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July 2005 Volume 33 Number 7 $5.

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2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES
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Find the right machine Generate more revenue

“Cut-off” lighting systems provide all-around solutions Apparel accessories that supply the final touch Hiring and training for exemplary customer service Help us find RSI’s Champions of Tennis 2005
Q Mobile Tennis Program for Kids Q Using Lines of Credit Q The Master Pros Series Q String Playtest Q Ask the Experts Q Tips and Techniques

Contents
7 8 FEATURES 2005 Guide to Ball Machines 28 Machine Ready
Generate more revenue by using your ball machine to the fullest.

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INDUSTRY NEWS 7 USTA develops new court color 7 Bälle de Mätch reports
strong month Men’s pro event added to Pilot Pen tourney Ashaway introduces squash racquet line Classic Turf expands warehouse PTR schedules Professional Development Weekend Gamma offers Tennis Against Breast Cancer products Deco installs its first courts in Australia Roddick selects Babolat shoes Prince O3 website wins award WTT, Advanta provide free racquets for kids Methodist College offers professional MBA at Pinehurst SGMA lobbies for PEP Bill “Avenue of Aces” paver project launched grassroots coaches

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Ball Machine Selector
Use our exclusive guide to help you find the right ball machine for your business.

40 Keep It Moving
In Virginia, a mobile program for kids keeps tennis rolling along.

15 USPTA, USTA partner to educate DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 16 Focus on Apparel 18 Your Finances 20 Customer Relations 22 Court Construction 24 26 42 44 46 48
The Master Pros 2005 Champions of Tennis String Playtest: Unique Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut 16 Ask the Experts Tips and Techniques Your Serve, by Mark Winters
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Our Serve
Playing the Numbers
(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. July 2005, Volume 33, Number 7 © 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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verywhere you turn in this business, you’re hit by research numbers—participation figures, retail sales

numbers, attendance and TV viewership figures.
A recent addition to all the numbers is the SGMA Sports Participation Trend figures, which indicate that a million more people played tennis in 2004 than in 2003. The criteria of 6 years of age or older, participating at least once per year, doesn’t exactly mean it’s time to double your racquet order, but the SGMA says 17.3 million people fit that criteria in 2003, while in 2004 that number jumped to 18.3 million, a 5.9 percent increase. These numbers are a bit different from the data gathered in the third annual USTA/TIA Tennis Participation Study, which we reported on in the June issue. The massive USTA/TIA study showed participation in 2004 was relatively flat from the previous three years, at 23.6 million total players (playing at least once in the past year). But despite the discrepancies, the SGMA numbers still are a hopeful sign for the industry, especially when combined with the USTA/TIA study figures that show there were 5.7 million new players in 2004. And while “frequent players” as defined by the USTA/TIA (21 or more times a year) are still a concern at a flat 4.8 million, the participation initiatives of the last few years seem to be having an impact, no matter whose numbers you look at. These, of course, are the big numbers, the industry-wide figures that get quoted in the media, that help determine whether grassroots initiatives to increase play live or die. What might be more immediate to your business may be the numbers you can find in the TIA’s Cost of Doing Business report. The recently released CODB tells retailers and facilities in a detailed manner how they compare to tennis businesses of similar size and type. For instance the 2005 CODB says that on average, retail shops of 1,000 square feet or more sell 641 tennis racquets each year. Also, 97 percent of all facilities and shops have a computer, and 92 percent have access to the internet. The CODB also includes data on racquet demo programs (97 percent of all shops have one), including how much they charge for demos and how long players can have a demo. This is just a fraction of the data in the CODB that can help you benchmark your business in key operating areas. (For the full report, call the TIA at 843-686-3036, or visit www.tennisindustry.org for more information.) All the numbers we encounter in this business can, at times, seem a bit overwhelming. But keep in mind, it’s the numbers that drive this business— and keep us all in business. p

Peter Francesconi Editorial Director

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INDUSTRY NEWS
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU RUN YOUR BUSINESS

Men’s Event Added to Pilot Pen Tourney
The USTA purchased the ATP tournament formerly known as the TD Waterhouse and combined it with the women’s event in New Haven, Conn., to create the first combined men’s and women’s summer tournament leading into the US Open. The new men’s tournament will be added to the existing Pilot Pen Tennis tournament, the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event already owned by the USTA, and played in New Haven. As a result of this acquisition, the 2005 US Open Series—the sixweek summer tennis season that links all major ATP and WTA Tour tournaments in North America to the US Open—will culminate Aug. 21-28 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University. The men’s and women’s winners of the US Open Series will compete for double prize money at the 2005 US Open. In addition, the newly enhanced Pilot Pen Tennis now will offer more than $1.2 million in prize money. ESPN2 and CBS Sports will televise 18 hours of the new Pilot Pen Tennis event as part of the 100-plus hours of live television coverage for the US Open Series. The women’s event will conclude with its traditional Saturday final on Aug. 27 while the men’s final will take place Aug. 28. The US Open begins Monday, August 29, in Flushing, N.Y.

USTA Develops New Court Color For Open Series

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he USTA has come up with a new court color scheme for all courts at the US Open and US Open Series of tournaments. Starting this year, the colors will be a blue inner court surrounded by a green outer court. The new color is designed to heighten the visibility of the ball for players, fans attending the events, and television viewers, in addition to providing a “signature look” and identifiable link between the US Open Series and the US Open, the USTA says. It’s the first change of court colors for the US Open since the event moved to the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y., in 1978 from Forest Hills. All courts at the NTC will continue with a DecoTurf II hardcourt surface. “The new court colors have been tested and proven to enhance visibility of the ball for both players and fans,” says Arlen Kantarian, the USTA’s chief executive of Professional Tennis. “In addition, it provides an instant visual link between the US Open Series tournaments and the US Open, helping to create a unified ‘regular season’ for tennis leading up to the US Open.” The new color debuted in April at the Fed Cup match in Florida (above). The US Open Series is the six-week summer tennis season of 10 major North American tournaments that precede the US Open fortnight.

Bälle de Mätch Reports Strong March, Adds Staff

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älle de Mätch reports that sales in March were the best for the Southern California-based apparel manufacturer in over three years. The company recently added three to its staff. Bob Shafer joins the company as national promotions advisor. Shafer has 33 years of experience in the industry and is a member of the executive board of the Southern California Tennis Association. He also volunteers his time to the Tennis Industry Association. Currently he is a new business development consultant for Active Network Inc., a provider of application and marketing services for participatory activities and nonprofit events. Shafer resides in Orange Country, Calif., and will concentrate on the West Coast at the start. Then, he will turn his attention to programs in other sections of the country. He can be reached at bob@balledematch.com. Also, two new sales reps join Bälle de Mätch. Bruce Hamlin, an industry veteran who spent 11 years with Wilson, eight years with Head/Penn, and is currently representing Dunlop, will cover the state of New York. Hamlin has been working the New York metropolitan area for over 25 years in this industry. Wolfgang Jaeger will now add Northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania to his territory of south New Jersey and Pennsylvania. “I’ve known Bruce for a long time. He’s an excellent apparel salesman with great relationships in the industry. I’m excited to have someone who really understands grassroots and knows the key influencers in the area,” said Bälle de Mätch co-owner and partner John Embree. Also joining joining the company is Mark Wigley, a sales rep for Tail and Gear for Sports. He will cover Arkansas and Mississippi from his home base in Ridgeland, Miss. Wigley has been in sport sales for eight years.
July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

Fred Mullane, Cameraworks, USA

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Ashaway Introduces Line of Four Squash Racquets
shaway Racket Strings has recently introduced a line of squash racquets, designed to work with Ashaway's line of squash strings. The racquets feature three strategic stringing nodes for enhanced string performance and maximum kinetic advantage, says the company. The frames also feature Full Motion string holes, which Ashaway says allow the strings to pivot against the outside of the frame, rather than the inside, adding up to 2 cm of active string length. The racquets are available in four models— Rad 475, Liberty 495, Destiny 490 and Hornet 495—each with a frame composed of Carbon 4 and high or extreme modulus graphite. Unlike traditional racquets with uniform or tapered frame cross-sections, the new Ashaway squash racquets employ strategically positioned nodes to boost string performance for optimum results, says the company. For more information, contact Ashaway at 800-556-7260 or 401-377-2221, or visit www.ashawayusa.com.

NEWS FROM THE
Q Cardio Tennis—The first Cardio Tennis Workshop took place at the USPTA Southern Convention on Hilton Head Island, S.C., in May and had more than 50 participants. Nationally, nearly 2,000 DVDs have been distributed to teaching pros and facilities in the initial phase to get 1,000 quality Cardio Tennis sites ready for this fall’s launch to consumers. For more information, visit www.Partners.CardioTennis.com. Q Tennis Welcome Centers—The initiative, launched last year, is alive and well for 2005 with a revamped website that gives facilities the opportunity to include programming information and receive feedback, and sets a standard for quality control. Also, there’s a new tollfree customer service line. More than 7 million national magazine ads and newspaper inserts hit the streets this spring, along a special tennis insert (1.5 million copies) in USA Today. Hits on the website— www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com—have doubled from the same period last year. Q TennisConnect.org—With the goal of connecting players to facilities, programs and each other, TennisConnect.org is designed to get more people playing tennis. In one recent seven-week period, more than 100,000 online court bookings took place, and the testimonials are continuing to roll in on how the player-match engine, court scheduler, program calendar and online registration system have been successful additions for both members and facility operators. Q Growing Tennis 50/50—This co-op funding program has been opened up to entrepreneurs promoting new player programs to adults as well as juniors. The website, www.GrowingTennis.com, has also been upgraded to include USTA Section news and events. Q TennisWire.org—Featuring industry news from TIA members and affiliates, www.TennisWire.org is expanding its frequency and will be electronically distributed to more than 12,000 industry contacts, in addition to tennis writers and publications.

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National Public Parks Championships In July
he 79th Annual National Public Parks Tennis Championships will be July 25 to 31 at Scalzi Park in Stamford, Conn. “There is something for everyone,” says Tim Curry, president of the Greater Stamford Tennis Association (GSTA). “It’s the people’s national championship.” This year, for the first time, NPPTC adult division players will be able to earn points toward a USTA national ranking. The event is a Category II tournament in the Adult Divisions and Level 7 in Juniors, and it represents the only National Championship for NTRP players in singles and doubles. In addition to the adult division (35-and-over to 95-and-over), competition will include Men’s and Women’s Open, Juniors (10and-under to 18-and-under), NTRP (3.5 to 4.5 singles and doubles, 7.0 to 9.0 mixed doubles), Wheelchair (including up-down doubles) and Family Doubles (Father-Son and Parent-Child). Entry deadline for the tournament is Friday, July 15. Entry fees for Adult, Wheelchair and Family divisions are $40 for singles and $50 per doubles team; junior competition is $25 for singles and $30 per doubles team. Proceeds will benefit the GSTA’s Junior Tennis Outreach Program. USTA members may register online at TennisLink, on USTA.com. The tournament I.D. number is 450704005. A printable entry form is available at www.stamfordtennis.org.

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Classic Turf Expands Factory, Warehouse
lassic Turf, a manufacturer and supplier of cushioned sports surfaces, including tennis courts, has expanded its facility in Woodbury, Conn., in response to a significant increase in interest in softer surfaces for sports and recreation, says Classic Turf Founder and President Tumer Eren. The expansion, which added a 4,000-square-foot structure to the existing 9-year-old 11,000-square-foot facility, adds storage capacity for more than 600 rolls of Classic Turf prefabricated rubber products, Eren says. “With our new warehouse, now we can fill and ship orders immediately, which means new or renovated courts using Classic Turf surfaces will be back in service and ready for play fast—in many cases in less than a week,” he adds. For more information, contact 800-246-7951 or 203263-0800 or visit www.classicturf.org

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INDUSTRY NEWS

PTR Schedules Professional Development Weekend
he Professional Tennis Registry’s annual Professional Development Weekend will be held in conjunction with the ROHO/PTR $15,000 Wheelchair Tennis Championships on Hilton Head Island, S.C., Sept. 22 to 25. The development weekend is open to all tennis teachers and coaches, and will be conducted at the PTR Headquarters. Courses during the weekend include Beginner/Intermediate Racquet Stringing with Fred Romanus of Gamma Sports and Tennis Club Programming by Larry Karageanes, Club and Resort Services. PTR Director of Development Geoff Norton will conduct Team Coaching Successful Singles and Doubles. Competitive/Situational Games workshop will be led by PTR International Director Iñaki Balzola. Dr. Bryce Young and Linda LeClaire will present a psychology course titled Mastering the Mental Side. Norton will also conduct Instructing Wheelchair Tennis 102, which is designed for tennis professionals who wish to earn a wheelchair tennis teaching certification. A Cardio Tennis Workshop will also be held during the weekend. For specific dates, times, and prices, or to register, contact 800-421-6289 or 843-785-7244 or register online at www.ptrtennis.org, or email ptr@ptrtennis.org for more information.

