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April 2011

Volume 39 Number 4 $5.00

Award Winners
Annual Racquet Selection Guide
Q Plus, determining what frames to stock
Tennis Participation Survey
The High-Pressure World
Of Tournament Stringing
Contents R S I

A P R I L 2 0 1 1

7 USTA, First Lady team for

FEATURES “Let’s Move!” campaign
7 Slate proposed for next
24 Play by Play USPTA board
While the latest Participation Survey
shows a decline in players over last year,
the overall trend is still increasing.
7 Lee Tennis develops 10U
lines for Har-Tru
28 The Power of Collaboration
Teaching pros don’t have all the 8 ASBA seeks facility
answers, and ‘sharing’ students can award nominations
bring benefits for everyone.
31 Municipal Masterpieces 8 PTR presents annual
These 8 award-winning outdoor hard- awards at Symposium
court facilities are great examples of
excellent construction. 8 USPTA pros raise
45 Pulling Together $5 million for charity
Ron Rocchi, the man behind the innova-
tive Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team, 9 Babolat debuts new
shares what he’s learned in the world of footwear models
tournament stringing.
9 USTA Names Community
Tennis award winners
10 Peoplewatch
35 What Frames Should You Stock?
A top tennis retailing pro offers tips to 11 Agassi, Graf to serve as
help you determine what will sell in 10U spokespersons
your shop.
36 Racquet Selection Map 12 Nominate for Tennis
Our exclusive guide enables you to find Industry Hall of Fame
the perfect frame for your customers
quicky and easily. 12 Quarterly sales data
12 Olympus to end
US Open sponsorship
14 Short Sets
Cover photo: Lynn University Tennis Facility

DEPARTMENTS 20 Career Enhancement

4 Our Serve 22 Tennis Programming
7 Industry News 44 Tips & Techniques
15 Letters 46 String Playtest: Yonex Poly Tour Pro 130
17 TIA News 48 Your Serve, by Doug McPherson
Our Serve

‘Let’s Move!’ the (Incorporating Racquet Tech and Tennis Industry)

Needle on Frequent Play! Publishers

David Bone Jeff Williams

NP Paribas Showdown … Tennis Night in Editorial Director

Peter Francesconi
America… Youth Registration … Feb. 28
Associate Editor
was an important date in this game. Greg Raven
You probably heard about, and hopefully watched, the BNP Paribas Show-
down, which featured an all-star night of champions, with John McEnroe, Ivan Design/Art Director
Kristine Thom
Lendl, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi playing in Madison Square Garden.
That evening also was Tennis Night in America, a celebration of tennis that Contributing Editors
continued through the month of March with Youth Registration events—the Robin Bateman
Cynthia Cantrell
sport’s largest youth recruitment effort. For Youth Registration, facilities sign
Joe Dinoffer
up kids for junior tennis events, many offering 10 and Under Tennis, includ- Liza Horan
ing Junior Team Tennis, tournaments, clinics and camps. Greg Moran
If you did watch the BNP Paribas Showdown, you probably saw a com- Bob Patterson
mercial with First Lady Michelle Obama. This is groundbreaking for tennis— Cynthia Sherman
Mary Helen Sprecher
the first lady, and her “Let’s Move!” campaign to encourage kids to get active,
has teamed with the USTA to promote tennis as one way for children to be
active and get the daily exercise they need. Corporate Offices
You’ll see versions of this public service announcement featuring the first 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084
lady in many places—on the web, on TV, at tennis events and more. And it Phone: 760-536-1177 Fax: 760-536-1171
couldn’t come at a more needed time in this industry. We all know that ten- Email:
nis provides plenty of activity—for both adults and kids—and the Let’s Move!
Office Hours: Mon.-Fri.,8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time
initiative encourages kids to get at least 60 minutes of activity a day, certain-
ly an easy task once we can get these kids playing tennis. Advertising Director
Why is this important? Because these 10-and-under kids are our biggest John Hanna
and best hope to boost the number of frequent players in this country. And 770-650-1102, x.125
that’s vital to your business, whether you’re a teaching pro, run a tennis facil-
ity or own a pro shop, or are in one of the many other jobs in this industry.
Apparel Advertising
The latest TIA/USTA Participation Survey (see page 24) shows that the Cynthia Sherman
number of frequent players in the U.S. has now dipped below 5 million for the 203-263-5243
first time since 2005 and is now relatively flat over the past seven years. You
can possibly attribute this to a number of things—the economy, prolonged Racquet Sports Industry is published 10 times per
bad weather, an “aging” tennis population from the tennis boom of the year: monthly January through August and com-

1970s. But the fact is, we need frequent players to help every business in this bined issues in September/October and Novem-
ber/December by Tennis Industry and USRSA, 330
Main St., Vista, CA 92084. Application to Mail at
And we need to look to kids for that future growth in the game, and for our Periodicals Postage Prices is Pending at Vista, CA and
long-term health as an industry. additional mailing offices. April 2011, Volume 39,
Number 4 © 2011 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 circu-
Peter Francesconi lation and editorial: 760-536-1177. Yearly subscrip-
Editorial Director tions $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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R S I A P R I L 2 0 1 1


