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June 2005 Volume 33 Number 6 $5.

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RAISING THE LEVEL?
The latest U.S. Tennis Participation Study shows opportunities for your business

Drive sales by developing the right demo program How do you choose the racquet mix for your shop? Top psychologist Allen Fox helps you reach your goals
Q Sport Socks for Your Players Q Remodel and Gain Tax Breaks Q Create a Customer Service Culture Q Protection from the Sun Q Smash Junior Tennis Mag Q Finding the Right Shoes Q String Playtest Q Ask the Experts Q Tips and Techniques

Contents
7 8 FEATURES 28 Moving the Dial
The third annual Tennis Participation Study shows signs of improvement, and opportunities to boost your business.

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INDUSTRY NEWS 7 National retailer Golfsmith
enters tennis market Doug Fonte named president of Prince USA Wilson expands partnership with USTA Schools Program Wilson sponsors “Jensen Brothers Tour” Prince introduces 2 new frames Head’s new Radical Junior racquet PTR Foundation names new board of directors Zvonareva, Kirkland join Gamma String Team WTT kicks off 30th pro season USRSA creates “Racquets Network” USPTA offers distance learning options TWC ad campaign hits the streets Cardio Tennis workshops scheduled in 20 communities

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32 Testing the Waters
Drive racquet sales by developing the right demo program for your customers.

34 Creating the Menu
What’s your recipe for choosing racquets for your shop? Some top retailers reveal what goes into the mix.

36 Reaching Your Goals
Author, psychologist, tennis coach and former pro Allen Fox reveals how champions in any activity clearly identify goals and set up game plans to achieve them.

Cover photo: Ron Waite/Photosportacular

DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 14 Focus on Apparel 16 Your Finances 18 Retailing Success 20 Employee Relations 22 Retail Accessories 23 Tennis Media

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Focus on Footwear Marketing Success String Playtest: Klip Screamer Ask the Experts Tips and Techniques RSI 2005 Industry Resource Guide Your Serve, by Scott Tharp
June 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Our Serve
’Tis the Season
(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. June 2005, Volume 33, Number 6 © 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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or tennis fans in the U.S., it’s like being a kid again, with Christmas fast approaching.
We’re coming into the Tennis Holiday Season. So many things are

happening in June, July, and August—all culminating with the greatest of tennis holidays, the US Open—that tennis aficionados can’t help but feel the excitement and anticipation. The pre-holiday-season activities actually get under way in May, as a major Tennis Welcome Center promotion puts the sport once again in front of millions of newspaper and magazine readers across the country. May, which is USA Tennis Month, also will see at least 16 USTA “Tennis Block Parties” across the country, bringing instruction, interactive games and attractions to people of all ages and abilities. But then the run-up to the Open begins, and it’s like the season between Thanksgiving and Christmas, only longer. With the French Open beginning in May and Wimbledon in June, the excitement starts to build. And then, in July through August, we hit the US Open Series of summer tournaments, which was a big success in its inaugural year in 2004. The Open Series’ 11 tournaments (although at press time it was unclear whether the TD Waterhouse men’s event would be eliminated, moved, or combined with a women’s tournament) attract all the best players in the world and feature expanded TV coverage. Helping to drive interest in the sport is a bonus prize money race in which the men’s and women’s winners of the Open Series receive double their prize money at the US Open. At about the time of the US Open, while interest in the sport is high, the consumer rollout of Cardio Tennis will take place, emphasizing fun and fitness on the tennis court. During the Grand Slam events, the US Open Series, and the US Open itself, facility and shop owners should start to capitalize on this Tennis Holiday Season. Become the source in your area for information on the pros. If you’re lucky enough to be near one of the Open Series tournaments, organize group outings to the event. Run special sales and other events in conjunction with the Open Series and the Open itself. Post draw sheets, TV schedules, and scores in your shop. And of course, have the TV in your lounge tuned to the events. We’re sure you can think of many more tie-ins that can help drive business to your facility and give your regular customers the feeling that you’re really plugged in to what’s going on. ’Tis the season to feel the spirit of the sport.

Peter Francesconi Editorial Director

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INDUSTRY NEWS
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS

Fonte Is New President of National Retailer Golfsmith Enters Tennis Market ational golf retailer Golfsmith is entering the tennis market. The company Prince USA announced in late April that it plans to add tennis centers in up to 60 percent of
Industry and business veteran Doug Fonte has come out of semiretirement to become the new president of Prince USA. “Over the past 25 years, Doug has brought vision and energy to several leading companies in various industries, including tennis, which has resulted in significant business growth and improved customer satisfaction,” says George Napier, chairman and CEO of Prince Sports Inc. “He has a strong track record in business but his heart, and passion, is in the tennis industry.” Previously, Fonte was at the helm of Companion Systems Inc. and a partner in a strategy consulting group called Business Visions LLC. Before that, he was president of Boston Whaler and was instrumental in the turnaround that led the company to a leadership position in the luxury boating world. Fonte’s expertise in the tennis arena was groomed as president of Penn Racquet Sports. There he helped the company become the worldwide market leader in its category. Early in his career, he held positions in the home furnishings industry. “Prince is the kind of company that tennis enthusiasts want to work for,” says Fonte. “Their constant focus on innovation and performance enhancement creates a dynamic, stimulating work environment in which ideas come to life. I have worked with George before and am looking forward to strengthening his team and leveraging the progress they’ve made since the management buy-out, and creating new opportunities moving forward.” “Doug is going to raise the bar for management excellence,” says Napier. its stores in major markets by summer. Recently, Golfsmith began operating tennis centers in Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Orlando, and the San Francisco Bay area under the Golfsmith Golf & Tennis brand. Its 2005 plans call for a continued roll out to its stores in Chicago and future locations in Florida. Most of these states fall into the USTA’s top 10 regions for number of tennis players, the company says. Golfsmith operates a total of 47 stores. “Tennis is a natural complement to our national golf business,” says Jim Thompson (below), president and CEO of Golfsmith, a portfolio company of Atlantic Equity Partners III, L.P., a fund operated by First Atlantic Capital, Ltd. “Tennis consumers will benefit from all the best brands at guaranteed low prices, certified racquet stringing and Golfsmith’s 38 years of quality customer service.” Golfsmith, in a statement, points to USTA/TIA Participation Studies, which show tennis participation in the U.S. remaining relatively steady at about 24 million players since 2000. The findings indicate that more than 50 percent of those surveyed are regular—or “continuing”—tennis players and are also likely to play golf. “Golfsmith’s entry into the U.S. tennis market is a positive development for the industry and the health of our game,” says Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the TIA. “Golfsmith’s decision reinforces our belief that tennis is gaining in popularity. We hope to leverage the strength of their national brand to highlight the sport of tennis and ultimately grow the game.” For tennis consumers, Golfsmith Golf & Tennnis will offer certified racquet stringing, in a partnership with the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, and 24-hour turnaround on all stringing services. In addition, the retailer has a “90/90 Playability Guarantee,” in which customers have 90 days to return their tennis racquet purchases and receive an in-store credit for a different racquet worth up to 90 percent of the original purchase price. “We believe the tennis retail market is very similar to the golf retail market in that there is a strong base of dedicated players, a fragmented national retail market, and the absence of a true national specialty brand,” says Thompson. Golfsmith, based in Austin, Texas, has “superstores,” which range in size from 10,000 to 30,000 square feet, in the following 16 markets: Atlanta (3); Austin (2); Chicago (4); Columbus, Ohio; Dallas (4); Denver (3); Detroit (3); Houston (3); Los Angeles (6); Minneapolis; Moorestown, N.J.; New York (5); Orlando; Phoenix (3); San Diego; and San Francisco (6).

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Wilson Expands Partnership With USTA Schools Program
ilson Racquet Sports has renewed and expanded its support of the USTA’s Schools Program in a multi-year agreement naming Wilson the official racquet supplier. Wilson, which has worked with the Schools Program since its inception, expands its reach by providing custom-designed entry-level racquets to all USTA sections, which are utilized by more than 1.9 million students each year, in more than 6,500 schools. The USTA Schools Program teaches K-12 students the skills of tennis during physical education class and fosters additional opportunities for children to explore the game in afterschool and summer programs. Schools that commit to the program receive complimentary and discounted tennis equipment along with teacher-friendly lesson plans. The program, which was founded in 1985 with Arthur Ashe leading the way, was developed to ensure that every young person be exposed to tennis and have the opportunity to play throughout his or her lifetime. In addition to racquets, Wilson also supplies transitional balls for teaching, mini-nets, targets, and other teaching aids. The tennis equipment is available to the USTA schools through a special purchase program. "Wilson's support of the USA School Tennis Program gives teachers the necessary tools to teach tennis to children using a fun, active curriculum that we are implementing in the schools," says Jason Jamison, USTA product manager for recreational coaching, who oversees the Schools Program. "The student-friendly equipment being provided helps ensure that children's first introduction to tennis is a good experience, which helps grow the sport and plays a part in encouraging schoolchildren across the country to be more physically active."

Prince Introduces 2 New Frames
rince Sports recently debuted two new racquets, the Diablo XP and Air DB, that the company says are designed for players of all skill levels. “We expanded the technology of our traditional DB and Diablo racquets, implementing some of their most effective features, creating two dynamic additions to the Prince line,” says Steve Davis, vice president of Next Generation at Prince. “The Diablo XP is ideal for players with longer, faster strokes who are looking for maximum touch and feel, from a racquet that provides them with the extra punch they desire. The Air DB is for players with moderate to full strokes requiring an extremely comfortable feel, without compromising power and control.” The Diablo XP features an oversize (107 square inches) and mid-plus (96), both with a 22 mm LongBody box beam cross section. The Air DB features an oversize (110) and midplus (100). For more information, contact 800-283-6647 or visit www.princetennis.com.

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Wilson Sponsors ‘Jensen Brothers Tour’
ilson Racquet Sports has teamed up with tennis pros Luke and Murphy Jensen to sponsor the “Jensen Brothers Tour,” a series of instructional tennis clinics that are already under way at clubs across the country. The Jensen Brothers Tour focuses on providing professional instruction for men, women, and juniors at clubs and tennis programs nationwide. Wilson is providing tennis equipment for the tour, which includes introducing players to its exclusive nCode line of performance racquets. “The Jensen Brothers Tour is a unique way for Wilson to demonstrate its commitment to providing world-class instruction for players of all levels throughout the country,” says James Burda, national promotions manager for Wilson. “Luke and Murphy Jensen bring such enthusiasm and passion for the sport and are ideal to represent tennis both through their accomplishments and endearing personalities.” Luke and Murphy Jensen, former Grand Slam Doubles champions, were once ranked No. 4 in the world. The Jensen Brothers are known for their colorful personalities and on-court excitability and continue to play on the ATP Tour. Both are also members of the Wilson Advisory Staff Speaker's Bureau and Luke is an ESPN analyst. For more information, visit www.jensenbrothers.com.

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Head’s Radical Junior
New from Head is the Radical Junior, a graphite racquet in a junior length that the manufacturer says is the “perfect match to Andre Agassi’s new Flexpoint Radical.” The racquet features a constant 21 mm beam for better control and feel, says Head, along with a 102-squareinch head size. It weighs 9.5 ounces unstrung and has a 1inch head-light balance. For more information, visit www.head.com or call 800-289-7366.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

PTR Foundation Names New Board of Directors
he PTR Foundation, the charitable arm of the Professional Tennis Registry, recently announced its new Board of Directors. PTR Master Professional Scott Tharp of Philadelphia is the new board president. Other board members include Dennis Van der Meer, Hilton Head Island, S.C.; Luciano Botti, Marling, Italy; Michael Tomic, Arlington, Va.; and Dr. Jim Loehr, Orlando, Fla. PTR Foundation, a 501(C)(3), was established in 1979 to raise and distribute funds and tennis equipment to programs in inner-city and rural areas, for wheelchair tennis programs, junior scholarships and other projects. Through the PTR Foundation, ACE Workshops provide teaching certification opportunities to minority participants who agree to reciprocate with 10 hours of tennis instruction to their inner-city youth program. Racquet Roundup, another PTR Foundation program, collects used racquets, has them restrung with strings provided by Gamma and distributes them to programs in need. And in related news, the PTR Foundation also supported the recent Special Olympics by giving thousands of dollars in equipment to many Special Olympics tennis programs throughout the East. Free equipment included 10 dozen SpeedBalls, six cases of tennis balls, five ball hoppers, a dozen ball pick-up tubes, 49 junior tennis racquets, 58 adult tennis racquets, a Sports Tutor portable ball throwing machine, and a number of pairs of tennis shoes. The PTR hosted the sixth annual Special Olympics Tennis Championships in March at the Van der Meer Tennis Shipyard Racquet Club on Hilton Head, S.C. More than 220 Special Olympics athletes from 12 states and Switzerland competed in singles, doubles, and individual skills events. PTR is the Official Tennis Training Partner of Special Olympics.