Gamma Offers Tennis Against Breast Cancer Products
amma Sports has formed a partnership with Tennis Against Breast Cancer and is offering a TABC line consisting of a matching Pink Revelation String, Pink Shockbuster, and Pink Supreme Overgrip. Gamma Sports will donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale of each of the TABC products to Tennis Against Breast Cancer. The Gamma Pink Live Wire Revelation String features multifilaments that are fused rather than bonded together for a firmer yet more forgiving feel, says Gamma. Revelation String features a hard pearl coating on the outer surface to prevent notching and provide longer string life. The Gamma Pink Shockbuster is the original “worm”-shaped vibration dampener that contacts the critical main strings and dampens vibration with its patented Zorbicon gel-filled design. And the Pink Supreme Overgrip is Gamma’s best-selling overgrip, featuring a balance of tackiness and absorbency, yet is soft and durable, says the company. To inquire about becoming a Gamma Sports dealer and distributing Gamma’s TABC Products, contact Gamma Sports directly, contact 800-333-0337, 412-323-0335, or email tsr@gamma sports.com. For more information on Gamma products, visit www.GammaSports.com.

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Slinghopper Launches “Rally” Bag
Slinghopper has introduced a smaller “Rally” bag designed to hold 15 balls. Company President Paul Tobin says the smaller bag will allow pros greater mobility while feeding and playing. The larger version, the Slinghopper Pro, holds 40 balls and is designed for ball feeding. For more information, call 866434-1600 or visit

Deco Installs Its First Courts Down Under
he Hampton Tennis Club in Melbourne, Australia, recently installed the first DecoTurf courts in that country. Club management opted for the four cushioned acrylic courts to replace the previous clay-like courts. “The membership response to Hampton has been tremendous, a 150 percent increase,” says club manager Craig James. DecoTurf, based in Andover, Mass., is the most widely used acrylic court surface for professional ATP and WTA tournaments and was recently the playing surface of the 2004 Olympics. DecoTurf says the Hampton Tennis Club was attracted to the low maintenance of the Deco surface and the product’s playability and comfort. DecoTurf can be fine-tuned to provide the precise speed of play desired, says the company. DecoTurf has been selected for use at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece, the USTA National Tennis Center, site of the US Open since 1978, and the 10 US Open Series tournaments. For more information, visit www.decoturf.com or contact John Graham, director of sales & marketing, at j.graham@decoturf.com or 800-DECO-1ST.

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SHORT SETS
Corp., which owns made > Amer Sportswith Adidas-SalomonWilson Racquet Sports, hasincludan agreement AG to acquire Salomon, ing the brands Salomon, Mavic, Bonfire, Arc'Teryx, and Cliché. The new businesses supply products and apparel in the winter sports, bicycle, skateboard, and technical outerwear areas. the winter Associa> Atthe board ofmeeting of the American Sports Builders“Turf Divition, directors agreed to establish a separate sion,” which will encompass both synthetic and natural turf installers. Bylaws and other documentation were being prepared for possible approval in July. The International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., is looking for volunteers to assist with all aspects of Newport Tennis Week July 4-10, which includes the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships and 2005 Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Volunteers are needed starting July 1 through July 11. Apply online at www.tennisfame.com/Championship/volunteer_form.html or call 401849-6053. The U.S. drew an away tie against Belgium in the Davis Cup PlayOff Round Sept. 23-25. The winner will qualify for the 16-nation World Group in 2006; the loser will be relegated to zonal competition. instructional show featuring USPTA-certified pros as guest professionals. The shows provide instruction about technique, strategy and other facets of the game, such as fun and fitness. 2005 USPTA Southwest Texas Buying Show will be Aug. 26> Thethe Dallas Marriott Quorum Hotel. For more information, con27 at tact Ron Woods at 888-445-0505 or ronwoods@davlin.net. Tennis & Education Foundation, which helps > The Washingtonlower income Washington, D.C., youth through improve the lives of tennis, education, and life skills activities, celebrated its 50th anniversary in May. sponsored “Tennis throughout the > TheofUSTA in 16 markets across Block Parties” Puerto Rico. The month May the U.S. and in series of tennis festivals, hosted at public parks facilities, were designed to help increase tennis participation and featured instruction, interactive games and attractions. Tennis champions such as Monica Seles, Tracy Austin, Patrick McEnroe, Luke Jensen, and Todd Martin joined in, as did other celebrities and personalities. Academy presenting > TheanAnguilla Tennisjunior teamis tennis eventthe 2005 Caribbean Cup, international held July 27-30 on the island of Anguilla. Junior teams from around the world are invited to play in the round-robin format event. This year’s event will coincide with the 10th annual ATA Guest Coaches Junior Tennis Camp. For more information, contact Bill Riddle at 615-243-6698

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“On Court with USPTA,” a cable TV show produced by the USPTA, received an award of excellence in The Videographer Awards 2005 competition. The award-winning episode, “Fun & Fitness,” aired last April on The Tennis Channel. “On Court” is a 30-minute

Prince O3 Website Wins Award
Roddick Selects Babolat Shoes
Andy Roddick will be wearing Babolat shoes starting in early 2006. The former world No. 1, who has been playing with Babolat racquets and strings since the age of 17, made the announcement recently with Babolat President and CEO Eric Babolat (below, left). Launched in Europe in 2003, Babolat’s line of shoes, equipped with Michelin soles, was developed to meet the specific needs of tennis players, says the company.

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rince’s O3 mini site took home the 2005 Internet Advertising Competition Award from the Web Marketing Association for the “Best Sports Micro Site”—representing its second victory in the online arena. Prince began improving its online offerings with the revamp and relaunch of its principal site (www.princetennis.com) in 2003. That same year, the Prince Sports was recognized with an award for the “Best Sports Web Site” by the Web Marketing Association.

Six Inducted Into Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame

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he Intercollegiate Tennis Association inducted six new members into its ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame on May 25 during the NCAA Championships at Texas A&M University. The Class of 2005 consists of: players Mike Estep (Rice), Sammy Giammalva (Texas), Paul Haarhuis (Florida State and Armstrong Atlantic), Jim Osborne (Utah) and John Sadri (North Carolina State), and contributor Frank Phelps (Hamilton College).

WTT, Advanta Provide Free Racquets for Kids
dvanta's “Ready, Set, Racquet!” program, established in 2003, plans to provide a free tennis racquet to each child under the age of 16 that attends a WTT match this season, July 4 to 24. The brightly colored racquets, adorned with the WTT and Advanta logos, come in three sizes. The racquets will include a tennis ball and will be presented in a customized cover displaying WTT team logos. The goal of this program is to encourage youth fitness through an association with tennis. Advanta is the presenting sponsor of the WTT Pro League and the official business credit card of WTT.

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L E T T Readers Think It’s Time

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To the Editor: I have never heard anyone talk as much sense and hit the nail on the head as Bill Mountford did in “Time for a Radical Change?” in the May 2005 issue [“Your Serve”]. I have been teaching tennis for more than 25 years in the fashion you describe. Finally, there is someone out there who agrees and can put the message across to the tennis world. Here in Australia, I see and hear of children regularly not returning to tennis because they are completely and utterly bored. It is so obvious—but not many can see. Keep up the fight for the better way. Phil Hevron Director of Tennis, Natural Tennis, Attadale, Australia To The Editor: I am a teaching pro in Tucson, and Mountford's article is right on target. In the fall of 2004, I sent an email to the USTA Southern Arizona president concerning the loss of tennis players in the state. I see that the old way of teaching is not working. “Fun” should be the goal of many teaching pros. The problem as I see it is that many teaching pros teach the same way they were taught. There must be changes. Let’s put the word “fun” back into tennis. Don Turner Gallery Sports Club, Marana, Ariz.

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

Methodist College Offers Professional MBA at Pinehurst
ethodist College in Fayetteville, N.C., will offer a Master of Business Administration degree this fall at Pinehurst Resort for professionals in the tennis, golf, and resort industries. The accredited Professional MBA at Pinehurst program is designed to allow students to continue their full-time careers while earning their degree in 24 months. Classes will be held one weekend a month at Pinehurst, with supplemental coursework completed online between residency sessions. In addition to core courses in each of the recognized business disciplines, students will take electives focused on developing the skills required to lead organizations. Other components include an executive speaker series and the Capstone Experience, a final project tailored to the student’s experience and career goals. For more information, contact 800488-7110 x.7493, 910-630-7493 or visit www.methodist.edu/mba.

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The Real Venus and Serena
A six-episode reality TV series about sisters Venus and Serena Williams, titled “Venus and Serena: For Real,” airs on ABC Family beginning July 21. The show comes just a few months after the release of their book, Venus & Serena, Serving from the Hip: 10 Rules for Living, Loving and Winning, with coauthor Hilary Beard. The 144-page book offers advice to kids and is published by Houghton Mifflin Books, ($14). Visit www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com.

Corrections 

The Industry Resources Guide in the June issue of RSI magazine had the address incorrect for ATS. The correct address is: ATS, 200 Waterfront Drive, Pittsburgh, PA 15222.

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Armstrong Atlantic Ends BYU-Hawaii Win Streak at 130
rmstrong Atlantic State (Ga.) shocked No. 1 BYU-Hawaii, beating the Seasiders 5-3 in the NCAA Division II women's tennis final in Altamonte Springs, Fla. The loss ended BYU-Hawaii's win streak at 130 matches and its bid for a fourth straight national title. West Florida captured its second straight men's championship, beating North Florida 5-0. BYU-Hawaii's 130-match win streak, a Division II tennis record, was the longest current win streak in any NCAA sport. The Trinity (Conn.) men's squash team reclaims that distinction with its 125 victories in a row. The all-time collegiate tennis record for consecutive wins is 137 and owned by the Division I Miami (Fla.) men's team (1957-64). Also, the ITA’s national award winners in NCAA Division II men’s and women’s tennis for the 2004-2005 season are: Men
• Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year: Derrick Racine, West Florida • ITA National Senior Player of the Year: Dante Cipulli, Southwest Baptist (Mo.) • ITA National Rookie of the Year: Eduardo Pereira, North Florida

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• ITA National Player to Watch: Matias Oddone, Drury (Mo.) • ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship: Josh Berman, Florida Southern

Women
• ITA National Senior Player of the Year: Adrienn Hegedus, BYU-Hawaii • ITA National Rookie of the Year: Julia Gandia, Clayton (Ga.) College & State • ITA National Player to Watch: Dziyana Nazaruk, Armstrong Atlantic (Ga.) State • ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship: Jessica Broadus, Indianapolis

• ITA Senior Player of the Year: Megan Bradley, Miami (Fla.) • ITA Rookie of the Year: Audra Cohen, Northwestern • National Player to Watch: Suzi Babos, California • ITA/Cissie Leary Sportsmanship Award: Kendall Cline, North Carolina • ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership and Sportsmanship: Aniela Mojzis, North Carolina

NJCAA Division I Winners
In the Junior College Division, Tyler (Texas) captured the National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) Division I women's tennis title in May at the NJCAA Championships. It’s the 13th championship for Tyler. The ITA also announced its national award winners for NJCAA women's tennis:
• Wilson/ITA Coach of the Year: Glen Moser, Johnson County (Kan.) Comm. College • ITA Player of the Year: Loli Gomez, Lee (Texas) College • ITA Rookie of the Year: Marta Simic, Broward (Fla.) Comm. College • ITA Player to Watch: Giang Vu, Independence (Kan.) Comm. College • ITA/Arthur Ashe Award for Leadership & Sportsmanship: Natasa Rapo, Rock Valley (Ill.) College

NCAA Division I Winners
Stanford beat Texas 4-0 to claim the NCAA Division I Women's Tennis Championships. The title is Stanford's second in a row, fourth in the last five years and 14th overall. Today's win also completes Stanford's (27-0) ninth perfect season and is its 56th straight victory. The ITA also announced national award winners for NCAA Division I women's tennis:
• Wilson/ITA National Coach of the Year: Mark Guilbeau, Kentucky • ITA National Assistant Coach of the Year: Carlos Drada, Kentucky

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• Maria Sharapova

was named one of People magazine’s “50 Most Beautiful People” in the May 9 issue of the magazine. Other sports superstars to make the list include English soccer star David Beckham and Miami Heat guard Dwayne Wade.

