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June 2006 Volume 34 Number 6 $5.

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BRING IT ON!
Create a Marketing Strategy That Attracts Business Checking In With The USTA’s Kurt Kamperman Simple Customer Service Techniques

Contents
7 8 9 9 9 10 FEATURES 25 Market Your Business
A well-thought-out marketing strategy will help you attract and retain customers.

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INDUSTRY NEWS 7 Steve Bellamy leaves
The Tennis Channel James Martin named editor of Tennis Mag Wilson becomes the official ball of WTA Tour Jimmy Connors launches instruction DVD series USTA debuts multicultural health initiative for kids Wilson’s W line adds Venus and Serena frames New Sharapova ad promotes the sport for TWCs Dick Gould, 8 others named to ITA Hall of Fame ASBA, USTA release new court construction manual USTA Organizational Member Starter Kit for clubs Lejay distributes new sun protective apparel line USPTA sets World Conference on Tennis in Vegas

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30 Community Service
When Kurt Kamperman became the head of Community Tennis, he aimed to refocus and reapply the USTA’s resources. How has he been doing these past three years?

34 Service & Return
These simple customer service techniques can help you increase your revenue.
Cover photo: Stephen Whalen Photography

DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 16 Tennis Participation: Advanta and WTT 17 High School Tennis: No-Cut Policy 18 Marketing Success: Kids + Parents 20 Your Finances: Health Insurance 22 Letters: Teaching Pro Membership

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Ask the Experts Tips & Techniques String Playtest: Wilson Natural Industry Resource Guide Your Serve, by Kevin Theos

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Our Serve
A Can’t-Miss Marketing Strategy
(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 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY Corporate Offices 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084 Phone: 760-536-1177 Fax: 760-536-1171 Email: RSI@racquetTECH.com Website: www.racquetTECH.com Office Hours: Mon.-Fri.,8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time Advertising Director John Hanna 770-650-1102, x.125 john@racquettech.com Apparel Advertising Cynthia Sherman 203-263-5243 cstennisindustry@earthlink.net
Racquet Sports Industry (USPS 347-8300. ISSN 01915851) is published 10 times per year: monthly January through August and combined issues in September/October and November/December by Tennis Industry and USRSA, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084. Periodicals postage paid at Hurley, NY 12443 and additional mailing offices. June 2006, Volume 34, Number 6 © 2006 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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any retailers and facility managers think the Tennis Industry Association is mainly for manufacturers. But that is sim-

ply not the case. Over the last few years, the TIA has quietly been expanding its reach to facilities and retailers to help them grow their businesses. And, to that end, the TIA has created some excellent tools that you should be taking advantage of.
In 2004, the TIA added new member levels with benefits for facilities and retailers, and TennisConnect.org began providing online tools to handle website building, court reservations, player matching, and much more for facilities. In fact, in the first four months of 2006, more than 350,000 online court reservations were made through TennisConnect. For more than a year, the TIA has incorporated a unique “Find a Player, Find a Court, Find a Program” feature on industry websites and major consumer sites such as Tennis.com and TheTennisChannel.com. The TIA also administers both the consumer and partner websites for Tennis Welcome Centers and Cardio Tennis. What’s making all this happen? Technology. For retailers and facilities looking to connect with customers and players, the amount of tech-driven products available from the TIA—and the quality—is amazing. TIA Executive Director Jolyn deBoer has made the tech focus one of her top priorities, and it’s paying off for everyone involved in this business. If you haven’t visited TennisWelcomeCenter.com or CardioTennis.com, you need to check them out. The features available for consumers, such as a ZIP code search of facilities, and the individual listings of programs, pro shops, player matching, directions, and much more, are outstanding. What’s even more important for you, though, is getting your facility signed up for these websites (go to Partners.TennisWelcomeCenter.com and Partners.CardioTennis.com). They’re a great, free way to market your business. As a TWC or Cardio site, you’ll have “real-time” access to all your information, so you can list programs and update your listing whenever you need to. You’ll be tapping into a proven success. And, on GrowingTennis.com, you can see all the different tools and services available to facilities, including funding opportunities through the 50-50 co-op program. DeBoer is coordinating a targeted marketing plan with one of the TIA’s partners, Blue Plate Media Services, that will have Tennis Welcome Centers in major newspapers and websites across the country, so potential customers will be able to find your facility easily. The program launched in early May, and after the first week, with just three markets, website traffic more than doubled. For your business, this could prove to be quite a powerful punch to your bottom line. Find out what the TIA can—and will—do for your business. Visit www.tennisindustry.org now, or call 843-686-3036.

Peter Francesconi Editorial Director

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RSI is the “official magazine” of the USRSA, TIA, and ASBA

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INDUSTRY NEWS
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU Martin Named Editor Of Tennis Magazine
Tennis Magazine has appointed James Martin as editor-in-chief. He succeeds Mark Woodruff, who served as editor-in-chief from April 1998 until October 2004 when he became editor-at-large for the magazine.
Martin becomes the sixth editor-inchief in the 41-year history of Tennis, which is the largest tennis publication in the world. He was a senior editor at the title and also the editor of Smash, a quarterly magazine aimed at teen-aged players launched earlier this year by Miller Publishing Group, which owns Tennis. “James brings a real passion for the game and a deep appreciation for the vital role Tennis Magazine plays in the community,” said Norb Garrett, the editorial director for Miller Publishing Group. “He has great vision and will be integral to our continued expansion of both Tennis and Smash magazines’ footprint into areas such as online media, mobile media, and other developing forms of media and brand extensions.” Martin, 34, joined Tennis in 1998 with an extensive background in tennis journalism, including positions with TennisMatch Magazine and Tennis Industry (now Racquet Sports Industry), a trade publication. He is also a contributing editor for RSI. Woodruff will continue with the magazine in his capacity as editor-atlarge through June, after which time his role will be further determined. A summa cum laude graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, Conn., with a BA in political science, Martin has played tennis since junior high.

RUN YOUR

BUSINESS

Steve Bellamy Leaves The Tennis Channel
teve Bellamy, the founder and president of The Tennis Channel, is stepping down from the cable television network to pursue other interests, according to a statement issued by TTC. Bellamy, whose vision for a 24-hour TV network devoted to tennis took shape over the last seven years, says he believes “it is the right time to make this change.” “I’ve been contemplating this for a while,” Bellamy says. “Although tennis is one of my life’s main passions, and the knowledge, experience, and relationships gained over the past seven years at The Tennis Channel were an incredible gift, there are a few other things in life that I’m really excited about doing. The rigors of travel for a hands-on, year-round international sport make it hard on family life, so before all of the summer tournaments begin it makes sense to make this move. When the network began I had one child, and today I have four. “My goal was very specific and deliberate in terms of what we needed to accomplish with The Tennis Channel: to get tennis on television 24 hours a day,” Bellamy adds. “We’ve done that and now it’s a firmly established media property that’s ready to move up to the next level.” Bellamy’s departure in mid-May comes on the heels of a restructuring of TTC’s senior management team (see page 12) a week earlier that saw the departure of Bruce Rider, the executive vice president of programming and marketing, who also left to pursue other interests, the network said. In the restructuring move, five long-standing vice presidents will report directly to TTC Chairman and CEO Ken Solomon. Industry insiders speculate that Bellamy’s exit may have been the result of a power struggle within the network that pitted him against Solomon. Sources indicate that while Bellamy’s vision, creativity, and personality helped create and sustain the network through its fledgling years, the cable channel had now entered a stage in its life cycle that required a leader with more practical experience. Solomon, who took over from Bellamy’s original partner, David Meister, in April 2005, came to the TTC with more than 20 years of cable TV experience in senior positions with top media companies. “Steve is a visionary, entrepreneur, and leader who is responsible for so much of the success we have already achieved,” says Solomon. “This network would not be where it is today without his unending enthusiasm for tennis and desire for a multimedia platform devoted to the sport.

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Wilson Named Official Ball of Sony Ericsson WTA Tour
ilson Sporting Goods and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour have signed a three-year agreement naming Wilson an official partner of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The deal, which begins this year and runs through 2008, will allow Wilson to expand its presence at major tournaments, including the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championships. Wilson also will create a line of Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Championship balls as well as various other cross-branded products. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour logo can be used in Wilson advertising, promotion, and packaging. Wilson can also enter into agreements with additional individual Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments, and the company will receive signage and promotional rights at the Championships. The new Championship ball will be used at the 2006 Tour Championships in Madrid. Additional Wilson sponsored events include the US Open, Australian Open, Davis Cup, and Fed Cup. “This new partnership underscores Wilson’s commitment to growing the sport of women’s tennis and strengthens our relationship with one of the most respected organizations in the global tennis community,” says Brian Dillman, general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Wilson, which is a brand synonymous with the very best in tennis balls,” says Stacey Allaster, president of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour (far right, with Dillman and Wilson pro player Ana Ivanovic).

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Top-Selling Racquets at Specialty Stores
By year-to-date dollars, January-March 2006 Separate Head Sizes 1. Babolat Pure Drive Team (MP) 2. Wilson nSix-One (16 x 18) (MS) 3. Prince O3 White (MP) 4. Wilson N3 (OS) 5. Prince O3 Blue (OS) Combined Head Sizes 1. Babolat Pure Drive Team 2. Wilson nSix-One 3. Prince O3 White 4. Head Flexpoint Radical 5. Wilson N3 (Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys) $164 $165 $187 $212 $223 $164 $164 $187 $167 $212

Classic Turf Products Used for Garage Deck Project
he City Center in White Plains, N.Y., recently installed the patented, cushioned Classic Turf System for two courts atop a parking garage. The project also includes recreation and walkway areas using products developed and supplied by Classic Turf. The Classic Turf Co., of Woodbury, Conn., is developing about 42,000 square feet of the total 50,000-square-foot project. In addition to the completed tennis courts (above), the company will install a 4,000-square-foot walkway and 3,000-square-foot sitting area using its exclusive Diamond Concrete System. The sitting area will be finished with 4 x 8 tiles on the Diamond Concrete. About 20,000 square feet of the rooftop will be Classic Turf artificial grass. For more on Classic Turf, visit www.classicturf.org, email sales@classicturf.org, or call 800-246-7951.

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Tennis Racquet Performance
Specialty Stores, January-March, 2006 vs. 2005 Units 2006 132,347 2005 116,632 % Change vs. ’05 13% Dollars 2006 2005 % Change vs. ’05 2006 2005 % Change vs. 05 $17,796,000 $15,834,000 12% $134 $136 -1%

Average Price

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INDUSTRY NEWS

USTA Debuts Multicultural Health Initiative for Kids
he USTA is partnering with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and major corporate and private sponsors on a health initiative called Disparity Elimination Using Care and Exercise, or DEUCE. DEUCE is designed to promote better health care and fitness among young minorities by combining the benefits of tennis training and exercise with health care and nutrition education from experts. It will also provide grants to qualifying youth programs. The program kicked off with an event April 28 at Washington's William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park. "Improving fitness among America's children is essential," says Dr. Garth Graham, HHS deputy assistant secretary for minority health. "This campaign will help us eliminate the risk factors, like obesity, that begin in childhood and lead to serious medical conditions including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes, which are responsible for long-term health disparities affecting minority communities." "The impressive array of partners that we have assembled is a testament to the popularity and draw of tennis for better health," says Karlyn Lothery, the USTA's chief diversity officer. "We have a country that is growing more aware of the issue of obesity and the diseases that are magnified by this problem. The DEUCE initiative is focused on helping to change the health and fitness of Americans by addressing health disparity through tennis." Eighteen tennis and health programs from across the country that are implementing the DEUCE concept have been awarded grants, totaling more than $200,000.

Connors Launches Instruction DVD Series
immy Connors is back in tennis. He’s just released a new six-set instructional DVD series, “Jimmy Connors Presents: Tennis Fundamentals.” “Tennis has been my life,” says Connors. “The DVD series reflects the attitude and passion that I put into the way I play tennis. [It] not only allows me to share my success with tennis players of all ages and levels, but also includes personal insight, interviews, and lessons with many of the world’s best tennis players.” The video series includes more than 10 hours of skills, drills, interviews, and on-court instruction. With stories and anecdotes along with philosophical discussions from the greatest players in tennis, viewers receive a rare and personal perspective on the game. The DVD series also includes some of tennis’ hottest stars, including Chris Evert, James Blake, Justine Henin-Hardenne, Mike and Bob Bryan, Rafael Nadal, Marat Safin, John Lloyd, Tracy Austin, Paradorn Srichaphan, Marcos Baghdatis, Sania Mirza, and tennis legend Pancho Segura. For more information, visit www.FoundationSports.com or call 800-480-8200.

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Wilson Adds Williams Special Edition Frames

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ilson has added two new racquets, created and inspired by Venus and Serena Williams, to the its W line of women’s high-performance frames. The new W3 Gypsy Rose and W5 Divine Iris will debut this year with both players switching to the new racquets at upcoming tour competitions. Venus Williams debuted the W5 recently at the J & S Cup in Warsaw, Poland, and Serena Williams is expected to change to her W3 at an upcoming tour competition, pending her return from injury. Both models will hit retailers in July 2006. Wilson says the Williams sisters expressed strong interest in becoming more involved in the W line, and they began working directly with the company to develop and design individual racquets that would allow them to reflect their signature style and personalities. In addition to the new cosmetics, the W3 Gypsy Rose and W5 Divine Iris feature Wilson’s nCode technology. Both the W3 Gypsy Rose and W5 Divine Iris will retail for $270. Wilson’s full line of W rackets is available in three head sizes and in a variety of nine additional cosmetics to match the level of performance and individual style of players, says the company. For more information, visit www.wilson.com.
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New Sharapova Ad Promotes the Sport
Facilities now have a new weapon in their marketing arsenal—Maria Sharapova. She’s the latest superstar to promote the sport of tennis to attract new and former players as part of an industry-wide initiative for Tennis Welcome Centers, the Tennis Industry Association and the USTA announced. Any location interested in becoming a TWC and receiving free marketing materials and national promotion on their facility and programs, including the Sharapova ad to use locally and a Sharapova poster to display, can register at www.Partners.TennisWelcomeCenter.com. The marketing campaign for TWCs includes print advertisements, broadcast spots for TV and radio, and promotion on the internet. For more information, visit www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com or contact the TIA at 843-6863036.