Virginia Club Installs Nova’ProClay

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ova’Pro Tennis Surfaces installed its Nova’ProClay surface at the four courts at the Indian Creek Yacht & Racquet Club in Kilmarnock, Va. It is the same surface that is installed at the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Rick Burke of Novagrass says the patented clay surface can be played on year-round. “In fact, [Indian Creek staff] played on it in rainy conditions last autumn and liked it so much they decided to convert their four courts,” he says. The surface, says Burke, requires very little water, “just to dampen the HarTru on top.” Indian Creek’s indoor facility has Nova’ProBounce cushioned hard courts. For more information, contact 800-8350033 or visit www.NovaGrass.com.

WTT Kicks Off 30th Pro Season

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he 30th season of World TeamTennis action kicks off with the battle of the Martinas, the first singles match between tennis legend Martina Navratilova and her namesake, former world No. 1 Martina Hingis. The duo, which never played each other in WTA Tour singles competition, is expected to face off July 7 in Boston. The schedule for the 2005 WTT Pro League presented by Advanta, includes 84 matches in 12 markets July 4 to 24. The top two teams from the Eastern and Western Conferences advance to the WTT Finals, this year to be held Sept. 16-17 in Sacramento, Calif. For complete WTT schedules and rosters of pro players, visit www.WTT.com.

Zvonareva, Kirkland Join Gamma String Team
WTA players Vera Zvonareva and Jessica Kirkland are the newest pros on the Gamma String Team. Zvonareva, ranked No. 10 in singles, is playing with Gamma’s Zo Sweet string, while Kirkland, a rising young American, is using Gamma’s new Prodigy. Both players, who also use Fischer racquets, use Gamma Supreme Overgrip. All members of the Gamma String Team will have a red dot on their strings, the new symbol for Gamma High Performance Strings. For more information, visit www.GammaSports.com, email tsr@gammasports.com, or call 800-333-0337 or 412-323-0335.

Make Email Work For You

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s more and more clubs and shops make use of the internet to stay in touch with customers, players, and suppliers, email etiquette has become an important part of doing business. Keep these five simple tips in mind when crafting emails: • Make Your Subject Line Helpful. Using a job or reference number in the subject tells your readers nothing, and may often lead to your email being deleted. • Send a Prompt Response. Customers expect it. • Make the Response Personal. Both address your customer by name and sign the email with your name. • Make It Clear and Simple. Avoid jargon and confusing idioms or regional expressions. • Check the Email for Errors. Sloppiness gives the impression that you have little concern for customers.

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SHORT SETS
Sporting Goods, which has been the official ball the US drills and videos, check > Wilson the past 26 years, has signed a five-year deal toofprovide > For a look at animated Cardio Tenniscan also apply online at out Open for www.partners.CardioTennis.com. You the the official tennis balls for the Australian Open and its major lead-in tournaments. The deal also covers Australia’s Satellite, Challenger and Futures tournaments on the Kia Tour, along with 14 national junior events on the Optus Junior Tour, and the wider Tennis Australia Development Program. Bob > Unique Sports has signed a multi-year deal with twinsU.S.’s and Mike Bryan to use Tourna Grip. The Bryans, who are the No. 1 doubles team, have always played with Tourna Grip. Former champion Pete Sampras continues to endorse Tourna Grip. For more info, call 800-554-3707 or visit www.uniquesports.us. Classic Turf, manufacturer of cushioned indoor and outdoor sports surfaces, including tennis courts, has revamped and relaunched its website, www.classicturf.org. The US Open will hold the first US Open Wheelchair Tennis Competition at the 2005 US Open, Sept. 8 to 11, at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. The event is on the international professional wheelchair tour sanctioned by the ITF. website to become an official Cardio Tennis location. chance to win $100 gift at Ama> Tennis retailers have atennis industry inathe process,card taking a zon.com, and help the by few minutes to fill out an online Tennis Retailer Questionnaire. The survey, conducted by the TIA and Sports Marketing Surveys USA, is designed to collect general information on tennis retailing and operational costs. Five retailers will be chosen for the prize. Visit www.tennisindustry.org to fill out the survey. ESPN and Tennis Australia have reached a new multi-year, multimedia agreement for the extension of ESPN's exclusive television coverage of the Australian Open, plus other new rights across many ESPN platforms. The new agreement will begin in 2007. The Australian Open will continue to receive daily coverage on ESPN2 from first round to both the men's and women's finals. ESPN has held exclusive U.S. TV rights to the Australian since 1984. financial > BNP Paribas has signed a three-year deal to provideplayers. services for the ATP organization, ATP tournaments, and

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New Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center
Construction has begun on the new, state-of-the-art Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education Center in Philadelphia, an $11.5 million project expected to open in January. The center is being built on 9.2 acres at Fairmount Park’s Gustine Lake site and will feature eight indoor courts, eight all-weather outdoor courts including a stadium court, and a two-story area encompassing more than 10,000 square feet that will allow AAYTE to centralize its program and administrative offices as well as house locker rooms, a weight room, a library, the Arthur Ashe Reading is Fundamental Room and areas for meetings, study, service and storage. AAYTE currently serves more than 8,200 children.

USRSA Creates “Racquets Network”
n the heels of the successful Grommets Network, in which U.S. Racquet Stringers Association members can list grommets that they’re looking for, then receive a response from another member who has the grommets, the USRSA now introduces its Racquets Network, to help members locate out-of-production frames. “Similar to the Grommets Network, involvement in the Racquets Network requires very little effort, and no cost, to members,” says Dave Bone, executive director of the USRSA. “Any member looking for a frame will simply send an email to racquets@racquettech.com with the name of the frame they’re looking for. Then we’ll send that email to all the members on the Racquets list. If you have that particular racquet, you can contact the member directly to arrange shipping and payment.” The USRSA won’t be involved in the transactions and will not receive anything from the sales.

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U.S. Sweeps Belgium in Fed Cup

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indsay Davenport led the U.S. to a 5-0 victory over Belgium in the Fed Cup quarterfinals, played in April at Delray Beach, Fla. The U.S. team, which also consisted of Serena Williams, Venus Williams, Corina Morariu, and Captain Zina Garrison, will now face defending champion Russia in the semifinals, July 9-10, in Russia. The Russian squad could feature Anastasia Myskina, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Maria Sharapova.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Distance Learning Offered by USPTA
he USPTA is offering DVDs and CDs of some of the best one-hour seminars and four-hour specialty courses presented at the USPTA World Conference on Tennis. Many presentations also apply to professionals in a wider club and public park industry, not just tennis. Presentation topics include tennis business management, wheelchair tennis, training systems and more, along with topics that may appeal to a non-tennis audience, such as programming success by being smart and acting fast, addressing the top member complaints, creating your own professional compass, and making a pro shop (retail outlet) profitable. Speakers include Jack Groppel, Ph.D., Jim Loehr, Ed.D., and Jill Fonte—all USPTA members who regularly speak to general business groups. All video DVDs and audio CDs are available from USPTA at www.usprotennisshop.com. A selection of books also is available. And, available free, in the Education section of uspta.com, are audio presentations of seminars from the 2003 and earlier World Conferences. The 2005 USPTA World Conference on Tennis will be Sept. 17 to 24 at Marco Island Marriott Resort, Golf Club & Spa in Marco Island, Fla. For more information, call 800-877-8248 or visit www.uspta.com.

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TWC Ad Campaign Hits the Streets
he Tennis Welcome Center campaign blasted out to consumers once again this spring, with key visibility in many markets, and timed to coincide with the National Tennis Month (May) Block Parties in markets across the country. The national newspaper and magazine advertising campaign included 1.5 million inserts into USA Today in early May. Also, there were 4.5 million eight-page inserts into other newspapers. Ads in magazines reached more than 9 million households. The ads appeared in Men’s Fitness, Men’s Health, Shape, Family Circle, Runner’s World, Women’s Health & Fitness, Vibe, and The Sporting News. To become a TWC or to learn more about the program, visit www.partners.tenniswelcomecenter.com.

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‘One-on-One Doubles’ In College Tennis

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d Krass, director of the College Tennis Academy, is integrating his new game, “One-on-One Doubles,” into two fall 2005 collegiate tournaments. One-on-One Doubles is a half-court, serve-and-volley competition played crosscourt. Players must serve and volley on both first and second serves. The first collegiate tournament to use the format took place on April 5 at Drew University, hosted by coach Ira Miller. “One-on-One Doubles provided a great opportunity to play a lot of matches that worked on doubles skills, but had the feel of singles play,” says Miller. “The response from players and coaches was overwhelmingly positive.” For more information, call 800-446-2238 or visit www.oneononedoubles.com.

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Cardio Tennis Workshops Scheduled in 20 Communities
If you are interested in being a Cardio Tennis site, visit ave you signed up to be a Cardio Tennis site? Do you want www.Partners.CardioTennis.com, where you can request a to learn more about this new program—to be launched at Cardio Tennis DVD. Every site then must view the entire DVD the US Open this year—that’s to get their personal code, which is designed to give players of all needed when filling out the on-line abilities a high-energy workout application. If you are already a Carand should help to boost your dio Tennis site and want to sign up for business? a workshop, see the schedule below. To get ready for the fall consumer For more information, please contact the push, the TIA is conducting 20 Cardio TIA at info@cardiotennis.com, go to Tennis workshops this summer at sites www.Partners.CardioTennis.com, or call the TIA toll-free at across the country. The four-hour workshops are free to par866-686 3036. ticipants from approved Cardio Tennis sites. The first 20 participants to sign up for each workshop also will receive free Polar heart rate monitors (a $79.99 value) and other gifts. “These exciting workshops will provide an indepth look at the new Cardio Tennis program,” City/Location Date Contact # Coordinator Time says TIA President Jim Baugh. “The workshops, Hilton Head Island May 20 800-43-USPTA Fred Burdick 1-5 conducted by TIA staff and key members of the USPTA Southern Meeting Cardio Tennis ‘Speakers Team,’ will include sem- St. Louis Creve Coeur Racquet Club June 2 314-434-0344 Carey Powell 11-3 inars and on-court demonstrations and Denver approaches. The workshops are for professionals Greenwood Athletic Club June 3 303-695-4116 ext 300 Kristy Harris 12-4 at approved sites only. We want everyone to be Boston June 9 978-373-1596 Adam Molda 8-12 ready to deliver a great Cardio Tennis experience Cedardale Health & Ath.Club New York when our marketing starts this fall.” National Tennis Center June 10 718-760-6200 Bill Mountford 8-12 Key topics to be covered in the workshops mountford@usta.com include: Chicago Midtown Tennis Club June 28 773-235-2300 Jeff Long TBD Q Update on Cardio Tennis and future plans Philadelphia Q Customer-service approaches Greenville Country Club July 8 302-654-8691 Mark Centrella 5-8 Q Success stories in Cardio Tennis Baltimore/Washington DC Q What is a healthy workout? TBD July 9 410-296-2100 Lynn Morrell TBD lmorrell@tennispatrons.org Q How to measure heart rates Indianapolis Q Using heart rate monitors and music Barbara S. Wayne Ten. Center July 9 317-259-5377 Spencer Fields TBD Q The importance of Warm-Up and Cool Down Cincinnati drills Western Ten. & Fitness Club July 10 513-451-4233 Angela Wilson 10-2 angelawilson@westerntfc.com Q New Cardio Tennis drills—drill-based and playSan Diego based Balboa Tennis Club July 17 619-291-5248 Geoff Griffin TB Q Curriculum for Beginners in Cardio Tennis Stanford Taube Tennis Centeer July 23 510-748-7373 USTA Nor Cal 10-2 Q Marketing Cardio Tennis with free tools Q Key Target Markets—the need for different pro- Los Angeles Tennis Center (UCLA Campus) July 24 310-208-3838 Martha Katsufrakis 2-6 grams marthak@scta.usta.com

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Cardio Tennis Workshop Schedule

Orlando Mission Inn Fort Lauderdale Jimmy Evert Tennis Center Atlanta Crooked Creek Tennis Seattle Robinswood Tennis Center Houston Royal Oaks Country Club Hilton Head Island PTR Int. Headquarters Minneapolis

July 30 July 31 Aug. 5 Aug. 13 Aug. TBD Sept. 24 TBD

352-324-2024 ext 7145 954-828-5379 770-569-1401 425-452-7690 cpendrys@royaloakscc.com 1-800-421-6289 TBD

Cesar Villarroel Whitney Kraft Heather Silvia John Soriano Craig Pendry Julie Jillie

9-1 8-12 TBD TBD TBD TBD

Go to Workshop.CardioTennis.com for a complete listing and up-to-date information. Note: schedule, locations, and times may change.