Lee Develops USTA, First Lady Team For ‘Let’s Move!’ Campaign
10 Lines for Har-Tru he USTA has teamed up with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign to encour-
As 10 and Under Tennis contin-
ues to grow in the U.S., Har-Tru
has developed the first set of
T age young people across the country to get active, try tennis and lead healthy lifestyles. Part
of the collaboration includes a new public service announcement featuring the first lady pro-
moting the 10 and Under Tennis initiative.
“It’s important for kids to get the hour of active play they need every day, and there are so
temporary and permanent lines
many fun things that each of us can do to be healthier,” said Michelle Obama. “Thanks to pro-
specifically for Har-Tru courts.
grams like the USTA’s 10 and Under
The temporary lines for 36- and
Tennis initiative, it’s easier than ever
60-foot courts can be installed
for kids to get active and have fun.
by one person in 5 to 7 min-
utes, says the company. For per- And that’s a big part of what we’re
manent installations, Har-Tru doing with Let’s Move!, America’s
has a set of dark green lines, campaign to raise a healthier gener-
which blend in with the court ation of kids.”
color. The public service announce-
ment debuted on Feb. 28, during
The 36-foot temporary lines ESPN’s telecast of the BNP Paribas
come in red, to match the red Showdown from Madison Square
ball used on 36-foot courts and Garden, featuring Pete Sampras,
to show up sharply against the Andre Agassi, John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl. Feb. 28 also was Tennis Night in America and Youth
court surface. The system comes Registration.
in two pieces—an outside rec- “Our new collaboration with the First Lady and ‘Let’s Move!’ will help us reach more families
tangle and an inside I. The to teach them that tennis is easier to learn and access than ever before,” said Jon Vegosen, USTA
pieces are attached with Velcro Chairman of the Board and President.
and secured to the court with The PSA with the first lady also features Andre Agassi and Stefanie Graf, all of whom play the
15 nails, which are included. role of ballpersons for youngsters playing on smaller courts with smaller racquets and modified
The 60-foot temporary lines are balls. The USTA plans to create 60-second and 30-second versions of the PSA.
in orange to match the orange Another component of the collaboration with Let’s Move! is the construction and renovation
ball used on 60-foot courts. of 3,000 tennis courts across the country in 2011, ensuring that all will be lined for the QuickStart
There are no Velcro connec- Tennis play format. Also, the USTA will use its resources and programs to encourage 200,000 kids
tions; all intersections are to take the Presidential Active Lifestyle Award (PALA), which encourages young Americans to be
stitched. The set includes 12 active 60 minutes a day, five days a week for six weeks in an eight-week period.
Permanent lines for both size Slate Proposed for Next USPTA Board of Directors
courts are made from Har-Tru’s andy Mattingley tops the list from the USPTA’s national Nominating Com-
Herringbone tape, colored
green, and are designed for
courts that are regularly used
R mittee for president of the organization for 2011 to 2013. Other
names submitted by the Nominating Committee for the next
USPTA Board of Directors are:
for both full-size and 60-foot  First vice president—Jack Groppel
play. These lines are nailed into  Vice presidents—Mark Fairchilds, Chuck Gill, Jim Loehr, Bunny Bruning, Bill
the surface similar to standard Mountford
court lines. The set comes with  Past president—Tom Daglis
180 feet of tape, enough for Additional nominations may be made by the general membership and submitted in writing to
one 60-foot or one 36-foot the CEO by 5 p.m., Central time, May 4. In order for a new candidate to be added to the ballot,
court. For more information, he or she must be nominated by at least 120 members. Only one nominee per office will be
visit added to the slate. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 7