Gould, 8 Others Inducted Into ITA Collegiate Hall of Fame
he Intercollegiate Tennis Association inducted nine new members into its ITA Men's Collegiate Tennis Hall of Fame on May 24 during the NCAA Division I Men's and Women's Tennis Championships at Stanford University. The Class of 2006 consists of coaches Dick Gould (Stanford) and Bill Wright (California and Arizona), and players Jeff Borowiak (UCLA), Tom Edlefsen (Southern California), Dan Goldie (Stanford), Matt Mitchell (Stanford), Jared Palmer (Stanford), Richey Reneberg (SMU), and Ferdie Taygan (UCLA). Stanford's Gould highlights this year's ceremonies. Gould is widely regarded as not only the top collegiate tennis coach of all time, but among the best in any college sport. He guided the Cardinal to a record 17 NCAA team championships while coaching 10 NCAA singles champions and seven doubles champs during his 38 years at the helm.

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ASBA, USTA Release Tennis Courts Construction Manual
he fourth edition of Tennis Courts: A Construction & Maintenance Manual, is available now from the American Sports Builders Association and the USTA. The manual offers valuable information not just for builders and contractors, but for architects, engineers, court owners, tennis pros, club owners and managers, coaches, park and rec directors, and more. The 210-page publication includes updated information on all facets of tennis courts—planning and design, including design for different playing populations; construction guidelines; surfacing systems; and accessories and amenities. With more than 50 diagrams and charts and numerous color photos, the new edition also includes an expanded section on court maintenance, court accessories, fencing, landscaping and more. The manual is available through the ASBA or the USTA for $39.95, plus shipping and handling. You can order online at www.sportsbuilders.org.

New Book Deals With Issues of Turning Pro
s one of your players considering turning pro? A new book, Taking Your Tennis on Tour: The Business, Science and Reality of Going Pro, may be just what they, and you, need. The book, by Bonita L. Marks, guides players, coaches, and parents through the nuts and bolts of turning pro, covering topics such as the college-to-pro transition, creating a sponsorship program, marketing yourself, filing taxes, developing a business plan, mental and physical toughness, and much more. It also features stories and insights from former and current pro players and coaches. It’s available through Racquet Tech Publishing for $19.95. Visit www.racquettech.com or call 760-536-1177.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Lejay Distributes New Sun Protective Apparel Line
ejay is distributing a new line of sun protective activewear—called Sun-B-Wear—set to launch this summer. Each of the garments, made with a silky Meryl nylon and Lycra blend, provides an SPF of 30 or higher, says the company. The breathable, lightweight fabric is designed to keep moisture away from the skin and is machine washable and crease-resistant. The line also boasts features such as extended sleeves with thumb holes to protect the hands and a built-in sun visor. For more information, visit www.sunbwear.com or email info@sunbwear.com.

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USTA Organizational Member Starter Kit Offered for Clubs
he USTA has distributed more than 2,100 “Starter Kits” for clubs that are Organizational Members, designed to encourage individuals to join the USTA. The kit includes a framed poster highlighting benefits available to USTA members (including a free 2006 US Open hat upon joining). A plastic holder at the bottom of the poster holds USTA membership application forms. Also included is a USTA Organizational Member banner for display at the club. Clubs interested in joining the USTA as an Organizational Member, and receiving the Starter Kit, should call 800-990-8782.

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Tail Shows New Cardio Tennis Apparel
ail's new line of Cardio Tennis-specific apparel is scheduled to be shown in July, with delivery slated for November, says company President Andy Varat. Ads being prepared for the launch use the tagline, Put Your Heart Into It! and carry the Cardio Tennis logo and website (www.CardioTennis.co m). For more information, visit ww.tailinc.com or call

TTC Restructures

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Q Larry Meyers, VP Production, who oversees all tournament and original series production. Q Jene Elzie, VP Programming, who will continue to handle all program acquisitions, tournament rights and scheduling. Q Faye Walker, VP Marketing, who heads TTC’s brand, consumer, and ad sales marketing, and creative services. Q Lynn Forbes, VP Web and New Media, who heads the company’s efforts in new media, including web, broadband and wireless. Q Keith Manasco, VP Operations, who maintains all network functions and will now work closely with Solomon and report to CFO Bill Simon.

he Tennis Channel has restructured its senior management team. Departmental vice presidents now reporting directly to CEO Ken Solomon are:

Wilson Announces New Management For Luxilon and Pro Tour Services
ilson announced the full integration of the Luxilon business into its existing organization. With the separation from Rodaco International, Wilson will upgrade its players’ services for both Wilson and Luxilon players. John Lyons, global business director of Wilson Accessories, will manage the day-to-day Luxilon business related to product development and marketing. Michael Wallace, global tour director, will manage all players for both Wilson and Luxilon, along with the regional tour staff throughout the world. Both Lyons and Wallace report to Brian Dillman, general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. Wilson and Luxilon equipment will be distributed on-site each year during the four Grand Slams and the Nasdaq-100 Open. Product needs, other than the onsite distribution, will be handled by the Wilson Professional Tour Team.

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• Five-time Wimbledon champion Bjorn Borg has instructed Bonhams auctioneers of London to sell all of his Wimbledon trophies and two racquets from his 1976 and 1980 finals. The five silver-gilt trophies will be sold on June 21 as one lot, collectively expected to fetch $350,000 to $525,000. In addition, the two Donnay racquets were used to defeat Ilie Nastase in 1976 and John McEnroe in 1980.

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• Stanford graduate Patty FendickMcCain has been named NCAA Division I Tennis Most Outstanding Student-Athlete for her accomplishments in NCAA championships. The honor, which was bestowed as part of the NCAA's 25th Anniversary of Women's Championships, takes into account outstanding performances over the past 25 years. FendickMcCain competed in tennis at Stanford from 1983-87.

ASBA Sets December Technical Meeting
he American Sports Builders Association’s Technical Meeting will be Dec. 1 to 4 at the Plaza Hotel and Spa in Daytona Beach, Fla. Attended by builders, manufacturers, suppliers, designers, consultants and more, the ASBA Technical Meeting features educational seminars and presentations offering topics that can help you run your business better. Also, the ASBA trade show is one of the most important in the U.S. for tennis construction. In addition, ASBA certification exams will be held at the Technical Meeting and industry awards are presented. In other news, the deadline for submitting entries for the ASBA awards program is July 1. To apply for the awards, you must send for an application packet, which are $100 for each entry. For more information, or to join the ASBA, visit www.sportsbuilders.org, email info@sportsbuilders.org, or call 866-501-ASBA.

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• Boyd Tinsley, violinist in the Dave
Matthews Band and a huge tennis fan, has composed new theme music that will be used in ESPN2’s coverage of Wimbledon.

• Andrea Hirsch is the new general
counsel and chief legal officer at the USTA. In her role, Hirsch will oversee both the legal and human resources departments.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

USPTA Sets 2006 World Conference on Tennis
he USPTA’s World Conference on Tennis will be Sept. 18 to 23 at the Flamingo Las Vegas. With more than 35 sessions, seminars, and specialty courses, USPTA officials expect the World Conference will attract about 1,500 attendees, including tennis pros and industry leaders. Also during the conference, the USPTA will hold its International Tennis Championships, board and executive committee meetings, nighttime parties, industry meetings, a tennis-only buying show, awards presentation, and more. USPTA members, their friends and family, nonmember tennis-teaching professionals, industry leaders, and media are invited to attend the conference. Details, including registration information, will be available soon at www.uspta.com or by calling 800-877-8248.

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The 12-page Tennis Marketplace 2005 year-end executive summary, part of the extensive research done by the Tennis Industry Association, is available for TIA members. The report includes research and market intelligence highlighting macro trends, participation, consumer studies, dealer trends study, pro/specialty retail audit plus data from cost of doing business reports for facilities and retailers. For information on TIA research, call 843686-3036 or visit

Looking for tennis cards, stationery, posters, or notepads to stock for your shop? Check out Tennispaper.com, which has products that your players may find perfect for teams, leagues, parties, gifts, and more. Online orders ship within two business days. Visit http://retailers.tennispaper.com, or call 515-245-9516.

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SHORT SETS
The LBH Group Ltd. has hired three new sales representatives. Jackie McFarlane will be covering Michigan for all LBH brands (Lily’s of Beverly Hills, LBH, Wimbledon, and Fancy Pants). Bobbie Arakawa will be responsible for all the brands in Hawaii. And Joan Schaper will represent all brands in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

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marquee matches, exclusive post-match interviews, profiles and weekly blogs, behind-the-scenes tourney features, live commentary, and more. To sign up for the service, which is $69.95 for all nine ATP Masters Series events or $8.95 for individual tournaments, visit www.atpmastersseries.tv.

Tennis US Open Series tournament, Aug. 18 to 26 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Through July, tennis facilities in Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts conduct tournaments in parent-child and husband-wife divisions, and the winning duos have the chance to play at the Connecticut Tennis Center during the pro event.

>Harold Solomon, the director of tennis United States year in Austin, Sports >After aAssociation hasthe American offices at the Harold Solomon International Ten- >Thetitles at the 2006won three of the four team North/Central America Builders relocated its
nis Academy, is using SlingHopper ball bags at his academy.

back to Maryland. The ASBA’s mailing address is now 8480 Baltimore National Pike, No. 307, Ellicott City, Md. 21043. The toll free number remains 866-501-ASBA, and the new local numbers are 410-730-9595 (phone) and 410-730-8833 (fax). Website remains www.sportsbuilders.org and email is info@sportsbuilders.org. Tecnifibre has signed up-and-coming U.S. tennis stars Mary Gambale and Scott Oudsema to three-year contracts playing with Tecnifibre racquets and strings. Gambale, ranked No. 267 on the WTA Tour, will play with the Tecnifibre TFeel 315 racquet and NRG 17 string. Oudsema, ranked a career-high No. 380 on the ATP tour, will play with the Tecnifibre 315 racquet. For information about Tecnifibre products, visit www.tecnifibre.com. Jamea Jackson >Nineteen-year-oldtorookiethe U.S. Fed Cup went 2-0 in singles lead team to a 3-2 upset over host Germany in the quarterfinals. The U.S. will face Belgium in the semifinals July 12-13 at a site to be selected by the Belgian tennis federation. The U.S. leads all nations with 17 Fed Cup titles, but has not won the event since 2000. of San Antonio, Texas, has >Bak Bord Co.original name, Bakko Backreturned to its boards. The company’s long relationship with Nick Bollettieri has ended. For more information, contact 800-445-2673. Klip is offering a special on wristbands and headbands, both made of 100 percent cotton and feature the Klip logo in black. The headband is sold in a single pack, and the wristband in a two-pack. Until Aug. 31, buy six packs and get one at no charge, buy 12 and get 3 free, or buy 24 and get 8 free. Contact 866 KLIP USA or www.klipstrings.com. The ATP has launched a new broadband media service for the nine ATP Masters Series tournaments, which will include highlights of

>The International Tennis Hall of Fame is calling for nominations for its induction
Class of 2007. Printable nomination forms are available at www.tennisfame.com. Pilot Pen Tennis will >The be held during Family Classic Pen again the pro Pilot

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& Caribbean Regional Championships for the Junior Davis Cup (16-and-under) & Junior Fed Cup (16-and-under) by BNP Paribas, and the World Junior Tennis competitions (14-andunder), which took place in May in Mexico. The U.S. teams won the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup divisions as well as the boys' World Junior Tennis, while the girls' World Junior Tennis team finished second to Canada.

Babolat Offers New Line of Tennis Shoes
abolat, which first jumped into the shoe market last fall with the Team All Court, worn by Andy Roddick, has six shoe models for spring and summer. The range of shoes includes the Team line, which Babolat says are durable, high-performance competition models, and the Pure line, offering additional comfort for recreational players. Highlighting the Babolat collection is the new Team All Court Roddick, designed for and currently used by Roddick. All six shoes feature outsoles developed exclusively with tire maker Michelin. Babolat says the shoes, designed for all-court use, optimize lateral movement and offer stability and better reaction time with its “Exact–the Shoe Energizer” technology. The models also have Babolat’s Vibrakill, a shock-absorber in the heel. The new models are: Team All Court Men ($99 retail), Team All Court Roddick ($109) (not shown), Team All Court Lady ($89), Pure All Court Men ($79), Pure All Court Lady ($75), and Team All Court Junior ($54) (not shown). For more information, visit www.babolat.com or call 877-3169435.

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Team All Court Men

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INDUSTRY NEWS

USRSA MEMBER CLASSIFIEDS
RACQUET TECHNICIAN NEEDED: Very active tennis specialty shop in the Orlando, FL area (Winter Park) needs a really good RT. Prefer MRT but will consider any RT that is quality conscience and loves to string for both beginners and pros. You must interact well with customers and be well versed in string and racquet technology and terminology. Fax or e-mail resume to: John Gugel, MRT, johngugel@tennisrocks.net 407.673.9200 FOR SALE: Babolat Star 3: Completely Reconditioned by Tennis Machines Inc. $2800 Firm + Shipping. Please Contact Russ Sheh @ 760-318-0580. FOR SALE: Ektelon Model DE Stringing Machine. Unused for 10 years. Needs to be refurbished, $200. Please Contact James Wahl @ 678-762-1466.

ITA Names Div. II Award Winners
atias Oddone of Drury College in Missouri has been named the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s Senior Player of the Year in Division II. Other Division II men’s national award winners are Brenton Bacon, a freshman at Ferris State, Rookie Player of the Year; David Zink, Armstrong Atlantic State, Player To Watch; and Sebastian Niedermayer of Eckerd as the Arthur Ashe Leadership and Sportsmanship Award winner. Amine Boustani of Drury received the Wilson/ITA Men's Tennis National Coach of the Year Award.