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E Hall of Fame honored Tony Trabert, a

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TIA Enhances TWC Website

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1970 Hall of Famer and president of the Hall of Fame, during a special tribute in May in New York City. Fifty years ago Trabert had one of the best years in tennis by an American, winning the 1955 men’s singles championships in France, Wimbledon, and the U.S., capturing 35 titles, with a singles match record of 104-5, that included a streak of 10 consecutive tournament titles.

• Babolat player Rafael Nadal (right)
won the Open Seat Godo in Barcelona in April, shortly after his win at the Tennis Master Monte Carlo. The 18-yearold plays with the Babolat Aeropro Drive.

• Vince Chiarelli, owner of String Along With Vince tennis shop in Largo, Fla., and Julian Li of Racquets Rackets of Arcadia, Calif., are the only two Americans on the Tecnifibre string team at the 2005 French Open.

• SFX Sports Group signed Justine Henin-Hardenne to an
exclusive representation agreement.

onsumers visiting www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com now will have an easier time navigating the site and finding out more detailed programming information. Enhancements by the TIA allow teaching pros and facilities to list beginner programs in a format that will provide in-depth information, which will help new players get started and also encourage repeat visits to see new seasonal postings. In addition, a toll-free customer-service line will be added to help consumers locate programs. Consumers will still type in their ZIP code or city/state to see a list of official TWCs, but the more complete information they receive will be easier to navigate by clicking on “tabs.” Facilities can list their entry-level programs along with all their events, and the facilities themselves can easily update this information. Specific changes include a more detailed Facility Listing display, which now can include details such as staff certification, number and type of courts, links to finding a game, and driving directions. Under the “Play” tab, facilities can list details of their beginner programs, including times and cost, along with other programs offered. The “Feedback” tab allows for quality control, says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “If someone has a problem, they can email us, and we’ll contact the site,” she says. “There is also a star rating system once they’ve

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• Andy Roddick will be endorsing Hit-A-Way Tennis, a
new trainer that also has endorsements from the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy and Maria Sharapova. The device, from Pro Performance Sports, allows players to continuously practice backhands and forehands without a partner. Other Hit-A-Way product endorsers are Joe Montana, Leah O’Brien-Amico, and Reggie Jackson. For more information, visit www.properformancesports.com. In other news, Reebok has ended its agreement with Roddick.

• Steve Henderson and Annabel Rimmer join the
USTA Southwest Section as director of development and executive administrative assistant, respectively.

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LSI’s Aerosystem Garners Top Rating
SI Courtsider Sports Lighting’s Aerosystem court lighting fixture has received an IP65 rating by the International Electrotechnical Commission. The IP65 rating indicates that the Aerosystem has met stringent standards that apply to the prevention of dust and moisture entering into the fixture. “The Aerosystem is the only lighting product in the tennis industry to offer this certified rating,” the company said in a statement. In other news from LSI, the company has introduced a new, interactive feature on its website, www.courtsider.com, called “Create-ACourt,” which allows users to customize a lighting plan appropriate for a specific tennis facility. Users select the parameters that best describe the facility, then the suggested lighting design comes up in a PDF format that can be viewed, emailed, or printed easily. The feature also works for basketball, volleyball, and hockey applications.

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FOCUS ON

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apparel
and newer synthetics, can help players in a number of ways. Moisture-management and anti-microbial benefits help keep feet clean and dry, while socks designed for specific activities, such as tennis, have padding in all the right places. Here are offerings from several manufacturers. —Cynthia Sherman

Proper Protection for Your Feet

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he more time your customers and members spend pounding the ball on the court, the more their feet take a pounding, too. Adequate protection for your players’ feet is a must, which means socks become a vital component in the apparel and accessory mix. Nowadays, sport-specific socks, utilizing acrylic materials

JOX SOX
The Jox Sox mantra is “drier, more comfortable and cooler than ordinary socks.” Its socks come in low cut, 1/4 crew, and crew styles for all ages. On the bottom of each of the different gender styles the Jox Sox logo appears in a different color to designate the gender (so there’s no laundry mix-up). The company offers a lifetime guarantee on the socks, and will either replace the pair, or refund the money directly to the consumer. 954-949-0126; www.joxsox.com

FEETURES!
The “Original Feetures!” line from Feetures! Socks contain a Lycra/Coolmax blend and cushioned sole. The Lycra provides compression and enables a snug non-slip fit. A unique linked seam is completely smooth to ensure no irritation or rubbing on the foot. 888-801-7227; www.feeturesbrand.com

EUROSOCK
Eurosocks, made in Italy, offer padding in the ball and heel of the foot and are further aided by the moisture-management of Coolmax. The beveled sides of the sock feature enhanced support for a firmer feel around the arch and eliminate rubbing and chafing on the foot. 866-EUROSOCKS; www.eurosock.com

WRIGHTSOCK
Though Wrightsock doesn’t make a tennis-specific sock per se, its “Running Xtra” fills the bill for ultra cushioning over the entire bottom of the sock and offers a blend of Coolmax, polyester, and nylon for moisture-wicking, strength, and durability. They’re available in three styles. 800-654-7191; www.wrightsock.com

THORLO
Thorlo’s new tennis line comes in a variety of styles and three levels of protection: minimum for players who prefer less padding and wear narrower lasted shoes; moderate, with medium density padding along the heel and ball and lighter padding on the top of the toes; and maximum for those who seek heavier padding to aid the shock and impact of hardcourt tennis. All Thorlo socks contain acrylic, nylon, and Spandex, and levels 1 and 2 feature Coolmax moisture-wicking properties. 800-438-0209; www.thorlo.com

NEW BALANCE
In addition to its popular athletic shoe line, New Balance has extended the category to sport socks. Its tennis sock is comprised of an acrylic/nylon/Lycra blend to offer cushioning where it counts, Coolmax moisture-wicking and breathability, and compression arch support. Brand-conscious players can’t miss the NB logo woven into the sock. 800-343-4648; www.newbalance.com

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YOUR

finances
BY MARK E. BATTERSBY

Looking to Remodel? You Can Benefit From a Number of Tax Breaks
hinking about fixing up, remodeling or redecorating your facility or store? Naturally, you’ll want to keep out-ofpocket expenditures to a minimum and recover as much of the funds spent as quickly as possible. Fortunately, retail shop and tennis facility operators who own their buildings and those who lease their property can take advantage of a variety of tax deductions, credits, and other tax breaks to achieve those goals. Additions and improvements are usually depreciated in the same manner as the existing property would be depreciated. For instance, a roof replaced on a commercial building is usually treated as 39-year nonresidential real property, regardless of how that building actually is written-off or depreciated. But in many cases, improvements, additions, or remodeling could qualify for faster—and larger—write-offs, even a direct reduction of your business’s tax bill. First, consider the unique, new, faster write-off for so-called “leasehold improvments” created by the American Jobs Creation Act of 2004. The law created a 15-year recovery period for “qualified leasehold improvement property” placed in service between Oct. 22, 2004, and Jan. 1, 2006. This write-off is not optional. The new law temporarily reduces to 15 years the depreciation period for improvements made to leased business property (and qualified restaurant property). Qualified leasehold improvement property is an improvement to the interior portion of a building that is nonresidential real property—provided certain requirements are met. The improvement must be made pursuant to a lease either by the lessee (or sublessee) or by the lessor. The lessee and lessor cannot be related, the original building must be more than 3 years old, and the improvement must be made to that portion of the building occupied exclusively by the lessee or sublessee. Expenditures for the enlargement of a

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building, any elevator or escalator, any structural component that benefits a common area, or the internal structural framework of the building do not qualify. However, since a lessee does not usually retain the improvement upon termination of the lease, a loss normally results. A lessor that disposes of or abandons a leasehold improvement when the lease ends may use the adjusted basis of the improvement to determine its gain or loss. Thanks to a special exception in the rules, the 30- or 50-percent “bonus” depreciation allowance is available for “qualified leasehold improvement property” placed in service before Jan. 1, 2005.

currently expense up to $100,000 in Section 179 expenditures every year. Should total expenditures for Section 179 property exceed $400,000 in any year, the deduction must be reduced dollar-by-dollar by any excess.

REHABBING VS. FIXING UP
There’s also a unique tax credit that can reduce your tax bill for incurring “rehabilation expenditures.” The rehabilitation investment tax credit equals 20 percent of the qualified rehabilitation expenses (QRE) for certified historic structures and 10 percent of QRE for qualified rehabilitated buildings first placed in service before 1936. A building and its structural components constitute a qualified rehabilitated building if they are (1) substantially rehabilitated and (2) placed in service before the rehabilitation begins. Property other than a certified historic structure must also satisfy (3) a “wall retention” test, (4) an age requirement, and (5) a location of rehabilitation requirement. Property is considered substantially rehabilitated only if the expenditures during a self-selected 24-month measurement period (60-month period for phased rehabilitation) are more than the greater of the adjusted basis of the property or $5,000. QRE does not include new construction; an enlargement; the cost of acquisition; noncertified rehabilitation of a certified historic structure; rehabilitation of tax-exempt use property; expenditures, generally, that are non-depreciable; and lessee-incurred expenditures if, on the date the rehabilitation of the building is completed, the remaining term of the lease (without regard to renewal periods) is less than the property’s recovery period.

DIVIDE FOR A LARGER WRITE-OFF
The IRS permits some elements of a building to be separately depreciated as personal property, versus items that are considered structural components (i.e., real property). This “cost segregation” provides for a shorter recovery period for the personal property elements. (Structural components could include items such as boilers, ceilings, cental air conditioning and heating systems, chimneys, doors, electrical and wiring, fire escapes, floors, hot water heaters, HVAC units, lighting fixtures, paneling, plumbing, roofs, sinks, sprinkler systems, stairs, tiling, walls and windows). Expenditures for other “improvements,” not structural components and not related to the operation of the building, can often now be separately written-off using much shorter recovery periods. In fact, many of those “personal property” items may qualify for the first-year (Section 179) expensing deduction and be immediately expensed. To qualify, the property must be tangible Section 1245 property, depreciable and acquired by purchase for use in the active conduct of a trade or business. The first-year expensing allowance can include many Section 1245 personal property costs, but only to certain limits. For instance, a retailer or facility operator can

ENERGY INVESTMENT CREDIT
Another unique tax credit—a direct reduction of the racquet sports operation’s tax bill rather than a deduction from the income upon which that tax bill is comput-

16 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

ed—is available for so-called “energy” property. The business energy investment credit is equal to 10 percent of the basis of energy property placed in service during the year. (No energy credit is allowed for that portion of the basis of property for which rehabilitation investment credit is claimed.) Energy property includes equipment that uses solar energy to generate electricity, to heat or cool a structure or to provide solar process heat. It also includes equipment that produces, distributes, or uses energy derived from geothermal deposits, with some restrictions. To qualify for the credit, the equipment must be depreciable (or amortizable) and must meet performance and quality standards. No partial deductions are available, so a retailer or facility operator must complete the construction, reconstruction, or erection of the property. If the property is acquired, your business must be the first to use it.