• The International Tennis Hall of Fame honored its president, Tony Trabert, in New York City on May 3 with “A Salute to Tony Trabert” at the 21 Club. John McEnroe emceed the event, with featured speakers including Billie Jean King, Dick Savitt, and former doubles partner Vic Seixas. It was a 50th anniversary celebration of sorts for Trabert, a 1970 Hall of Fame inductee who served up one of the best years in tennis by an American in 1955, winning the men’s singles championships in France, Wimbledon and the U.S. That year, Trabert captured 35 titles and racked up a singles match record of 104-5. • Butch Buchholz, Jim Courier, Yannick
Noah and Jana Novotna will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 9 in Newport, R.I.

• Amelie Mauresmo of the Dunlop M-Fil
3Hundred Tour Team successfully defended her Italian Masters title in May to claim her second WTA Tour win of the season and 17th title of her career.

• Fifth-year Ferris State University
women's tennis head coach Dave Ramos has relinquished his women's coaching duties and will become the school's men's tennis head coach. Ramos, who was a member of the 1995 FSU men's tennis team, will continue to serve as a head tennis professional for Ferris’s Racquet and Fitness Center, the school’s Professional Tennis Management program and direct summer camps. A search is under way to fill the vacant women's tennis head coaching post.

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Lander Coach Retires After 31 Years

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oe Cabri of Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., is ending his remarkable 31-year career as coach of the men’s tennis team. Cabri, a member of the NAIA Hall of Fame, led his team to a record 12 national championships and 23 consecutive league championships. “Why am I retiring now?” asks Cabri, who is also a mathematics professor. “It’s for the good of the program. As I look around the nation, I see more top-ranked schools with young coaches who only coach. There are still a few coaches who teach, but our numbers are falling. With women’s tennis on the way [in the fall of 2006], it is important to have the best possible coach, and that can only happen by attracting someone who will coach both sports and make a living just by coaching.”

SGMA Lobbies Legislators For PEP Bill
embers of the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, celebrity athletes, retailers, phys ed teachers and others went to Washington, D.C., on May 4 to lobby for the PEP Bill. The Physical Education for Progress (PEP) Bill is the only federal program that supports the development and growth of physical education classes in U.S. schools and community-based organizations. Since its inception in 2001, nearly 500 grants have been given to communities totaling more than $250 million. The money has been spent to train P.E. teachers and purchase more equipment for P.E. classes. Now, though, the President wants to reduce funding for the bill by $19 million—from $74 million in 2005 to $55 million in 2006—then to eliminate the bill by 2008. On May 4, the delegation of celebrity athletes included basketball legend Bill Russell, NFL Hall of Fame inductee Steve Young, ex-Heisman Trophy winners Herschel Walker and Tim Brown, father-son NFL quarterbacks Archie and Peyton Manning, Kentucky men’s basketball coach Tubby Smith, tennis champion Stan Smith, U.S. women’s soccer player Heather Mitts, and boxing trainer Teddy Atlas. Two of the key meetings were held with the Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-IL) and Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt. More information is at www.sgma.com.

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“Avenue of Aces” Paver Project Launches
he USTA Tennis & Education Foundation, the charitable and philanthropic entity of the USTA, has launched the “Avenue of Aces”—a series of personalized pavers that will be built into a special walkway at the USTA National Tennis Center, home of the US Open. The USTA T&EF will distribute all proceeds from the sale of the pavers to after-school tennis programs that include mentoring and other educational assistance. “The Avenue of Aces is a tangible way to link the US Open to the benefit of at-risk children,” says Franklin R. Johnson, USTA chairman of the board and president. “Using tennis to enhance the lives of children is one of the key objectives of the USTA and the USTA Tennis & Education Foundation.” “This donor recognition program provides an enduring presence for Foundation supporters at the National Tennis Center,” says Karen Martin-Eliezer, executive director of the USTA T&EF. “Through their generous support, Foundation donors can help build lives through tennis and education.” Founder's Court Pavers will be located at the start of the Avenue of Aces near the East Gate along Louis Armstrong Stadium and anchored by a dedication plaque. Pavers of various sizes can be purchased for a tax-deductible donation starting at $1,000. USTA members can purchase pavers for a special price of $750 before June 30. Pavers purchased before July 1 will be in place for the 2005 US Open. For more information on purchasing part of the Avenue of Aces, visit www.usta.com or call 914-696-7223.

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14 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

INDUSTRY NEWS

Tennis in Music City
The 32nd Annual Music City Tennis Invitational, presented by Mercedes-Benz of Nashville, Tenn., brought out recording artists, songwriters, music executives and tennis players of all abilities to raise money for the Center for Child Development at Vanderbilt University’s Children’s Hospital in April. Taking a break of the on-court action are (from left) country music star Shannon Brown, award-winning composer Bobby Etoll, and MCTI co-chairs Patsy Bradley and Bill Riddle. (Photo by Teddie St. John)

USPTA, USTA Partner to Educate Grassroots Coaches
n 2001, the USPTA created a special membership category for parttime, grassroots tennis teachers. Now part-time tennis teachers have a new mode of entry into the association—through USTA Recreational Coach Workshops. USPTA offers the Developmental Coach membership category for people who may already be teaching tennis—as high school coaches, at recreational facilities or in other part-time situations—but who are not immediate candidates for careers as full-time teaching professionals. By attending a USTA Recreational Coach Workshop, these teachers may prove their commitment to tennis teaching and their understanding of basic teaching standards. With completion of the workshop, they are eligible to become USPTA Developmental Coaches without attending another workshop. USPTA Developmental Coach benefits include on-court liability insurance, four publications, member discounts on educational materials and events, and membership in the national association and a regional division. “We are happy to be a partner with USTA as both our organizations seek to provide education to grassroots tennis teachers,” says USPTA President David T. Porter, Ed.D.

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Bahamian “Fast Grand Slam”
uests at The Westin and Sheraton at Our Lucaya Beach & Golf Resort on Grand Bahama Island can now play the “Fast Grand Slam of Tennis.” The resort offers Rebound Ace, red clay, grass, and DecoTurf, mimicking the surfaces at the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. To celebrate the new Fast Grand Slam, Our Lucaya is offering an Unlimited Tennis Package through Dec. 31, with nightly rates that start at $519 at the Westin and $479 at the Sheraton and include accommodations, breakfast, up to three hours of play, a tennis lesson, tennis balls, and beverages. Visit www.spg.com/fastgrandslam for more information, or call 8777-OUR-LUCAYA.

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July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

15

FOCUS ON

/

apparel
some quick buys that can give your customers items they might not think about, and can help boost your bottom line.

Accessories That Supply the Final Touch

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ound out your inventory and stock up on accessories that not only complement an outfit, but multi-task as functional pieces as well. Here are

LEJAY
Lejay brings its own brand of fun, class, and glam to its kelly green and white twill visors and caps, which coordinate with the Racqueteers line of clothing. This emerald Swarovski crystal-trimmed headwear retails for $22. (800-932-7535 or www.lejay.com)

BÄLLE DE MÄTCH
Bälle de Mätch’s fun hats and visors are fashion-forward, flexible, and lightweight, from the “Hey Baby Hey” hat ($22) with its meshy design and Velcro closure to the “Yippee Da-Bomb” hat ($24), featuring the advanced technology of Flex-Fit. (800-356-1021)

TAIL ELLESSE
Ellesse sports the basic but stylish black and white look for the tennis traditionalist with their recognizable logo on caps ($20), visors ($14), wristbands ($7), and headbands ($9). (561-491-9000 or www.ellesse.com) The Cosmic Tech Group features go-with colors from Tail’s current lines. The visors ($18) and caps ($22) are a combo lycra jersey and nylon; the wristbands ($7) are a breathable cotton-nylon-spandex combination. The carry-along tote, which retails for $42, also picks up the new colors. (800678-8245 or www.tailinc.com)

16 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

$

YOUR

finances
BY MARK E. BATTERSBY

Credit Lines: Peace of Mind for Your Business
mong the most basic types of credit used by any racquet sports business is the line-of-credit or revolving loan. Probably the shortest short-term financing offered by banks, a line-of-credit is just that, a loan agreement with the paperwork and approval process already complete. Many retail shops and tennis facilities rely on a line-of-credit or revolving loan arrangements to help bridge the inevitable slow periods or cash shortfalls. A recent study conducted by the General Accountability Office, Congress’s watchdog, recently discovered that banks have promised to make over $1 trillion in credit available to businesses. Although the GAO’s study found that banks may not always properly account for those commitments, no evidence was discovered to indicate that banks systematically underpriced these arrangements. Unfortunately, fees for line-of-credit and revolving credit arrangements may soon increase as the effects of an international banking accord kick-in.

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ability, the bank usually charges a commitment fee, which applies to the unused balance of the revolving credit agreement. Interest is charged for the periods between when the funds are drawn upon and when they are repaid.

LINE-OF-CREDIT LOANS
According to many experts, the most useful type of loan for many small retail shops is the line-of-credit loan. In fact, it’s probably the one permanent loan arrangement every racquet sports business should have with its banker, since it protects the borrower from emergencies and stalled cash-flow. Call it a line-ofcredit, a revolving credit arrangement, check guarantees, or whatever, line-ofcredit loans are intended for purchases of inventory and payment of operating costs, for working capital and business cycle needs. These loans are not intended for purchases of equipment or real estate. A line-of-credit loan is a short-term loan that extends the cash available in the tennis business’s checking account to the upper limit of the loan contract. Every bank has its own method of funding, but essentially, an amount is transferred to the operation’s checking account to cover checks. The business pays interest on the actual amount advanced until it is paid back. In many cases, line-of-credit loans carry the lowest interest rate that a bank offers since they are viewed as fairly lowrisk. Some banks include a clause that gives them the right to cancel the loan if they think a business is in jeopardy. Interest payments are made monthly and the principal amount is paid off at the business’s convenience. Banks often refer to these loans as a

A LINE OF CREDIT
A line of credit is an agreement between a commercial bank and a business that states the amount of unsecured, shortterm credit that the bank will make available to the business should it need it. A line of credit is not a guaranteed loan. It typically represents a one-year agreement that if the bank has enough available funds, it will allow the tennis business to borrow the maximum stated amount of money. A line-of-credit arrangement helps speed the borrowing process for all concerned because the bank does not have to examine the creditworthiness of the tennis business each time it borrows money. Similarly, a revolving credit agreement is simply a guaranteed line of credit. The bank guarantees that the amount shown on the credit agreement will be available to the business. For guaranteeing avail-

revolving line of credit. A number of experts feel that it is prudent to make payments on the principal often. They see these accounts and the re-payments as an indication that the retail shop or tennis facility is earning income. Many line-of-credit loans are written for periods of one-year and are usually renewed almost automatically for an annual fee. Some banks require that the operation’s credit line be fully paid off for between seven and 30 days each contract year. It’s difficult to put a value on the peace of mind that having funds available whenever they are needed can bring. So, too, is it difficult to put a price on the flexibility having a line-of-credit loan in place can bring. Unfortunately, an international banking accord may soon have a noticeable impact on the fees charged for line-of-credit loans and other financial transactions by many banks.

GLOBAL CHANGE
For years, banking regulations allowed banks—even enouraged them—to offer short-term credit facilities such as socalled “364-day lines.” Because banks were not required to maintain capital reserves against these less-than-one-year

18 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

loans, they were frequently offered at extremely attractive rates. In fact, many banks use them as loss leaders to attract new customers, and many small business owners depend on them as economical, readily-available standby credit. Unfortunately, thanks to the adoption of a new international banking accord called Basel II, and its requirement that banks must start setting aside capital against these short-term loans in 2007, the glory days of this short-term financing may be limited. Experts warn that small businesses should think about the consequences now, because banks may seek to pass on costs through the “increased expenses” clauses that most loan agreements contain. There is increasing evidence that in some cases—particularly if you happen to be a small or mid-size business or your credit rating is either non-existent or has seen better days—the bottom-line for Basel II could amount to tighter credit and higher rates. Here in the U.S., banking regulators have decided to apply Basel II on a mandatory basis only to the country’s

largest, internationally-active banks. When all is said and done, it is estimated that only the 20 largest U.S. banks will switch to the new system. This leaves many banks to use current capital requirements. Quite apart from the impact on the cost to borrowers, Basel II will also alter the way that the cost of capital is calculated for virtually every kind of risk encountered by a bank, including operational risks such as fraud, and consumer risks such as mortgage, credit card, and personal lending. For some banks, this will impact on their ability to lend. Every retailer and facility operator should be aware of this and negotiate with Basel II in mind. Or, perhaps, find a bank that has chosen not to comply with Basel II.