ASBA Seeks Facility Award Nominations PTR Presents Annual Awards

T he American Sports Builders Association is now accepting applica-
tions for its annual awards program, which honors outstanding
design and construction in various types of athletic facilities, including
T he PTR’s annual awards were present-
ed in February during the 2011 PTR
International Tennis Symposium on
tennis courts. The deadline to submit applications is June 1. Hilton Head Island, S.C. The sympo-
All types of tennis facilities are eligible—public, private or residen- sium included 50-plus on-court and classroom pre-
tial—and hard or soft courts. In addition, there are honors in the sentations for tennis teachers and coaches, a tennis
“Green” competition, for athletic facilities that used the most eco- trade show and tennis tournament. PTR award recip-
friendly design, construction and operating techniques. ients included:
To be eligible for entry into the awards program, a facility must have  Master Professional: Doug Eng, Medford, Mass.
been designed by, or built by, an ASBA member company. (If you are  Professional of the Year: Butch Staples, Chicago
not a member, go to and click on "Join Us.")  Clinician of the Year: Harlon Matthews, Locust
The ASBA member who designed or built the facility must be the one Grove, Ga.
to enter it in the awards program; facility owners who are interested in  Tester of the Year: Aaron Hutt, Denton, Md.
having their projects entered should get in touch with their builder or  Humanitarian Award: Nancy Hoekstra, Home-
designer. Also in order to be eligible for this round of awards, projects wood, Ill.
submitted must have been completed within the current year or with-  Volunteer of the Year: Ernest Quarles, Mitchelville,
in the previous two calendar years (ending Dec. 31). Md.
Presentation of award plaques will be at the ASBA Technical Meet-  Coach Jim Verdieck Touring Pro Coach of the Year:
ing in December in Palm Springs, Calif. Torsten Peschke, Sarasota, Fla.
 Coach Jim Verdieck College Coach of the Year:
Brad Pearce, Provo, Utah
USPTA Pros Raise $5 Million for Charity  Coach Jim Verdieck High School Coach of the Year:
Corbin Graves, Tallahassee, Fla.
I n 2010, USPTA teaching pros raised more than
$5 million for charity through the associa-
tion’s Lessons for Life program. Since the
 Male Player of the Year: Orlando Lourenco, Hix-
son, Tenn.
program began in 1999, the USPTA and  Female Player of the Year: Carolina Blouin,
its members have raised more than $45 million Raleigh, N.C.
for various charities.  Public Facility of the Year: USTA Billie Jean King
Through Lessons for Life, the USPTA encour- National Tennis Center, Flushing, N.Y.
ages its members to use tennis as a vehicle to  Private Facility of the Year: Shanghai Racquet
help others through fundraisers and other Club, China
activities in their communities. The fundraisers take many forms  Wheelchair Professional of the Year: Bryan Barten,
including tournaments, pro-ams, auctions, clinics and black-tie din- Tucson
ners. Many of the fundraisers take place at country clubs and com-  Media Excellence: Federico Coppini, TennisWorld
mercial clubs, where the majority of USPTA Professionals direct tennis SA, South Africa
operations and programming. While Lessons for Life is officially cele-  PTR/USTA Community Service Award, Harold Con-
brated in October, events may be hosted any time during the year. way, Collegeville, Pa.
In 2009 an additional element was added to the program when the  PTR/TIA Commitment to the Industry: Lance
USPTA and Rally for the Cure joined forces to raise awareness in the Andersen, Boxborough, Mass.
fight against breast cancer through tennis and Lessons for Life under
the broader “Tennis – for the health of it!” initiative.

PTR Recognizes State Members

A t the PTR Symposium in February, several State Members of the Year
were honored for their contributions to the PTR:

AL - Tony Oswald IN - Siobhan Belloli OH - Leonie Turack

CO - Christina Walker KS - Daryl Greenstreet PA - Delaine Mast
DE - Bob Bratcher MA - Phil Parrish RI - Rita Marsella
FL - John MacDonald MI - Adam Ford SC - Kim Halter (Front row) Lucy Garvin, Harlon Matthews, Nancy
GA - Daniel Breag MN - Patty Egart SD - Jeff Nelson Hoekstra, Aaron Hutt, Butch Staples. (Back row) Dan
HI - Madeleine Dreith NJ - Ed Ransom TX - Brian Tennery Santorum, Dr. Doug Eng, Jean Mills, Jonathan Vegosen,
IL - Doug Cash NY - Nic Sabbatini VA - Bob Calloway Adam Gard’ner, Ernest Quarles, Corbin Graves, Brad
NC - Scott Mitchell Pearce.



USPTA Accepting Awards Nominations Babolat Debuts New Footwear Models

T he USPTA is now accepting nominations for its 2011
National Awards Program, which seeks to recognize
USPTA members who are leaders through tennis. Deadline
B abolat recently unveiled its latest
footwear collection, featuring the
all-new, high-performance Propulse
for nominations is July 1. line and the new V-Pro line.
Recipients will be honored during the annual awards The new Propulse 3, with its
breakfast at the USPTA World Conference Sept. 19-24 at dominant red color, is Andy Rod-
Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel, Fla. All Profession- dick’s shoe, and features two new
al-level USPTA members are eligible. The award categories innovations from Babolat: the “Kom-
include: pressor System,” which absorbs
 USPTA Stars—members who have dedicated years to shock when the heel hits the ground,
volunteering in grassroots tennis. and “Cell Shield,” a high-perform-
 USPTA Industry Excellence Award—The recipient ance upper made with cellular mate-
receives a $1,000 grant from the TIA and a Tennis Tutor rial to stand up to abrasion while
ball machine from Sports Tutor. providing comfort, says the company.
 Alex Gordon Award for Professional of the Year The Propulse 3 men’s version has
 Large- and Small-Facility Manager of the Year Award a suggested retail of $109. The
(open to nonmembers) Propulse Lady 3 ($104) has a fit adapt-
 College Coach of the Year and High School Coach of the ed to a woman’s foot, says Babolat, and the Propulse
Year Junior 3 ($59.95) offers support, grip and durability.
 Touring Coach of the Year Babolat says its new V-Pro line was inspired by the Propulse
 George Bacso Tester of the Year shoe. It’s available in the V-Pro All Court and V-Pro Clay ($89), V-
 USPTA Lessons for Life Award, Tennis Across America Pro Lady ($85) and V-Pro Junior ($49.95). For more information,
Award and Diversity Award visit