FIXING UP LAND
The cost of the land upon which your business sits is not deductible, but fortunately, improvements made to that land can often

qualify for a tax deduction. Land improvements not specifically included in any other asset class and otherwise depreciable are 15-year property. Examples of land improvements include sidewalks, driveways, curbs, roads, parking lots, canals, waterways, drainage facilities, sewers (but not municipal sewers), bridges, and nonagricultural fences. Regardless of whether your business premises are owned or leased, there are an abundance of tax deductions, credits and unique write-offs available to help offset the cost of remodeling, fixing up, or adding to it. The new, but temporary, 15-year write-off for leasehold improvements applies only to improvements placed in service before Jan. 1, 2006. But fortunately, many other tax credits, deductions, and write-offs constitute a more permanent part of our tax laws. The question is, will you take full advantage of this unique helping hand? Q

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

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retailing

SUCCESS

The Brick-and-Mortar “E-Tennis” Has Built Up a Solid Base

BY CYNTHIA CANTRELL

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rom the beginning, master racquet technician John Gugel and former ATP touring pro Tobias Svantesson were determined to create a full-service tennis specialty shop uniquely in tune with customer needs. So while the first visitors to e-tennis inc. in Orlando, Fla., may have been surprised by the sparse inventory, chances are their loyalty has long since been cemented by the products and services designed with their individual needs in mind. “Our philosophy was to let our customers decide what they want, rather than opening with a lot of stuff and saying this is what we have; come get it,” says Gugel, who jokes that he became president of e-tennis inc. by losing a coin toss with vice president Svantesson, a Top100 tennis pro who played on the ATP tour for eight years before retiring in 1993. “Our customers have taken a real emotional ownership in our business. Now we have so much inventory that it’s hard to walk around.” Located in the trendy Winter Park section of Orlando, etennis has specialized in racquet customization since opening its doors in February 1999. In fact, former ATP touring pro Mikael Pernfors and current ATP pro Robert Kendrick are among the 3,500 customers whose personal preferences in grip size, racquet weight, balance, and stiffness are painstakingly duplicated with each stringing job. In all, Gugel says he collects about 50 pieces of data about each customer’s racquet using industry standard and custom diagnostic equipment, plus a proprietary software system which he plans to market to the public later this year. For customers looking to experiment, e-tennis sells racquets from Babolat, Dunlop, Fischer, Gosen, Head, Prince, Pro

Kennex, Slazenger, Wilson, Yonex, and Völkl and stocks 200 demos that can be rented for a one-time $25 fee that is deducted upon any purchase of a new racquet. Next-day stringing service is guaranteed upon request, and do-it-your-

selfers can rent a stringing machine. The shop also carries competitively priced, high-end brands of shoes and apparel, plus bags, string, ball machines, accessories, and balls with the e-tennis logo. Although all employees “walk the talk” by playing tennis, Gugel didn’t get involved in the sport until he designed carbon-reinforced and non-graphite racquets while serving as director of research and product design in the 1970s for a Midwest manufacturing company. Gugel continued designing and customizing racquets, ultimately adding Svantesson to his client roster around 1989. Ten years later,

with both men “in limbo,” according to Svantesson, they decided to pool their collective expertise and go into business together. “I sniffed out John when I was playing because of his reputation for racquet work, and people still do it today. There aren’t many people in the country with his knowledge of frame construction, racquet materials, and strings,” says Svantesson, who has also earned a Master Racquet Technician designation from the USRSA. Gugel agrees their successful partnership stems from communication, respect for one another, and the foundation of their enduring friendship. “Customers turn to Tobias for his perspective as a world-class player, and he refers technical issues to me,” Gugel says. “We complement each other very well.” Located right off a major interstate with 75 tennis courts minutes away, e-tennis has built its customer base through word-of-mouth, internet sales, tournament advertising, and drive-bys attracted to the tennis-ball yellow building adorned with nets and racquets. With just 900 square feet of sales space within the 1,400-square-foot building, Gugel says the store generates a whopping $600 in sales per square foot. In fact, Gugel and Svantesson are hoping to duplicate their success by opening a second location about 150 miles away within the year. “I can’t clone myself or Tobias, but our data collection system gives our staff the ability to come up with a racquet to suit Mr. or Mrs. Smith very well,” Gugel says. “We do everything we can to keep our customers happy. It’s incumbent upon us to keep people playing, both for our business and for the game.”Q

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3 employee

RELATIONS

Create and Maintain a Customer Service Culture At Your Facility
he club’s mission statement said all the right things. It was about “valuing our members” and “exceeding expectations” and “treating each other with respect.” The young man working behind the front desk, however, didn’t quite walk the talk. “Only another half hour and I get to go home.” He didn’t exactly exceed members’ expectations or make them feel valued. Maybe he’d never actually read the mission statement. A spirit of customer service often is infused into mission statements. Many organizations even conduct customer service training to make sure employees know how to behave toward customers— how to answer the phones, how to greet customers, how to handle complaints, and so on. The behaviors are important, but it is only when customer service becomes an employee attitude, in addition to a set of behaviors, that an organization can claim to have achieved a “culture” of customer service. Achieving that culture need not be left to fate. Whether you’re a manager at a private club, public facility, or retail shop, you can take tangible, visible steps to ensure that customers indeed feel valued and have their expectations exceeded.

BY JILL FONTE

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reason to take his job—and his responsibility to the customer service scenario— seriously. Customer service often begins with employee service. When people feel valued by their employers, they tend to treat customers accordingly. Let your employees know how their work contributes to the good of the organization, why their work is important, and how they bring unique value to their responsibilities. Set the example of customer service in how you treat them, and explain that you want them to treat your customers as respectfully and responsively as you treat them.

there? If so, make them known. Do not assume that your staff members will “get it” from your example. Do not assume they have your values or understand your expectations.

SCRUTINIZE THE MOMENTS OF TRUTH
When your customers drive into the parking lot, walk through the front door, enter the locker room, walk out to the courts, get water on the changeovers, call the club or shop for any reason…they are forming opinions about your organization and the service you provide. Is the parking lot clean? Does someone at the front desk or cash register look up and smile when people enter? Are the locker rooms and restrooms tidy? Are the water coolers kept full? Are there cups at the coolers? Are the trash baskets OK? Are the phones answered promptly and in a welcoming tone? Are your customers thanked for their business? If you want your customers to experience the best service possible, you must continuously try to see what they see during those moments of truth.

MAKE YOUR EXPECTATIONS CLEAR
It’s dangerous to assume that everyone has your vision of customer service. Exactly how do you want the phones answered? How should calls be transferred? How should members be addressed? What are the rules governing behavior at the front desk? What about dress and grooming—are there rules

HIRE RIGHT
You can teach a set of skills. It’s much tougher to teach caring or friendliness. If you’re hiring someone who’ll have direct contact with your customers, look for the attitude you want conveyed. Does the person smile, maintain good eye contact, offer a firm handshake? If you want a friendly, outgoing person at the front desk, look for those attributes during the interview. Ask about good and bad customer service they’ve experienced, and how they felt at the time. Ask how they’d have handled the situations differently, particularly regarding bad service. In Stress for Success, Jim Loehr writes, “The most important component of customer service is emotion. Regardless of

TREAT EMPLOYEES LIKE YOUR MOST IMPORTANT CUSTOMERS
Perhaps that young man didn’t understand how important he was to the club’s image. Perhaps he was treated as an expendable, inexpensive, part-time employee who had little or no impact on the big issues like profit, products, and programming. Perhaps he didn’t feel important at all, and therefore saw no

20 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

what you do to help a customer, how you make the customer feel emotionally is what counts.” Hire the people who’ll make your customers feel important, valued, appreciated.

REWARD THE RIGHT THINGS
Behavior that’s rewarded gets repeated. When you see or hear your employees servicing your customers appropriately, point it out. Thank them. Tell them specifically what they did right. “I really appreciate your patience in handling Mrs. Smith’s complaint”; “I admire how you remember our customers’ names and address them by name when they come in”; “Thank you for making sure the trash is emptied several times a day.” Make sure your employees feel appreciated. Make sure they know what’s important to you. Be specific in your feedback and generous with your recognition. Remember the suggestion: “Praise in public, criticize in private.”

THE BOTTOM LINE
Creating a culture of customer service need not be difficult. It begins as an inside job with how employees are treated. Managers who walk the customer service talk demonstrate what it looks and feels like to be treated with respect. If we can believe what we see in most mission statements, customer service takes center stage. Keeping customer service front and center depends on managers who live it, communicate it, hire for it, and reward it. Q Jill Fonte is a speaker and trainer specializing in management and customer service. She presents at tennis conventions throughout the country as the TIA's sponsored speaker. An avid, frequent tennis player, she is the former executive director of the USRSA and currently serves the tennis industry as Prince's ambassador and as the chair of the USTA's National Tennis Innovation Committee.

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retail

ACCESSORIES

Protect Your Players From the Sun

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rm your players with the right sun protection to ensure that damaging rays don’t cut short their time on court or compromise their health. Both UVA and UVB rays can lead to skin cancer, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation, and most doctors agree that sunscreen should be at least SPF

30 and protect against both types of ultraviolet rays. And for best results and the best protection, sunscreen should be reapplied often during prolonged sun exposure. Check the labels for specific protective ingredients. —Cynthia Sherman

MURAD
Dermatologist Dr. Howard Murad, founder of Murad Inc., developed a line of specialty skin care and sunscreen products. Along with the UVA/UVB sunscreens found in the four Murad Age-Proof Suncare Products, there is the addition of pomegranate, which the company says replenishes and prevents moisture loss. Murad’s Waterproof Sunblock SPF 30 (retail $25) fits the bill for more active pursuits. 800-33-MURAD; www.murad.com

BULLFROG
The Bullfrog Waterproof Sunblock line (retail $7.99 to $9.99) offers several applications in SPF 36. The Quik Stick, Quik Gel, and Quik Gel Sport Spray contain vitamin E and Aloe moisturizers in addition to UVA/UVB protection. They are also non-greasy and non-comedogenic. 800-233-3764; www.bullfrogsunblock.com

NEUTROGENA
Neutrogena Active Breathable Sunblock (retail $9.99) comes in SPF 30 and 45 and in addition to offering broad protection from UVA and UVB rays, contains silica powder that absorbs oil and allows skin to breathe. This lightweight, non-greasy covering is sweatproof, non-irritating, and hypoallergenic, says the company. 800-932-3025; www.neutrogena.com

COPPERTONE
The new Coppertone Continuous Spray Suncreen product line is available in an Ultra Sweatproof Sport formula SPF 30 (retail $11.99) for active players. It’s oilfree, hypoallergenic, waterproof, and PABA free and provides a steady, non-stop application of product for complete coverage and protection, even upside down. www.coppertone.com

NO-AD
No-Ad Suncare products includes No-Ad Sport Sunblock Lotion in SPF 30 and 50. They’re non-greasy, waterproof, and sweatproof, with aloe vera and vitamin E for extra moisturizing benefits. The bottles feature a no-slip grip along with the Skin Cancer Foundation seal. 800-327-3991; www.no-ad.com

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Vtennis

MEDIA

Smash Tennis Mag for Teens to Debut in July
BY MITCH RUSTAD
keting departments are taking the sport seriously,” says Garrett, “and that consumers are telling them that tennis is something they care about.” The launch isn’t merely a knee-jerk reaction to a healthier industry, however. Smash will have a built-in audience right out of the gate—it will be mailed directly to the USTA’s 100,000 strong junior membership list, with another 25,000 distributed to tennis camps, clubs, and tournaments throughout the summer. Plans call for the magazine to be on newsstands, and to go quarterly, in 2006. But why teens? “There’s an enormous desire by everyone in the industry to tap more into the youth market,” says James Martin, editor of Smash and a senior editor for Tennis. “There are a significant number of kids who are rabid tennis players who play hundreds of times a year on teams and on junior circuits. They’re passionate about the game in ways only a kid can be.” Though Martin says the magazine’s “sweetspot” is the 14- to 18year-old readers, he believes that “anyone who likes a cool magazine is going to like it.” An early look at editorial plans is intriguing: Gustavo Kuerten interviewing surfing idol Kelly Slater, a shopping spree with Serena Williams and a talk with rap icon (and tennis fanatic) Snoop Dogg, not to mention plenty of eye candy, says Martin. “Today’s tennis players are hot, good-looking athletes, and we’re going to celebrate that,” he says. “We’re going to peel the back of the tennis ball off and give this young set a look at the world of tennis the way they want to see it.” The first issue of Smash debuts July 12. Q

Who’s Stringing marketing YOUR Racquet? YOUR Racquet?
USRSA members have fingertip access to every tool neccessary to provide superior professional service.

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s tennis finally ready for another boom? The executives at Miller Publishing Group (the folks who publish Tennis magazine) seem to think so. The company recently announced the launch of Smash, a slightly oversized, highly innovative tennis magazine aimed at one the most coveted markets around—teens. “Tennis is getting a kick-start thanks to a lot of younger pros like Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, and Maria Sharapova,” says Norb Garrett, the editorial director for Miller Publishing. “The sport is being re-energized by fresh-faced, young players who are doing very well, and tennis is being talked about again. It’s top of mind for a lot of people, so now we feel there’s another up cycle, another wave, for tennis.” Recent big-dollar sponsorships like the WTA Tour’s new six-year, $88 million deal with Sony Ericsson, not to mention corporate America’s overwhelming interest in young players like Wimbledon champ Sharapova—whose endorsement deals now include Motorola, Canon and Tag Heur, and reportedly total some $23 million annually—are clear indicators that tennis is white hot again. “That tells you that corporate mar-

Having your racquet strung by anyone other than a USRSA member, Master Racquet Technician or Certified Stringer is risky business. USRSA members get all the tools of the trade to string your racquet professionally without any guess work.
Visit 1 The Stringers Racque tTEC to find a H.com Digest Series — USRSA Membe r, Maste Racque r A complete 5 book t Tech Certified nician or Stringer industry resource near yo u! library includes stringing instructions for all raqcuets. 2 Subscription to Racquet Sports Industry Magazine 3 RacquetTECH.com — Technical “tools” in the members only section are not available anywhere else. 4 Free Technical Assistance — By phone, fax, or email. 5 USRSA Membership Certificate & Decal 6 Manufacturer Product Discounts 7 Free Marketing Samples & Product Playtest Giveaways 8 Website Listing for ALL Members — All members are listed on RacquetTECH.com. Visit the “Find a Stringer” tool to find a USRSA member near you. 9 Certification Testing — Members may distinguish themselves as the best of the best by becoming certified as Master Racquet Technicians or Certified Stringers.