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TENNIS

participation

Where Credit Is Due
Advanta teams up with WTT to bring tennis to thousands of children across the country.
BY KRISTEN DALEY
racquet frame and cover are branded with a team or event logo depending on where they receive the racquet, and the cover also bears the signature of WTT cofounder Billie Jean King. Young fans that visit more than one league match during the season can receive a racquet each time—all that Advanta asks is that they share the racquets with family, friends, and neighbors to help get them in the game. “The reach actually goes beyond the matches and the people coming to the event,” says David Goodman, director of communications for Advanta, the presenting sponsor and official business credit card of WTT. To further capture a child’s interest and excitement about the game, Advanta and WTT teamed up to create, “The Incredible Journey of the Wellington Tennis Twins,” a fictional story about Lara and Josh Wellington, siblings who dream of becoming pro tennis players. The twins work as ballkids for WTT matches and eventually are drafted to the league. “We feel that tennis is important, but so is education,” says Kloss. “It’s really about trying to give back to each of these communities, and to the kids in the communities.” Last season, Advanta took its goodwill a step further, offering children at matches in St. Louis and Springfield, Mo., vouchers for a discounted tennis lesson or program at their local parks and recreation department. “We continue to try different things and work with partners in each of the communities to try and get more kids in the game or get kids thinking about tennis as a fun way to get involved in sports,” says Kloss. Adds Goodman, “Hopefully, we’ll spark these kids to get active, or to get more active. The goal is not only to play tennis, the goal is healthy kids.” Q

iving credit is their job. But Advanta, a credit-card provider in Spring House, Pa., has been getting quite a bit of credit of a different sort lately. Together with its partner, World TeamTennis, Advanta has been helping to introduce the game of tennis to thousands of youngsters in the U.S. Since the inception of the “Ready, Set, Racquet” program in 2003, Advanta, one of the nation's largest issuers of MasterCard credit cards to small businesses, has distributed more than 75,000 racquets to children ages 4 to 16 at WTT matches and special events, as well as at the nowdefunct Advanta Championships, a former WTA Tour stop. The company has also donated racquets to groups like Arthur Ashe Youth Tennis & Education in Philadelphia, of which it is a principal sponsor. “Tennis can be sustained throughout life and therefore yields lifelong health benefits,” says Advanta CEO Dennis Alter, an avid tennis player. “We are committed to introducing children to the benefits of a healthy, active lifestyle, both on and off the court.” “They are doing this for the good of the sport and these kids,” says Ilana Kloss, WTT commissioner and CEO. At WTT events, children receive a racquet, racquet cover, and tennis ball. Each

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16 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

high school

TENNIS

USTA Offers Support and Recognition To H.S. Coaches With No-Cut Policies
BY PETER FRANCESCONI

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ne of the most memorable and fun experiences that high-school students can have is the opportunity to be on a team, to contribute toward a common goal with their fellow students. And now, with high-school tennis, that opportunity is expanding. The USTA is spreading the word about “no-cut” tennis teams and recognizing high-school coaches who implement a nocut policy at their schools. A no-cut policy means that, essentially, every student who wishes to play is welcome to join the team. “Tennis teams could be comprised of a dozen kids, or 20, or 30 or more,” says Kirk Anderson (below), the USTA’s director of Recreational Coaches and Programs. “It’s great for the kids, because they have the chance to be on a team with their classmates, practicing and playing matches. And it’s great for tennis, because these kids stay in the game.” Some high-school coaches may, at first, think a no-cut policy could be a bit daunting. But the USTA has created a High School Advisory Team of veteran tennis coaches to offer advice, guidance, and resources. The Advisory Team members, who each have run no-cut tennis teams for decades, will answer questions that other coaches may have about implementing a no-cut policy. The Advisory Team can be reached via email at highschool@usta.com. The USTA also is recognizing those coaches who run a no-cut tennis team, says Anderson. High-school coaches should visit www.usta.com to register their programs online. “When a coach registers, we’ll send him or her a certificate congratulating them for their program and recognizing that while it may be more work, it’s creating the next generation of tennis players in the U.S.,” Anderson adds. In addition, the USTA will send a letter to the coach’s principal and athletic director acknowledging the coach’s dedication to his

students. Also, of the coaches who register, two will be selected to receive the National No-Cut Starfish Award and will be sent all expenses paid to New York City at the end of August to attend the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference and the first few days of the US Open. “High-school coaches may be wondering, how do I run a program with 20 or 30 kids? How do I schedule practices and matches? How can I make this work with my budget? ” says Anderson. “That’s what our Advisory Team can help you with. These are people who have done this sort of thing for many years.” The Advisory Team consists of Tiger Teusink of Holland High School in Holland, Mich., who during his 41-year coaching career averaged 47 kids on his teams each year; Dave Steinbach of Brookfield Central near Milwaukee, who in his 35 years has had several state championship teams and currently has 112 girls on his team, comprised of a varsity and six j.v. squads; and Sarah Miller of Kennewick, Wash., a coach for 17 years who has 140 high school boys and girls on her teams this year. “These people have been there,” says Anderson of the Advisory Team. “They can advise on all aspects of how to make it work for your program, and for your students.” For more information, visit www.usta.com or email highschool@usta.com. Q
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&

marketing

SUCCESS

Pull In the Youngest Players, and You’ll Get Their Parents, Too
BY JOE DINOFFER
Here are some tips to capture the moment in your own backyard. to determine what length junior racquet they will use for that hour.

DEMOGRAPHICS AND MARKETING
You might not have a program for children in that young age range. However, it might be a “sleeper” program that’s just waiting for you to shake awake. Check out other sports and activities for children in that 3- to 6-year-old target age and you’ll probably wonder why you never noticed them before. Another place to check is the local pre-school and kindergartens. Then, it’s just a question of getting the word out with some fliers, newsletter bulletins, and introductory free programs. At the Lakewood Country Club, Tennis Director Adrian Chabria promotes his “Future Stars” program with the message, “Give your kids the tools to be an athlete for life.” He also tells the parents, “Have the kids come as they are. And no racquet required”—meaning that the parents do not have to invest in special clothing, and he supplies junior tennis racquets and foam Hand Racquets.

HIRE THE RIGHT STAFF
Chabria also hired a young woman who teaches motor skills and gymnastics to very young children. Although she has little tennis experience, she has a strong background in group games and activities that keep young children engaged and having fun. She has quickly endeared herself to the children and the parents. For the first 15 minutes of each 60minute session, this young lady directs the warm-up for all the children. It’s fun, fastpaced, and the laughter at the start of each session is contagious. For student-to-teacher ratio, Chabria feels strongly that each child should get a lot of attention. When he has 40 children in the program, he schedules nine total staff members to work with the children.

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t’s always fun to see juniors spread out and be active on a number of tennis courts. But it becomes magical when practically all of the kids are so young they measure their growth by seeing if they are as tall as the net. One week the net is taller than they are; the next week they grow a little and the net has some competition. “Yes-s-s!” exclaims one of the youngsters. “I’m finally as tall as the net!” Demographics have a big impact on the sign-ups for tennis programs. At the 100-year-old Lakewood Country Club in Dallas, there’s been a baby boom in recent years. Out of nowhere, parents of 40 or more children from 3 to 6 years old fill the parking lot several times a week. And, since parents of children this age tend to watch their youngsters learn and laugh through their first sporting experiences, the viewing deck is taken over with proud and smiling adults. After all, nearly the entire six-court facility is packed by the smiling faces of their own children. The only challenge is to figure out who’s having more fun, the children or the parents. It really is magical. This is the type of program that sets the stage for years of success to come.

USE THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT
The tennis staff at Lakewood uses foam balls, foam racquets, short racquets, color-

BELLS AND WHISTLES
People are always attracted to bells and whistles, but young children are drawn to fun and excitement almost as much as they are to ice cream. In your free “get the word out” programs, consider hiring a clown or dress up your pros with wigs and big red noses. This is one of the tricks that Chabria at Lakewood Country Club has used right from the start. Other standards he incorporates in his program are regular give-away prizes. He has also laminated and posted a height chart provided by Head/Penn. When checking in for each session, the kids just stand next to the height chart

18 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June

2006

ful spots, donuts, hoops, and even blow-up targets to keep these youngsters interested and as focused as possible. Since their attention spans are about as short as they are, it’s no wonder Chabria and his team change drills and games every couple of minutes.

SERVE THE KIDS, SERVE THE PARENTS
It’s almost guaranteed: If you capture the interest of the children, the parents will be next in line. After all, parents are going to do something with their children. It might be swimming, going to the playground, ice-skating, or to the soccer field. Grab the interest of the children early on and it’s likely you can get the entire family involved in tennis for years to come. Remember, one activity or another will be the first to capture each child’s attention and interest. Why not make tennis that first activity? If it can happen in Dallas, it can happen in your backyard as well. 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.

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$

YOUR

finances

Can You Afford to Offer Health Insurance?
BY MARK E. BATTERSBY
to expand coverage to an additional 515,000 of the state’s 6.4 million residents during the next three years, it sidesteps some smaller employers, generally those with 10 or fewer employees. The bad news is that an increasing number of states—23 at last count—are also considering bills that would force employers to provide some health insurance coverage for workers or pay a penalty. While there are loopholes, exemptions, and a great deal of controversy connected with this bold universal health-care initiative, it raises an interesting question: Can your facility or shop afford to offer health insurance to employees? drugs. Another key to affordability is to shop around from carrier to carrier. Another is to share the cost with employees. And, don’t forget that the tax deduction for “self-employed” facility operators and retail shop owners is 100 percent of the cost (for themselves, spouses, and dependents) subtracted from adjusted gross income. The deduction is limited to the operator’s net annual income derived from that selfemployment, minus the deduction for 50 percent of the self-employment tax and/or the deduction for contributions to Keogh, self-employed SEP or SIMPLE plans. The biggest savings, though, often result from “high-deductible” health insurance plans. On average, premiums decrease by 10 percent to 30 percent when the deductible jumps from $500 to $2,000, according to Emily Fox, spokesperson for eHealthInsurance.com, an online insurance referral service.

INSURING THE MASSES
Soaring premiums have placed health insurance in the category of a luxury that an estimated 43 million individuals cannot afford. Health insurance is also rapidly becoming far too expensive for many large employers. What chance does the average tennis business have of being able to afford coverage for its employees, let alone its owner? According to a recent survey by the non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation, small businesses (defined as those with three to 199 employees) experienced a 9.8 percent increase in health insurance premiums in 2005. The average small business now pays $4,032 a year for individual coverage and $10,584 for a family. Facing competition with larger businesses in attracting workers, small business owners may, according to many experts, be better off finding ways to reduce the cost of health-care insurance rather than not offering it. In many cases, you can lower premiums by increasing deductible levels or raising the co-payment amounts for certain services, such as office visits and prescription

assachusetts recently passed and sent to its governor legislation making health insurance mandatory for every resident. One controversial provision would fine any business that failed to provide health insurance $295 a year for each employee. The plan aims to make both individuals and businesses more responsible for covering the state’s citizens. Massachusetts officials are confident they can bring down the cost of insurance by adding to the number of people in the insurance pool and by allowing insurers to offer less expensive plans with less extensive coverage. The state’s universal healthcare plan also calls for combining the markets for small businesses and individuals, a move state lawmakers say should lower the cost of individual policies by nearly 25 percent. The good news for many tennis businesses is that while Massachusetts’ goal is

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HSA AND MSA
Although a high-deductible plan can be difficult for many employees to stomach, a business offering to contribute part of the money saved on premiums into a Health Savings Account (HSA) for each worker can help ease the financial burden. The IRS allows both employers and individuals to set aside pre-tax dollars into an HSA to help pay for out-ofpocket medical expenses, including those steep deductibles. Contributions made to such plans by an employer are, of course, tax deductible. Much like IRAs, pre-tax contributions to an HSA are limited. In 2005, HSA contributions couldn’t exceed the lesser of the annual deductible or $2,650 for self-coverage or $5,250 for families. Distributions or withdrawals from HSA accounts that are not used to pay medical expenses must be included in income and are subject to a 10 per-

20 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

cent penalty. With an HSA, however, any money that is not used in a given year can be rolled over into the next for future medical expenses. Employees of small businesses as well as those who are self-employed also can take advantage of Archer Medical Savings Accounts (MSAs) to pay health care expenses—provided, of course, that accounts are held in conjunction with high deductible health insurance. Archer MSAs, similar to IRAs, are created solely to defray un-reimbursed health-care expenses. Contributions to MSAs are made with pre-tax dollars and distributions are not included in gross income if used to pay for qualified medical expenses.

WHO IS AN EMPLOYEE OF WHOM?
Contributions by an employer to provide accident and health benefits are not taxable to the employee. The employer’s contributions are, of course, deductible. When it comes to health insurance or any fringe benefit paid to employees of a business operating as an S corporation,

the tax treatment is different for employee-shareholders than for other employees. Fringe benefits paid to S corporation employees who are not shareholders, or who own 2 percent or less of the outstanding S corporation stock, are taxfree. However, an owner-employee who owns more than 2 percent of the S corp stock can deduct 100 percent of the amount paid for medical insurance for him, his spouse, and dependents. The payment of premiums by a partnership for a partner’s health or accident insurance is generally deductible by the partnership and included in the partner’s gross income. The partner can deduct 100 percent of the cost of health insurance premiums paid on his or her behalf.