USTA Names Community Tennis Award Winners CareersInTennis

Site Tops 1,000 Listings
T he USTA honored eight award winners at its 2011 Commu-
nity Tennis Development Workshop, held Feb. 11-13 at the
Hyatt Regency Crystal City in Arlington, Va. The honorees were
recognized in a variety of categories for their dedication to
C areers In Tennis, a free service to both job-seekers
and employers that was launched in late 2009 by
the Tennis Industry Association, has now surpassed
growing the game. more than 1,000 job-board listings on its central por-
 Adaptive Tennis National Community Service Award: Touch of Tennis, tal, The site, the TIA
Gwynedd Valley, Pa. The award recognizes a program or program leader reported in February, is one of the largest “clearing-
that has demonstrated continued excellence, dedication and service in houses” for connecting individuals to information
tennis for an adaptive tennis community. and education on tennis industry careers.
 Eve F. Kraft Community Service Award: Brenda Gilmore, Upper Marl- “Our goal is to create greater awareness for the
boro, Md., and Robert Bratcher, Wilmington, Del. The award honors tennis industry and assist with placement of quali-
individuals who perpetuate Kraft’s selfless mission to bring the sport of ty talent to provide the future workforce and lead-
tennis to everyone who wants to play. ers of our sport,” says TIA Executive Director, Jolyn
 Janet Louer USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Organizer of the Year Award: de Boer. “There are a multitude of opportunities
Julie Dick, Georgetown, Ky. The honor recognizes an individual who available in tennis.”
positively influences children’s lives and substantially impacts their “Through the first two months of 2011, we’ve
community. seen the number of jobs being pulled to the job
 National Community Tennis Association of the Year Award: Washington board jump from around 700 to more than 1,000
Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF), Washington, D.C. The award active listings,” says Ryan Melton, the TIA's Careers
honors a CTA for outstanding service in growing and developing the In Tennis manager. As of late February, the site had
sport of tennis in its community. more than 500 registered job-seekers, 1,000-plus
 National Junior Tennis & Learning Chapters of the Year Awards: tennis industry jobs, and over 7,000 job views.
- New York Junior Tennis League ($500k and over), New York, N.Y. In addition to posting jobs for free, tennis com-
- Saint Paul Urban Tennis ($50k-500k), St. Paul, Minn. panies can search candidates who are registered
- Hartford R.A.L.L.Y (less than $50k), Hartford, Conn. on and even take appli-
The USTA bestows the National Junior Tennis & Learning (NJTL) Chapters cations directly through the site. For info, visit the
of the Year Awards to chapters and programs at three different budget site or contact Melton at (843) 686-3036 x.226 or
levels to reward those organizations that are able to do more with less. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 9

A P R I L 2 0 1 1


tor and tournament director of the Winston-Salem Open. Most

• The Stratford Academy in Macon, Ga., recently named its tennis recently, Bryant spent five years at Turner Broadcasting and the
courts in honor of 1979 graduate Jaime Kaplan, the high school’s Cartoon Network, mostly as vice president of Off-Channel Com-
coach and a former tour player. Kaplan, a tennis icon in Georgia merce, including managing Cartoon Network Smash Tennis.
who recently battled leukemia, was caught by surprise when the
Jaime Kaplan Tennis Center was unveiled at a ceremony on Feb. • Nicolas Almagro, playing with a Dunlop Biomimetic 500 Tour,
24. captured his 200th career win in February and his ninth ATP
World Tour title when he beat Juan Ignacio Chela in the final in
• Head/Penn racquetball player Jackie Paraiso won her 18th and Buenos Aires.
19th USA Racquetball national doubles titles in February, and
Head/Penn team members Rocky Carson and Jack Huczek won a • Sylvain Guichard has been hired as a USTA National Coach for
record sixth national doubles championship. Women’s Tennis. Guichard will facilitate coaching and training
programs while working with players in the USTA Player Develop-
• Bob Bryant is the new sales and marketing director for the ment program and will be based at the USTA Training Center-
USTA Southern Section, and he also will take over as tournament Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.
director of the Atlanta Tennis Championships, which will be
played in July. Bryant replaces Bill Oakes, who left the Southern • TV commentator and former pro tour player Cliff Drysdale plans
Section to go to Wake Forest University as assistant athletic direc- to wed Dianna Belmonte in April.

Nominate For USTA Facility Awards

D o you know an outstanding tennis facility in your area, one that you feel should be recognized for its contributions to tennis in
your community? Nominate them for a 2011 USTA Outstanding Facility Award.
Nominations are now being accepted for the 30th Annual USTA Outstanding Facility Award program, administered by the
USTA and the USTA Technical Committee. Go to for more information and for an applica-
tion/nomination form. All nominations are due in the USTA National office by June 29.