For more information contact the USRSA 330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084 760-536-1177 • 760-536-1171 FAX • www.racquettech.com

June 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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FOCUS ON

footwear
TALK TO YOUR CUSTOMER
Old shoes tell a story. Look at the tennis shoes your customer is currently using and observe the wear patterns. That can help determine what type of foot he has, and whether he does things like drag his toe on the serve, which means you should suggest a shoe with extra protection around the toe cap. Also, ask your customer what he likes or dislikes about his current pair of shoes. This can give you an idea of what direction to go with a new pair. And ask your customer if he has any history of foot or lower extremity injuries. This can play an important part in selecting the right shoe. For instance, if the customer has a history of chronic ankle pain, he should be looking for a mid-cut shoe or one that has low-to-the-ground technology. Or if he or she has very wide feet, suggest a shoe that comes in different widths. Squeezing wide feet into narrow shoes will result in blisters, irritation of different bony spots on the foot, or the formation of bunions and hammertoes. Check to see if your customer wears custom or over-the-counter orthotics, or if he uses cushions or foot beds inside the shoe. Does he wear ankle braces? If so,

Fit Your Players to the Right Shoes

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ennis shoes are just as much a part of a player’s “equipment” as is his or her tennis racquet. If a player’s shoes don’t fit properly, it doesn’t matter how wonderful his racquet is or how clean his strokes are, he’ll have trouble getting to the ball and staying balanced while he hits. Worse yet, if he doesn’t have the right shoes, he could actually be hurting his body and limiting the enjoyment he’ll be able to get out of tennis. And that could limit how much tennis he plays, which will directly affect your bottom line. So knowing how to fit your customers to the right pair of tennis shoes should be an important part of your business. If you take the time to put your customers into the right shoes, they’ll keep coming back to you. And they’ll keep playing tennis. Educating your customers as to how to get the proper fit is important. You need to teach them what to look for in a tennis shoe, and emphasize that they should avoid the temptation to buy simply on style or price.

BY DAVID SHARNOFF

why? You may need to suggest a shoe that will allow room for these devices. Ask your customer about his usual playing environment. Indoors or outdoors? Hard courts or clay? It can determine whether to suggest a nub or herringbone tread design. A nub tread design tends to work better on hard courts, a herringbone tends to work better on clay, and a combination of nub and herringbone will generally work for players how play on both types of surfaces. How slick are the courts the player generally plays on? Some outsoles have a slicker feel; others have a more tacky feel. If the player often plays on a tacky surface, he shouldn’t be wearing a shoe with a more tacky outsole.

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Also remember that feet are not status quo. They actually do change. You should suggest to your customers that at least once a year, they measure their feet for size and width using the Brannock device, which is the typical foot-measuring device found in most shoe stores. And feet also change every day; they swell as the day goes on. So if a customer tries on a pair in the morning, before exercising, that same shoe might feel tight later in the afternoon. When a customer comes in to try on shoes, he should be wearing the socks that he intends to use with the tennis shoe. Stress the importance of wearing sport-specific socks, which have moisture-management and moisture-wicking abilities, anti-microbial benefits, and anatomic padding. And tennis socks can be a nice extra sale for your shop (see page 14). One extremely important area to consider when fitting customers with tennis

DETERMINE FOOT TYPE
Shoe selection should be based on foot type. The three basic foot types are: Q Supinated feet have a high arch. Players with this type of foot will notice wear on the shoes’ soles on the outside of the heel and forefoot. Players with supinated feet also tend to have a wider forefoot and generally need a shoe with extra room in the toe box. Extra cushioning also is important because of the high arch. Q Pronated feet generally are flat. The wear on the soles is on the inside of the forefoot area. Players who pronate need a shoe with extra support on their big-toe side to help prevent inward roll. Q Neutral feet are the ideal type and have an even wear pattern on the soles. Players with this foot type can wear any shoe that feels comfortable.

Tips For The Right Fit
Q Customers should try on shoes at the end of the day. Throughout the day, and after exercise, feet will swell by about 5 percent. Q When shopping for shoes, make sure your customers wear the sport socks that they’ll wear during play. Q As they try on shoes, have your customers mimic the movements inherent in tennis. Q Always check for proper flex point. If a shoe does not bend where your toes bend, look elsewhere. Q Match your customer’s foot shape to the shape of the shoe outsole.

24 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

shoes is the flex point. If a shoe flexes right in the middle, underneath the arch, look for a different pair. A shoe should bend where your toes bend. As you and your customer narrow down the choices, point out the features of specific shoes, such as its support and comfort benefits. Also look at the durability of the shoe; a 6- or 12-month outsole guarantee means the manufacturer will stand behind the shoe. Point out other features of the shoe, such as low-to-theground technology, or motion control features, or the outsole design. When customers come to you looking for the right tennis shoe, treat it seriously. Properly fitted shoes can enhance performance. Improperly fitted shoes can cost the sport a tennis player—and can cost you a customer down the road. Q
David Sharnoff, a podiatrist in Shelton, Conn., is a longtime advisor to the WTA Tour and a member of Tennis magazine’s Technical Advisory Panel. Dr. Sharnoff also is a longtime contributor to professional journals in the field of podiatric medicine.

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marketing

SUCCESS

Photos and Posters Can Help You Promote Your Business

BY JOE DINOFFER

W

e all know the expression “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Well, it is...sort of. While it is true that pictures are higher impact than the written or spoken word, it is also true that if you leave the same picture up in the same place for an extended period of time, it will soon have no impact at all. Therefore, along with the following tips on using images to enhance your business, there is one caveat: Your pictures must be fresh, interesting, and changed regularly. Follow some of these tips, keeping that caveat in mind, and you’ll soon have a picture of a healthier bottom line for your facility.

POSTERS
Tennis manufacturing companies are only too happy to give you free posters. Our suggestion is to get “slip-in” poster frames that you can easily change on a regular basis. And, for example, when you put in a new poster like Andre Agassi and Head or Rafael Nadal and Babolat (above), consider offering a promotion for that month on those products. Also, see if your manufacturer reps can get you autographed posters. Hey, it doesn’t hurt to ask.

probably with a credit line that says something like: “Photo courtesy of …” The tournaments will most likely be amenable to your using their official photos, since they’ll get some publicity out of it, too. But please, be wary of simply copying and disseminating photos from the internet without permission. Once you do get permission to use a photo, or if you can find royalty-free images, you can start going to town. One idea is to email your members with a tennis instructional tip that is timely and is tied to a photo you selected. Attach the photo to your email and just click “send.” You can also make these emails and photo attachments product-driven at the same time by announcing a sale in your shop.

instructional tips and use photos of pros and club members to demonstrate your points. Then use the tips in five different ways to get people to read them: Through emails, your website, a photo instructional book, on your bulletin boards, and on fliers that you can even hang throughout your facility or shop, even in the locker rooms.

FLIERS WITH PHOTOS
Using each of your photo instructional tips in a number of different ways takes advantage of your work and maximizes your valuable time in preparing each tip. The main thing is to keep rotating your tips, creating at least one a month. Besides hanging them in locker rooms, you can also enclose them in club mailings.

PHOTOS ON YOUR WEBSITE
As with using the photos in emails, you can use your website to keep an archive of instructional tips along with photos (again, though, make sure you have the proper permissions to use the photos on your website). Plus, with their permission of course, you can take digital photos of your club members who exemplify some of the positive techniques that you can point out in the wellknown pros.

SUMMARY
Using photos and posters are great ways to deliver information to your players, and to keep them engaged. But you must keep them fresh and you need to rotate them. Then, your members and players will start looking forward to the next photo that you use. And writing instruction tips to accompany your photos should be relatively easy, too, with the huge amount of information that is readily available on the internet on so many aspect of tennis. So give your players and customers a great “picture” of tennis. It can help them develop more enthusiasm for the sport, help them improve on court, and help out your business, too. Q
Joe Dinoffer is a 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.

PHOTOS OF PLAYERS
The internet is full of player photos. But keep in mind, it is illegal to simply copy a photo off the internet and redistribute it without permission, unless it is a “royaltyfree” photo (and the chances of finding specific tennis photos royalty-free are rather slim). To get free photos of pros that you can use for your own promotions, check with tennis equipment manufacturers and see if they can email photos to you. And make sure you tell them what you intend to do with the photos. Or check the website of a pro tournament in your area to see if they have what you might need. Then, contact the tournament to get permission to use the photo,

PHOTO INSTRUCTIONAL BOOK
Most pro shops and clubs have lounge areas. Take advantage of the instructional tips you have created by printing them out and inserting them into plastic sheets in a binder. This adds a nice extra touch to your club, especially since the tips can feature club members themselves, alongside some of the best players in the world.

BULLETIN BOARDS
Cycle these same photo tips on your bulletin boards as well. Although all of these different ideas appear to be a lot of work, the concept is actually quite simple. Come up with basic

26 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

TENNIS PARTICIPATION

Moving the Dial?
The third annual Tennis Participation Study shows signs of improvement, and opportunities to boost your business.
BY PETER FRANCESCONI

D

espite what you may have been hearing lately, there are signs that things may, indeed, be looking up for the tennis industry. Data gathered recently in the massive 2004 U.S. Tennis Participation Study does show, once again, that there are continuing challenges in this sport. But there also are some signs of success: Q 5.7 million people took up the game last year, up from 5.1 million in 2002. (Overall participation, though, remains flat at 23.6 million because about the same number of players left the game—that pesky “leaky bucket.”) Q Those 5.7 million are heavily concentrated among youth (the median age of new players is 15). Almost two-thirds of all new players are under age 18.

The Breakdown

Q 5.3 million people came back to playing the game as “rejoiners” in the past year after having not played at all for at least a year. The largest concentration of “rejoiners” is in the 35to-49 age group, an age when they’re likely to have young children who they might want to get into tennis. Q For the first time since 2000, frequent players (those who play 21 or more times a year) showed a slight increase—3 percent over 2003—rather than a considerable decrease. This is key because frequent players are the “lifeblood” of the sport, says Jim Baugh, president of the Tennis Industry Association. Frequent players buy more racquets, shoes, balls, court time, and lessons than other types of players. Q Importantly, “fun” and “exercise” were listed as the top reasons why people play tennis for new players, frequent players, rejoiners, continuing players (who have played for more than one year), and lapsed players (who haven’t played in the past 12 months, but at one time played regularly). In addition, new players are adding diversity—with respect to race, ethnicity, gender, and income—to the tennis-playing population, which is a key initiative for the USTA. So, while the industry isn’t yet ready to say everything’s fabulous, it does

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appear that some of the initiatives started in recent years may be having a positive effect on tennis participation in this country. And the feeling among many industry insiders is that tennis has “turned a corner.” This is the third consecutive year that the USTA and TIA have teamed to track tennis participation in the U.S. The survey, conducted by Sports Marketing Surveys USA and Taylor Research & Consulting Group Inc., is arguably the largest sport-specific study of its kind. The 2004 U.S. Tennis Participation Study consisted of five-minute telephone surveys of 25,500 households sampled at random on a state-bystate basis. In the 25,500 households, participation was measured among the age 6 and up population, yielding a total base of more than 66,000 people. Then, extended interviews of 12 to 15 minutes took place with nearly 1,500 current players, former players, and non-players.

three times a year to 38 percent among those who play over 100 times a year.

Players Want to Play More
Most current players want to be playing more tennis than they do now. The study points out that there is no inherent “lackof-desire barrier” to increase frequency of play. Of those who play four to 10 times a year, 68 percent would like to play more. Of those who play 21 to 50 times a year, 64 percent would like to play more.

Reach More People With Lessons
Tennis instruction is important for many different levels of player. Among new players in particular, instruction contributes heavily to interest in playing; 35 percent of new players say lessons would make them want to play a lot more. Among continuing players, that figure is 29 percent. Instruction also contributes heavily to actual frequency of play. Of those who play four to 10 times a year, 37 percent have taken a lesson. But as frequency rises, the percentage of those who have taken a lesson increases significantly as well. For instance, among those who play more than 100 times a year, 71 percent have taken a lesson. Also, instruction helps keep frequent players playing frequently. Of current frequent players, 34 percent have taken a lesson in the last 12 months, but only 13 percent of players who are playing fewer than 21 times a year took a lesson in the last year.

