your site taken directly from the manufacturer? When manufacturers are giving swingweight measurements is each using the same apparatus (such as the Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Center) for the measurement? What do they use for measuring stiffness? There's a lot of confusion out here as to the consistency of information from various manufacturers. For instance, I'd like to be able to access the database at RacquetTECH.com and use comparison figures for racquets. If I know that the manufacturers are using a specific piece of equipment for measuring swingweight then I can re-calibrate my Rossignol Swingtest to match that piece of equipment. That way, when I have a customer come in with an older model frame that's not in your database, I can do my own swingweight test and get a numeric figure to plug into the search feature when I'm trying to find my customer a close match to their current racquet.

A

ALL SPECS ARE TAKEN from actual racquets, which are represented to us as being samples of production racquets. They are typically size 3 grips (43/8”), and each racquet is measured strung. We virtually never publish manufacturer specs. We weigh each racquet on a calibrated scale, measure the balance on an Alpha Viper Balance Beam, and get the flex and

swingweight from our Babolat RDC. From what we can gather, some manufacturers do use the Babolat RDC, but others have made their own equipment, and typically these custom measuring devices are significantly different from the Babolat RDC. Although superficially similar to the swingweight portion of the Babolat RDC, the Rossignol swingweight tester produces results that cannot easily be correlated to those of the Babolat RDC because one reads low on the low end and high on the high end, compared to the other. We have

42 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

tested swingweight using the pendulum method, however, and the data points correlate well with the RDC. (See our on-line tool at http://www.racquettech.com/members/ tools/swing_weight.html for all the details.) It is also worth noting that we sporadically check the calibration of the swingweight portion of our RDC using a special set of racquets having known measurements.

SAFE TENSION RANGE

Q

I NOTICED IN YOUR PRO equipment logs (http://www.racquettech.com /members/prologs/pro_logs_toc.html) that the string tension indicated for several players is higher than the racquet manufacturer's tension range on their racquets. Are the pros playing with special made versions of these racquets to handle higher string tensions? Is there a "safe" range over the manufacturer's tension range that a racquet can be strung? SOME PROS DO PLAY SPECIAL frames that are not available to the public, even though the graphics on the pro's racquet are similar to those appearing on racquets that are available to the retail customer. In those cases where a pro is play-

from the standard Gamma quick-mount system to their top-of-the-line suspension-mount system, where one knob moves two shoulder-support arms at the same time. When I mount a racquet, the shoulder-support arms do not contact the frame at the same time. When the first one contacts the frame, the other one is still 1/8 inch away. By the time each arm is in contact with the frame, the racquet is pushed to one side. I have tried mounting different racquets, and I always get that same result. Is this something I should worry about? ing with a frame that is available to retail customers, the primary concern is to get the racquet to perform a certain way, regardless of any reduction in frame longevity, because the sponsoring manufacturer provides free or low-cost racquets to the player. The published tension range is the safe range. Increasing tension beyond the maximum listed tension will void the warranty.

A

A

THERE ARE TWO THINGS YOU can do before contacting Gamma. First, check that the centerline of the tower is aligned with the centerline of the table (that is, not twisted 1/16 inch to one side). If the tower is aligned properly, check that the shoulder support assembly is also properly aligned with the tower. —Greg Raven Q

RACQUET MOUNTING

Q

I HAVE A GAMMA PROGRESSION ST II stringer, and I have upgraded

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.

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

43

Readers’ Know-How in Action
TIGHTER TIE-OFFS
In order to get as much slack out of the tie-off knot as possible, I insert the end my awl through the loop of the knot, and while pulling on the end of the string with a pair of pliers, slowly ease the awl out. This gets as much slack out of the string as possible before the knot tightens on itself. 5 sets of Gamma Zo Power & a Gamma T-Shirt & Hat to: Don Stull, Tucson, AZ can be prevented by putting a small amount of clear fingernail polish on the end of the trimmed string end to seal the strands together before they can separate. 5 sets of Prince Polygut 16 to: Bill Thompson, MRT, Farmville, VA

tips

and TECHNIQUES

BEGINNERS

ALPHA MOUNTING ADJUSTMENTS

SEALING NATURAL GUT KNOT ENDS
The free end of knots tied in natural gut will unravel over time. This is unsightly and

pendently, and have found a way to tighten both at once. I first lightly mount the racquet with the 6 o'clock and 12 o'clock mounts. Then I stand opposite the arms I am about to tighten and use my forearms to squeeze both mounting arms up to the hoop. This puts my hands in position to tighten both mounting arm knobs simultaneously. I then repeat the procedure on the other side. 5 sets of Gosen Polylon Comfort 16 & a Gosen T-Shirt to: Peter Underwood, Whitewater, WI