GOING LOCAL
With major banks either on the verge of restricting or compelled to increase the cost of line-of-credit arrangements, many tennis businesses are turning to community banks. According to the Independent Bankers Association of America, in fact, in today’s banking climate it is often easi-

er to get start-up loans and other basic short-term financing from community banks. That’s not to say that financing is easier at a community bank. Your business will still have to meet the same credit and collateral requirements demanded by larger banks. Community banks, however, can be more flexible and are more apt to make so-called “character loans,” where the banker already knows the owner and/or the business. Not all banks will have the same level of fees, so it may pay to shop around. Even if no line-of-credit loan is needed immediately, it is often wise to talk to a banker about how to obtain one now. Usually, to negotiate a credit line, a banker will ask for current financial statements, the operation’s latest tax returns, and a projected cash-flow statement. With a line-of-credit loan in place, you’ll discover just how little it costs for peace of mind. Q

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

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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3 customer

RELATIONS

Hiring and Training for Exemplary Customer Service
y all accounts, Kirsten Mendoza (right) is the ideal front-desk person. Her colleagues respect her, her boss relies on her, the club members love her. The attributes that make her respectable, dependable, and lovable were imbued in her long before she came to the PGA West Health & Racquet Club in La Quinta, Calif. While Kirsten’s boss, club manager Debbie Douglass, can’t take credit for those strengths, she and Kirsten’s colleague, Evelina Madrigal, can be credited with a home-run hiring decision. “Kirsten brings the right attitude to work every day,” explains Douglass. “She’s happy, positive, well-organized, and bright. She genuinely cares about her co-workers and our members. She’s completely service-oriented. You can’t train someone to care. They either bring it or they don’t.” You don’t have to visit many clubs and shops to realize that a service orientation is a hit-or-miss proposition. Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis, is quite concerned about the inconsistencies in tennis’s customer service. “Last year, we had over 4,000 Tennis Welcome Centers in place throughout the country,” Kamperman says. “In doing our follow-up secret shopping, we found a profound inconsistency in the telephone skills, program knowledge, and attitudes of the front-desk personnel. If we want new players to feel welcomed to our sport, we have to do a better job hiring and training for better customer service.” Short of cloning and placing a Kirsten Mendoza in every tennis shop and club, how can the industry raise its customerservice game? Front-desk jobs typically

BY JILL FONTE

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offer part-time hours, low pay, and little investment from both the employer and the employee. But the people who work the front desk are hugely powerful in shaping your customers’ perceptions and experience with your facility. So, how can you make home-run hiring decisions?

know what your expectations are. So, let them provide you with some insight as you’re interviewing candidates. Furthermore, you might rely on your existing front-desk staff to recommend their own colleagues. At PGA West, Kirsten Mendoza was brought in by her friend, Evelina Madrigal. “I knew she’d fit in well here,” says Madrigal. “I knew she’d do a good job and that she’d blend well with the rest of our team.”

INTERVIEW MORE THAN ONCE
Anyone can turn themselves on for one interview. Narrow your candidate pool to the top few, and bring each one back for another look. Specifically, look for consistency in answers and behavior from one interview to the next.

CALL THE CANDIDATES AT HOME LOOK FOR THE SPARKLE
You want to populate your front desk with “people persons.” They smile easily and often. They look you squarely in the eye. They listen well. They ask questions. They’re friendly and outgoing. If you’re not getting that in the interview, don’t expect a personality transplant once they get behind the front desk. Just as you can’t train someone to care, you can’t train them to be friendly and outgoing, either. Answering the phone is a big part of a front-desk role. By calling your candidates, you’ll get a feel for how they project themselves over the phone. Listen for whether they can convey their smile and personality and positive energy when they don’t have the benefit of face-toface contact.

DON’T JUST FILL THE POSITION
When you’re short-handed at the front desk, it’s tempting to just find a person— any person—to fill the spot. Resist. While the employee might only work part time or on a temporary basis, he or she is crucial to your customers’ perception. Take the time to make a careful hiring decision, even if you have to be short-staffed in the meantime. Once you’ve put a customer service A-team at your front desk, it’s important to manage and reward the team for providing great service consistently. “I make sure our front-desk staff knows exactly

MAKE IT A TEAM EFFORT
The folks at your front desk have to work as a team, so why not give them some input during the hiring process? Good chemistry behind the front desk typically results in the most positive approach to customers, so let the team interview potential candidates and give you feedback. Chances are, you’ll rely on your existing staff members to help develop and train your new employee, and they

20 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

what we expect,” says Douglass. “It can get pretty hectic in here with players checking in for courts, people arriving to work out, phones ringing, and all the distractions in the background. But each member deserves to be serviced by someone who can provide full attention. I make sure our staff knows that our members and guests must be their No. 1 priority.” Specifically, if you expect your frontdesk people to look up, smile, and greet your customers (preferably by name), say so. And, when you see them complying, make sure they know you’ve noticed. Maybe you want them to transfer calls a certain way. “May I place you on hold while I transfer your call?” is certainly more service-oriented than, “OK, hang on a sec.” If you’d prefer they use specific language during their telephone interactions, say so. If you want them to acknowledge customers as they’re leaving your club or shop, say so and give them the language. “Bye, Mr. Smith. Have a great day!” or “Thanks for coming in, Sally!” provides one more opportunity to show that customer that he or she has been noticed. In short, even if you’ve hired right, don’t leave customer-service behavior or language to chance. Teach your frontdesk staff how and when to acknowledge your customers. Unfortunately, Kirsten Mendoza can’t be cloned, but as a manager, you can hire, train, and reward so the industrywide effect on customer service is the same. As the industry looks for ways to increase participation, keeping a watchful eye on the front desk is a good place to start. Q Jill Fonte is a speaker and trainer specializing in management and customer service. She is a frequent presenter at tennis conventions and workshops throughout the U.S. 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.

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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THE

master pros

Pumping Up the Vital Signs
With decades of service to recreational players, Kirk Anderson says BY CYNTHIA CANTRELL the game is giving back to him.
fter being told he was ineligible to play college tennis because he had taught the sport at a summer camp, Kirk Anderson says he dedicated his career to becoming the best teaching pro he could be. He recently took another step toward achieving that goal by becoming one of only six teaching pros in the world to hold This is the first of six installments on the teaching pros who hold Master Pro certifications from both the PTR and the USPTA. the Master Professional rating from both the PTR and the USPTA. “It hasn’t sunk in yet,” says 54year-old Anderson of New Fairfield, Conn., who recently added the PTR rating to the one he has held through the USPTA for more than a decade. “The more you do and the more you participate, the better teacher you’ll be. This [training] is just another way the game gives back to you.” While the USPTA and PTR each require a combination of playing ability, teaching skills and experience, published research and communications, professional development and industry service, both organizations’ Master Professional designations recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the game throughout their career. “It’s tough to achieve,” says USPTA Director of Certification R.J. Tessier. “Kirk is a hard worker. You’ve got to give him credit.” “Kirk has earned this,” agrees Geoffrey Norton, director of development at the

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PTR. “He has tons of energy and unbelievable dedication. He’s the kind of guy who keeps plugging away until he nails it.” After graduating from Western Michigan University with an undergraduate degree in health and physical education in 1973, Anderson taught tennis at park and recreation departments, clubs in Michigan and Ohio, and a resort in Hawaii. He returned to Western Michigan University, earning a master’s degree in exercise science in 1985, and held positions with the USPTA and Head/Penn Racquet Sports. Formerly the USTA’s national director of community play, Anderson says he recently “carved out the position of my fondest dreams” at the USTA national headquarters. As USTA director of recreational coaches and programs, Anderson provides services and resources nationwide to coaches and tennis leaders involved in recruiting and retaining players. While Little League and youth soccer programs are supported by about 300,000 volunteer and parent coaches, Anderson bemoans the limited impact of the country’s 15,000 teaching pros for 5.9 million new tennis players and 4.2 million who returned to the game in 2004, according to the participation survey conducted by the USTA and Tennis Industry Association. “We need more paramedics to get local tennis programs started and keep the vital signs going,” Anderson says. Before that can happen, however, he

warns a cultural change is needed. Whereas kids get involved in sports like baseball, soccer, and football through teams, the perception of tennis players needing lessons limits participation, according to Anderson.

Helping to Get Parents Involved
As the USTA’s director of recreational coaches and programs, Kirk Anderson encourages parents and other volunteers to get involved in teaching and coaching players at the recreational level. The USTA, in cooperation with the USPTA and PTR, offers a training program to help develop recreational coaches nationwide. Upcoming workshops include: Q San Juan, Puerto Rico: Aug. 20-21, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Free Q Costa Mesa, Calif.: Aug. 26, 11 a.m.-5:30 p.m. $25; $30 after Aug. 1 Q New Haven, Conn.: Sept. 11, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. $40; $50 after Aug. 1 (includes lunch) Q Bayamon, Puerto Rico: Sept. 24, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. $35 Q Vero Beach, Fla.: Oct. 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. $30 (includes lunch) For more information about 2005 USTA Recreation Coach Workshops, visit www.usta.com. To learn how your park and recreation agency can host a workshop, contact Jason Jamison, USTA product manager, recreational coaching, at 623-374-4905 or Jamison@usta.com. “I ask park directors and managers, ‘Do you offer baseball lessons?’ and they look at me like I just landed on the planet,” Anderson says. “I drive by Little League games and only one or two kids can really play, but they practice as a team and by the time they’re older they’re pretty good. Meanwhile, the parents are organizing and coaching games and running the conces-

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sions. Why can’t we do the same with tennis programs?” To boost youth and parent coach participation levels, Anderson endorses teaching tennis in the context of match play, rather than perfecting strokes independently of one another. Slower, lighter balls currently being produced give new players more control and time to get to the ball, while modified courts—positioning players simultaneously from the baseline to the fence, baseline to service line, and service line to net, for example—create more opportunities for players to stay active rather than waiting for a turn to hit. “Our goal is teaching players to serve, return, rally, and score in the first hour,” Anderson says. While technique is important at all levels, he adds, kids just want the game to be fun. Adults prefer more structure, and seniors look for clinics that are social, active and low-stress. “The way things are now, a few players become champions, but we lose everyone else,” Anderson says. “That’s not good enough.”

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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ANNUAL

awards

Champions of Tennis 2005
We’d like your help in recognizing the people and organizations that are making a difference in the business of tennis.

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nce again, we’d like to honor the champions of our sport—the many, often unheralded heroes who work tirelessly to develop tennis in the U.S. But once again, we need your help in identifying these men and women, businesses and organizations, and how their accomplishments have helped the game, whether in their local areas or nationally. Please take a look at the categories at the right and email your nominations to RSI@racquettech.com (please put “Champions” in the subject line). Include: Q Nominee’s name; Q Where they work or what they do related to tennis; Q Phone (if possible);

Q Brief description of why you believe they are the champions in their areas. We’d also appreciate your name and contact information, for confirmation purposes only. All nominations will be confidential, and you may nominate for as many categories as you’d like. And, if there’s a category that we don’t list that you think we should include, please let us know. We need your nominations by Aug. 5, 2005. Email is preferred, but you may fax them to 760-536-1171 or mail them to: Racquet Sports Industry, 300 Main St., Vista, CA 92084. In our November/December issue, we’ll include a special section acknowledging the dedication of those who work to keep tennis vital in the U.S. Private Facility of the Year cont. 2003: New Albany Country Club 2002: Woodfield Country Club Builder of the Year 2004: Zaino Tennis Courts 2003: General Acrylics 2002: Cape & Island Tennis and Track 2001: Welch Tennis Courts Sales Rep of the Year 2004: Dustin Perry 2003: Bob Strimel 2002: Bob Pfaender 2001: Sheri Norris & David Blakeley Grassroots Champion 2004: Gwen & Dan Ramras 2003: Scott Biron 2002: Mark Platt 2001: Donna Owens Junior Development Champion 2004: Emma Hubbs 2003: Phyllis Greene 2002: LaMont Bryant 2001: Ned Eames

2005 CHAMPIONS OF TENNIS CATEGORIES
Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Person of the Year Pro/Specialty Retailer of the Year Mass Merchant/Chain Retailer of the Year Builder/Contractor of the Year Municipal Facility of the Year Private Facility of the Year Sales Rep of the Year Stringer of the Year Grassroots Champion of the Year Junior Development Champion of the Year Wheelchair Tennis Champion of the Year USTA Section of the Year Community Tennis Association of the Year PTR Division of the Year USPTA Division of the Year
Wheelchair Tennis Champion 2004: Julie Jilly 2003: Dan James 2002: Tina Dale 2001: Nancy Olson USTA Section of Year 2004: Pacific Northwest 2003: Southern 2002: Northern 2001: New England CTA of the Year 2004: Pikes Peak CTA 2003: Milwaukee Tennis & Education Foundation 2002: Macon Tennis Association 2001: Homewood-Flossmoor Stringer of the Year 2004: Randy Stephenson PTR Division of the Year 2002: Eastern 2001: New England USPTA Division of the Year 2002: Midwest 2001: Texas

Champions of Tennis Honor Roll
Persons of the Year 2004: Arlen Kantarian 2003: Jim Baugh & Kurt Kamperman 2002: Alan Schwartz Mass Merchant/Chain of the Year 2004: City Sports 2003: Sport Chalet 2002: Dick’s Sporting Goods 2001: Galyan’s Municipal Facility of the Year 2004: Lexington County Tennis Complex 2003: Midland Community Tennis Center 2002: Cooper Tennis Complex 2001: George E. Barnes Tennis Center Pro/Specialty Retailer 2004: Players Choice Tennis 2003: Advantage Yours 2002: Chicago Tennis & Golf 2001: Dale Queen Private Facility of the Year 2004: Indian Creek Racquet Club

24 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

READY!
GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

Machine

Generate more revenue by using your ball machine to the fullest.