The Opportunities
So, what are some of the key opportunities that you should consider when looking to boost your business?

“Fish Where the Fish Are”
The 2004 Participation Study shows that tennis player are more likely to live in affluent households and more likely to live in suburbs compared with the U.S. population as a whole. Targeting individuals or communities that fit this description can help grow the game and your business. Of the total population, 20 percent live in suburbs, while 28 percent of all tennis players do. And possibly more important, 12 percent of the U.S. population live in a household with an annual income over $100,000, while for tennis players, 26 percent live in such affluent households. As you would imagine, the more tennis a person plays, the more likely they are to have a household income over $100,000, rising steadily from 20 percent of those who play one to

Crank Up Leagues and Organized Play
The No. 1 reason that current players list as to what might get them to play tennis more frequently is regularly scheduled matches with friends,
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at 44 percent. Also, league tennis helps to keep frequent players playing frequently. For current players, nearly half their playing time (47 percent) is spent in league tennis. By contrast, former frequent players spend 28 percent of their time playing league tennis.

Be a Tennis Matchmaker
After “not enough time,” not having anyone to play tennis with was the most commonly mentioned reason current players aren’t playing more. Among the 37 percent of players who played more tennis in 2004 than in the year before, finding someone to play with was the main reason why (34 percent). Also, more than half of all lapsed players (55 percent) say they would have been likely to continue playing had a tennis facility called them to arrange matches with others at their same skill level.

The Challenges
Of course, the annual study continues to point up a number of challenges in this sport. Chief among them is the aging player base. In 1995, 8 percent of all tennis players were age 50 or older. In 2004, that number is at 13 percent. Compounding that concern is the fact that 50-plus players are con-

centrated in the frequent player ranks: 13 percent of all tennis players are age 50-plus, but 24 percent of frequent players fall into that age group. In terms of retention, overall participation has been relatively flat over the last five years, so despite 24 percent of all players being new to the game and 22 percent rejoining the game, tennis is still losing just as many players as it is gaining. The number of “regular” players (playing four to 20 times in a year) dropped from 76 percent in 2001 to 65 percent in 2004. Similarly, 26 percent of all players were frequent (21 times or more) participants in 2001; but that’s down to 20 percent in the 2004 study. Another concern is that about two-thirds of all pros work at private or commercial clubs, where they are less likely to reach many new players. Among adult new players, nearly half play at public parks, and among new players age 6 to 17, up to half are introduced to tennis at school, where the “tennis infrastructure” is limited. Only 35 percent of new players say tennis programs are offered at their local public courts, while only 9 percent say there are pros working at public courts in their area. The full participation study has a lot more data—both positive and negative—than we can present here. But one thing that’s clear is that, for the last three years, the industry has been laying down a baseline from which to gauge future development of this sport at the recreational level. New initiatives, such as the Tennis in the Public Parks campaign (spearheaded by USTA President Franklin Full reports and executive summaries of Johnson and the Nationthe 2004 U.S. Tennis Participation Study al Recreation and Park are available to members of the TIA. Association) and the Cardio Tennis program Membership levels start at $100 and (to roll out to consumers include many benefits and services in this fall) are combining addition to the participation research. with recently estab- Contact the TIA at 843-686-3036 or visit lished initiatives such as www.tennisindustry.org the developing Tennis Welcome Center campaign and the college campus programs to get more people on the courts and enjoying the benefits of the sport. Add to that renewed emphasis and interest in other programs, such as corporate tennis leagues, USA Team Tennis for adults and youth, and USA League Tennis, and the initiatives are there for all of us to help move the participation dial. Q

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RACQUET RETAILING

Testing the Waters
Drive racquet sales by developing the right demo program for your customers.
BY CYNTHIA CANTRELL

I

n the 13 years that Deana Mitchell has owned Serious Tennis in Roswell, Ga., customers have accidentally run over her store demos with their cars, left them on the roof before speeding off, and forgotten about them in the trunk before jetting away on vacation. Despite the time and cost associated with ordering, stringing, gripping, and occasionally replacing demos, however, Mitchell says they help her sell thousands of racquets every year. “Integrating your expertise into a demo program will increase racquet sales,” says Mitchell, who co-owns Serious Tennis with Scott Jones, with two locations in Roswell and one each in Alpharetta, Marietta, and Suwanee, Ga. “Ask manufacturers for demos and string, and then buy beyond what you get for free. Look past the cost to what you’ll gain in loyalty because, believe me, it’s all about customer service.” Mitchell acknowledges it can be intimidating for a new

player trying to make sense of a wall holding 300 demos, some of which are strung at different gauges and tensions. To prevent customers from becoming overwhelmed and leaving the store altogether, she advises asking them to describe their swing, style of play, and power level before selecting up to three demos for them. She warns, however, that great care must be taken to appease a customer intent on buying a racquet featured in a buyer’s guide, but which may not be suited for their game. “It may look perfect on paper, but I tell them until you play with it, you don’t know,” Mitchell says. “I ask them to let me pick some demos and see if some cross over onto their list.” While Mitchell hosts regular racquet training sessions with local sales reps and teaching pros affiliated with Serious Tennis, Ajay Pant entices customers to demo nights at his facility with Italian food cooked by his head pro, wine, a fashion show, and discounts. “By the end of the night, it’s no longer a

32 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

s

While the demo program doesn’t generate revenue on sales event,” says Pant, regional manager of Indian Creek its own, Don Hightower, president of Tennis Warehouse, Racquet Club in Overland Park, Kan. “It’s a social hour.” says it does drive racquet sales. “[Online demo service] is Pant recommends that teaching pros also incorporate especially valuable to customers in urban and rural areas informal sales opportunities into their lessons by carrying that aren’t serviced by pro shops and specialty shops,” says several demos on court and encouraging players to pracHightower, noting that online features allow customers to tice with them. Additionally, he says, teaching pros see which demos are in stock as well as back-order dates. should ask for feedback during the lesson, offer substitute Corinne Pinsof-Kaplan, owner of Chicago Tennis & Golf, demos, and follow up afterward. has a 21- by 55-foot hitting lane, wide enough for two play“Even if that player isn’t in the market for a new racers to take turns returning shots from a ball machine, quet, maybe her husband or son might like it. It’s all part inside her 14,500-square-foot of taking care of your memstore. Because some customers bers,” Pant says. “A demo will want to try a racquet on program shouldn’t function in their home turf, she stocks two a vacuum. It must be part of demos of each frame she the big picture.” sells—between 250 and 300 In fact, Pant says, that big Q Serious Tennis, Roswell, Ga.: $2 per day (applied toward the total. “The hitting lane can picture must be embraced by purchase of a racquet) with a three-day limit, after which the close the sale on the spot,” a facility’s entire staff. The price increases to $5 per day, which is not credited toward a racsays Pinsof-Kaplan. “We get a club’s 55 demos are regularly quet purchase. Customization is free. If customers lose a demo, great response from it.” re-gripped and restrung, and they are charged the cost of that demo or sold a racquet at a While retailers want cusdemo customization is pro- discounted price. tomers to use their demos, vided at no extra charge. they need them returned as Demo fees are freely waived Q Indian Creek Racquet Club, Overland Park, Kan.: $3 per quickly as possible to keep for big pro shop spenders, as demo, which can only be played with at the club, with a $30 sales flowing. John Gugel, who well as players who complain maximum credited toward the purchase of a racquet. Additionalruns e-tennis inc. in Winter about an unsatisfactory expe- ly, Savers' Club members are entitled to discounts on every pro rience. “The front desk has shop purchase. For Indian Creek Racquet Club members, monthly Park, Fla., with former ATP touring pro Tobias Svantesson, carte blanche so no member Savers’ Club fees are $9 plus tax per individual; $10.50 plus tax says customers are given a or potential member feels like per couple; and $11.50 plus tax per family. Nonmember monthly business card with the demo they’re being nickeled and fees are $13, $14.50, and $15.50, respectively. program rules and they must dimed,” Pant says. “A couple Q Tennis Warehouse: While there are no rental fees, customers sign a copy of the regulations of dollars isn’t worth it.” pay round-trip UPS shipping for a maximum of four demos for a and leave a credit card imprint. With more than 80 per- seven-day period. If a demo isn’t returned, the borrower’s credit Players in the Demo Club can cent of business conducted card is charged. borrow up to three of the online, Tennis Warehouse in store’s 250 demos for three San Luis Obispo, Calif., Q Chicago Tennis & Golf: $1.50 per racquet for three days for days; after that time, Gugel demonstrates that you don’t members; $3 for nonmembers. Demo fees, with the exception of says he makes a friendly necessarily need a retail store $5 daily late fees, are credited toward the purchase of a racquet. phone call reminding them to run a successful demo pro- The store provides a 24-hour demo return box. that others are waiting for that gram. Customers can request Q e-tennis inc., Winter Park, Fla.: $25 to join the Demo Club, demo. If he doesn’t receive a up to four demos at a time for which allows customers to borrow three demos for three days at response within seven days, a seven-day period beginning a time over a 180-day period. the player is charged the upon receipt of the racquets racquet’s retail price. Chronivia UPS. While customers pay cally late customers risk having their Demo Club memberround-trip shipping costs, Tennis Warehouse doesn’t ship revoked. charge additional demo fees, and ships two racquets for While it’s inevitable that some customers will demo a the price of one and four for the price of three. Local resracquet and then buy it at a slightly lower cost online, Gugel idents can save the cost of shipping by picking up their says most players remain loyal out of satisfaction with the orders. If a demo isn’t returned, the borrower’s credit store’s customer service. card is charged. “There’s no question that the Demo Club works. Very “A lot of people know exactly what they want, but I’ll few people are willing to sacrifice a $25 investment [by not spend as much time with them on the phone as necesputting that credit toward the cost of a new racquet], and sary,” says master racquet technician Derek Kurtti. in the meantime you’ve gotten a chance to demonstrate “We’ll send them the demo they’re interested in, plus your service and expertise,” Gugel says. “You’ve shown we’ll look at ones with similar weight, balance, and them why they should only buy from you.” Q head size.”

Racquet Demo Program Examples

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RACQUET RETAILING

Creating the Menu
What’s your recipe for choosing racquets for your shop? Some top retailers reveal what goes into the mix.
BY MITCH RUSTAD

F

or consumers of virtually every age group and skill level, there’s a mouthwatering mix of tennis racquets dotting the retail landscape. They come in a multitude of shapes, head sizes and colors—not to mention innovative new technologies—and streams of updated models are constantly being added to the mix. But for many specialty retailers, this stringed smorgasbord can lead to a bad case of heartburn. All too often, retailers must deal with limited retail space, more limited budgets, and finicky consumers, which makes racquet inventory an especially important—and definitely daunting—task. But according to some of the country’s leading racquet retailers, there is a method to the madness when it comes to choosing inventory wisely. “When you’re a professional buyer, whether it’s for a jewelry store or a tennis shop, you need to offer a wide range of options that address your customers needs and wants,” says Steve Vorhaus, owner of Rocky Mountain Racquet Specialists, Boulder, Colo. “We make our inventory decisions based on the needs of each player.” Sounds pretty simple, right? Although “know thy customer” remains the golden rule for many retailers, especially when it comes to inventory selection, the following list of comprehensive criteria came up repeatedly when we asked racquet retailers how they choose their inventory.

head size, a deal breaker for most consumers whose skill and fitness levels often favor a specific size. “The 100-square-inch head size is where the meat of the market is right now,” says Chris Gaudreau, owner of Racquet Koop in New Haven, Conn. “But I can’t duplicate my inventory too much. I need to stock the 95-inch and the 105 and 110, and even the 115.” Gaudreau says he will narrow his selection to two or three of each head size, with slightly more duplication in the 100to 105-square-inch categories. “I try to find a good mix of everything,” he says. Larger specialty retailers like All About Tennis, with three locations in metro Phoenix, simply stock as many racquets (and head sizes) as possible, says owner Jesse Ponwith. “When we try to play it a little safer and have to special-order a racquet, the customer usually doesn’t want to wait and we’ll lose the sale,” he says. “So if possible, it’s good to inventory quite of bit of stuff.”

Price
It’s no surprise that the almighty dollar has a big impact on inventory selection, but a high price tag—and profit margin, for that matter—should not be the sole factor in your inventory selection, says Vorhaus. “I have to ask myself, how many $275 racquets am I realistically going to sell?” he says. “Probably not as many as the $175 ones, so I’ll choose my inventory accordingly.” The logical temptation for many retailers is to carry more racquets with higher profit margins, instead of what might

Head Size
When it comes to racquets, size really does matter. Perhaps no single characteristic affects inventory selection more than

34 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

tionships. “I look at what kind of dealer support I’m getting, and if they’re hard to work with, I might not try a frame that I’m not sure about,” he says.