MEDICAL REIMBURSEMENT PLANS
The IRS allows small businesses to reimburse their employees for medical expenses. The business sets the amount of money it is willing to lay out every year and the employee then goes out

and purchases health insurance on the individual market. Payments from these Medical Reimbursement Plans are tax-free for the employee and tax deductible for the business. One of the nicest features is that it allows employers to offer some type of medical benefit without the headaches of worrying about rising premiums. But ever-rising health insurance costs remain an important consideration for both business owners and employees. Fortunately for businesses, health insurance is not yet mandatory. However, the Massachusetts plan and universal coverage plans under consideration in other states may be an indication of things to come. There’s no better time to investigate health-care insurance, options for your employees, and the tax deductions that just might help make it affordable for your business. Q

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

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letters: TEACHING PRO MEMBERSHIP RESOLUTION BR
BY KEN DEHART, PTR & USPTA MASTER PROFESSIONAL 

A longtime pro is baffled by a ruling that he feels stifles the gam

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ow often do you hear something that just makes you wonder, “What the heck is that all about, and how could that have happened in the first place?” Well, that’s exactly what I thought when I heard that at the September USPTA National Conference in Marco Island, Fla., a binding resolution was passed through the Executive Committee by the National USPTA Board that said, in part: 1. No USPTA member who is also a PTR member may serve USPTA as an Executive Committee member at the national level (current members are “grandfathered” in until end of their term). 2. No USPTA member who is also a PTR member may serve as a USPTA Divisional Officer in the position of President or Regional Vice President. 3. No USPTA member who is also a PTR member may be a national tester. For those of us who feel we’re doing all we can to contribute to the health, wellbeing, and growth of tennis, this ruling raises a lot of questions and concerns. For instance: • Why is it so important that a USPTA professional not be a member of the PTR? • Why is it a problem in belonging to any organization that is helping to grow the game of tennis? • Who in the USPTA leadership feels that serving the tennis industry through whatever means possible is a conflict of interest? • Why make such a ruling at this time, when everyone in the tennis industry is supposedly coming together to help grow tennis to the status we all feel it belongs? • When did the much-admired characteristic of seeking professional growth through the learning opportunities afforded by different organizations (USTA, TIA, USRSA, USPTA, PTR—or any other organization, for that matter) become a problem in this industry?

• How will belonging to one of these organizations affect my ability to financially afford belonging to any of the others? • Why was the USPTA general membership not notified of the need for this ruling, or the fact that it even was being considered, let alone passed? In 1976—about 30 years ago, as my USPTA 30-year pin says—a rookie wannabe tennis teaching instructor took the USPTA test with Bill Tym in Chattanooga, Tenn., and became a USPTA Professional. Seeking to further expand my knowledge, and wanting to be a credible tennis teaching pro, I drove with a friend from Nashville to Sarasota, Fla., and took a 10-day workshop and test to become a PTR Professional. Years later, I served as executive director of the PTR, with never a thought that my membership in the USPTA was a conflict of interest. My only aim was to continue to be of service to this great game in any way I could. I was never instructed by the PTR that being a member of the USPTA was a conflict of interest or financial commitment. Since then, I have been: • a USPTA Divisional officer • two-time Southwest USPTA Pro of the Year • two-time NorCal USPTA Pro of the Year • PTR International Pro of the Year • a USPTA Master Professional • one of the eight original PTR Master Professionals • a USPTA Executive Committee member • a Top 10 Career Development USPTA Professional for 10 years • a PTR National Tester (I wanted to be a USPTA Tester as well, but I wasn’t allowed to be. However, when I test members for the PTR, I tell them how they join the USPTA as well.) I list these credentials not to boast, but to demonstrate the opportunities available to me by being a member of both the USPTA and PTR. Not once have I considered being a member of one organization a con-

flict of interest with the other. What am I? I’m proud to be a tennis teaching professional who feels a responsibility to service the tennis industry, the students I teach, the club for which I serve as director of tennis, and my own professional growth in any way possible. I am professional enough to know how to serve several organizations without confusing my lines of professionalism or duties. As it now stands, to serve my division in a key capacity or to continue to be involved with USPTA as a chair of the Continuing Education Committee or become a national tester, I must either drop my PTR membership (which I could not do if I were a lifetime member), or cancel my PTR membership for the time I plan to serve the USPTA as an Executive Committee member. (If I were not a current PTR Master Pro, that would prohibit me from becoming one, since one of the criteria is to have 10 consecutive years of membership in the PTR.) Some clubs even have as a requirement that the professional must be a member of both organizations. So what is a pro to do if he is a leader in both organizations? There are some members currently on the USPTA Executive Committee (USPTA Divisional Officers) who are members of the PTR as well and will be “grandfathered” in to finish their term in their division. Then they must decide to become USPTA or keep their PTR membership and not serve in the future. I asked one of the USPTA national officers how such a binding resolution could pass. His comment was something along the lines of, “I didn’t see a reason for it not to, I guess.” Another common comment is, “It’s a business and we are both competing for membership dollars, and when a pro joins the PTR it takes away from our income.” Not so if the pro sees the benefit of belonging to both organizations, which happens a lot in our area and in the South. Other comments have included: “The PTR takes away from our endorsement dollars since manufacturers give to both organizations.” “The USTA feels compelled to give

22 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

RINGS UP CONCERNS
The head of the USPTA says it’s a matter of competing businesses.
BY TIM HECKLER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, USPTA

me’s growth.
both the PTR and USPTA equal opportunities to present USTA programs and grants that could all go to the USPTA.” Why should this even be a consideration by the USPTA? Aren’t there other, much more major, problems out there to solve? Be the best you can be for the USPTA pros and the tennis industry. All this ruling does is limit experienced professionals around the country—who choose not to drop their PTR affiliation— from serving the tennis industry or the USPTA in certain leadership capacities. I am currently hosting a PTR Mini-Symposium in my area that is open to all PTR and USPTA pros, high school and college coaches that the USPTA will not support because it promotes the PTR and someone might join the PTR (how about they may join the USPTA as well?). How about we get high school and college coaches to become more educated and get involved in our tennis industry? I suppose these comments and questions will end my potential to continue as a speaker at the USPTA National Conference and some Divisional Conferences in the future. But it certainly will not end my desire to continue to grow educationally, to share my experiences with both USPTA and PTR members, and to someday become a USPTA Executive Committee member again by serving as a President or Regional Vice President of my NorCal division. It certainly will not end my desire to serve the PTR, the USTA, or any other organization that promotes the education of tennis pros or the growth the sport I love: Tennis.

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n this issue of RSI, a letter by a longtime USPTA and PTR member complains that USPTA no longer allows PTR members to serve on its most confidential Executive Committee. The letter writer, however, is incorrect on this issue. This argument has been published in other magazines using a series of questions, one being: “What was the need for this ruling at a time when everyone in the industry is supposedly coming together?” I’ll answer this with a very clear analogy, one that involves three dominant tennis companies: Head, Wilson, and Prince. While these companies willingly sit on the TIA board of directors, where common plans for industry improvements are discussed and carried out, not one of these companies would dream of allowing a representative of one of their competitors to sit in on a company board or executive committee meeting, where the formulation or release of new programs or technologies takes place. And, no one in our industry would question this decision. Similarly, both Dan Santorum (PTR) and I sit on the TIA board together, but we certainly do not expect to sit on each other’s respective company boards. The belief that the USPTA ruling will create disharmony in our industry or prevent qualified pros from speaking at educational events is simply unfounded. The crux of the matter is that many people just don’t see USPTA and PTR as business competitors. But, both companies are fighting for the same membership resources much the same way that other companies compete for customers. Another thing that is greatly misunderstood is the nature of the respective governances of USPTA and PTR. USPTA, much like USTA, is run by an executive committee, board of directors, and various other committees. All policy matters are resolved by the board and executive committee. USPTA has 17 divisions that are very much aligned along the same boundaries as the USTA’s sections. The executive committee is composed of the president and regional vicepresident of each division, the national board of directors, and the three immediate past presidents. This 45-person body governs USPTA by representative democracy in the same way that

Congress governs our country. Should anyone suggest that USPTA’s entire 14,000 members be polled or informed of this or every other decision, the answer is simply that it is impossible to govern that way. There is no such thing as a referendum democracy. Our democratically elected executive committee makes many policy decisions on behalf of the general membership during each of its meetings, and its 34 divisional representatives have every right to report these decisions to their constituents. As a matter of fact, and by way of example, in November 2004, the Northern California Division passed a bylaw that prevents PTR members from serving on its division board. Almost six months later, in April 2005, it was resolved at the national level that USPTA testers could not be members of PTR. Then, in September 2005, it was resolved at the national level that our most important and confidential committee should follow the same rules. This issue is not new and our division leaders have had ample time to discuss it with their constituents. We differ from PTR in other important ways. Our national association returns 35 percent of all dues to our divisions to run additional programs at the grassroots level. PTR, by comparison, has its policies set by one or two people, has no official division structure, expenses, or governance by them. Due to USPTA’s form of governance, by having inside information, PTR can copy or beat us to the punch on every program we are about to initiate. Up until recently, USPTA has allowed people with divided loyalties to serve on its most confidential governing bodies. This has resulted in the duplication of USPTA programs and member services, while other programs have been impeded. For years USPTA has dealt with these types of business conflicts, which further substantiates the competitive analogies above. The most vocal critic of our policy previously served as the executive director of PTR, which in itself explains the basis of his loyalty and the motive of his complaint. He just does not see that USPTA regards itself as a business and not a fraternity for those who teach tennis.

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REACHING OUT
BYLINE?

MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS

A well-thought-out marketing strategy will help you attract and retain customers.
ou can put together all the best tennis programs in the world, offer the best lessons, stock the best products in your shop. But if you can’t get people onto your courts or into your store, it’s all a waste of time and money. That’s where marketing comes in. To attract and retain customers, you need to market your tennis facility, shop, or business. And you need to target your marketing to the right customer group or groups for maximum effect. Marketing, of course, is a huge topic—every year, dozens of books are published about the subject. But that’s because all businesses—including yours—need to do something to market their products and services. Even if you don’t currently have an actual “marketing plan,” you’re already doing some things that would be considered “marketing.” Otherwise, you’d be out of business. Many of the tennis directors and retail shop owners that we talk to regularly say the best marketing for their business is simply the great attributes of tennis itself. “Let’s just tell people the truth about all the good things that tennis has to offer,” says Ajay Pant, the general manager of the Indian Creek Racquet Club in Overland Park, Kan. “Tennis is good for you, tennis is wonderful.” But whether pushing the sport or your specific business, “marketing” involves a lot of different areas—sales, advertising, pricing, customer relations, etc. And while we obviously can’t cover all the areas of marketing that you need for your tennis business on these pages, we can present some ideas and strategies that you may find

BY PETER FRANCESCONI

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useful in boosting your business and reaching the right customers—the ones who will boost your bottom line.

It’s About Information
Successful marketing depends on a few keys: Q Research, which will help you determine what your customers want and need. Q A marketing strategy that you develop after analyzing your competitive advantages. Q Targeting the markets that you want to serve. Q Determining what marketing components will best help you attract and retain your customers. Market research, according to the American Marketing Association, is the systematic gathering, recording, and analyzing of data about problems relating to the marketing of goods and services. Timely and relevant market information is important to all businesses. This type of market research may sound time-consuming and expensive, but it doesn’t need to be. In fact, you’re probably already doing things that could rightly be deemed market research. For instance, have you ever asked former players why they may have dropped out of the game, or asked a current player why he switched racquet or shoe brands, or would rather play on one court surface over another? Have you ever checked out what your competitors are doing in terms of pricing? All of this is a form of market research.
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MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS
“I keep track of our customers, what they buy, when they bought it,” says Chris Gaudreau of the Racquet Koop in New Haven, Conn. “We keep records on customers’ brands, type of shoe, type of string.” You can also do more detailed research. For instance, ask your customers to complete a brief questionnaire about their playing preferences, equipment choices, ideal playing partners, or programs they’d like to see. And, of course, you can always hire a specialist to do even more detailed and formal marketing research into your business and your customers. Don’t forget that a wealth of information about the tennis business and tennis players is already available through the annual U.S. Tennis Participation Study by the USTA and TIA. The TIA (www.tennisindustry.org) also has many other research reports available that you can use to help determine your marketing. court times that constantly get screwed up, and they’ll hear about the minor gripes, too, such as no soap in the restroom. They’ll also pick up on products that your customers want but you may not stock. Want to get even more involved in gathering research, but have no real budget for it? Consider asking a nearby college or university business school for help. Your business might even be taken on as a class project.

Plan Your Strategy

To create your marketing plan, take into consideration whether you’re giving your customers the right products and services, offering the programs they’re looking for, and indeed, even reaching the right customers in the first place. A good strategy will help your business focus on the target markets it can serve best. But planning your marketing strategy doesn’t just involve tailoring your products and services, it also gets into pricing and your To come up with the right marketing strategies for your facility, promotional efforts to reach your potential customers. Think of pro shop, stringing service, or the marketing plan as your any business, you need to ask roadmap. the right questions when gatherThe plan determines “what For your business to succeed, not only is it important for you to analyze ing information. For instance: paths you will take, which turns your own market, it’s also important to understand your competition. Q Who are my customers and you will make, and, most imporHere are some tips adapted from the U.S. Small Business Administration potential customers? tant of all, where you are going,” (www.sba.gov) that can help you get the drop on your competitors. Q Where do they live? says “guerrilla marketing” coach First, ask yourself some questions about your competitors: Q Can and will they buy my racAl Lautenslager on EntrepreQ Who are your five nearest direct competitors? quets and apparel, sign up for neur.com. “A plan offers a simQ Who are your indirect competitors? my programs, book court ple strategy or set of strategies, a Q Is their business growing, steady, or declining? time? marketing calendar, an evaluaQ What can you learn from their operations or from their advertising? Q Am I offering the kinds of tion system, and a selection of Q What are their strengths and weaknesses from a customer standproducts, programs, and serweapons and tactics that give point? How can you capitalize on their weaknesses and meet vices that they want? you complete control of your the challenges of their strengths? Q Are my prices consistent with marketing.” Q How do their products, programs, or services differ from yours? what customers consider The information you gathered value? You may want to start a file on each of your competitors that includes from the market research will Q Are my promotional programs advertising, promotional materials, and pricing strategies. You probably help you develop initiatives, working? do some of this unconsciously already, for instance noting your competiaction plans, follow-up plans, Q What do customers think of tors’ ads in local publications, or picking up their brochure or catalog. accountability, and measuremy facility or shop? ments that will help you run your Review your files periodically to determine your competition’s advertisQ How does my business combusiness more effectively, and ing venues and frequency, their promotions and sponsorships, and how pare with my competitors? allow you to attract and retain often they offer sales. Take note of the text they use in their advertising Keep in mind that researchcustomers. Keep in mind, and promotional material. ing your marketplace is not an though, that your plan needs to exact science—people’s opin- To gather information on your competitors, check out what’s available be somewhat flexible to respond ions and feelings are influenced on the internet, including your competitions’ websites. Also, why not to changes. “Markets change, by many factors and constantly visit their locations? See how they interact with customers, what the customers change and company change. But gathering facts this facility or shop looks like, how they display their products. intentions and activity changes,” way will tell you what your cussays Lautenslager. Talk to customers. Find out what they’re saying about your competitors. tomers want and how to present Also consider your target Finally, analyze your competitors’ ads to find out about their target audiit to them in an attractive way. markets—concentrating your ence, market position, products, services, prices, etc. Timely and relevant research efforts on a few key market seginto your customers also will ments may bring you the highest help you reduce business risks, spot upcoming trends or probreturn on your investment. And never forget the value of word of lems in the market, and identify sales opportunities. mouth. Don’t forget that your own employees may be one of the best “I believe that if you do a good job of word of mouth, that will sources of information you have about your customers and playwork,” says the Racquet Koop’s Gaudreau. “I do no advertising.” ers. Encourage your employees tell you what your customers are That’s echoed by Steve Vorhaus, owner of Rocky Mountain saying. Employees will hear about the big complaints, such as Racquet Specialists in Boulder, Colo. “We do some very tradition-

Ask the Right Questions

What Are Your Competitors Up To?