Agassi, Graf to Serve as Spokespersons For 10 and Under Tennis

A t the recent USTA Community Tennis Development Workshop in Arlington, Va., the USTA’s chief executive of Community Ten-
nis, Kurt Kamperman, outlined key strategies to promote 10 and Under Tennis, and announced that Andre Agassi and Stefanie
Graf will serve as spokespersons for the initiative. The tennis power couple will appear in marketing and advertising for 10U ten-
nis, promoting starting kids in tennis on shorter courts, with modified equipment and scoring.
“This is the biggest consumer push we’ve ever had in tennis,” Kamperman told the more than 600 workshop attendees. He
outlined top strategies for growing 10 and Under Tennis and increasing participation in the U.S. among youngsters:
1. Increase the number of adults trained to deliver 10 and Under kids to tennis in a softer way. Our tournaments need to
Tennis. The goal, says Kamperman, is to have more sites and change dramatically. We need more local play,” says Kam-
people hosting 10U training for teaching professionals and perman. He also adds that with 10U tennis, “It’s not a race
parents. If a site or organization can get a minimum of 20 peo- to full-size courts.”
ple to sign up for a 10U training workshop, the USTA will send 4. Maximize the use of technology. The website 10andun-
a trainer for free. “We’re going to need an army of pros and has been relaunched. Facilities can register
parent helpers to deliver this game,” he notes. on the site so consumers can find their programs. "This site
2. Increase the number of courts with “blended lines.” Kam- has great tools for pros and information for parents, with lots
perman says there needs to be more courts in the U.S. lined of great videos that will help people see what 10 and Under
for 36- and 60-foot courts. “We have a sizeable budget for Tennis is all about," Kamperman says.
this. We can help facilities turn two courts into eight courts." 5. Drive provider and consumer awareness. “We need a distri-
USTA National grants and section grants are available for bution base, so we need teaching pros and facilities to regis-
adding permanent lines to existing courts, which could pay ter their programs,” Kamperman says. Tennis providers will
for from 50 percent to 75 percent or more of the cost. get a kit with a DVD, among other things, to help spread the
3. Redefine youth competition. The progression should be word and get parents and kids involved. On the consumer
from skills development programs to “Play Days” (for infor- side, in addition to having Agassi and Graf serve as 10 and
mal competition), then to formal competition. Play Days, Under Tennis spokespersons, starting in June the USTA will
says Kamperman, are a critical component, not just for kids, start the “SmashZone Mobile Tour,” traveling to sites around
but also to educate parents. “We need to expose parents and the country bringing tennis to kids and their parents. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 11

A P R I L 2 0 1 1

Nominate for the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame Tennis Racquet Performance

Specialty Stores,
N ominations are now being accepted for the 4th Annual Tennis Industry Hall of
Fame award, which recognizes those individuals who have made a significant
impact on and contribution to the sport, from the 1960s to the present. The final
January - December, 2010 vs. 2009
Units 2010 719,943
inductees will be honored in New York City, just before the start of the US Open dur- 2009 724,225
ing the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference at the 5th % change v. '09 -1%
Annual TIA Tennis Forum. Dollars 2010 $102,216,000
Nominations, which are due by June 30, 2011, 2009 $100,664,000
can be made in four categories—inventors, founders, % change v. '09 2%
innovators and contributors—by visiting Price 2010 $141.98 2009 $139.00
The Tennis Industry Hall of Fame was created in % change v. '09 2%
2008. The first two inductees were Dennis Van der Meer and the late Howard Head.
In 2009, Alan Schwartz was the sole inductee, followed in 2010 by Billie Jean King.
There is a Tennis Industry Hall of Fame section, including plaques on permanent dis- Top-Selling Racquets
play, at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. at Specialty Stores
By year-to-date dollars,
January - December, 2010
Babolat Serves Up Roland Garros Gear (average selling price)
A s part of its partnership with Roland Garros, Babolat has developed an official
Roland Garros range of tennis equipment, including racquets, bags and acces-
sories in the colors of the French Open, available in
1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT (MP)
2. Babolat Pure Drive GT (MP)
May. 3. Wilson BLX Six.One 95 16 x 18 (MS)
The Aeropro Drive French Open ($199, 100 sq. 4. Babolat Aero Pro Drive+ GT (MP)
in., 10.6 oz.) is the frame of French Open champi- 5. Prince EXO3 Black (MP)
on Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and is for “Hot New Racquets”
baseline players looking for power and control, says (Introduced in the past 12 months)
the company. There is also a junior line featuring 1. Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT (MP)
the Aeropro Drive Junior French Open frame ($104, 2. Wilson BLX Six.One 95 16x18 (MS)
100 sq. in., 8.6 oz.). A matching bag is available for
3. Babolat Aero Pro Drive+ GT (MP)
six or 12 racquets.
4. Prince EXO3 Black (MP)
The E Sense Comp French Open racquet ($99,
5. Wilson BLX Pro Open (MP)
100 sq. in., 9.5 oz.) is lightweight and offers good
maneuverability, says Babolat. There is also the
Roland Garros Club Bag and Club Backpack to carry
Top-Selling Tennis Shoes
Strings in the Roland Garros line include the at Specialty Stores
XCEL French Open available in black. For By year-to-date dollars,
January - December, 2010
grips, there’s the VS Grip French Open. (average selling price)
And two dampeners are available, the 1. Prince T22
Custom Damp, which is customizable, 2. Adidas Barricade V
and the fun Loony Damp French 3. Adidas Barricade 6.0
Open. Babolat also offers the French 4. Nike CourtBallistec 2.3
Open All Court ball, for all surfaces and 5. Nike Air Breathe Free
player types. For info, visit