Star Quality
The jury’s out on whether today’s superstars significantly impact racquet sales, but Gaudreau says marquee names do influence his more starry-eyed customers. “I will look to see what players are using,” says Gaudreau, who points to Roger Federer, Andre Agassi, and Andy Roddick as today’s most influential players. “What they use sells, so I’ll keep up on what the top players are using. My customers won’t play like Federer, but they may want to try his racquet.” Vorhaus is slightly less enthusiastic. “We like to be aware of what the pros play with, but over 90 percent of our sales are driven by our demo program,” he says. “Roddick’s racquet may get them in the door, but they’re going to want to take it for a test drive.”

Media Buzz
Positive buzz in the media—such as Tennis magazine’s annual Editor’s Choice selections— can also play a role in selecting your inventory. Says Gaudreau: “This does get a lot of press and it definitely generates some interest among my customers, so I have to respond to that.” Any extra promotion or publicity a racquet receives will directly affect consumer buzz, adds Ponwith. “If it’s out there and people are reading about it, they’ll come in and see if we carry it,” he says.

actually better suit their customers. “Its just a basic business decision at that point,” says Gaudreau. “If you can’t sell a product, even if it has a great margin, then what’s the point of carrying it?”

Manufacturer’s Incentives
The quality of your relationship with each manufacturer casts a large shadow over inventory selection. “If I don’t feel a comany is giving me the service that I should be getting, or if I’m having a hard time consistently with the rep, I may back off a little bit on that company,” says Vorhaus. But incentives such as volume discounts can supersede almost anything, says Gaudreau. “Incentives do come into play, because most manufacturers offer good discount programs, and that does affect what your inventory mix is going to be,” he says. But Gaudreau admits that on-the-fence inventory decisions are often tipped by the quality of his dealer rela-

Geography
Inventory selection must also reflect your store’s geographic location and climate. “We’re in a high-altitude area, and because of that, power is not as important to my customers,” says Vorhaus. “We just don’t sell as many top-line, high-power frames as a dealer at sea level might.” Other geographic considerations, such as your city’s most prevalent surface (clay vs. hard) or the local climate (high or low humidity), can also affect consumer racquet preferences and should be taken into account. Q
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THE WINNERʼS MIND

Reaching Your Goals
The author of The Winner's Mind: A Competitor's Guide to Sports and Business Success reveals how champions in any activity clearly identify goals and set up game plans to achieve them.
BY ALLEN FOX, PH.D.

M

ost of the champion’s attitudes and techniques, once they are understood, can be applied by anybody. Anybody can improve and become more successful in business, sports, or elsewhere by becoming aware of their own achievement shortcomings—their counter-productive attitudes and insidiously harmful fears and emotions—and overcoming them by consciously behaving more like the champions. Sure, the champions have it easier because they have better control over their fears and habitually do the right thing competitively. But with enlightenment, discipline, and persistence, the average person can do just as well. One of the techniques of champions is goal setting.

game plan for reaching that goal, and the advancing prospect of reaching it energizes them. Having clear goals and plans allows them to break up tasks into bite-sized pieces and work on them systematically. In this way, it is easier to see to the end of them; they appear less daunting, engender less fear, and are less likely to be put off. Most people, because they are afraid that they will not be able to achieve worthy goals in any case, run blindly and inefficiently with neither clear goals nor developed plans for achievement.

Goals Yield Direction, Motivation, and Game Plans
Champions are more clearly aware of their achievement goals than most people. They fix their goals firmly and distinctly in their view-screens and can thus direct and focus their efforts more effectively. Having a clear goal allows them to develop an intelligent

Having Goals and Moving Toward Them Makes Us Happy
Not only does setting goals help us become more effective achievers, but it also makes us happier! People are happiest when they are progressing toward a goal—when they wake up today a little better off than they were yesterday. People who are trapped in situations where improvement is difficult or impossible are less happy. Here the feeling of stagnation is unpleasant and emotionally debilitating.

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Progressing toward a goal requires, first and foremost, that we have one.

Goals and Your Game Plan

Effectiveness Requires Focus on Short-Term Goals

Goals can be broken down into two categories: shortterm and long-term. Your long-term goal is your major goal, the “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow,” and is what you are ultimately trying to accomplish. Your short-term goals are stepping-stone achievements on the way to your long-term goal. They are You will be happiest when you are improving in some way simple, bite-sized objectives that lead you toward your and moving toward a goal. This is best accomplished by setultimate objective. Effective achievement requires ting up a clear long-term goal, a game plan for reaching it, a both types of goals, series of short-term goals, although, as we will and then devoting all your discuss later, the shortpowers to meeting your term ones are the most The general formula for success is fivefold: short-term goals. You can important. trot out your long-term goal Equally essential is 1. Clearly identify your ultimate goal. from time to time for motivaa game plan. This gives 2. Construct a game plan for reaching that goal. tion and to see if you are proyou the road map of 3. Use this plan to set up short-term goals that lead gressing toward it as your pathway to your long-term or ultimate toward your ultimate goal. They should be bite-sized, planned, but never forget to keep focused on meeting goal and allows you to feasible, and, if possible, measurable. short-term goals. identify your short4. Attack each of your short-term goals in order, one at Before and during the term goals. All goals process, you should clearly should be clearly idena time, by focusing all your energies on it. Once it is identify and, figuratively, set tified (as specifically as accomplished, move on to attack your next short- on the table in front of you, possible) so you can term goal. your fears of failure. Do you keep your eye on them and not become scat5. Monitor your overall progress toward your ultimate think you are not smart enough, not educated tered and disoriented. goal as more information becomes available. Consid- enough, an inept athlete, It is also preferable, er whether or not you need to modify your game plan. lacking in willpower, have though not always possible, for their attainIf you modify the plan, change your short-term goals never done it before, not a “winner” type, and so forth? ments to, in some way, accordingly. Consciously recognize that be measurable. Vague you can overcome any of goals or goals that are, these supposed weaknesses for all practical purposwith sufficient effort and purpose. es, unattainable are only modestly helpful. Examples If you find yourself procrastinating or are losing your are goals like “getting rich” or “running a huge comresolve during the achievement process, trot out these fears pany.” These are more in the “hope” than “goal” catagain. They are, behind the scenes, disorienting you. Bring egory. On the other hand, even vague goals or “pie in them out into the open, vow to overpower them, and immethe sky” goals are better than none at all. diately start moving forward. Success reduces fears of failure and breeds success. Q

these points—one at a time. They don’t have to concern themselves about winning the match. (In fact, they often make conscious efforts to avoid focusing on winning the match during play since it tends to make them nervous and is, therefore, counterproductive.) As long as they are sufficiently adept at attaining their short-term goals (winning points), their long-term goal will follow as a matter of course.

Happiness is Moving Forward

The Success Formula

Champions win tennis matches by using this strategy. Their long-term goal is so obvious—to win the match— that they don’t have to think much about it beforehand. They construct a game plan that, ideally, uses their own strengths to attack their opponents’ weaknesses. This gives them the best chance of winning the match. Their short-term goal becomes to win each point by using their game plan, and they focus all their mental, emotional, and physical resources on winning

Allen Fox is author of The Winner's Mind: A Competitor's Guide to Sports and Business Success (Racquet Tech Publishing, an imprint of the USRSA, $17.95, available at www.racquettech.com and book stores everywhere). Fox earned a B.A. degree in physics and a Ph.D. in psychology from UCLA and is author of two previous tennis classics. Formerly ranked as high as No. 4 in the U.S,. Fox was a Wimbledon quarterfinalist, an investment banker, a small business owner, and the coach of many highly ranked Pepperdine tennis

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string Klip Screamer
Klip Screamer is one of Klip’s “Pro Doubles” (hybrid) strings, this one combining natural gut with Klip Scorcher (see the playtest report for Klip Scorcher in the September 2003 issue of Racquet Tech).
Klip Scorcher is a solid-core multiwrap string designed to bridge the gap between monofilament and multifilament strings. According to Klip, Scorcher's copolymer monofilament nylon core gives it a crisper feel than the typical multifilament, while the two high-tensile fiber wraps give it livelier playability than nylon monofilaments. The outer layer is a pearlized coating of titanium oxide. According to Klip, combining natural gut with its titanium double-wrap nylon results in a durable yet very playable hybrid. With Screamer, Klip is targeting players looking for the feel and playability of natural gut at a fraction of the price, along with crisper power. The Scorcher nylon helps increase ball control by reducing ball speed. Screamer is available in 16 and 17 gauges in natural/white only. It is priced from $18 for sets with 21 feet of natural gut and 22 feet of Scorcher (nylon). For more information or to order, contact Klip at 866-554-7872, or visit www.klipstrings.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for Klip’s special offer to USRSA members.

PLAYTEST

IN THE LAB
We tested the 17-gauge Screamer “both ways”—that is, with the gut in the mains and Scorcher nylon in the crosses, and with the Scorcher nylon in the mains and the gut in the crosses. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of each string combination immediately after installation at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine, and then retested after 24 hours (no playing). 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. See the table for our measurements of the 17-gauge Klip Screamer we playtested. Screamer added 13.95 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 78 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0 (39 testers in each of two groups). These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. We instructed one team to install the gut in the mains, and the other to install the Scorcher nylon in the mains.
SCORCHER NYLON 25’ 1.26 mm 1.19 mm NYLON MAINS/ GUT CROSSES 17 hours 19 1, 1.5, 2, 4.5, 5, 5, 5, 6, 6, 8, 10, 11, 11, 11, 16, 18, 22, 34, 48 72 68 4 RDC 5.56% 0 5 1 7

We found that Klip Screamer is nice to string, even though the gut is a bit rough, and the Scorcher nylon is a bit stretchy. The gut also feels dry to the touch, but strings up just fine. However, several of our playtesters reported flaking or peeling of the gut when pulling the crosses (with the Scorcher nylon in the mains). EASE OF STRINGING
GUT Ms NYLON Ms (compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 0 1 somewhat easier 6 6 about as easy 18 22 not quite as easy 12 9 not nearly as easy 2 0

OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 5 6 somewhat better 11 13 about as playable 10 7 not quite as playable 8 12 not nearly as playable 2 1

OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 1 somewhat better 11 about as durable 16 not quite as durable 4 not nearly as durable 4

Coil measurements Diameter unstrung Diameter strung

NATURAL GUT 20’2.5” 1.26 mm 1.18 mm GUT MAINS/ NYLON CROSSES 19.57 hours 11 1, 4, 5, 7, 9, 10, 11, 16, 18, 25, 26 75 71 4 RDC 5.33% 3 4 2 4

1 6 14 10 8

Average playtest duration Broke during play Break hours RDC stringbed stiffness new RDC stringbed stiffness after 24 hours Tension loss Tension loss % Broke during stringing Excess coil memory Difficulty tying knots Friction burn

RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best) Playability Durability Power Control Comfort Touch/Feel Spin Potential Holding Tension Resistance to Movement 4.0 3.4 4.0 3.9 3.9 3.9 3.5 3.6 3.5 3.9 2.8 3.7 3.8 3.8 3.7 3.7 3.6 3.4

38 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

TESTERS
GUT MAINS, NYLON CROSSES NYLON MAINS, GUT CROSSES

TALK

The gut coil was just barely long enough to make it to the tension head on the outside mains. I could have used another 12 inches. Having gut mains really gives this string plenty of feel, and comfort. There is plenty of power without giving up any control. It may sound too good to be true, but this hybrid has it all. Mains resisted movement and there was very little loss in tension during the time I tested it. I recommend this string to all level of players. 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Instinct strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina 16)

Absolutely love this gut hybrid. It makes me want to change to it. Anyone with arm problems should give this string a try. It scores high on durability, playability, comfort, power, and control for me. 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Control Zylon + strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Super Fine Play 17)

Beautiful strings. They broke in very quickly. Response was crisp throughout test period. Easy on the arm, great touch, and minimal loss of tension, even though I did not prestretch. There is no problem with control and yet adequate power. It is holding up terrifically for a soft string. No notching: only indentations. I would very much recommend it. 5.0 male all-court player using Head i.X6 OS strung at 61 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG 16)

I am pleasantly surprised by this hybrid. I wasn’t sure the gut would hold up, but it did, and I really liked the playability of the string combination. My regular string is great, but I have to say I would switch to this hybrid if given a choice between the two, depending on the price. 3.5 female all-court player using Prince AirLaunch 925 OS strung at 62 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

This is the best string I have tested in a long time. The combined power, control, and delicate touch make this string a must-have for allcourt and doubles players. An absolute pleasure to play with, and very easy on the arm when teaching. What is there not to like with this string? I have enjoyed this string so much that I intend to play on with it until it’s worn out. Please make sure you let me know what this string is because I would like to add it to my inventory. 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff Surge 5.1 strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 515 Gold 17)

I liked this string from the moment I opened the package. During stringing there was a minor friction problem when pulling the gut through the nylon mains, but slowing down a little helped tremendously. On court, I immediately felt how comfortable the string is, and I lean toward softer strings. This string definitely fit into that category. I was able to maintain very good spin on the ball, so my kick serve worked very well with this string. My normal topspin ground strokes were jumping out of my opponents’ strike zones. Even with all my heavy spin, there was very little string movement. Even though I knew I was using a hybrid, I was constantly reminded of the days when I used all natural gut. 5.0 male all-court player using Dunlop Revelation Tour Pro strung at 52/50 pounds CP (various 16/17)

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

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

ON THE COURT
The ratings our playtesters gave Klip Screamer are a study in superlatives. Klip Screamer 17, with gut in the mains and Scorcher in the crosses, comes in first overall of the 90 strings we have playtested to date, dethroning none other than Klip’s “Pro Double” (gut mains/poly crosses hybrid) X-Plosive (November 2004 RSI magazine). In achieving this score, it placed first in Touch/Feel and first in Spin Potential (a category in which our playtesters are usually stingy in their praise). It also placed second in Power, second in Control, and second in Comfort. To round things out, it also placed third in Playability, well above average in Holding Tension, and above average in Durability and Resistance to Movement.