BY JOE DINOFFER

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all machines are one of the most underused assets at tennis facilities across the country. While the benefits of ball-machine use are broadly understood, only a small percentage of teaching professionals, tennis coaches, and facility managers use them regularly. Not only are your players missing out on a great chance to improve their games, but also you’re missing out on a potential revenue stream. Consider this: In a normal tennis match, you hit the ball about 150 times per hour. But against a ball machine throwing the ball every 4 seconds, you’ll hit about 650 balls in an hour, including down time for ball pick-up. In addition to using ball machines in lessons and renting your machine to players for regular practice, here are 12 ideas to get more bang from your machine.

nently post a picture of the new machine in your facility, describing all the bells and whistles. Then offer to pre-sell blocks of time using the machine at a substantial discount. Try offering six- and 12-month blocks of time during specific hours of the day.

Lesson Packages
Every coach will agree that to increase student improvement, you should get him or her to practice in between lessons on a ball machine. The first step is to use the ball machine regularly during the actual lesson. The second step is to include scheduled ball machine rental time within the lesson package itself. The result will be ball-machine practice in the lessons and in between lessons. Then, once they see the benefits of this type of drilling, offer additional ball machine rentals at a discount for their on-going use.

Ball Machine Fund-Raising
If you want to raise money for a top-flight ball machine in advance of purchasing it, here’s a winning idea. Promi-

Weekly Ball Machine Clinics
To generate excitement about ball-machine use, schedule a

26 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

!

weekly drop-in ball-machine drill session. It’s a great way to introduce and get players hooked on training with ball machines. But be careful, you may find this weekly session becoming so popular that you’ll have to purchase extra machines!

for ball-machine use. But remember, it’s not enough to hand new members a piece of paper, call them to set up a time for their first ball-machine session to make it a friendly first experience.

Ball Machine Mini-Lessons
It happens all the time. A recreational player rents the machine and ends up enthusiastically getting a great workout, but practicing the wrong technique! How about promoting a 10- to 15-minute “Mini-Lesson” at a nominal cost for the beginning of their one-hour ball machine rental? The benefits are tremendous: The coaches can develop relationships with more players, it generates increases in overall lesson taking and, most important, it’s a unique service that really helps players improve.

Rent 10 Times, Get 11th Free
This basic but consistently winning promotional idea can easily be adjusted to all situations. For ball-machine rentals, simply promote that a certain amount of rentals entitles the player to one more rental free. Options to this would include the reverse: Take 10 lessons and receive a ball machine rental free. Just use a little creativity and the interest you can generate will be significant.

Team Rentals
Practically every club or facility has teams: women’s teams, men’s teams, junior teams, and so on. The attraction of these teams is the fun that comes from group interaction. How about extending that fun to ballmachine rentals with a group rental program? For example, have a league team rental price that would allow any member or combination of members to rent the machine. It’s a winning idea that’s sure to generate some enthusiasm along with additional income.

Target Training Services
Players renting ball machines are the “cream of the crop,” those dedicated souls who are self-disciplined and highly motivated. How about charging 10 percent more for all ball machine rentals? Then, have a staff member go on the court with the player to set up a target system for them—an air target, ropes, rubber lines, cones, or whatever you want to help them become more visually focused during their workout. They will really appreciate this extra touch.

Ball Machine Raffles
Radio promotions use it all the time. You know, the sixth caller receives a trip to Hawaii. Well, forget Hawaii, but how about promoting that the sixth person to sign up for a clinic or the sixth person to have their racquet restrung in a certain month gets a free ball machine pass. This promotional idea is very versatile and can help put some added pop into any program.

High-Visibility Court for Ball Machines
This little trick works wonders to generate increased ballmachine interest and use. Instead of setting up your ball machine on a back, low-visibility court, how about putting it up front, on the most visible court of your facility? Another benefit besides generating increased onlooker interest is that it allows your staff to notice and quickly respond whenever a user may need assistance.

Beat the Machine
At a club party or special event, put your machine on your highest visibility court and play “Beat the Machine.” Just divide players into A, B, and C groups. Create three target areas, appropriately challenging for each level. Have each person hit 10 balls. Offer prizes if they hit eight out of 10 in the target for their level of play. Have them pay $10 to enter and give them a gift certificate in the pro shop for $20 if they win. But, here’s the way you can guarantee that a lot of people sign up for the challenge. Even if they lose, give them a gift certificate for $10 in the shop. This way, everyone wins and since you have double mark-ups on most pro shop items, there is no risk on your part, either. 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.

Use Videos to Generate Ball Machine Interest
Almost every facility has a public area where players congregate or at least pass through. In this lounge or pro shop area, try playing various videos to generate and increase interest in a specific program. For example, how about playing the popular ball-machine drill video “Millennium Tennis” to generate interest in ball-machine use? Just remember to put a sign by the TV and VCR with a catchy phrase like: “Ball Machines are the No. 1 training partner in the world. Contact the front desk to arrange a convenient time for both of you!”

New Member Perk
If you work at a country club or facility charging initiation fees and dues, try offering an incentive or perk to new members. In addition to the typical 30-minute introductory lesson, how about a one-month or three-month pass

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

27

2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

N

BALL MACHINE SELECTOR

o matter what kind of facility you have, a ball machine should be a key component of your business. While you may be put off by the initial investment, you’ll make that money back—and much more—when you have a ball machine available for your members and students. For example, you can let players rent time on the machine by themselves, freeing up teaching pros to work on other courts, or you can use the machine to spice up clinics by working alongside the pro. Whether you’re part of the Tennis Welcome Center initiative or not, as more students come into the game, they’ll be looking for ways to hone their strokes, and that’s what a ball machine will provide, while keeping them on your courts. (For more on making money with ball machines, see page 26.) Our 2005 Guide to Ball Machines has all the information you need to help you find the right machine for your business. The Ball Machine Selector on page 30 charts all the machines available today and what features they offer. Keep in mind that with ball machines, there are a lot of things that you can change about the unit at the time of purchase or later. In our chart, we’ve listed the specs and prices for the most basic model of each machine. Then, if options are offered, we’ve listed the additional cost of adding that feature.
July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

29

2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

PROPULSION
trol - Electro nic Elevation Con trol - Manual Able to Feed Lobs Able to Feed Topspin & U nderspin Able to Feed Sidespin
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
X X X X X X X X X X

Spinning Whe el Propulsion Air Pressure Propulsion Feeding Inte rval (seconds)

Top Speed (M PH
55 55 70 70 80 80 80 90 90 90 90 90 90 120 120
60 60 80 80 80 80 90 90 90 100

)

Ball Capacity

Brand

Model

Price Warranty Dimensions (MSRP) (years) (Storage inches)

Global Tennis Teaching System
www.globaltennisteachi ng.com 561-243-9522

Twins

Lease $900/Month

Full

20"x26"x40"

200

140

Weight (lbs)

X

0.25 - 4 100

Lobster
www.lobsterinc.com 800-526-4041

Economy Ball Bucket 202 Ball Bucket 201 Hybrid Model 301 Tournament 401 Elite Model 1 Elite Model 2 Portable BP-X Ace Smash Deuce Genie Genie PC Grand Slam Grand Slam PC

$469 $549 $689 $789 $1,049 $1,299 $1,495 $2,995 $3,169 $3,995 $4,995 $5,995 $7,995 $7,495 $8,995
$699 $949 $1,099 $1,299 $1,599 $1,899 $2,995 $3,595 $4,995 $29,999

2 2 2 2 1 1 1 3 3 3 3 3 3 3 3
1 1 1 1 1 1 3 3 3 1

12" x 12" x 27" 12" x 12" x 31" 36" x 13" x 21" 36" x 13" x 21" 24" x 16" x 19" 24" x 16" x 19" 19" x 21" x 25" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38" 35" x 21" x 38"
19" x 17.5" x 18" 19" x 17.5" x 18" 19.5" x 16" x 21.5" 19.5" x 16" x 21.5" 19.5" x 16" x 21.5" 19.5" x 16" x 21.5" 35" x 25" x 50" 35" x 25" x 50" 31" x 26" x 56" 60" x 48" x 108"

50 50 150 150 150 150 200 200 200 300 300 300 300 300 300
250 250 300 300 300 300 250 250 250 200

20 28 31 32 42 44 65 115 115 115 115 115 115 125 125
29 34 48 48 48 48 87 87 143 398

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
X X X X X X X X X

3, 6, 12 3, 6, 12 3, 6, 12 3, 6, 12 2 - 12 2 - 12 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10 1 - 10
2-7 2-7 2 - 13 2 - 13 2 - 13 2 - 13 1.5 - 8 1.5 - 8 1.5 - 8 2 - 20

Elevation Con
X

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
X X X X X X X X X X

$50 $50 $50 $50 X X X X X X X X X X

Playmate
www.playmatetennis machines.com 800-776-6770

Prince Little Prince Portable Model 1 www.mastersports.com Little Prince Portable Model 2 Prince Portable Model 1 800-837-1002 Prince Portable Model 2 Prince Portable Model 3 Prince Portable Model 4 Prince Surefire Prince Hot Shot Prince Prodigy Big SAM Robot Optimizers
www.tennisrobot.com 888-8BOOMER
Boomer

X X X X X X X X

X

$14,450

1

38.5" x 31" x 21.5" 300

124

X

10-Jan

100

X

X

X

Silent Partner
www.sptennis.com 800-662-1809

Ultra Lite Sport Pro

$699 $849 $1,099

1 1 1

22" x 18" x 14" 22" x 18" x 14" 22" x 18" x 14"

200 200 200

35 46 48

X X X

1.0 - 15 95 1.0 - 15 95 1.0 - 15 95

X X

X

X X X

X X X

Sports Attack
www.sportsattack.com 800-717-4251
Ace Attack $5,499 1 34" x 53" 200 150 X 1.5 - 12 110 X X X X

*Other Optional Accessories 1 - Spin Adaptor $50 2 - Fast Charger $99 3 - 3 Hour Rapid Recharger $145 4 - Smart Charge Technology comes standard

5 - Built-in Transformer for International Power Standards $111 6 - External Extended Life Battery $189, 110/220 Volt AC Converter $199 7 - 110/220 Volt AC Converter $149 8 - Additional Removable Battery $40 9 - Extra Heavy Duty Battery $25

30 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

hots in Prog ram Adjustable D epth Within Program Adjustable S pin Within P rogram Adjustable H eight Within Program Interactive F eed Control Runs on Ba ttery or Pow er Cord Runs on Po wer Cord O nly Runs on Ba ttery Only

No Oscillatio

Number of S

X

Oscillation -

X

Oscillation -

9

X

X

X

X

X

X

X X X X X X 3 3 3 7 7 7 7 7 7

X X

X X

X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
$149 $149 $149 $149 $149 $149 $99 $99 $99 $99 $99 $99 X X X X X X X X X X 7.5 15 15 15 15 15 X X X X X X

18 18 15

X X X X X X X X X X X X X

$70 $70 $70 $70 $199 $199

X X X X X X
X X X X X X X X X X

X X X X X X X X

X X X X X

X X X X X

X X X X X

X X X X X

2 3 6 9 30

X X $99 X X X

X X

X X

X X

X

X

20+

X

X

X

X

X

X

X

X X

$299

2

$249 $80

X X X

7.5 15 15

X X X

X X X

X

X

4

X

$300

10 - Ext. Battery Pack $130, Ext. AC Power Supply $125, Smart charger Upgrade $30 11 - Lob enhancer $30 12 - Water-Resistant Storage Cover $65 13 - Water-Resistant Storage Cover $115 14 - Ships Via FedEx Ground

15 - Feeds Balls from 30” above ground 16 - Feeds Balls from 39” above ground 17 - Elevates to 9 Feet for Service Practice (can do kick serves) 18 - Can deliver any type of ball, (topspin, underspin, flat, lob) to any place on court, in any sequence 19 - Plays games, rates shots, uses a camera, talks to players, cordless headset

Remote Con trol - Option al Accessory Remote Con trol - Cord Remote Con trol - Wirele ss Remote Con trol of Oscill ation Remote Con trol of Progra m Settings Serving Tow er - Standard Serving Tow er - Optiona l Accessory Cover - Stan dard Cover - Opti onal Access ory Includes Wh eels for Port ability Other Optio nal Accesso ries* (see b elow)
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X $49 $49 $49 $49 $49 $49 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15 $85.15
X X X X X X

OSCILLATION
Programma ble

POWER

REMOTE CONTROL
pability Remote Con trol - Standa rd

MISC.