MARKETING

SELLING ATW STRINGING
I include a sheet with each around-theworld (ATW) string job I do. This calls attention to something the customer may never have noticed, and helps establish me as a stringing expert. 5 sets Silent Partner Original Syn Gut to: Justin Figel, MRT, Laurel, MD

I have an Alpha Blu-DC Plus stringing machine that has individual tightening knobs for each side of the mounting arms. I find it clumsy to tighten each knob inde-

44 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

Editor’s note: Members who are interested in obtaining a copy of Justin’s sheet can find it on-line at: http://www.racquettech. com/members/reference/Figel_ATW.zip. However, while the sheet states explicitly that stringing a racquet ATW will not void the manufacturer’s warranty, this is not the case with Head racquets that are specified for two-piece stringing. For these racquets, any one-piece stringing will void the warranty.

COMPUTERIZED STRINGING RECORDS
I have created a Microsoft Excel workbook containing different spreadsheets to keep track of various aspects of my stringing business. It features:

Q An invoice template to generate and print a final invoice. Q An order form. This is set to print “two up” on a letter-size piece of paper. After printing, I cut each sheet down the middle lengthwise, producing two order forms. Each customer fills out a form when dropping off a racquet, which I attach around the grip of the racquet with a rubber band. Q An invoice record log. Q A logbook to record stringing information. This worksheet is set up so I can easily generate reports on any column. For example, I can quickly look at all jobs for a particular customer, jobs for a single racquet frame, jobs by string type, etc. Q Racquet IDs. I give each frame a number, which I track. In the logbook I can pull up any ID and know how many times I have strung the corresponding racquet, when I have strung it, and with what string. Q String Inventory. I keep track of my string inventory to make certain I have sufficient supplies of the strings I list on my order form. And by keeping costs up to date, I also know how much money I have tied up in working capital. I do about 350 racquets a year, and try to keep my string inventory below $2,000. Q Maintenance and calibration. This is where

I keep some simple notes about maintenance and adjustments to my stringing machine.

5 sets of Wilson Reaction 16 & a Wilson Tournament Bag to: Dan McManus, Auburn, WA Editor’s Note: Members who are interested in obtaining a copy of Dan’s spreadsheet can find it on-line at: http://www.racquettech. com/members/reference/McManus_Logbook. zip. —Greg Raven Q
Tips and Techniques submitted since 2000 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.

April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

45

science Racquet Acrobatics
Amaze your friends with racquet tricks and the explanations behind them.
SOMERSAULTING AND FLIPPING RACQUETS
There are some things in life that are almost totally useless, like rock music, but which some people find important. The "Tennis Racquet Theorem" is another good example. The theorem says that if you toss a tennis racquet (starting with strings parallel to the ground) into the air to perform a somersault before you catch it, it usually also flips over in a half-twist and lands upside down in your hand. This can be good or bad depending on circumstances. If the racquet happens to be a cat falling several floors out a window, this flipping over effect is good for the cat. If the racquet happens to be a fresh piece of buttered toast with jam on top, then the flipping over effect is bad, especially for the carpet. If you are an Olympic diver or gymnast, flipping over several times while doing a few somersaults can earn you extra points, perhaps leading to fame and fortune. As far as tennis players are concerned, the Tennis Racquet Theorem is similar in significance to whether bath water rotates clockwise or counter-clockwise in the Southern Hemisphere when the bath plug is pulled out. But it is a fascinating occurrence, fun to watch, and apparently fun to do, since so many players are constantly flipping and spinning their racquets between and after points or during simple idle moments about the club. It is doubly fascinating since the flip does not occur when you toss the racquet to rotate in any other way. If you begin the somersault by holding the racquet face perpendicular to the ground, no twist occurs. If you spin it about the long axis, it doesn't also do a somersault, but if you toss it in a somersault, it will also spin.