26 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

Often, marketing and advertising aimed at adults will pull their children into your programs, too.

al print advertising,” he says. “But from an outreach standpoint, our most successful venues are word of mouth, and institutional business with local parks departments and local high schools, so we get infused into those communities.”

The Marketing Mix
The U.S. Small Business Administration identifies a few key components that combine into an overall marketing plan: products and services, promotion, and pricing. “Any marketer has to go into any project with integration,” says Scott Hazelwood, the marketing director of the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, Conn. “All these different parts have to be working together.” Strategies that involve products and services may include narrowing or limiting your product line. For instance, if you determine that your market is mostly older couples without children, you probably don’t need to stock junior racquets, and you may want to have more “forgiving” frames. Or if you have “serious” league and tournament players in your area, beef up your stringing and customization business. You may have a lot of team tennis players in your area that need to coordinate apparel and find team uniforms. Promotion strategies involve things like advertising and customer interaction. What is the best way to reach your customers and potential customers? Can you reach them through ads or articles in local papers or on the radio? Is there a pro tournament in your area that you can help sponsor or run an ad in the program?

Should you reach them by direct mail, or through an email campaign? If you’re a Tennis Welcome Center or a Cardio Tennis site, have you taken advantage of the opportunities those programs and websites offer? Obviously, with pricing, you want to maximize your total revenue. But through your research, you need to set prices that will appeal to your target customers. Keep in mind that some racquet and footwear manufacturers are rather strict on their pricing policies. At least every quarter, take a look at how your marketing program is doing. Are you doing all you can to be customer-oriented? Are your employees doing all they can to satisfy your customers so that they’ll come back again? Is it easy for your customers to find what they’re looking for?

Be Creative
The number of promotional tools that you use is limited only by your imagination and your budget. For instance, Ajay Pant says the Overland Park Racquet Club recently had a wine- and cheese-tasting party, where players drilled on court, then came in for socialization and refreshment. “But it wasn’t just our members,” says Pant. “They brought guests with them.” At Overland Park, events like this are promoted on a special kiosk at the club, and members tend to bring their nonmember friends to them. Staff also promotes the events by mentioning
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MARKETING YOUR BUSINESS
them to members frequently. “Before you know it, we have a waiting list for our special events,” says Pant. Brad Blume of Tennis Express says his company sponsors three big tournaments a year in the local Houston area, where they have their name on the tournament T-shirt that every participant receives, along with signage on court. “We also donate to local schools for auctions, including bigname player autographed merchandise,” says Blume. Tennis Express, which is both a brick-and-mortar store and an online retailer, also markets its business through fliers and coupons at tournaments and public tennis centers. In addition, “Our Yellow Pages ad is really good for us,” says Blume. Doug Cash, the former chief operating officer of TCA and now a tennis industry consultant, says promoting a free 30-minute workout has been extremely effective. “Come in and take a free lesson from one of our pros,” says Cash. “It gets people into the club. We leave business cards that has this offer on it at various businesses in the area.” One idea that veteran tennis director Larry Karageanes of Club & Resorts Tennis Services (www.jobeasier.com) promotes is the “can of fun,” geared to getting kids to come back for lessons and clinics. “Each kid receives an empty ball can that they can personalize with colorful stickers and things,” says Karageanes. Then, each time they come back, they fill the can with various fun handouts that they can color and learn from, for instance handouts on tennis scoring. “It’s a bit more valuable than just giving them candy.” Overland Park R.C., which is part of the TCA organization, takes pains to schedule programs when their customers want them. “Most places will program based on the pro’s schedule,” says Pant. “We won’t. We’ll program everything based on what the members and potential members want, then we’ll find the right people to work the program.” There are a million ways you can successfully market your programs and products to your players and customers. It’s just a matter of finding what works best for your business. Q

Ideas To Help You Market Your Business
Q Develop quality marketing tools. Put some thought into how you want your message to get across to customers and potential customers. You want to create a cohesive image for your business. Q Don’t forget the phone. For many customers, especially new ones, it’s often the first point of contact with your business. Is the person answering the phone pleasant and knowledgeable? When a call has to be answered by voice mail, is the outgoing message, professional, friendly, and clear? Q Get out there. Sponsor community events, get involved in local tournaments, link up with a school or team for fund-raising programs. And network— join local civic groups and the chamber of commerce. The more you and your staff get involved, the more visible your business becomes. Q Get local news coverage. So many of the things that you do can be used in local newspapers. Got a new ball machine? Send a press release to the local paper, along with how it will enhance your lessons and programming. Hired a new pro? Get his or her photo in the paper. Q Get on the air. Develop relationships with local TV stations and when you start up a new program, for instance Cardio Tennis, call them and have them cover it. Q Get on the web. Not only should you have a website (and keep it updated!), but offer an emailed newsletter, which can help establish you, and your business, as the experts. Q Offer free samples. For example, you may want to create a program where new players can take a free half-hour lesson or get in on a clinic, or if you have an avid player base, develop a restringing program that, after so many paid restring jobs, customers get one free. Q Try cross-promotions. Are there other businesses that you share customers with? For instance, are there a lot of high-end luxury cars in your parking lot? Maybe you can work out some type of cross-promotion with a Mercedes or Lexus dealership, where customers who test drive a car get a complimentary lesson. Or maybe there’s a health-food store in your area that can offer coupons for your facility or shop, in exchange for you doing the same. Q Thank your best customers. Let the top 15 or 20 percent of your customers know that they’re special. You can thank them with small gifts, or maybe extended court time, free string or regripping. Let them know that you appreciate their business. Q Offer a guarantee. Let players know that if they’re dissatisfied with a lesson or clinic, it’s free. Guarantee your string and customization jobs.

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It’s Not Rocket Science!
USRSA Members Share Simple, Inexpensive Tips for Creating Business FREE PUBLICITY DISPENSERS
Take a tennis ball and (using an Exacto knife) carefully cut a 1/4 inch circular piece from the side opposite the stenciled brand name. This hole will keep the ball from rolling over when you set it on a counter, table or bench. Then cut a straight line across the stenciled brand name about half way around the ball. Put a stack of business cards into the slit. Customers can't miss an optic yellow card dispenser. Also take some of these ad-balls to the public courts and push them halfway into the fence. Players are always curious about a tennis ball stuck on the fence. With these balls, it is not necessary to cut the round hole in the bottom and I use our mini-flyers rather than business cards. Ad-balls get high visibility exposure and bring awareness of our business directly to the tennis playing public. —Rick SantaMaria, Edison, NJ

FOLLOW UP FOR FOLLOW-UP SALES
We send out thank-you cards to customers after they purchase a racquet. We include coupons with savings for shoes, clothing, bags, accessories, etc. Customers appreciate the thought and often come back with their coupons to purchase something else. —Al Klieber, MRT, Victoria, British Columbia Each time we sell a tennis or racquetball racquet, we record the customer's name, date, telephone number and model of racquet purchased. Twenty-five to 30 days later call them to check on their satisfaction with the racquet. We place special emphasis on whether they are pleased with the strings and if the grip is properly sized. We are repeatedly thanked for each call. It is a step beyond what a racquet buyer expects. It further adds to “word of mouth” advertising (the best by far). The time consumed is minimal and is just one of many little things that makes our business a success. —Ron Schultz, MRT; Joe Heydt, MRT; Bob Schultz, CS, Lincoln, NE

AD LIDS
Turn the plastic lids on tennis ball cans into an ad-lid. Avery 2-inch round labels (Item 5294) are just the perfect fit for this piece of advertising real estate. Design and print your ad or promo-related messages on these labels and simply stick 'em on the plastic lids. These ad-lids will surely find their way onto the tennis court where other players will see it. Snap the ad-lids on the tennis balls you sell, or on the promo freebies you give away. —Rick SantaMaria, Piscataway, NJ

COACHES' NIGHT
I set up a tennis night for local coaches and pros. We play doubles for several hours followed by a reception at my shop where I tell them about my services, let them see my shop/equipment, and explain the process I use in preparing a racquet for their players. We all have fun and the coaches and pros remember me and recommend my shop to their players and students. —Leigh Cherveny, Sheboygan, WI

FREE PRIZES
I give my customers a choice of a T-shirt or hat with my shop’s logo whenever they reach $100 in stringing services. Instead of giving them a discount like most shops, I give them something that will help promote my business. —Leigh Cherveny, Sheboygan, WI Anyone who purchases a new tennis racquet over $99.95 receives a free T-shirt with our logo on it. The customers appreciate the free shirt, but we appreciate the great advertising we get around town. We also retail the shirt for $9.95. It's not much markup, but it is great advertising. —Ron Schultz, CS; Joe Heydt, MRT; Bob Schultz, Lincoln, NE A great way to market your racquet service is to offer free string and grip jobs as prizes for club activities (league and tournament winners, etc.). This helps familiarize players with the quality and professionalism of your racquet service. The next time they need new strings or a grip, they know where to turn. —Jason Jamison, Glendale, AZ

NEWSLETTERS
I write and distribute a newsletter to my customers. Each time customers receive one, they think of me and their equipment. This idea has generated many more customers who return to me for service ... and do so more often! —Chip Brenn, MRT, Albuquerque, NM

REFERRAL PROGRAMS
Offering free stringing to customers after every 5 or 6 stringings is great for maintaining repeat business. Free stringing can also be used to increase business. I offer existing customers a free stringing for every three NEW customers they send to me. It is easy to administer and definitely increases business. So, remember to ask new customers who referred them to you and show that person how much you appreciate their help. —Jim Wojcio, Fanwood, NJ

PROMOTE YOUR CERTIFICATION
I had some ball caps embroidered with the MRT logo. They look great. They are good advertising around public courts and when visiting tennis facilities where stringing is not available. —Bill Thompson, MRT, Farmville, VA

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COMMUNITY SERVICE
RSI INTERVIEW

Kurt Kamperman came to the Community Tennis Division looking to refocus and reapply the USTA’s resources. How has he been doing these past three years?

W

hen Kurt Kamperman joined the USTA as chief executive of the Community Tennis Division in April 2003, his goal was to bring the vast USTA resources to bear on increasing tennis participation. After three years, Kamperman still has that youthful, excited look when he talks about growing the sport, his Blackberry still buzzes constantly as people try to get in touch with him, and he still has that infamous May 1994 copy of Sports Illustrated—the “Is Tennis Dying?” cover—prominently displayed in his office. But anyone who’s been the slightest bit involved with the recreational game in the U.S. can tell you that a lot has changed in Community Tennis over the last few years, and that Kamperman has had a lot to do with it. The day before his three-year anniversary with the USTA, we met up with Kamperman at his office in White Plains, N.Y., to get his take on how tennis has been doing.

with lapsed and frequent players, gave us a clear picture of what was needed. For instance, the Participation Study showed that public parks and schools are the two big entry points into the game, particularly for kids, so we launched a huge parks initiative and we’re just finishing a yearlong pilot program for a new schools initiative. The development of Tennis Welcome Centers and Cardio Tennis was also based on the research. It was also clear that we needed more people out in the field, so along with our sections, we funded the Tennis Service Reps Initiative. The TSRs will help ensure our resources get down to the local level, where we have 5 to 6 million new players coming into the game each year. Our big push toward diversity was also helped by the data from this study. While the USTA wanted to embrace diversity because it’s the right thing to do, the research showed us it’s also the smart thing to do if we want to increase participation. RSI: Within the USTA itself, what is the view of Community Tennis? Kamperman: As you know, the USTA’s mission is “to promote and develop the growth of Tennis.” That is what Community Tennis is all about. Fortunately, the current Board of Directors, and the previous Board, have really put their money where their mission is. We’re spending millions of dollars more in Community Tennis than we used to. Particularly this last year or so, [USTA Chairman of the Board and President] Franklin Johnson and the Board have dramatically increased spending. Without that, we wouldn’t have our new marketing campaign, we couldn’t have launched our major Parks Initiative, and so on. RSI: How are relationships with partners and allied organizations? Kamperman: Very good. Having been president of the TIA for seven years prior to coming into this job, I already had well-established relationships with all of our key partners. However, when I began here, I had several very frank conversations with our key partners and each told me they wanted to be a real partner, not just called upon for a photo op when the USTA wanted to launch a program. The prevailing opinion was that when the USTA wanted to do something and say it had industry support, the USTA would call and say, “Here’s what we want to do, buy in, and show up.” None of our partners were thrilled with that approach. The NRPA and others wanted to be a real partner, and it made sense. If we’re funding parks and want to reach parks, wouldn’t a letter from