Klip Screamer 17 also placed well with Scorcher in the mains and gut in the crosses, coming in third of the 90 strings we’ve playtested to date in Comfort, fifth in Playability, sixth in Power, and sixth in Touch/Feel. It also placed well above average in Control, Spin Potential, and Holding Tension, and above average in Resistance to Movement. These scores are good enough for an overall score well above average.

CONCLUSION
Conventional wisdom dictates that with a gut hybrid, you put the nylon, poly, or aramid in the mains for durability, and the gut in the crosses for feel. This playtest shows why it can be good to experiment. Klip Screamer 17 with gut in the mains really impressed our playtesters, even more than our previous test of Klip X-Plosive.

The common factor among these four tests is, aside from the manufacturer, the use of natural gut, which hints at why so many players recognize natural gut as the best string. With Klip Screamer, our playtesters found they got the on-court performance they are seeking, with better durability. And, as Klip points out, this performance comes at a lower cost than using gut alone, not only in the initial purchase price, but also in the additional longevity. Amazingly, fewer playtesters broke the gut mains compared to the nylon mains. If you think that Klip Screamer might be for you, Klip is offering USRSA members a special deal: Buy three sets, and get the fourth set free. —Greg Raven Q
June 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

39

ask
Q A

the EXPERTS

Your Equipment Hotline
TWO-PIECE STRINGING
WHY DON’T YOU HAVE ONE-piece stringing instructions in the Digest for every racquet? Some only show two-piece instructions? ALTHOUGH THERE ARE MANY racquets that can be strung with one piece of string, many manufacturers feel that, where the mains end at the throat, stringing the crosses from the throat to the head places too much stress on the frame, which can result in failure. On these racquets, only two-piece stringing is advised, so we show only the stringing instructions for the manufacturer’s recommended method. stiffness than typical nylon or natural gut strings. As a result, the stringbed stiffness can be so much higher with aramid or poly than with nylon or gut that the manufacturer recommends reducing the tension on these to enhance the feel and playability of the string. However, with some polys, the tension loss after stringing is so high that the manufacturer recommends stringing at a higher tension to compensate for the inevitable tension loss. Of course, if you like the way a particular aramid or poly string feels and plays without adjusting the tension, then you are certainly free to ignore the manufacturer’s suggestion, as long as you remain within the tension range of the frame. why is it so important to finish the string job once you’ve started it? The only way I can do this is if I ignore everything else, or do my stringing in my off hours!

A

TENSION ADJUSTMENTS

Q A

WHY ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO adjust tensions when using aramid or polyester strings? TYPICAL ARAMID AND “polyester” strings exhibit much higher dynamic

INTERRUPTED STRINGING

Q

SOMETIMES I GET INTERRUPTED IN the middle of string jobs, and I need to be able to stop and do something else. If you’ve mounted the frame properly in the stringing machine,

THERE ARE TWO BASIC factors to consider. First, even when properly mounted, the frame flexes a lot during the stringing process. Stopping mid-installation means that the frame is flexed out of its normal shape for however long you leave it that way. This can lead to deformation and failure of the frame. Second, string begins to lose tension from the moment it’s clamped off. If the first half of your string job is hours older than the second half, the racquet may not feel or play the way it should, and the customer is not getting what he paid for. —Greg Raven Q

We welcome your questions. Please send them to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA, 92084; fax: 760-536-1171; email: greg@racquettech.com.

40 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

USRSA MEMBER CLASSIFIEDS
WANTED: Jack Kramer Pro Staff’s (wood frames), decent condition, 4-3/8 or 4-1/2, medium or standard weights. Contact: Steve, email: sr10s2003@yahoo.com WANTED: Sportmaster International Overgrips (any color). Please contact Adam at ajs72us@yahoo.com WANTED: Babolat RDC. Prefer older version (white) in good condition. Will consider new version (blue). Either must have accurate scale function. Please e-mail johngugel@tennisrocks.net or call 407/673-9200

June 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

41

Readers’ Know-How in Action
INSTALLING TUBING
It is often difficult to insert tubing through regular (that is, non-tie-off) grommet holes. Even after stretching it a little, as recommended in Racquet Service Techniques, it is still hard to push it through. I found that if I take a piece of 18-gauge string slightly longer than the piece of tubing, and slide it into the tubing, I can push the tubing and string into and through the grommet. Then I hold the tubing in place while sliding out the string. Works every time! 5 sets of Gamma Synthetic Gut 16 with Wearguard to: Bill Webster, Bozeman, MT frame or grommet, indicating a “framed” shot. 3. Nicked or damaged string (which can occur before, during, or after stringing). 4. Defective string. 5. Worn or damaged bumperguard that allows string to contact the court while digging for a shot. Gosen T-Shirt and 5 sets of Micro Super JC 16 to: Dan McManus, Auburn, WA saving approach is to cut the strings but leave them where they are (apart from the strings forming part of the tie offs, which should be removed), and then pull off the old bumperguard and grommet strips together with the old strings going through them. 10 Packs of Unique Tourna Grip (Packs of 3) to: T. A. Frost, Bromley, Kent, England

tips

and TECHNIQUES

MARKETING

ADDING ANOTHER STRINGING LOCATION
This tip works well for professional stringers working from a shop or from their home. You can increase your business by offering convenient drop-off and pick-up at multiple locations. To add a location, develop a partnership with an established business to receive and return racquets to customers. I set up an agreement like this with a dry cleaner across the street from the local tennis courts. I put a sign in their window and gave them a supply of service requests listing prices and strings available. They have even seen several of the stringing customers turn into laundry customers. Customers drop their racquets at the cleaners. I pick them up, restring them and return them to the cleaners. Customers pick them up, pay for them, and I collect from the cleaners, less a transaction fee established in mutual agreement. Customer feedback does take some additional effort. I follow up with e-mail and personal contact whenever I can to make sure I get and provide feedback on my string jobs. Forten Tour Bag to: Dan McManus, Auburn, WA

STRING BREAKAGE FAILURE ANALYSIS

INSTALLING LOAD SPREADERS

This cross string broke because it came into contact with the court.

This main string broke because of a “frame” shot.

In the past I told customers to cut the strings in a racquet after a string breaks, to relieve stress on the frame. I even told them the proper method for cutting out the strings. However, not having the stringbed prevented me from examining the break to see if I could determine the cause. Now I tell customers to leave the things as they are if there is a suspicious break, so I can inspect the frame and strings. I then look for: 1. A worn or damaged grommet with a sharp edge. 2. One or more strings broken near the

BEGINNERS

COMBINING TASKS
When a customer asks for a new bumper and grommet strip to be fitted to the racquet, it is easy to fall into the normal habit of cutting and removing the strings, and then taking out the old bumper and grommet strips. An easier and more time-

I use the Prince load spreaders between the frame and the head and throat billiards on my stringing machine. I found that if I thread the two center mains first, then put the adapters in and tighten the billiards, I never have a problem finding the grommet holes, which can be masked by the adapters, making threading those strings much easier. Wilson US Open Backpack to: Gaines Hillix, MRT, Marietta, GA —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.

42 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

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46 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005

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June 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

47

Your Serve
Junior Achievements
A veteran tennis coach and youth center executive director says tennis BY SCOTT THARP pros need to serve juniors as they do adults.
“71 million Americans have tried or ‘sampled’ tennis and no longer play. Of these people who tried tennis and didn’t continue, only 3 percent have any interest in trying again. Why? The initial experience wasn’t positive.” —TIA President Jim Baugh Another common practice takes place nearly every afternoon and weekend at nearly every tennis facility. The head tennis pro can usually be found on a prime court giving clinics and private instruction to adult members. Every now and then one or two of the club’s top junior players, or perhaps the child of a VIP member, might merit a spot on his busy lesson schedule. Meanwhile, the club’s less experienced players are relegated to one or two less pristine courts receiving group instruction by a less experienced assistant or staff pro. The head pro rarely even bothers to learn the names of these novice upstarts. Isn’t it ironic that these children are the ones who would stand to gain the most from an experienced teacher? It’s not surprising to discover that many of these children leave the game in less than a year. their efforts are valued and that their progress is being noted. Many of the most successful pros that I know encourage their adult members to hit with their juniors. These same pros make their young members feel welcome by creating special rooms or areas for kids to hang out. Junior social events and round robins should be scheduled with the same frequency as adult events. Common services such as racquet stringing and re-gripping should be given the same detailed attention regardless of who is receiving the service. We had approximately 450 adult tennis members at my former club, and we had about 150 juniors who played on a regular weekly basis. Over 75 percent of lesson revenue and 65 percent of pro shop sales were generated through this minority group. It makes little sense not to give these young consumers the same quality service that would be given to their elders. We only get one chance to make a first impression. Let’s do our best to make an effective “first serve,” regardless of to whom it’s directed. By serving our juniors as we would our adults, we all become winners. Q

J

im Baugh didn’t quantify the ages of the players surveyed, but judging from our sport’s demographics, I suspect that the number of kids who’ve tried tennis and didn’t continue is fairly significant. The upward spiral of aging tennis players has disturbed me for quite some time. What’s even more disturbing is the fact that the managers, directors, and professionals at many private and public facilities are doing little to reverse this alarming trend. And these are the people that our industry relies upon to be the caretakers of the game. Consider the impact of a widely accepted club policy that allows juniors the privilege of court time with the caveat that two or more adults may “bump” them. Imagine how discouraging it must be for a couple of kids to be told to vacate a court after only getting to hit the ball around for 10 or 15 minutes. These kids may well have had to take painstaking measures even to get to the club. Moreover, it was probably a parent, most likely an adult club member of equal status to those who just “bumped” their child, who took time out of a busy schedule to drive the children to the facility. Why do the rules presume that this parent’s time is worth less than the time of those who were given court priority? To me, this situation would certainly qualify as a negative experience. An experience that could negatively impact the way a child would perceive both the game and tennis players. Many clubs don’t even allow juniors to reserve courts in advance. They are afforded court time only on an “availability” basis. We’re not exactly rolling out the welcome mats for our future players.

“Our juniors must be accorded the same level of service that is given to adults. ”
These problems have an easy solution. Our juniors must be accorded the same level of service that is given to adults. Meet and greet each junior player with the same enthusiasm that would be given to an adult member. Learn your juniors’ names and more. Take the time to discover their interests, their grade level, their school, etc. Knowing their favorite players will give you a tremendous advantage in steering them toward the purchase of racquets, shoes, and clothing. But most importantly, the time you take to know them will enhance their feelings about our sport. A good head pro doesn’t have to be present at every junior clinic, but it is important for him to make frequent appearances just to let the kids know that

Scott Tharp is the executive director of Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis and Education, which as the owner/operator of the Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis Center and National Junior Tennis League of Philadelphia provides tennis instruction to more than 8,500 children at 62 sites throughout greater Philadelphia. He is certified by the USPTA and is a PTR Master Pro, is president of the PTR Foundation, and serves on the USTA’s NJTL Committee. He also has developed three accredited continuing education courses for tennis coaches. We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

48 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2005