BY ROD CROSS
racquet are typically about 15, 120 and 135 kg•cm2, when each of the three axes passes through the balance point of the racquet. More commonly, the middle swingweight most associated with a tennis stroke is measured about an axis near the end of the handle, in which case the typical value that is quoted is around 330 kg•cm2. The easy axis of rotation is the one passing along the handle up to the tip of the racquet. It is easy to spin a racquet about this axis, and many players do just that between points either as a nervous habit or to distract their opponent. They can even get the racquet rotating up to about 10 revolutions per second or 600 rpm. Interestingly, the racquet doesn't flip around and whack them in the back of their hand when they do this, even though it is a simple spin around an axis just like the somersaulting racquet above. Similarly, players sometimes stick their finger in the hole in the throat section and twirl (cartwheel) the racquet around the index finger. Again the racquet only rotates about one axis without any flips about the

HOW IT FLIPS
A tennis racquet, like any other solid object, has three different axes all at right angles to each other. A racquet can be made to rotate about any of the three axes separately or it can rotate about all three axes simultaneously, which is the usual situation in any tennis stroke. One can even measure the ease or difficulty of rotation about each axis, and it can be given a number specified by the swingweight (moment of inertia) about that axis. The three swingweights for a tennis

46 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005

others. This cartwheel axis has the largest swingweight, and we can call it the "hard" axis since it is hardest to rotate at high speed around this axis. Andy Roddick especially loves doing this. It is just as easy to toss the racquet in the air and spin it around the "hard" axis, and the racquet doesn't flip over. It is only when a racquet is rotated (somersaulted) about the third axis that it tends to flip over. It is the same with a book or a box of cereal. Only one of the three axes causes flipping, and it is not the one with the smallest or the largest swingweight, but the one with the medium size swingweight. Suppose you toss a racquet with the strings starting in a horizontal plane, parallel to the ground, as shown in Figure 1. Toss it fast enough so that it rotates through a complete circle and then catch the handle. Most times, the racquet lands upside down as shown in Figure 2, having completed half a twist around the easy spin axis. It doesn't always do that. If you are really careful to make sure the racquet has no twist when you toss it, then you might get it to rotate without flipping over. But any slight twist at the start will grow rapidly and cause the racquet to flip around the easy axis. Sometimes it appears that there is no twist at all, and then it suddenly appears "all at once" at the very end of the somersault. It might seem that the racquet flips only around the easy axis. However it also flips around the hard axis just as rapidly. Suppose the racquet has reached its halfway point in mid-air, having completed 90 degrees of its 180-degree twist or flip. The racquet is still rotating in somersault fashion in the direction it was tossed, so it arrives at a point where the racquet is rotating edgeon, as shown in Figure 3. At this point the racquet is rotating in cartwheel mode, as opposed to a somersault, and it is also in the middle of its twist and is still twisting around the easy axis. In between these two modes, the rotation is part somersault, part cartwheel, and part twist. The tricky part of all this is to visualize which axis is which. There are three axes at right angles that we can visualize as being attached to the racquet. The problem is the racquet is rotating so the axes are also rotating while the racquet itself rotates about each of the three axes. To prevent our heads spinning as well, it is common to imagine that the three axes are attached to the ground rather than the

racquet. In that case the racquet rotates only about two of the ground-based axes, doing a 360-degree somersault about one axis, a 180-degree twist about another axis and no rotation at all about the third axis. But the racquet really does rotate edge-on during part of its journey, so it really does rotate about the hard axis just as fast as it does about the easy axis.

WHY IT FLIPS
It is possible to toss the racquet in a somersault without it flipping, but very difficult. More likely is that the racquet makes it about 180 degrees without any visible twist, and then it does its flip all in the last 180 degrees. That's because the influence of the initial twisting force of your hand grows exponentially with time. For that reason, if you try to do a double somersault, the racquet will flip several times, not just two half flips, one on each somersault. The time to flip will depend on the initial twist rate and the three swingweights. During the entire acrobatic act, the energy gets channeled from one axis (about the medium somersault axis) into the other two axes. The rotation speed about these axes increases exponentially with time. But, as noted before, this only happens when the rotation begins around the medium somersault axis.