Top-Selling Tennis Strings

Olympus to End US Open Sponsorship at Specialty Stores
By year-to-date dollars,
T his year will apparently be the last year for Olympus as a USTA sponsor of the US
Open and the US Open Series of summer tournaments. Although the two sides set-
tled their lawsuit over the sponsorship deal for 2011, the contract, which was renewed
January - December, 2010
1. Prince Synthetic Gut Duraflex
in 2007 to run through 2013, allows Olympus to opt out of the last two years of the 2. Wilson NXT
deal, which the company has decided to do. 3. Wilson Sensation
The USTA says it had sued Olympus for $11.65 million when the camera compa- 4. Luxilon Alu Power
ny tried to get out of its sponsorship agreement for 2011, a year earlier than the con- 5. Prince Lightning XX
(Source: TIA/Sports Marketing Surveys)
tract allowed. Olympus and the USTA have been partners since 2003.



Biggest Loser Winner

Participates in Cardio
Tennis Kids Session
P atrick House, the winner of Sea-
son 10 on NBC’s “The Biggest
Loser,” took part in a Cardio Tennis
Kids presentation on Feb. 24 at the
Professional Tennis Registry Sympo-
sium on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Car-
dio Tennis (www.cardiotennis .com),
a program managed by the Tennis
Industry Association, was one of the
activities that Biggest Loser contest-
ants participated in, with surprise
guest Anna Kournikova, now the
new spokesperson for Cardio Tennis.
After going through Cardio Tennis
on the show, House, who played ten-
nis as a junior, said he “fell back in
love with tennis” and plans to get
back into the game. At the start of
The Biggest Loser season, House
weighed 400 pounds. He shed 181
pounds by the end of the season.
“Tennis is a great game and Car-
dio Tennis is a great program,”
House told the audience of tennis
teachers and coaches. “Cardio Ten-
nis isn’t about keeping score, it’s
about having fun and getting exer-
cise.” Also in attendance were 25
fifth-grade students from the St.
Francis School on Hilton Head
Island, who helped the TIA’s Cardio
Tennis team demonstrate the Cardio
Tennis Kids program.
House, who said he’s always been
involved in mentoring kids and vol-
unteering, now works for Mind-
stream Academy in Bluffton, S.C., a
boarding school for overweight teens
that helps them solve their weight