Random

Battery Amp /Hour

n

Indicator Battery Life

Battery Swa

X X X X

1 1 1 1 2 2 3 5 5 5 5 5 5 5 5
4,7,9,12 4,7,12

X X X X X X

X X X X X X

X X X X X X

$3,995 $3,995 $3,995 $3,995 $3,995 $3,995 $3,995 $3,995

X

X

X

X X X X X X

X

X

X

X

X

X X X X $115 X $115 X $115 X X

4,7,11,12 4,7,11,12 4,7,11,12 4,7,11,12

13,14,15 13,14,15 13,16 17

X

X

X

$3,895 X

X

19

X

X

$499 $499 $499

$40 $40 $40

X X X

8

X

X

$200 X

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

31

2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

PROPULSION
trol - Electro nic Elevation Con trol - Manual Able to Feed Lobs Able to Feed Topspin & U nderspin Able to Feed Sidespin
X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X $200 X X X X X X X X X X

Spinning Whe el Propulsion Air Pressure Propulsion Feeding Inte rval (seconds)

Top Speed (M PH
15 60 60 85 85 85 85 95 95 95 70

)

Ball Capacity

Brand

Model
Tennis Twist Tennis Tutor ProLite - Basic Tennis Tutor ProLite Tennis Tutor - Model 1 Tennis Tutor - Model 2 Tennis Tutor - Plus Tennis Tower Shot Maker - Standard Shot Maker - Deluxe Shot Maker - Super Deluxe Wilson Portable

Price Warranty Dimensions (MSRP) (years) (Storage inches)
$199 $549 $649 $919 $959 $1,119 $1,145 $2,800 $3,600 $4,100 $995 1 1 1 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 1 10" x 11" x23" 12" x 19.5" x 18" 12" x 19.5" x 18" 12" x 19.5" x 20" 12" x 19.5" x 20" 20" x 19.5" x 20" 44" x 23" x 22" 38.5" x 31" x 21.5" 38.5" x 31" x 21.5" 38.5" x 31" x 21.5" 22" x 14" x 20"

Sports Tutor
www.sportstutor.com 800-448-8867

28 125 125 150 150 150 225 300 300 300 110

Weight (lbs)

11 20 22 39 42 46 60 96 96 96 38

X X X X X X X X X X

5 1.5 - 10 1.5 - 10 1.5 - 12 1.5 - 12 1.5 - 12 1.5 - 8 1-6 1-6 1-6 1.5 - 10

Super Coach
www.tennismachine.com

Super Coach

$7,495

1

36" x 27" x 22"

200

121

X

1.4 - 5.6 85

408-855-9644
*Other Optional Accessories 1 - Spin Adaptor $50 2 - Fast Charger $99 3 - 3 Hour Rapid Recharger $145 4 - Smart Charge Technology comes standard 5 - Built-in Transformer for International Power Standards $111 6 - External Extended Life Battery $189, 110/220 Volt AC Converter $199 7 - 110/220 Volt AC Converter $149 8 - Additional Removable Battery $40 9 - Extra Heavy Duty Battery $25

DISCLAIMERS
Specific Features
Keep in mind that whenever you try to develop a chart like this, it is necessary to create some pretty broad, nondetailed features. For example, when we mark that a machine offers random oscillation, it means that the machine can be set to shoot balls to different locations on the court in a random pattern. However, this does not indicate how many different places the machine can shoot the ball. Some machines will just shoot the balls randomly between as few as two locations at the same depth, while other machines might be able to shoot the ball virtually anywhere on the court at different heights and speeds. an inexpensive machine that isn’t designed for the type and amount of use you will be asking of it, it can end up costing you a lot more money down the road than a machine that cost more at first but was designed for what you have in mind. Make sure you have confidence in the durability of the machine and the customer service of the company to help you when you have problems. You should feel comfortable that the company has a system in place to fix anything that might go wrong with your machine. In some cases, they may have local service reps to come fix it at your facility, while in other cases they should offer a way to ship all or part of the machine back to the manufacturer for repairs. So, you probably won’t want to buy a machine strictly based on what you read in this chart. Rather, this chart should help you to narrow the universe of machines by eliminating the machines that don’t offer features you really want. Then, when you have narrowed your choices, you can do more research by visiting the websites or calling the phone numbers listed for each company.

Durability
There really is no easy way to measure the durability of a ball machine. The only true test of durability is to use the machine for years and see how it holds up. That information is not readily available, so, we don’t have a category for durability. However, you can learn more about how long the machines last by talking to the manufacturers and asking for references from people they have sold machines to. Don’t just buy a ball machine based on price. If you buy

Demo Before You Buy
As always, when investing in a piece of equipment as

32 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

Elevation Con
X

hots in Prog ram Adjustable D epth Within Program Adjustable S pin Within P rogram Adjustable H eight Within Program Interactive F eed Control Runs on Ba ttery or Pow er Cord Runs on Po wer Cord O nly Runs on Ba ttery Only

No Oscillatio

Number of S

X X X X X X X X X X X

Oscillation -

Oscillation -

$200 $200 $300 X X X $200

4 4 4 3 6 6 2

$0 X 6 D Cells X $50 9 X $50 9 $50 X 12 $50 X 18 $50 X 18 X X X X $50 X 12

X X X X X

$200 $200 $200 $200 X X

X

$200

X

X

30

X

X

X

X

X

10 - Ext. Battery Pack $130, Ext. AC Power Supply $125, Smart charger Upgrade $30 11 - Lob enhancer $30 12 - Water-Resistant Storage Cover $65 13 - Water-Resistant Storage Cover $115 14 - Ships Via FedEx Ground

15 - Feeds Balls from 30” above ground 16 - Feeds Balls from 39” above ground 17 - Elevates to 9 Feet for Service Practice (can do kick serves) 18 - Can deliver any type of ball, (topspin, underspin, flat, lob) to any place on court, in any sequence 19 - Plays games, rates shots, uses a camera, talks to players, cordless headset

expensive as a ball machine, we recommend that you look for an opportunity to try the machine before you buy it. Ask the manufacturers for ideas about how you can try their machines. In some cases they may be able to send you a sample to try, in other cases they may have sold one to someone near you. So, now that you know what we’re trying to do, let’s talk about what all the features listed across the top of the chart mean.

machine may change slightly. But, in each case, the available options for each machine list the price of adding that option.

Price
Manufacturer’s suggested retail price. Prices range from $199 to $29,999.

Warranty
How long the manufacturer guarantees the machine against defects. However, keep in mind that many of the manufacturers do offer extended warranties. See the specific manufacturer for more information and costs of extended warranties.

FEATURES
Brand & Contact Info
The name of the manufacturer and how to get in touch with them. You can contact them to get more information or to order the machine that looks best to you. There are nine manufacturers making machines under 10 brand names.

Dimensions
These are the measurements of the machines for storage or transport. In other words, some machines will be considerably bigger than these measurements when you are using them because you add a ball holder. We list the smaller measurements because the size of a machine really only matters when you are trying to fit it on a shelf or in the trunk of a car.
July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

Model
The specific model of machine. However, remember that many of the machines offer several different options. In some cases, when you buy different options, the name of the

Remote Con trol - Option al Accessory Remote Con trol - Cord Remote Con trol - Wirele ss Remote Con trol of Oscill ation Remote Con trol of Progra m Settings Serving Tow er - Standard Serving Tow er - Optiona l Accessory Cover - Stan dard Cover - Opti onal Access ory Includes Wh eels for Port ability Other Optio nal Accesso ries* (see b elow)
$70 $70 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X $35 $35 $35 $35 $35 X X X X $35 X X X X X X X X 10 10 10 10 X $25 X 18

OSCILLATION
Programma ble

POWER

REMOTE CONTROL
pability Remote Con trol - Standa rd

MISC.

Random

Battery Amp /Hour

n

Indicator Battery Life

Battery Swa

33

2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

FEATURES Cont.
Ball Capacity
This indicates how many balls you can put in the machine at a time. However, several of the manufacturers indicated that their machines can actually hold more balls than they have listed if you stack the balls higher than the sides of the machine. There are machines that hold as few as 28 balls and as many as 300 balls. But keep in mind that some machine manufacturers tell us that most people don’t come close to filling their machines. Who wants to carry and pick up 200 or more balls?

Weight
This is an indication of how much the basic machine weighs without balls in it. So, if you add options or balls, the weight will increase. The weight without balls is listed because this is probably how you will transport the machine to the court.

Global Tennis Teaching System Twins

PROPULSION
Spinning Wheel Propulsion
An “X” in this column indicates that the machine uses two spinning wheels to feed the ball to you. In almost every case the spinning wheels are stacked vertically with just enough space between them for a ball to squeeze through. So, the faster the wheels are spinning, the faster the balls will be propelled.

Elevation Control — Electronic
An “X” in this column indicates that the machine can change the height of the shot by pushing a button or turning a knob.

Elevation Control — Manual
An “X” in this column indicates that the machine can shoot balls at different heights, but you have to physically aim a shooting arm or tilt the machine in some way to do so.

Air Pressure Propulsion
An “X” in this column indicates that the machine shoots the ball through a tube like a cannon. The amount of air pressure determines the speed and depth of the shot.

Able to Feed Lobs
Lobster Elite
An “X” in this column indicates that the manufacturer tells us the machine is capable of feeding lobs to allow you to practice your overheads.

Feeding Intervals
This column indicates how often the machine can feed balls. Most machines offer a range of intervals. Smaller intervals make for a harder workout, while higher intervals allow more time for preparation and watching your results.

Able to Feed Topspin & Underspin
An “X” in this column means that the machine uses spinning wheels to propel the balls and you can make one wheel spin faster than the other to put spin on the top or bottom of the ball. If you see a price in this column, it means that the machine is capable of putting spin on the ball, but you must purchase an extra option to do so.

Top Speed
Almost every machine offers the ability to adjust the speed at which the ball is shot from the machine. They all are capable of feeding a very slow ball for shots shorter in the court and for weaker players. So, we just list the fastest speed that each manufacturer says the machine will shoot the ball. However, most of the time, most players don’t need the ball speed maxed out because the players they play with don’t hit that hard.

Able to Feed Sidespin
An “X” in this column indicates that the machine has spinning wheels that don’t just touch the ball on top and bottom. The wheels that are on the sides of the balls can be spun faster than the others to put spin on the sides of the ball. This is mainly helpful for simulating serves.

Playmate Genie Deuce

34 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

OSCILLATION
No Oscillation
Machines with an “X” in this column are not cabable of feeding the ball in more than one direction. So, if you want to practice forehands you have to point the machine toward your forehand and vice-versa for backhands. However, you cannot practice forehands and backhands at the same time unless you’re willing to use a little extra footwork.

Adjustable Spin w/in Program
Again, these machines offer more complicated drills because they allow you to vary the amount of topspin or underspin from one shot to the next.

Adjustable Height w/in Program
These machines allow you to vary the height of the balls during the program. So, you can practice against a ball that comes high over the net followed by another ball that is fed low over the net.

Oscillation – Random
These machines are capable of feeding balls randomly to different locations on the court to simulate real play. However, as we explained before, you need to do a little more inquiring to find out just how randomly the machine can shoot Prince Hot shot balls. Some machines can choose randomly between two positions, while others can shoot balls virtually anywhere on the court.