RSI: Three years ago, we sat in this office talking about the challenges and plans you had for Community Tennis. So, what have you been up to since 2003? Kamperman: The time has gone very fast, and we’ve had our share of successes and challenges. Three years ago, it was obvious to me that we had huge resources to apply to growing the game, and our biggest challenge was to concentrate those resources in the areas that gave us the best chance to move the dial. What’s exciting now is the sport of tennis has turned the corner. Tennis participation, TV ratings, attendance at pro events and industry sales are all up. We’re doing extremely well compared to other sports. In fact, tennis is the only traditional sport to have grown in the last six years. We have some great momentum going for us. The USTA has a very broad constituent base, consequently in the past, we had too many things that were priorities. The old saying that when “everything’s important, nothing is,” was definitely true. We had to narrow our focus and determine where spending our money would have the greatest impact on growing the game. RSI: How did you do that? Kamperman: One of the main things we did was decide to make fact-based business decisions, based on the data we receive from the annual U.S. Tennis Participation Study. We use this as our road map for growing the game. That study, along with in-depth surveys

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the NRPA be more appropriate than a letter from the USTA? Same thing with the teaching pros and others. Instead of us trying to take the credit and do it ourselves while saying our partners are supportive of it, why not just let them do it? It just makes sense to let our partners carry the ball on things that they’re already doing well. What we have now are real partnerships. Early on at the USTA, I didn’t want to try to be all things to all people, and that was a challenge. When you’re a National Governing Body with $200 million a year in revenues, everybody wants to be your partner. However, we took a “less is more” approach and focused on our core “tennis” partners. We decided to strengthen those partnerships before attempting to partner with any others. We work very closely with the TIA, USPTA, NRPA, PTR, World TeamTennis, the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association. The USTA Board recognizes we need to be “the umbrella and not the gorilla.” Community Tennis, plays a big part in all this. If we do our job right, and develop valuable resources and services that we freely share, the efforts of the teaching pros, facilities, CTAs, parks, clubs, schools, and retailers will get the job done. We want to be an organization that is looked at as a help and a benefit to the people at the grassroots level who deliver tennis. RSI: What are the next few priorities for you? Kamperman: At this point no new priorities, just continuing what’s already been started. For example, I want to continue the progress we’ve made in narrowing our focus and concentrating on the areas that can have the greatest impact on participation. We need to stay the course on our big initiatives and continually improve them. We have lots of room for improvement. Another area we’ve worked on over the past three years is shifting from an administrative focus to more of a marketing, promotions, and service approach. As a national group, we want to create marketing and promotional platforms that everyone can benefit from. And we want to provide resources and services to those who deliver tennis. We’ve made real progress in this area, but I want to make sure we continue on this path. The other area where we’ve made progress and want to continue is building the strongest Community Tennis team possible here at National. We’re the biggest entity in tennis by far in the U.S. so it only makes sense that for each of our national positions, we should have the very best person available. If you look at our Community Tennis National staff, you’ll see that we have people with legitimate, hands-on tennis experience. We’ve increased our “tennis DNA” and have a team with a huge amount of tennis expertise as well as business acumen. We are now adding a strong learning and training component to ensure that everyone stays at the top of their game. RSI: What about the relationship with the sections? Kamperman: It’s very strong. My main conduits to the sections are the executive directors, and I have great working relationships with them, collectively and individually. That doesn’t mean we don’t have challenges or disagreements on occasion. We do, but we work through them. We have a lot of great volunteers and staff in the sections. I came here right after the Blue Ribbon Commission Report, which identified problems [in the organization and its relationships]. I think there’s been dramatic change. There will always be differences of opinion in a large organization like the USTA, but I don’t feel there are any significant issues regarding candor, trust and transparency.
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RSI INTERVIEW
RSI: What other challenges do you feel Community Tennis faces? Kamperman: One of the biggest is our governance system, which is unwieldy to say the least. It’s a constant challenge for both volunteers and staff because it’s perpetually changing. Can you imagine any business that would change their CEO for the national office and their leadership in each of the 17 regional offices every two years? That’s basically what happens at the USTA and it creates a lot of moving parts. That said, there are some positives with it. With each change, there’s a lot of fresh energy, enthusiasm, and passion. The challenge is making sure that there’s continuity. We are working hard to ensure that continuity. This is improving, as we’ve taken a more fact-based approach to what our priorities should be and what our key initiatives are. For example, although parks were Franklin Johnson’s major push, I can’t imagine that parks wouldn’t remain a key initiative moving forward with the next administration. RSI: How do you think people view the USTA’s Community Tennis division now? Kamperman: I hope they see us as making real progress. Four years ago, we had no marketing budget and no marketing campaign for tennis. League Tennis and Junior Team Tennis had no marketing effort behind them. We didn’t have a parks initiative, TWCs, Cardio Tennis, Rec Coach Workshops, TSRs, or a push towards diversity. We were counting cards to measure success, we weren’t getting along with any of our partners, and our sections didn’t like us all that much. I’d like to think we’ve come a long way. I think people realize we’re raising the bar. RSI: The USTA’s Membership Department now falls under Community Tennis. How are things going with membership? Kamperman: It’s working very well. I’m very excited to have the Membership team as part of Community Tennis. Before I came to the USTA, I always worked in environments where you had to hit revenue numbers. When I started working for Community Tennis at the USTA, it was just about spending money effectively. Professional Tennis, with the US Open, made all the money. It’s nice now to have something that is more of a traditional business model, where we are also helping to contribute financially to the bottom line. There are a lot of synergies between Community Tennis and Membership. That said, it’s somewhat ironic because I’m very much a tennis person—I think we have to sell tennis first, and then sell memberships. Fortunately, growing tennis and membership is not mutually exclusive. There are 4 to 5 million frequent tennis players out there who aren’t members of the USTA, so they’re low-hanging fruit. We’re going to focus on adding benefits that will appeal to hard-core players, like offering them deals at tennis resorts and camps. A membership in the USTA should enhance your relationship with the game. RSI: What are your goals for USTA membership? Kamperman: We ended last year at 676,000 members, and now it’s about 686,000. I want to see it hit 700,000 in 2006, then 750,000 in ’07 and 800,000 in ’08. We also have more than 7,000 organizational members that we’d like to grow, but that’s a tricky area because there are some governance issues tied in with the voting strength of organizational members. We’re taking a hard look at org member pricing, because those prices have been the same since 1989, and right now, we actually lose a lot of money per organizational member when we send them banners, yearbooks, and so on. We’d like to grow organizational membership and continue to provide all the services and benefits. We don’t want to make money on it, but we’d like to get it closer to a break-even model. By the way, the liability insurance we now offer to our CTAs that are organizational members is a great benefit. If you’re a CTA and running programs, you need to become an org member so you can get this low-cost insurance. RSI: What about working with the Professional Tennis Division? Kamperman: We work together now on a number of projects, but we both realize that we could do more. A closer collaboration between Community Tennis and Pro Tennis has a huge upside potential for the sport. We are starting to work more with the US Open Series events. These are major events in key markets that we can tie in to all sorts of initiatives: parks, team tennis, leagues, reaching out to the Hispanic and Asian communities, and many others. It’s a real opportunity to piggyback on those pro events. RSI: What else are you looking at for the future of Community Tennis? Kamperman: We have to really raise the bar for our youth offerings, and we’re starting to put a lot of resources behind Junior Team Tennis. We have to convince parents and kids that tennis is the new team sport. We have the resources to develop the best youth sports offerings out there. I’d be really disappointed if five years from now team tennis isn’t something you can talk about in the same vein as youth baseball and football. Once it gets going, it can snowball. RSI: The USTA.com website was recently revamped. What do you think of it? Kamperman: The new website is a quantum leap in the right direction. Our home page now has the ability to engage players and enhance their experience with the game. The “find a court, find a program, find a partner” feature has a huge upside for tennis. We have the framework of the house built and now we’ll keep working to improve on the interior design. RSI: So what does the USTA’s Community Tennis Division have to offer those in the business? Kamperman: We want to serve everyone in the sport. We’re constantly looking at things we can do that will benefit the greatest number of tennis providers, teaching pros, coaches, facilities, and retailers. We know that some of them may have given up on the USTA. We encourage them to go to our website, take a look at what we have to offer, or if they get a call from a TSR, take the time to sit down with that person and see what’s available from the USTA. For the people delivering grassroots tennis programs, we’re offering resources that can help them, whether it’s marketing materials, educational resources, grants, information online, or free statistics from our research study. We need to use our assets to touch as many people as possible, both providers and consumers. I think we’ve learned that just money without the right strategy, the right partners, and taking the team approach doesn’t grow tennis. We want to try to stay focused on one agenda, which is more people playing tennis. That’s the bottom line. We have to put that first.Q

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SERVICE & RETURN
CUSTOMER SERVICE

How simple customer service techniques can increase your revenue.
BY MIKE CARTER

T

hings are good in Tennisland! Tennis play is up. Racquet sales are up. It’s nice to see the hard work that all of us have put into the game start to make a difference. So, you can just sit back, relax, and let the phone keep ringing, right? Uhhhh…no. I think we’ve been down this road before—just a few years after Billie Jean beat Bobby and graphite racquets were “space age.” For the good of the sport—and for our own careers—we need to continue our efforts to keep tennis on the rise to the top. We need to plan and strive to be the best and brightest business leaders and professionals we can be. It’s critical that we keep looking for new and exciting ways to make our wallets bigger than ever. If we do, you win, your business wins, your community wins, and tennis wins! This series of articles will touch on some important customer-service concepts, especially key for bringing in new players or recapturing lapsed players, that can improve your bottom line and ensure that your tennis facility will be the best that it can be. Don’t get me wrong—I know you’re good. But I bet you can be even better!

Newbie Fear
Remember how uncomfortable you felt trying a new activity or sport for the first time? The clothes were weird, the lingo was weird, the surroundings were weird, and you probably thought, for good rea-

34 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

son, that you looked weird, too! Well, that’s what all new and returning tennis players are going through when they finally get the nerve to come to your facility. You need to acknowledge that “newbie fear” is real. And you need to do whatever you can to make potential new players and customers feel more at home. Understand that players new to your facility may not know the customs and protocols that are second nature to your existing longtime players. Think how nice it would be if you or one of your staff spent five minutes with a new customer and showed them the facility personally. Instead of just lazily pointing at the stairs and saying, “The locker room is down there,” take the time to show the new person the lockers yourself, meanwhile explaining about the towel return policy, or the court reservation system. And introduce newbies to other players in the club, too. The quicker these new players get to know the facility and the people in it, the more at ease they will feel. “Newbie fear” will come up in other articles in this series. But for now, understand that it is very real, and that all new, returning—and even many current—players have some amount of anxiety from playing tennis!

Do The Opposite
Let’s play a quick game called “Sabotage.” Write down five to 10 ways you would sabotage tennis in your community or at your facility. If you had all the power and desire to do so, what things would you do or implement to kill the sport of tennis? Write down far-fetched ideas such as “all tennis has to be played naked,” or as real as “broken glass and torn-up nets on every court.” As you probably noticed, if you turn each of these items around, the opposite will help grow the sport, and also help grow your business. The opposite of playing naked is playing with really cool tennis outfits. The opposite of trashed-up courts is really clean, attractive courts. Play this game at your next staff meeting or community tennis gathering. Then discuss your answers, and you’ll all discover ways to improve tennis at your facility or in your community.

"It is important for us to help our newbies quickly identify themselves as tennis players."

Let Tennis Do the Work
We’re all “time-poor.” Every year just seems to fly by quicker than the last because we are packing so much stuff into our lives. But if we, as tennis leaders, can provide the necessities for today’s consumer, we’ll hit an ace every time. Tennis is an amazing quality-of-life activity. After just one hit of a tennis ball, players are having fun, getting fit, learning, and socializing. Tennis itself does the work for you. In essence, the sport will sell itself. You just need to set the stage. For instance, make sure that you are offering class times that make sense for your current tennis consumers. Make sure your instruction is at a level that your players will relate to. And make sure that players can meet others with whom they can practice and play. Tennis has a lot of good things going for it. Set it up right for your new, returning, and current players, and you’ll be golden! Q Mike Carter has been a certified tennis teaching pro with the PTR and USPTA for more than 20 years. For the past 14 years, he has worked to promote and develop the sport for the USTA Texas Section. A guest speaker at tennis conventions, symposiums, and training seminars, Carter was recognized by Tennis Industry Magazine in 1997 as one of the Top 25 Unsung Heroes of Tennis.

Tell-ability
The clothes we wear, the car we drive, the vacations we take, and the sports we play all are ways we define ourselves. So it stands to reason that it is important for us to help our newbies quickly identify themselves as tennis players. It won’t happen overnight, but simple things you and your staff can do will start your new and returning players identifying themselves as tennis players. Some easy ideas you can implement are providing photos of them during clinics, parties, and events; creating and distributing event T-shirts and certificates; having tennis bumper stickers; mentioning them in newsletter articles and press releases; and generally creating a family atmosphere so that they feel part of the team. Other important ideas, which may not be totally under your control, would be for you to put them in a position to make new friendships and relationships on the tennis court. If tennis can impact a person at a personal level, there will be a lifelong connection to the sport.

"The sport will sell itself. You just need to set the stage."