A P R I L 2 0 1 1


> The USPTA is hoping all USPTA pros

will take part in the “One-Clinic Chal-
>tennisAustralian tennis star Fred Stolle, whose
career featured Grand Slam titles and
National Championships will be April 7-9
at Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C., and the
lenge” for 2011 and run a free Tennis Davis Cup victories, was presented a com- ToC Spring Invitational will be April 15-17
Across America one-hour clinic in the memorative ring from the International Ten- at the Reffkin Tennis Center in Tucson,
Month of May. For more information and nis Hall of Fame in a ceremony at the Delray Ariz. For more information, visit
to register your event, contact Rick Beach International Tennis Championships
Bostrom at 800-USPTA-4U (877-8248) or in February. The one-of-a-kind rings will be presented to Hall of Famers at tennis events
PGA Tour Superstores is opening a
square-foot store in Greenwood
around the world over the next several years
In April, Lee Tennis, the maker of the
surface, will change its name to to mark their achievement of Hall of Fame
Village in the Denver area. The store is
expected to be open in May. It will be the
Har Tru Sports, a Division of Luck Stone. induction. Stolle was inducted into the Hall company’s 11th location; there are stores
of Fame in 1985. in metro Atlanta, Dallas, Myrtle Beach,
>theThe Madison Square Garden court for
Feb. 28 BNP Paribas Showdown—fea- > The U.S. won a record sixth Hopman Cup Phoenix and Naples, Fla.
title in January when Bethanie Mattek-Sands
turing Ivan Lendl vs. John McEnroe and
Pete Sampras vs. Andre Agassi—had 60- and John Isner beat Belgium's Justine Henin
Peter Burwash International is now
the tennis programs at two
foot blended lines on the traditional 78- and Ruben Bemelmans in mixed doubles to additional properties: the Jumeirah Zabeel
foot regulation court. It was the first time win the tie, 2-1. Earlier, in singles, Mattek- Saray beach resort in Dubai and the Silver-
blended lines, for 10 and Under Tennis, Sands had lost to Henin and Isner had beat ado Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
were incorporated in a court used for a Bemelmans. The Hopman Cup is an interna-
professional tennis match. Prior to the pro tional team event started in 1989. > Tennis Channel has extended its tele-
cast rights agreements with the ITF and
matches, kids from the New York Junior
Tennis League played on the 60-foot
> The Sports Palace “Megasport” in
Moscow will host its first tennis event when
USTA to remain the exclusive U.S. broad-
caster of all Davis Cup, Fed Cup and Hop-
blended line court using the QuickStart Italy meets Russia in the Fed Cup semifinal man Cup competition. The deals keep
Tennis play format. The BNP Paribas April 16-17. A hard court will be laid over coverage of the American Davis Cup team
Showdown also featured the first-ever what was originally built as an ice rink to on the network through 2013 and all
digital signage around the court perime- host the World Ice Hockey Championships other matches in the three international
ter at a pro tennis event. and figure skating competitions. team competitions through 2015.
>operSpiderTech, a Canadian-based devel- > No. 1 Stanford captured a record 10th
of pre-cut and ready to apply kinesi- ITA National Women’s Team Indoor title in >bookChampionship Racquetball is a new
by champion players Fran Davis and
ology tape, has signed Chinese tennis February when the Cardinal beat No. 2 Flori- Jason Mannino that covers drills, tactics,
champion, and Australian Open finalist, Li da, 4-2. planning for competition, conditioning,
Na to its Health and Wellness Team.
Tennis facilities at the Vanderbilt Tennis psyching out the opponent, goal setting,
> The two World TeamTennis teams
based in New York are consolidating into
inside New York City’s Grand
Central Terminal—are expected to be open
and maintaining training and tournament
logs. Visit or call 800-
one team. The New York Sportimes, in September. The full-size court and several 747-4457.
based in New York City, and the New York practice alleys will be on the fourth and a
Buzz franchise in Albany, are combining. newly-constructed fifth floor overlooking
>RMS,NCSAor Recruiting
Athletic Recruiting, has launched
Management System,
The Sportimes will now play five matches Vanderbilt Hall. The main court boasts a a free tool designed for college coaches.
at its home base at Sportime Stadium at view of Central Park South through a previ- RMS gives coaches the ability to search,
Randall’s Island in New York City, and will ously shrouded, 15-foot-high, half-circle track, and manage every aspect of the
also play two home matches in Albany. window. recruitment process. Contact Samantha
Also, the USTA Eastern Section has signed
on as the Sportimes’ host sponsor. > The 2011 USTA Tennis On Campus Crafton at

Ashaway Renews RacquetBall Contract

A shaway Racket Strings has renewed its agreement as the official string of
USA Racquetball for another two years. Ashaway has been the USAR Offi-
cial String since 2004.
“We are delighted to be able to continue our longstanding support for USAR
and the sport of racquetball,” says Steve Crandall, vice president of marketing for Ashaway. “As the only U.S. manufacturer of
racquet strings, Ashaway has sponsored many amateur and professional racquetball players of all ages and skill levels, includ-
ing champions such as Jack Huczek.”


The Beauty of Tennis
I really enjoyed Jeff Lewis’s Your Serve (“Club Tennis at Its Finest”) in the Feb-
ruary issue. It reminded me of playing with a general manager of a nuclear
facility that provided reactors for U.S. Navy submarines. When I would call his
secretary, who was a very efficient gatekeeper, she would way, “Dr. Natelson is
in a very important meeting at the present time. Can I take a message?” When
I would tell her it was just about a tennis match, she would then say, “I’ll put
Dr. Natelson through immediately.”
The beauty of tennis is that you can be playing with world-famous scien-
tists, unemployed bricklayers, eye surgeons, and symphony trumpet players—
the only thing that matters is, can he get his second serve in with pace, depth
and placement!
By the way, Dr. Michael Natelson is now retired from the Bettis Nuclear
Power Laboratory, and we’re able to play lots of doubles together.
Jerry O’Hara
Mount Lebanon, Pa.

String Article Draws Praise

Thank you for Greg Raven’s article on synthetic string construction in your
March issue. I worked for DuPont for 28 years, 13 of those in the polyester
(Dacron) division. As I read the article, I could only imagine how difficult the
actual written description of that process and its variables must have been.
Well done. Dave Heilig
Chapel Hill, N.C.

10 and Under Coverage

I was very impressed with the March issue of RSI and the coverage of 10 and
Under Tennis. I was impressed with the number of QuickStart Tennis pro-
grams you highlighted (“Tennis To Go”), from all over the country, which is a
testament to the fact it works everywhere. I hope you will continue to keep
us posted on all the news and innovative programs dealing with 10 and
Under—it’s an inspiration to us all.
Jean Greenwood
Salt Lake City, Utah
Vice Chair, USTA Community Tennis Association committee

We welcome your letters and comments. Please limit letters to 300 words maximum. Email them to or fax them to 760-536-1171.