Interactive Feed Control

There are only two machines so far with an X in this category. The Twins from Global Tennis Teaching System are two machines that work in coordination allowing balls to be fed from the deuce or ad court. The feed control is considered interactive because a This is another feature that requires a closer coach can use a PDA to tell the machines look. Machines in this column have a control which machine should feed the next, where panel that allows you to shoot balls in a patto feed each ball, when to feed each ball and tern that you determine. But look to the next how to feed each ball during a drill. This few columns to see how complicated a proallows the coach to customize each ball fed gram you can give it. based on the last shot the player hit. The Boomer from Robot Optimizers features a video camera, a powerful computer, This column indicates how many different shots and can even talk to a player. These features you can program before the machine repeats its proallow a player to play a game against Boomer, gram. So, machines that have a higher number in this colwhere Boomer is the opponent, umn offer you the opportunity to create a more complicated Robot Optimizers Boomer umpire, ball-boy, cheerleader, and drill for yourself or your students. wiseguy (it even trash-talks). The camera is used to rate each shot a player hits from 1 to 9 based on speed, depth, and width. In game mode These machines offer the opportunity to create the machine varies its feeds based on the qualeven more complicated drills because they allow ity of the shot from the player. In drill mode, you to feed one ball deep in the court followed it says the score of each ball and even tells by another ball that is shorter in the court. the player if the shot is out.

Oscillation – Programmable

# of Shots in Program

Adjustable Depth w/in Program

POWER

Runs on Battery or Power Cord
An “X” in this column means that you can power the machine with a battery or a power cord plugged into an electrical outlet.

Runs on Battery Only
These machines can only be powered by a rechargeable battery.

Runs on Power Cord Only
Machines in this column require an electrical outlet for power.

Battery Amp/Hour
Silent Partner Pro
This is an indication of how much “juice there is in the batteries.” It is a measure of the number of amps of electricity the battery can delivJuly 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

35

2005 GUIDE TO BALL MACHINES

POWER Cont.
er in one hour. One manufacturer described amp/hours as being like a car’s gas tank. More amp/hours is like a bigger gas tank, meaning that the machine can run longer on a charge. This number rather than the machine’s batterylife is more reliable and helps reduce any discrepancies in the battery life that is indicated by each of the manufacturers. again, some of these indicators are more informative than others. Talk with the manufacturer for a more detailed description of how it works.

Battery Swapability
An “X” in this column means that the machine allows you to take out a battery that is almost out of juice and replace it with a fresh battery. However, keep in mind that to do this you will have to purchase a spare battery.

Battery Life Indicator
These machines have some sort of indicator to let you know how much battery life is left. Once

REMOTE CONTROL
Remote Control Comes Standard
An “X” in this column indicates that a remote control is included in the price listed for the machine. Look at the next several columns to find out what the remote controls and whether it is wireless.

Sports Attack - Ace Attack

Remote Control – Wireless
The remote controls that are available for these machines are not actually attached to the machine. So, you can take them wherever you want as long as the signal is strong enough to reach the machine.

Remote Control Available as Option
These machines do not come with a remote, but you can buy one. Look at the next several columns to find out what the remote controls and whether it is wireless.

Remote Control of Oscillation
These remotes are actually able to turn the oscillation feature of the machine off and on in addition to being able to start or stop the balls from feeding.

Remote Control – Cord
The remote controls that are available for these machines are actually wired to the machine, making them a little less portable. However, some of them do allow you to control more of the settings on the machine.

Remote Control of Program Settings
These remotes allow you to control the program settings. So, you don’t have to go back to the machine to change the order of shots.

MISCELLANEOUS
Serving Tower Optional Accessory
This column indicates whether a tower is available from the manufacturer to raise the machine high enough to simulate a serve. The price in this column indicates how much the serving tower costs.

Super Coach

manufacturer makes an optional cover available and how much it costs.

Includes Wheels for Portability
Machines with an “X” in this column have wheels attached to them to make the machine easier to move around.

Cover Comes Standard
These machines come with a cover included in the price listed.

Other Optional Accessories
This column lists any other optional accessories that are available for each machine and how much each accessory costs. It also lists any special features that we did not create columns for.

Cover Available as an Option
This column indicates whether the

Tennis Tutor Pro Lite

36 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

MOVING
GRASSROOTS PROGRAMMING

Keep It

In Virginia, a mobile program for kids keeps tennis rolling.
BY LINDA S. TISSIERE

W

hen you think about sports that are typically played on a neighborhood cul-de-sac or community playground, you think of kids dressed in old T-shirts and worn-out shorts playing a rousing game of street hockey, kickball, or maybe 3on-3 basketball. You probably don’t recall those times when the neighborhood kids came together for a mean pick-up game of…tennis? So imagine Mike Mountjoy’s surprise in the late1970s when a van pulled up on the street where he lived, several people got out and closed off his neighborhood to traffic, and they proceeded to set up a net across the road. “I was 9 years old,” Mountjoy recalls. “It was the first time I had ever held a tennis racquet in my life.” Mountjoy’s tennis life changed from “first time” to “all the time” as he grew up to play competitive tennis in college, and eventually became the director of the Roger Flint Mobile Junior Tennis program (formerly known as Pepsi Mobile Tennis). In his fifth year as head of the program, Mountjoy now holds a ten-

nis racquet five days a week, several hours a day, for six consecutive weeks during the summer. “I don’t know of any other community tennis program in the country with the scope and magnitude of ours,” Mountjoy says. It began 26 years ago when a man by the name of Roger Flint had a vision about bringing tennis instruction directly to the kids, as opposed to bringing the kids to the tennis courts for a lesson. “I was really looking for a way to grow junior tennis in the area,” says Flint, a former executive of the local family-owned Pepsi bottling company, the first major sponsor of Mobile Tennis. Pepsi furnished the program with a vehicle to transport the equipment and with free drinks for all the participants. Flint was a past president of the Charlottesville Tennis Patrons Association (CTPA) and was as passionate about serving his community as he was about the game of tennis. “Of all the things I’ve ever done in my life, the Mobile Ten-

40 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

nis Program has been one of the most rewarding,” Flint adds. “To watch the hundreds of kids each summer develop their tennis skills and grow to enjoy the sport has brought me enormous satisfaction.” In the years since the program’s inception, more than 10,000 children in Albemarle County, Virginia, have benefited from the Mobile Tennis program. Pat Hanssen, current president of the CTPA and the Northeast sales representative with Lee Tennis/HarTru, says, “You would be hard-pressed to find an outreach program as old as this one, with a staff as committed as Mike and his Hanssen (left) with Mountjoy. group of tennis instructors.” This was the first year that Lee Tennis became a sponsor of the program, which was in jeopardy of ending due to a shortfall in funding. “We saw the opportunity to become involved with the Mobile Junior Tennis program as a great avenue to grow the game, while reaching a group of children that would otherwise never have the opportunity to play,” says Hanssen. In addition to the Lee Tennis sponsorship, the CTPA for the first time provided tennis scholarships so four participants in the Mobile Tennis program could attend the Winter Tennis Excellence Program at Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. “These scholarships will enable us to link up with other programs in the community that offer these youngsters the opportunity to play tennis year-round,” says Hanssen. The Mobile Tennis Program visits 13 sites on a weekly basis for five to six weeks every summer, providing free drinks, tennis racquets, balls, and a net, if needed. High school and college tennis players are hired for the summer to teach the hundreds of kids how to play tennis. The program is also linked into the Albemarle County Parks and Recreation summer camp program, as well as the Charlottesville Parks and Recreation Department’s program, so kids can play tennis once a week during day camp. Ten-year-old Tommy Harrison is one of the Parks and Recreation camp participants that has benefited from the Mobile Tennis Program. His father, Tom Harrison, was recently at one of the tennis lessons watching his son learn how to hit a forehand volley. “We’re not a tennis family, but we’ve started playing since Tommy began this program,” Harrison says. “Now I play tennis a couple of times a week with my son, and he’s going to play tennis at school starting this fall. If this program hadn’t been offered, I don’t think either one of us would be playing.”

Mountjoy says he’s thrilled that kids like Tommy are starting to play tennis at school, and with their families. “School programs help us link up with other tennis opportunities for kids to play year round,” he says. “The quality of play at the junior level should start to improve, especially at the city schools where tennis hasn’t been as popular a sport. “Roger Flint was an inspiration to me,” Mountjoy adds. “I can’t go anywhere in Charlottesville now without being recognized as the ‘tennis man.’ But the first tennis man is unquestionably Roger Flint. His drive to introduce kids to the game has led to the monumental success of the Mobile Tennis Program.”Q
Linda S. Tissiere is the director of public relations for the Luck Stone Corp. of Richmond, Va.

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string Unique Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut 16
Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut is a new hybrid string from Unique that combines Unique’s Tourna Gut natural gut with its Tourna Poly Big Hitter polyester for the best of both worlds: the power of gut with the durability of poly. (See the April 2004 RSI for our playtest report of Unique’s Tourna Poly Big Hitter.) According to Unique, Tourna Poly Big Hitter is one of the softest polyesters available, and its natural gut is some of the best in the world. The target consumer is intermediate-to-advanced players looking for the ultimate blend of feel and durability.
Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut is available in 16 and 17 in natural (gut) and silver (poly). It is priced from $17. For more information or to order, contact Unique at 770-442-1977, or visit www.uniquesports.us. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about Unique’s special offer on Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut. unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 34 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 22.6. We instructed our playtesters to install the poly in the mains. Traditionally, you want the more durable string in the mains, as they typically break first. Also, it often seems easier to install poly in the mains and gut in the crosses because of the stiffness of poly, but some playtesters struggled weaving the gut, which is understandable. Installing the gut in the mains would eliminate this problem. Unique tells us that Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut can be strung with the gut in either the mains or the crosses. We had no problems installing Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut. One playtester broke his sample during stringing, eight reported problems with coil memory, five reported problems tying knots, and four reported friction burn. ing play—one at nine hours, two at 10 hours, one at 15 hours, and one at 24 hours of play.

PLAYTEST

CONCLUSION
Unique’s Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut is the highest-scoring hybrid string we’ve tested with natural gut crosses. Each of the gut hybrids that bested Unique Tourna Hybrid EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 0 somewhat easier 0 about as easy 18 not quite as easy 14 not nearly as easy 2

OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 2 somewhat better 8 about as playable 6 not quite as playable 13 not nearly as playable 4

IN THE LAB
We tested the 16-gauge Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut. The coils measured 21 feet (poly) and 20 feet (gut). The diameters measured 1.25 to 1.29 mm (poly) and 1.30 to 1.32 mm (gut) prior to stringing, and 1.20 to 1.26 mm (poly) and 1.28 to 1.30 mm (gut) after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 68 RDC units, representing an 8 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut added 14 grams to the weight of our

ON THE COURT
Our playtesters gave Unique Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut high scores across the board, with four scores in the top 10 and an overall average score good enough to put it in fifth place of the 91 strings we’ve tested to date. Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut achieved a third-place rating in Resistance to Movement, and scored well above average in Playability, Durability, Power, Control, Comfort, Spin Potential, and Tension Holding. The high score in Resistance to Movement is no surprise, considering that Tourna Poly Big Hitter achieved a first-place score in our April 2004 playtest. Tourna Hybrid’s high score in the Durability category is no doubt helped by Big Hitter’s second-place score in that same playtest. Five playtesters broke the sample dur-

OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 6 somewhat better 15 about as durable 6 not quite as durable 5 not nearly as durable 1

RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best) Playability Durability Power Control Comfort Touch/Feel Spin Potential Holding Tension Resistance to Movement 3.8 4.1 3.6 3.8 3.4 3.2 3.4 3.5 4.0

42 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

TESTERS

TALK

This is a very durable and good-playing string. It started to lose tension noticeably after 14 hours of playing. The strings do not move much and it plays a lot better than I thought it would with the polyester mains. Highly recommend it for string breakers who want a good-playing string. 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson Triad 3 strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

Good pop on the ball, especially on serves and overheads. Strings do not move at all, and no notching. This is a string I will keep in my racquet and will stock. 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Pro Staff 5.1 Surge X strung at 58/56 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 18)

This hybrid grew on me with time. I usually use 17-gauge gut for playability and comfort. At first I was bothered by the stiffness of the poly mains, but after a few hours it wasn’t a concern. The hybrid mixture is very stable and offers plenty of power. I did feel a slight difference in weight using the hybrid versus my usual string. It’s a string worth giving a try. The poly provides the durability and power, and the gut softens the playability. 4.5 male all-court player using Volkl Catapult 3 Gen 2 strung at 48/46 pounds CP (BDE Performance 17)

This string looks and plays like my normal string, which up until now was the best string I’ve ever played with. This new one is now my favorite. 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Hyper Carbon 4.3 strung at 64 pounds LO (Klip X-Plosive 17)

From the time I hit the first ball, I could tell this string was going to be great. I liked the ball speed it gives. It’s great for volleys, as well as for drop shots. I feel I have lots of control. The only setback is that the tension does not hold as long as my regular combination. I think this is a great string for serious tennis players. I rate it I am a chronic string breaker, so I use a hybrid, an “A.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head and I would use this one” Liquidmetal Rave strung at 62 pounds 5.5 male all-court player using Prince More Control CP (Luxilon Timo/Head RIP Control 18/16) DB MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Aramid/gut 16)

“This is a terrific string.