June 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

35

ask
Q A

the EXPERTS

Your Equipment Hotline
CHANGING VOLKL PALLETS
IS IT POSSIBLE TO REPLACE THE handle on a Volkl BB 10? I have a customer with a 4-5/8 grip who wants a 4-3/8 grip. I know how to make the grip larger, but do not know how to make it two sizes smaller. Is the entire grip replaceable? YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO CHANGE the pallet on any Volkl racquet that uses the Sensor Tour handle system, which includes the BB 10. Underneath the pallet, the racquets are essentially the same, so you can go from any grip size to any other grip size, and this includes the L6 (4-3/4) grip. Your first step is to contact a Volkl dealer to get the replacement pallet kit, which includes a matching butt cap. Then, remove the grip, and the old butt cap. The pallet is attached to the rubber layer of the Sensor Tour handle system with doublesided tape, so work a broad-blade putty knife into the seam between the two halves of the pallet and gradually pry it away from the tape. It should come away cleanly. The replacement pallet pieces are long enough to fit any racquet, which means you may have to cut them to length for your racquet. Measure using the old pallet, and cut the new pallet pieces to length. If the double-sided tape is still in good condition, you can use it to attach the new pallet pieces, or you can add a bit more tape for extra hold. For insurance, you can wrap some grip tape around the top of the new pallet pieces to keep them in place, but wrap the tape the opposite way you normally would for this customer, so that removing the replacement grip doesn’t peel off the tape that’s holding the top of the pallet pieces. To duplicate the look of the original butt cap, remove the paper decal from the inside of the old butt cap and put it inside the new butt cap, and staple the new butt cap to the pallet. Install a replacement grip, and you’re done. racquet's center of percussion (COP) when placing lead tape on the frame? On my Babolat Aerotour OS, the COP is around 53 cm. From looking at my strings, I'm hitting the ball around 45-48 cm. Will placing lead tape at that area lower the COP, or does it even need to be lower? Also, how much is needed to affect the COP? pounds stenciled on the inside of the handle. The Digest gives a range of 53 to 63 pounds for this racquet. The customer wanted it strung at the top of the range. As far as he was concerned this would be 67 pounds, although the Digest would indicate 63 pounds. Which is the correct tension range?

A

TO CALCULATE THE CHANGE IN COP that occurs when adding (or removing) lead tape from your racquet, plug the specs for your racquet into our Racquet Mass Mover tool, which can be found online in the Calculators portion of the Tools section at http://www.racquettech.com/members/to ols/racquet_mass_mover.html. Once you start playing with the numbers, however, you’ll soon see that to move the COP to 48 cm would require roughly 384 grams of lead tape at 45 cm. The reason you add lead tape at your hitting area is not to lower the COP, but rather to “focus” the swingweight at the point of impact. For example, adding a much more reasonable 4 grams of lead tape at 47 cm increases the swingweight by almost 5.5 kg•cm2. (You’ll find that this change increases recoilweight and hittingweight, as well.) Just about any amount of lead tape will change the COP, but it’s difficult to change it by much. As for the best location for the COP, generally speaking the higher in the stringbed, the better. Shots hit below the COP result in the racquet being pushed back into your hand. Shots above the COP result in the racquet trying to rotate out of your hand. It is more comfortable to have the racquet push into your hand than pull out.

A

WHICH TENSION TO USE?

Q

CHANGING THE COP

Q

IS THERE A METHOD OF DETERmining the amount of change of a

HERE'S A SITUATION I HAVE come across from time to time— a difference in stringing tension between what's stenciled on the racquet and what the Stringer's Digest says. I recently strung a Prince Triple Threat RIP with a tension range of 62 pounds, +/- 5

IN MOST CASES, THE TENSION RANGE in the Digest is correct. Manufacturers can and do change the recommended tension range, but they can neither change the stenciling on existing racquets, nor contact existing owners of those racquets. One of the many benefits of USRSA membership is that you have a source for the latest information on tensions: The Stringer’s Digest. However, not every stringer is a USRSA member, and a non-member may have strung the racquet at the higher tension. This is another good reason why you should ask at least a couple of questions of new customers (we’re assuming this is a new customer because you don’t mention having records of previous restringings). In addition to getting the tension information, you should find out if the customer was having his racquets restrung on a constant-pull or lock-out machine, as that can have an effect on the stringbed stiffness, too. You should contact your customer and find out what he expected. If he wants you to use the higher tension, and you’re not comfortable with that, you can offer as a compromise to pre-stretch the string but use the lower recommended tension. If your customer wants the higher tension no matter what, advise him that because of the potential for frame damage, you cannot take responsibility if the racquet breaks during restringing. Finally, if you are confident that the customer will love your string job despite your using the lower tension, you can guarantee him that he will be happy with the job or you’ll restring it for free. You might occasionally have to re-do a racquet, but typically this kind of customer service really impresses customers, and you’ll have them for life. —Greg Raven Q

We welcome your questions. Please send them to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA, 92084; fax: 760536-1171; email: greg@racquettech.com.

36 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

Readers’ Know-How in Action
MEASURING FOR HYBRID SETS
I do a lot of hybrid string jobs, using strings from full sets of string. This means cutting each set in half, which can be a pain because the string wants to stay coiled up, and then it invariably tangles while I’m trying to find the center. To introduce a little control to the situation, I now use my machine clamps to hold each of the two ends of the string package, after the normal uncoiling process. I cut each end at an angle, and clamp the first in one of my machine clamps. I usually clamp a couple of inches back from the tip, so the indentations from the clamp don’t create unwanted drag when weaving the crosses. My stringing area has enough room that I was able to mount a hook on the wall 18 feet away from my machine, so I run the string out to the hook, loop it over, and then run the free end back to the other machine clamp. With the string stretched out like this, I can walk back to the hook, and cut the center of the loop at an angle, which prepares both ends for stringing at once. When you let go of the newly-cut center, the ends are still held securely by the machine clamps. 5 sets of Gamma Zo Power 16L to: Alan Yoshida, West Los Angeles, CA

tips

and TECHNIQUES

POLY KNOTTING
Some of the heavier-gauge polys really resist snugging up tightly during knotting, and there’s only so much you can do with adding tension to the tieoff string. I’ve found that the way to tame them is to purposely “kink” the string where it exits the tie-off grommet, before tying the knot. In other words, I feed the string through the tie-off hole, and pull it as tight as I can by hand. Then, I pull the string up to a right-angle to the stringbed, which creates a kink in the string that helps hold the string flat on the outside of the frame. I then tie off as normal, with much less struggle to retain the tension on the last string. This technique doesn’t work with every poly, but it takes only a couple of seconds to try it, and I’m always grateful when it does. 5 Sets of Silent Partner Original Syn Gut 16 to: Chase Oliphant, Cathedral City, CA

FRAME PROTECTION
I own an Ektelon/Prince Neos. As you know, when pulling strings from the racquet throat, it is necessary to pull over the frame throat. The manual suggests using a business card or similar thing to protect the string and frame. Several years ago I got tired of the card falling out or displacing. I went to Home Depot and bought a foot of clear vinyl tubing of 3/4-inch O.D. (outside diameter). I cut two pieces, one for racquets with short throats and one for racquets with longer throats. I slit the tubing lengthwise and slipped it over the throat frame. It stays in place and is soft enough that the frame and string are well protected. It is durable enough that mine has lasted several years and is still going strong. 5 sets of Wilson Stamina 16 to: Myron G. Skinner, Fort Worth, TX

38 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

GETTING TO KNOW NATURAL GUT
I know a lot of stringers are afraid to try stringing up natural gut due to its cost and reputation. One way to break into stringing with natural gut is to start out with a poly hybrid set, with the poly in the mains. The natural gut crosses usually slide smoothly across the poly mains, and there is almost no way to damage the poly with natural gut. Once you become comfortable working with a half-set of natural gut, you can try your hand at an all-gut string job. The mains will be easy, and you’ll already have experience installing gut in the crosses. Remember to check The Stringer’s Digest first to see if there will be any problems with doing a two-piece string job on your racquet, such as a lack of tie-off holes, or the need to use a starting clamp on the crosses. 5 sets of Prince Premier w/ Softflex 16 to: David Mindell, Cathedral City, CA

LICENSE PLATE ADVERTISING
I have found a way to call attention to my small stringing business that’s fun and easy: I purchased a personalized license plate for my vehicle. It was relatively inexpensive, and no one else in my state can have the same one. California has a seven-character limit, so I was going to go with “STRINGR” until I found that “USRSA” was available. Next time I go to the county fair, I’m going to have a custom license frame made up, to match the plate.

MARKETING

HAVE GRIP, WILL TRAVEL
I play on public courts a lot, which means there is no pro shop readily available. My stringing customers seem to enjoy being

able to give me a racquet right there at the court, and get it back the next day restrung and ready to go. For those players who either string their own racquets, have someone else string their racquets, or never string their racquets, I keep replacement grips, overgrips, and vibration dampeners with me at all times. I used to carry a couple extra grips in my bag, but once players know you have them available, you can sell out in a hurry. I now use an old plastic 24-can tennis ball case to carry an assortment of grips and vibration dampeners. It has a snap lid and handles for easy portability, and it was “free” with the purchase of a case of balls. I also carry a pair of scissors so I can install any of the grips right there. More than once, I’ve made other sales after the first customer ooh’d and aah’d over how nice it was to have a new grip, professionally installed. 5 sets of Forten Dynamix 16 to: Laura Hodges, Lucerne, CA

5 sets of Head FiberGEL Power 16 to: Greg Raven, Apple Valley, 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.

June 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

39

string Wilson Natural
Wilson Natural is a 100 percent natural gut string. According to Wilson, it contains the highest quality natural gut fiber with moisture-resistant long-life coating. Wilson tells us that it is the choice of top players such as Roger Federer, Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams, Nicolas Kiefer, and Serena Williams.
Wilson says that Natural is for any player—from beginner to top-level—who is looking for the best performing string on the market. Natural is available in 15L (1.35mm), 16 (1.30 mm), and 17 (1.25 mm) in natural only. It is priced from $37 per set of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Wilson at 773-714-6400, or visit www.wilson.com/tennis. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself. from the coating. Natural is not as smooth as some other natural guts, but the “roughness” seems to come from the edges of the strands of serosa, not from flaws in the string. Some of the coating flakes off during stringing, but the flakes brush right off of the stringing machine. The coating seems to double as a lubricant for easier stringing, but did not get on our hands. We chose not to pre-stretch Natural, and there was very little coil memory or kinking. We also tried installing Natural in a racquet with a fairly tight 18 x 20 stringbed, using a “box pattern” that made the last six crosses very difficult to pull through. Natural did not unravel, which can happen with natural gut under these conditions. No playtester broke the sample during stringing, 11 reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

PLAYTEST

Eleven playtesters broke Natural during the playtest period, one at 3 hours, two at 5 hours, and one each at 5.5, 7, 8.5, 14, 25, 28, and 35 hours.

CONCLUSION
It’s no surprise that Wilson Natural tested highly: No matter what advances there are EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 2 somewhat easier 4 about as easy 20 not quite as easy 10 not nearly as easy 1

IN THE LAB
We tested the 16-gauge Natural. The coil measured 39 feet 10.5 inches. The diameter measured 1.30-1.32 mm prior to stringing, and 1.22-1.23 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 71 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 66 RDC units, representing a 7 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. Natural added 17 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 38 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 28.9. Playtesters were given the option of pre-stretching the string, but pre-stretching is not necessary. As it comes out of the package, Natural is clear enough that you can see through it, and you can see the twisted strands of serosa. Natural has a nice scent, probably

ON THE COURT
Our playtest team gave the highest rating we’ve seen in 102 string tests to Wilson Natural. And some of the ratings weren’t just a little higher than the second-place string; they were a lot higher. Wilson Natural garnered first-place ratings in Playability, Touch/Feel, Comfort, and Spin Potential by huge margins over the next-highest-rated strings. Natural also claimed first-place ratings in Power and in Control, along with a sixth-place rating for Holding Tension, a rating well above average for Resistance to Movement, and even an above-average rating for Durability. As a result, Wilson Natural’s overall average rating blew the roof off our previous high rating. Wilson Natural also set a record for highest rating for playability for a test string compared to the strings preferred by our playtesters, and it did so by a wide margin. Also, while the average longevity of strings used by the members of our playtest team was 28.56 hours, this same team on average tested Wilson Natural for 28.93 hours.

OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 4 somewhat better 17 about as playable 13 not quite as playable 2 not nearly as playable 2

OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 1 somewhat better 4 about as durable 21 not quite as durable 10 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 4.3 3.3 4.0 4.1 4.3 4.3 4.0 3.8 3.4

40 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

“ “

Great string! Good feel. 5.0 male all-court player using Prince 03 White strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Power Play 18)

TESTERS

TALK

Plays like an average natural gut—nothing special, though it’s hard to say anything bad about natural gut. Great string! 5.0 male using Prince Graphite Classic strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Premier 16) and holds tension well.

Looks like gut, smells like gut, plays like gut. Seems to fray quicker than I remember. I will be curious about price as it has the same qualities as the premium gut I normally use. 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head FXP Instinct Team strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“String plays great “
Never felt

Five pounds tighter to resist movement. would consider using this over my curGreat feeling string, very spin-friendly, with great audible feedback. String showed no rent gut set-up.” 5.0 male all-court Very lively string with super spin. I had signs of imperfections. I cannot wait to find to reduce my power level to get the best out what it is, especially its price is competiplayer using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at control/playability. (PS: I did pretive. I have strung more gut in the past 8 55 pounds CP (Babolat gut 16) stretch.) months than in the previous 8 years. This 4.0 male all-court player using Head Liqstring would definitely fit into our line-up. uidmetal 1 strung at 62 pounds (Babolat Attraction 16) 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal 1 strung at 58 pounds CP (Babolat VS Feel/Luxilon Big Banger XP 16)

dead, even just prior to breaking. I

Excellent string, however, became frayed after 20 hours. Great feel, touch, and power. 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson n5 strung at pounds LO (Head Fibergel Power 17)

Didn’t unravel during stringing, but required extra care. Played great! It should really—natural gut. Wish I could talk more people into playing natural gut. There is no substitute. This stuff is excellent. Easily the highest rating I have given. 4.0 male all-court player using Prince Precision Mono 650 strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)

This gut feels great. Awesome feel and durability. Fraying occurs, but only after 20 hours. I’ll definitely recommend this to gut lovers. I will carry this in my shop! 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Control + strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat Super Fine Play 17)

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

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

in new string materials, natural gut still has the reputation of being the best. But it is a surprise that it tested as highly as it did. If our playtest team is any indication, natural gut’s reputation is well deserved. Wilson Natural tested so well with our playtest team that it’s difficult to imagine another string generating better ratings. Two other surprises in this string playtest are Wilson Natural’s durability and ease of stringing. Not only did our playtesters award Wilson Natural an aboveaverage rating in Durability, they themselves used the string on average for longer than they use their normal strings. Because natural gut is perceived as difficult for the novice to string, we published a first-time stringing guide for natural gut in the March 2006 RSI. While only six of our 37 testers said installing Wilson Natural was easier than other strings, more importantly, 20 told us it was about the same, and not one of our playtesters broke his sample during installation. For years, stringing experts have told players looking to mitigate or eliminate arm sensitivity (AKA tennis elbow) to switch to natural gut. Again, the ratings of our playtest team (and the accompanying comments)

bear out the wisdom of this recommendation. And judging by the ratings in categories other than Comfort, many of the traditional “down sides” of using natural gut are no longer applicable. If you think that Wilson Natural might be for you, fill out the coupon to enter the drawing to receive a free set. —Greg Raven Q

Interested USRSA members must return the coupon by July 15th. Wilson will draw 100 lucky winners to receive a free set of Wilson Natural. To enter the drawing, just cut out (or copy) this coupon and mail it to: USRSA, Attn: Wilson Natural String Contest, 330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084 or fax to 760-536-1171 One entry per USRSA membership in the US

FREE PLAYTEST STRING PROGRAM

Offer expires July 15th 2006
Name: USRSA Member number: Phone: Email:
If you print your email clearly, we will notify you when your sample will be sent.