APPLICATION
So there you have it—interesting, odd, probably not the focus of your next tennis lesson, but, nonetheless, not totally frivolous or irrelevant. You see, it helps to explain how a player can twist a racquet around the long axis while it is simultaneously rotating rapidly about the usual swing axis, especially during a kick serve. Biomechanists like to use the word “pronation” to describe twisting of the forearm. Obviously, arm muscles are needed to twist the arm, but a racquet can twist around all by itself, even though it doesn’t have any muscles of its own. Just toss it in the air, and it will happily flip over in front of your very eyes. So the arm doesn’t have to do very much pronation work at all. The arm just needs to exert some control over the process so the racquet doesn’t twist in the wrong direction or at the wrong rate. Even if you threw a racquet at a ball, it would probably deliver a pretty good kick serve with about the right amount of slice and topspin.Q
April 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

47

Your Serve
Community Tennis Action!
Unsure how a CTA can help your business? The head of the CTA Development Committee says you have a lot to gain by getting involved.
BY SCOTT HANOVER

I

s “CTA” in your vocabulary? Better yet, are you doing all you can for community tennis? It’s a tough question to ask yourself. As chair of the national USTA Community Tennis Association Development Committee, I am dedicated to this cause. It is our charge to advise and support staff and volunteers at all levels in creating, developing, and strengthening a nationwide network of self-sufficient Community Tennis Associations to increase tennis participation at the local level. As a PTR certified pro, I see being involved in community tennis as a part of my professional obligation to help promote and develop the growth of tennis. A CTA-based program, along with a strong park partnership, started my tennis-playing career. The good folks at the Greater Des Moines Tennis Association sponsored the local USA Tennis NJTL program, where I learned the basics. If not for this great introduction to tennis, who knows what I would be doing now? What is a CTA? It is defined as “any incorporated, geographically defined, notfor-profit, volunteer-based tennis organization that supports or provides programs which promote and develop the growth of tennis.” CTAs fall into four categories: Q A Single-Purpose CTA is organized with a single, narrow purpose that addresses a specific community need, such as a group of senior citizens interested in starting a senior division of USA League Tennis. Q A Multi-Purpose CTA is similar to a single-purpose CTA, except that the association offers more than one program or service. An example is a community committed to offering a variety of USA Tennis programs for youth, but not for adults. Q An Umbrella CTA represents the most comprehensive type, delivering a full menu of programs and services to the entire community, regardless of age,

gender, cultural or socioeconomic background, physical ability or skill level. Q A Coalition CTA represents the alliance of diverse community organizations whose purpose is to facilitate the delivery of tennis programs and services. Don’t be threatened by a CTA—embrace it. It will surely enhance you and your operation. It’s everybody’s tennis future. So what’s in it for you to get involved with one of these organizations? Plenty. You’ll be able to:

“A CTA will surely enhance you and your operation. It’s everybody’s tennis future.”
1. Gain additional experience by offering a program outside of your normal comfort level, perhaps an inner-city or wheelchair program. 2. Build potential future customers who might decide to take up the game and join your facility. 3. Work with your CTA to share revenue of select events. 4. Gain additional exposure for you and/or your club or facility. 5. Feel good about what you’re doing in the professional realm to give back to the sport. 6. Take a leadership role in the CTA, such as being an officer, and gain prestige and further your education and knowledge. 7. Offer CTA-based events that can lead to great networking opportunities with connected folks in your community. You can also bring a wealth of people to the CTA with your current club clients that are attorneys, bankers, media, or non-profit experts. Any and all would be great to have on the board. Plenty of free and low-cost resources are available for you to begin or expand your

CTA, including: CTA start-up and expansion grants; CTA manuals for forming a CTA and for fund raising; USTA adjunct faculty from the USTA/SERV Department able to conduct local training sessions; website advice and development; USTA section and district staff liaisons; CTA insurance; on-line registration; and much more. To learn more, call your USTA section office or go to www.usta.com. Additionally, over the next several months, the USTA staff and volunteers will unroll an initiative to grow tennis through the park and recreation system. It truly does start in parks. With our partner—the National Recreation and Park Association—the $1 million Tennis in the Park initiative will look at grants, advocacy, infrastructure, technical assistance, facility enhancement, and more. And with continued promotion of Tennis Welcome Centers and Cardio Tennis, the opportunity to grow our sport is endless. The USTA’s CTA Development Committee is dedicated to its priorities: Q The Community Funding Program (formerly called Funded Markets). Q Expanding benefits and education. Q National and regional workshops. Q Awards and volunteer recognition. Q Communication flow to our section representatives and other section community development committees. CTA …You’ve got the definition, the big picture, how we can help, how it helps you. Now it’s your turn to serve.Q

Teaching pro and longtime USTA volunteer Scott Hanover is the general manager of the Plaza Tennis Center in Kansas City, Mo.

We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

48 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2005