I am impressed with the level of feel this string provides, as well as its ability to maintain tension and resiliency over many hours of play. I would recommend it highly to power hitters who break strings frequently, but insist on a “feel” string. In fact, I’d have no problem recommending this universally to better players (4.0+). 4.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5G strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)

I’m really getting to like this combo of polyester mains and natural gut crosses. The poly offers control and durability while the gut softens the stringbed and improves playability. This setup has a very crisp yet comfortable feel, which I like very much. My only complaint is its lack of spin potential. I’d like to try this in a 17 gauge. 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Pro Staff 5.1 Surge strung at 56/60 pounds CP (Babolat Tonic 16)

I had no problem switching to this string. In fact, I used it in two USTA doubles matches and two USTA singles matches. The feel is comparable to my normal string, except for off-center hits, where it’s not as forgiving. When I buy this string, I will try it with the poly mains at 7 percent less tension to see if I can increase the pop. Very good control, and very good bite on the ball. 3.5 male all-court player using Gamma F-9.0 strung at 66 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 17)

Relatively difficult to install. This is a good choice for players who like to use lots of spin ond for those who use control and feel. This would be better suited for more proficient players, as there is little inherent energy in the stringbed itself. The reduction in tension and wear on the gut are worrying. 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Hyper Hammer 2.3 strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

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

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

Poly Gut’s overall average achieved its score with gut in the mains. There’s no telling what the score might have been had we instructed our playtesters to install Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut with Tourna Gut in the mains and Tourna Poly Big Hitter in the crosses, but if the past is any guide, Tourna Hybrid would have scored even higher.

One of the great things about hybrid string jobs is the flexibility they offer the player. You can put the more durable string in the mains and softer string in the crosses, or install them the other way to trade off durability for better playability, power, touch/feel, and comfort. From there, you can fine-

tune your set-up by raising or lowering the tension of the mains relative to the crosses. If you think that Unique Tourna Hybrid Poly Gut might be for you, Unique is offering a 50 percent discount on your first order. —Greg Raven Q
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ask
Q

the EXPERTS

Your Equipment Hotline
STRING BREAKAGE ON GROMMETLESS RACQUETS
I HAVE BEEN STRINGING FOR A 55year-old male (a good player but no powerhouse) who just purchased two Prince More Control DB 800 MP racquets, which have the Direct Contact String Channels instead of traditional grommets. I’ve been stringing them with Wilson Sensation 16 at 53 pounds on a Babolat Star 3. He is bringing them back to me sheared at the top. My first thought was to try to enlarge the holes and tube them, but I have also considered using a grommet grinder to open up the top 10 holes and insert the 3.5 mm Alpha grommets. Any suggestions? IF THERE WERE A PROBLEM WITH the Direct Contact String Channels, you would expect it to show up while you are pulling tension. However, you are using a fairly low tension, so it is possible that there is hidden string damage that only manifests itself later. Unfortunately, you are not very specific as to the location of the breakage. For example, if the string is breaking at a main that you’ve used when tying off, it could be that the anchor string is sustaining hidden damage. Enlarging the Direct Contact String Channels and installing grommets may help reduce breakage that results from this type of mis-hit, assuming a plastic grommet provides more protection for the string, but you risk ruining the frame in the process. At the very least, you will void the warranty. Your first step should be to ask your customer what shot he is hitting when these breakages occur. If you determine that the breakages are not the result of over-zealous tying off or mis-hits, any modification of the Direct Contact String Channels must be done with extreme care. Before trying to enlarge the grommets to insert tubing or replacement grommets, try smoothing the edges of any problem holes. Take a piece of heavy-gauge aramid string, coat it with paraffin wax, and polish the inside of the Direct Contact String Channels, paying special attention to the sides of the holes where the string touches.

‘TOUR’ STRINGING

Q

A

I AM TRYING TO UNDERSTAND how to string a racquet according to what, in my mind, has been known as a “tour” type of a string job, such that the strings carry a uniform tightness from side to side and top to bottom. When stringing for myself and others, I was taught to tie mains off at the sides but this loses tension after tying the knot and releasing the clamp. I have played with racquets strung “tour” style and have found them noticeably different on court. Is there a written guide for this way of stringing?

44 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

We strung the bottom racquet using the traditional two-piece technique and the racquet above using an advanced “box” technique. Note the reduction of the amount of string on the outside of the frame.

Tuesday requests 60 pounds and receives 57 pounds, he may be on the plane home from the tournament before he realizes what’s happening. Beyond that, tournament stringers often increase the tension on the last string before tying off, to compensate for the small tension lost when tying off. (Here again, consistency comes into play in the way tour stringers tie off.) As you can see in the Stringer’s Digest, the USRSA recognizes this practice, but it usually is not necessary.

A

PROBABLY THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of tour stringers is their consistency: Two string jobs that are supposed to be the same, are the same. This is especially critical when a player is experimenting to see what tension is right for him or her. If the first racquet was supposed to be at 60 pounds, but came out closer to 62 pounds, and the next day the player asks for 62 pounds but the racquet is delivered at 58 pounds, chances are the player is not going to be able to zero in on his “perfect” tension for that tournament. Likewise, if on Monday the player requests and receives a racquet strung at 60 pounds, but on

Tournament stringers also tend to string the crosses from the top down to the throat, on racquets where the crosses would normally be installed from the throat up. The Stringer’s Digest shows one way of accomplishing this with an “around-the-world” (ATW) technique, but typically tournament stringers use more exotic “box” techniques to enable them to string the crosses from top to bottom. “Box” stringing is more complex than the ATW technique, and there is no consensus on some of the fine points of various “box” patterns (which differ for every racquet configuration). Some tour stringers also strive to reduce the amount of string on the outside of the frame as part of the “box” technique, which some feel improves the playability of the racquet, along with the appearance. As we’ve mentioned before elsewhere, stringing an ATW or “box” pattern on some racquets will void the warranty, but players on the tour are generally more concerned with racquet playability than with frame longevity. —Greg Raven Q

A box-pattern re-stringing in progress.

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

July 2005 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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Readers’ Know-How in Action
SILICONE HANDLE WEIGHTING
I have customers who like the racquet they already have, but need more mass to help them hit bigger shots. Even though I’m adding mass, I often have to keep the balance the same, which means some of the additional mass has to go in the handle region. Rather than start out with fishing weights inside the handle, I fill the handle with silicone, using the heaviest (most dense) silicone I can find, using lead tape for fine tuning. There are a couple of things to keep in mind when using silicone to increase racquet mass. First, if you are doing more than one racquet, you have to be able to measure how much silicone you are injecting, so you aren’t making work for yourself later on when you try to match the racquets for weight, balance, and swingweight. I use large disposable calibrated syringes, but whatever method you use, you will probably need to experiment a bit before you know how much silicone to add for any given weight increase. Second, racquets with hollow handles are also going to be hollow all the way up the shaft, throat, and even into the hoop. If you just pop off the butt cap and inject the silicone, there’s nothing to stop it from running down into the racquet, where you don’t want it. To prevent this, inject the pre-measured amount of silicone from the butt end of the racquet (after taking off the trap door or removing the butt cap itself), and then tape the end of the handle and stand the racquet upright. The silicone will run to the bottom of the racquet, where you want it, and form a smooth, professional-looking insert. After curing, you can remove the tape and replace the trap door or butt cap. I then re-measure the weight, balance, and swingweight of the racquet, and calculate where on the hoop to place the lead tape to counter-weight

tips

and TECHNIQUES

46 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY July 2005

the new mass of the silicone. Aside from the obvious benefit of playing with a heavier racquet, racquets modified this way have nothing inside the handle to come loose and start rattling. Also, my clients tell me that the racquets play and feel better because of the vibration dampening properties of the silicone. 5 sets of Ashaway MonoGut 16L to: R. Casey Maus, Star Stringing Cathedral City, CA

5 sets of Gamma Zo Power 16L to: David Mindell, Star Stringing Cathedral City, CA

BEGINNING
EASIER STRING STRAIGHTENING
I like to straighten the strings while the racquet is still mounted in the stringing machine, but it can be difficult to get the

REATTACHING BUTT CAPS
We do a lot of racquet customizing, especially at pro tournaments, and in most cases the butt cap has to be removed. To reattach the butt cap after making the modifications, I’ve found that the best product is SEM Flexible Ure-Weld (part number 39406), available at stores that sell automotive paint. It’s designed to repair damage on flexible urethane parts (such as bumpers) before repainting, so it really grips plastic butt caps.

strings really straight because the background—the turntable of the stringing machine, the housing of the stringing machine, and even the floor—makes it difficult to see the strings clearly. The dark rubber mat I stand on, however, makes a perfect background, and you can really differentiate between the pattern of the strings and the solid dark background. In a pinch, I’ve even used dark walls to do the final check of string straightness. Having a solid dark background saves me only a few moments per racquet, but in a tournament situation, every moment counts, and the straighter the strings, the more professional the job looks. 5 sets of Forten Dynamix 16 to: Davis Driver, Star Stringing Cathedral City, CA —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.

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Your Serve
Something to Write About
A longtime tennis writer decries the declining coverage the sport has been receiving in local media. B Y M A R K W I N T E R S

I

t would be hard to fault any of the recent attempts to bring more people into the game. Increasing the numbers makes sense. The benefits to the industry are obvious. Unfortunately, while this crusade has been taking place, another troubling, much more subtle, issue has arisen. One that is certainly worthy of attention. Simply stated, stories about tennis tournaments or personalities in the game, in publications other than trade magazines, are withering away. If you doubt the truth of this statement, look at the coverage in local newspapers (or, more to the point, the lack thereof) during the past few years. High school play may receive a brief mention. If there happens to be a professional event in the area, a staff writer may take a day away from his or her pro baseball, basketball, or football training camp beat and come up with a line or two. The reality is, fewer and fewer papers are sending writers to Australia, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, and the US Open, as well as the Davis Cup and Fed Cup. For the most part, these special events are reported in impersonal recitations taken from wire-service offerings. Now, you ask, why should I care? The situation doesn’t affect my bottom line. Well, it does—and in a big way. When tennis is in the news, the industry realizes a payback. When the sport is covered indifferently, meaning it is used periodically as a sports-section filler or is not used at all, the game suffers and so do you. Like a parasite sucking the life from a beautiful tree, a lack of tennis coverage has been slowly devastating the game. In the old days (the early ’90s come to mind), pieces from local, national, and international events

filled the sports section. Currently, for an ever-growing list of seemingly sane “we are running a business” reasons, tennis stories are like a dead man walking. Sadly, few in the sectional or national administrative tennis hierarchy truly understand or are overly concerned about how dire this situation actually is. Even worse, organizations such as the U.S. Tennis Writers Association (of which I am a vice president), and the International Tennis Writers Association (I am a founding member), who are attempting to call attention to the problem do not have enough influence or “stick” to bring about a change.

“Beginning locally, newspaper, television, and radio personalities should be made aware of tennis activities that are unique and featurestory rich.”
By “stick,” I mean the economic leverage, which combined with “see the entire picture” leadership, gives support to grassroots “let’s get tennis in the news” campaigns. The point I am making is that many of those who are Racquet Sports Industry magazine readers have what it takes to launch an “increase the coverage” endeavor. Beginning locally, newspaper, television, and radio personalities should be made aware of tennis activities that are unique and feature-story rich. Focusing on involving these individuals—sports editors or columnists, city beat writers, television anchors or radio show hosts—to take part in or spend time at a tennis offering will result in converts. Borrowing from the

recent success that political action groups have enjoyed, letter-writing and e-mail efforts are additional ways to push for increased coverage, and more importantly they will help to initiate a dialogue. To do so, start looking at tennis from an “is this an interesting story…” perspective. Ask yourself, “Would I want to read about…” If the answer is “Yes,” then mobilize club members and those who frequent your store. Make use of your product representatives. Go out of your way to involve anyone with an active lifestyle. No question about it, it will take work. It will also require combating an “I don’t have the time” chorus. But, remember, if nothing is done, it will become even more difficult to find tennis stories in anything other than industry publications. Q

Mark Winters, who played college and professional tennis, is a former Junior Davis Cup team and college coach. He spent time as a USTA clinician nationally and in the Middle East. He has written about the game for more than 25 years, with his stories appearing in Tennis Week and Florida Tennis as well as the Los Angeles Times and a host of international publications.

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

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