June 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

41

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Putnam Tennis and Recreation PO Box 96 Harwinton, CT 06791 P 800-678-2490 F 860-485-1568 Email: info@putnamtennis.com Web: www.putnamtennis.com/ Sportwall International 5045 6th Street Carpinteria, CA 95108 P 800-695-5056 805-745-5559 F 805-745-1021 Email: tomw@sportwall.com Web: www.sportwall.com/ Tail, Inc. 3300 NW 41st St Miami, FL 33142 P 305-638-2650 F 305-633-7439 Email: andreav@tailinc.com Web: www.tailinc.com/ Tecnifibre 4 S. Walker, Suite F Clarendon Hills, IL 60514 P 877-332-0825 630-321-0760 F 630-321-0762 Email: sales@tecnifibreusa.com Web: www.tecnifibre.com/ Unique Sports Products 840 McFarland Road Alpharetta, GA 30004 P 800-554-3707 770-442-1977 F 770-475-2065 Email: sales@uniquesports.us Web: www.uniquesports.us/

USPTA (US Professional Tennis Association) 3535 Briarpark Drive, Suite 1 Houston, TX 77042 P 800-877-8248 713-97-USPTA F 713-978-7780 Email: uspta@uspta.org Web: www.uspta.com/ USRA (US Racquetball Association) 1685 West Uintah Colorado Springs, CO 80904 P 719-635-5396 F 719-635-0685 Email: usra@usra.org Web: www.usra.org/ USRSA (US Racquet Stringers Association) 330 Main Street Vista, CA 92084 P 760-536-1177 F 760-536-1171 Email: usrsa@racquettech.com Web: www.racquettech.com/ USTA (US Tennis Association) 70 West Red Oak Lane White Plains, NY 10604 P 800-990-8782 914-696-7000 F 914-696-7167 Email: info@usta.com Web: www.usta.com/home/default.sps Volkl Sport America 19 Technology Dr. W. Lebanon, NH 03784 P 800-264-4579 603-298-0314 F 603-298-5104

Email: tennis@volkl.com Web: www.volkl.com/ Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. PO Box 7770, 4501 Old US Hwy 41 Sun City, FL 33586 P 800-282-4415 813-641-7787 F 813-641-7795 Email: custsvc@welchtennis.com Web: www.welchtennis.com/ Wilson Racquet Sports 8700 West Bryn Mawr Avenue, 10th floor Chicago, IL 60631 P 800-272-6060 773-714-6400 F 773-714-4585 Email: racquet@wilson.com Web: www.wilson.com Wimbledon, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. 18700 Crenshaw Blvd Torrance, CA 90504 P 800-421-4474 310-768-0300 F 310-768-0324 Email: kcurry@lbhgroup.com Web: www.lbhgroup.com/ Yonex Corporation USA 20140 S Western Ave Torrance, CA 90501 P 800-44-YONEX 310-793-3800 F 310-793-3899 Email: support@yonexusa.com Web: www.yonex.com/

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Tennis Racquets 10-S Tennis Supply Alpha Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Squash Racquets Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. Dunlop Sports Group America Fromuth Tennis HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Wilson Racquet Sports Racquetball Racquets Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Fromuth Tennis HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Wilson Racquet Sports Badminton Racquets Alpha Sports Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. Dunlop Sports Group America Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Fromuth Tennis Gosen America (Sportmode, Inc.) Master Sports Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Strings-Gut Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Gosen America (Sportmode, Inc.) Klip America Prince Sports, Inc. Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports

44 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

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Strings-Synthetic Alpha Sports Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Gosen America (Sportmode, Inc.) HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Klip America Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Strings-Hybrid Alpha Sports Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Gosen America (Sportmode, Inc.) HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Klip America Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Accessories 10-S Tennis Supply ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Klip America Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Grips Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America

Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Gosen America (Sportmode, Inc.) HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Klip America Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Vibration Dampeners Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Klip America Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Stringing Machines 10-S Tennis Supply Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Stringing Tools Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Yonex Corporation USA Stringing Accessories Alpha Sports ATS Sports Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports

Tension Testers ATS Sports Gamma Sports Sports Bags Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Tennis Balls 10-S Tennis Supply ATS Sports Dunlop Sports Group America Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Oncourt Offcourt Prince Sports, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Arm Bands ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Unique Sports Products Knee Bands ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Unique Sports Products Ankle Supports ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Unique Sports Products

Prince Sports, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Wimbledon, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Yonex Corporation USA Women’s ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis K-Swiss, Inc. LBH, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tail, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Wimbledon, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Yonex Corporation USA Children’s ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis LBH, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Wilson Racquet Sports T-shirts ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Klip America Prince Sports, Inc. Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Socks ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports K-Swiss, Inc. Prince Sports, Inc. Tail, Inc. Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Hats/Caps/Visors ATS Sports Dunlop Sports Group America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports K-Swiss, Inc. Klip America Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tail, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA
June 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

TENNIS APPAREL
Men’s ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports K-Swiss, Inc. Master Sports

45

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Wristbands Alpha Sports ATS Sports Babolat VS North America Dunlop Sports Group America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports K-Swiss, Inc. Klip America Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tail, Inc. Tecnifibre Unique Sports Products Volkl Sport America Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Tennis Panties ATS Sports Fancy Pants, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Fromuth Tennis Tail, Inc. Sports Bras Fancy Pants, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Fromuth Tennis Custom Cresting Fromuth Tennis Master Sports Tail, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Embroidery Fromuth Tennis Master Sports Tail, Inc. Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Team Business ATS Sports Fancy Pants, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Fromuth Tennis LBH, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd. Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Tail, Inc. Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Wimbledon, div. of The LBH Group, Ltd.

Master Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Other Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. Fromuth Tennis Prince Sports, Inc. Yonex Corporation USA Insoles ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis

Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis NGI Sports (Novagrass) Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Surface Repair Products 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis NGI Sports (Novagrass) Nova Sports USA Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Fencing Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. Classic Turf Co., LLC. Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Har-Tru Lee Tennis Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Tennis Nets 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. Alpha Sports ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports NGI Sports (Novagrass) Nova Sports USA Oncourt Offcourt Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Tennis Posts 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment

Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports NGI Sports (Novagrass) Nova Sports USA Oncourt Offcourt Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Scorekeepers 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Unique Sports Products Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Water Cooler Stands 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Oncourt Offcourt Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Windscreens 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. Alpha Sports ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis

TENNIS LIGHTING
Outdoor 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. Classic Turf Co., LLC. Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Har-Tru Lee Tennis Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Indoor 10-S Tennis Supply Classic Turf Co., LLC. Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Other 10-S Tennis Supply

COURT EQUIPMENT
Court Surfaces 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ASBA (American Sports Builders Assn) Classic Turf Co., LLC. Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Har-Tru Lee Tennis NGI Sports (Novagrass) Nova Sports USA Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc.

FOOTWEAR
Tennis 10-S Tennis Supply Babolat VS North America Fromuth Tennis K-Swiss, Inc.

Maintenance Equipment 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies

46 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006

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Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports NGI Sports (Novagrass) Oncourt Offcourt Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Backdrop Curtains 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports NGI Sports (Novagrass) Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Netting 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Master Sports NGI Sports (Novagrass) Oncourt Offcourt Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Ball Retrieval Equipment 10-S Tennis Supply ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Lobster Sports, Inc. Master Sports Unique Sports Products

Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Ball Machines 10-S Tennis Supply ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Lobster Sports, Inc. Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Backboards 10-S Tennis Supply ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis NGI Sports (Novagrass) Oncourt Offcourt Putnam Tennis and Recreation Sportwall International Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Teaching Aids 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Fast Dry Companies Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Lobster Sports, Inc. Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Sportwall International Unique Sports Products Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Wilson Racquet Sports Water Removal Equipment 10-S Tennis Supply Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ATS Sports Douglas Sports Nets & Equipment Edwards Div. of Collegiate Pacific Evergreen Tennis Services

Fast Dry Companies Forten Corporation Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Har-Tru Lee Tennis Lobster Sports, Inc. Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Wilson Racquet Sports

Sports Watches Fromuth Tennis Sun Protection Fast Dry Companies Sunglasses ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Unique Sports Products Tournament Prizes Dunlop Sports Group America Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Towels Fromuth Tennis Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Videotapes ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Oncourt Offcourt USRSA (US Racquet Stringers Association) Water Bottles ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Gamma Sports Wilson Racquet Sports Yonex Corporation USA Associations/Certifications ASBA (American Sports Builders Association) ATS Sports Fast Dry Companies PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) USPTA (US Professional Tennis Association) USRA (US Racquetball Association) USRSA (US Racquet Stringers Association) USTA (US Tennis Association) Educational Workshops Fast Dry Companies Har-Tru Lee Tennis PTR (Professional Tennis Registry) Welch Tennis Courts, Inc.

BUILDERS & DESIGNERS
Court Contractors Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ASBA (American Sports Builders Assn) Classic Turf Co., LLC. Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Har-Tru Lee Tennis Putnam Tennis and Recreation Welch Tennis Courts, Inc. Facility Planners/Designers Agile Courts Construction Co. Inc. ASBA (American Sports Builders Assn) Classic Turf Co., LLC. Evergreen Tennis Services Fast Dry Companies Welch Tennis Courts, Inc.

MISCELLANEOUS
Books ASBA (American Sports Builders Assn) ATS Sports Oncourt Offcourt USRSA (US Racquet Stringers Association) Computer Software Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Gifts/Trinkets ATS Sports Fromuth Tennis Master Sports Oncourt Offcourt Unique Sports Products Nutrition/Food Fromuth Tennis Sports Eyewear ATS Sports Dunlop Sports Group America Fromuth Tennis HEAD/Penn Racquet Sports Prince Sports, Inc. Unique Sports Products Wilson Racquet Sports

June 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

47

Your Serve
An Effective Use of Time
A tennis teaching veteran, who is also a Tennis Service Rep, says meeting your TSR can yield excellent benefits for your facility and programs. BY KEVIN THEOS

S

ince the beginning of the year, upwards of 80 USTA Tennis Service Representatives (TSRs) have been meeting with pros and tennis program directors throughout the country to develop strategies for increasing participation and acting as informational resources. While reviews of the TSRs have been outstanding, there are still many pros who have not met with their TSR and probably at least some of whom question whether such a visit would be valuable. The answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!” Developing a relationship with your TSR is valuable for at least four reasons. First, in sharp contrast with traditional USTA efforts, the TSRs are encouraged to help build tennis participation primarily by meeting the individual needs of each facility, while only secondarily being focused on promoting USTA programs. This means that if a pro wants ideas about how to get more club members to play in an internal non-USTA league, the TSR will attempt to help with this initiative. Or if a facility wants to encourage home-schooled children to take lessons when the courts are empty during the late morning or early afternoon, which would have no immediate direct benefit to the USTA, TSRs will help with that as well. TSRS can provide marketing support, information on other successful similar efforts, or simply help the “customer walk through his business plan.” Yes, TSRs are employees of their respective USTA sections. However, our job goes well beyond the bounds of the USTA. We promote the brand “TENNIS” first and foremost. Whether a particular program “belongs” to the USTA or not doesn’t matter—our task is to connect you with programs and services that fit your needs. Second, as noted in the above exam-

ple, by meeting with so many pros and tennis directors at various facilities, TSRs learn what is or is not working in each community and how these programs have developed over time. Once your TSR has a thorough grasp of your facility’s situation and goals, he or she can share knowledge from the field and potentially help invigorate your facility’s programs with new ideas. This can save you and your facility significant time and money by helping you avoid steps of the trialand-error process. For example, some pros wish to devel-

"Why waste your valuable time and resources tracking down information that may, or may not, be able to help you and your business? We have that information available to help you out."
op relationships with schools in order to gain more students. TSRs and their colleagues, the USTA School Tennis Coordinators, can suggest the most efficient and effective methods for approaching schools, saving pros’ time and maximizing their results. Third, not only do we gain and share knowledge from the field, but also, we’re fortunate to have an excellent support system through the USTA, the 17 USTA sections, and the Tennis Industry Association. Working with our national manager, Mark McMahon, and his staff, we have extensive USTA and non-USTA program information and resources right at our

fingertips that can help your business and answer your questions. One difficulty that pros have is that they lack the time to sift through the extensive USTA and non-USTA program and grant materials available to find the most useful information. Why waste your valuable time and resources tracking down information that may, or may not, be able to help you and your business? We have that information available to help you out. That’s what we do. Fourth, and perhaps the most surprising benefit of meeting with your TSR, is that the USTA is providing the TSRs free of charge, which differs markedly from other industries where an individual business consultant can cost hundreds of dollars an hour. This is our job—to help the brand of tennis gain more exposure and increase participation, while at the same time helping you to increase your business. By working closely with facilities, and helping them achieve their individual goals, whether they involve the USTA or not, TSRs and the rest of the tennis family are poised to make significant progress toward reaching the goal of 30 million players by 2010. Don’t be left behind—start working with your TSR today! Q

Kevin Theos is the USTA Southern Section TSR for Alabama. He is a USPTA pro with more than 15 years teaching experience and is the former executive director of the Birmingham Area Tennis Association. We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

48 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY June 2006