French Open to Remain at Roland Garros

F rench Tennis Federation officials voted in mid-February to keep the French Open at
Roland Garros Stadium in Paris, rather than move the tournament to larger sites in
the suburbs. The plan is for the current site to be expanded and renovated.
“Roland Garros has a strong and unique image and possesses global prestige due
to the city of Paris,” said FTF President Jean Gachassin.
Roland Garros currently occupies 21 acres, by far the smallest Grand Slam in
terms of land, as the US Open sits on more than 34 acres and both Wimbledon and
the Australian Open sites are 47 acres. The FTF’s plan is to expand to about 33 acres
by using land at nearby municipal courts and expanding into an adjacent public
botanical gardens. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 15

Career Enhancement
Take Advantage of Your Skills
Looking for extra income? If you’re a club pro, consider

adding a school or college tennis coaching position. BY BRUCE KNITTLE

Camps, Clinics,
Lessons, Events
ith this uncertain economic bers
environment, many peo- and
ple—including tennis teach- exposing
ing pros at clubs and facilities—are By becoming involved with the school,
the club to a
seeking additional income, aside from other revenue-generation opportunities will
new market. Also,
their regular employment. Because of pop up. You might have the chance to
you might consider running a
expanding competition and the tighten- direct tennis camps for kids and adults at
clinic for high school teams at the club.
ing of discretionary spending, pros can the school, which could bring in significant
Included could be not only your team, but
be left scrambling to meet their income and be an ongoing annual pro-
other local teams, with possibly free prac-
expenses. gram. When I first started my summer ten-
tice time as well.
A natural fit for extra income, often nis camp at a college, enrollment was
Another advantage of working with
overlooked by the club pro, is to be relatively small. But it continued to grow
school teams is that you may have avail-
employed as a college or high school significantly each year. If you are already
able to you potential instructors for
coach. Most of these jobs are part time, working as a coach at the school, work out
camps, lessons and other programs. Stu-
with hours that may mesh well with a a deal with the athletic director to run ten-
dent-athletes may be looking for part-time
pro’s current job. (Full-time positions at nis camps.
employment and may be happy to work
colleges are rare—mainly at some Divi- Giving clinics and private lessons on
in a field in which they have considerable
sion 1 schools.) Athletic directors, who school courts is another benefit of working
knowledge. (But as a coach, be aware of
usually do not come from a tennis there. Again, arrangements need to be
all NCAA and high school guidelines
background, frequently will look at ten- worked out with the institution, but offering
regarding hiring student-athletes.)
nis clubs to fill the position for a quali- various types of programs can be a valu-
But perhaps the greatest benefit for a
fied, knowledgeable coach. able source of income. With discounts
teaching pro who becomes a school coach
At first glance, it may seem that the offered to students and staff, plus the con-
is the enhanced reputation and credibility
pay for these part-time positions are venience of location, these lessons should
the position provides. By working in the
not competitive and the job might not go over well. You will be known as the “go
school as their coach, your name recogni-
be worth the commitment. Tennis to” person for tennis in the school or col-
tion will increase substantially. Further-
often is thought of as a minor sport at lege community.
more, if your teams are successful, your
many schools, so the coaches are paid The school might even ask the coach to
prominence will escalate as both a coach
accordingly. But despite the low pay run tennis classes to be included in their
and a pro. The more your good name gets
and frequent ambivalence toward ten- curriculum. This could be part of the phys
out there, the greater the possibilities of
nis, there can be many positives for a ed department or another area. Some col-
future opportunities.
pro as a head tennis coach, both finan- leges might even want the coach to run an
So, what might at first seem to be just
cially and career-wise. intramural tennis program.
a little extra income for a teaching pro
First, you can generate extra Tournaments and other competitive
could very well turn into something much
income from racquet stringing and pro events can also be offered on the school
more, both financially and personally.
shop sales, including supplying team courts to bring in revenue for the pro and
Also, you might find you enjoy coaching
uniforms. As coach, you’d have 10 to the school. Although the proceeds might
youngsters and being a positive influence
12 team members who would be not be significant, players will be using the
on their lives and tennis careers. Both jobs
happy to have their racquet mainte- facilities, and perhaps be customers for
complement each other, and in this diffi-
other tennis programs at the school.

Benefits for
nance handled by a trusted mentor. cult economy, that is something rare
(Also, if you’re at a middle or high indeed. Q

Club and School

school and run a No-Cut tennis pro-
Bruce Knittle is president of the sports con-
gram, you could have dozens of poten-
sulting firm Knittle Sports Solutions
tial customers for your goods and Your presence at the school will give tennis ( A former
services.) At colleges, budgets often will higher visibility, which means many school sports camp owner, he also was a college
include money for these items, there- participants may end up taking lessons or head coach and directed sports programs
fore very little funds need to come out for many years. He can be reached at bknit-
playing in leagues at your club or facility.
of the players’ pockets. So you could end up bringing in new mem-




ennis facilities face many issues every day. One of the most vate-lesson revenue during dead time and also offer members a
serious and costly is the inability to fill unused court time. lower court rate in conjunction with the lessons to create more
Most experts in the industry will tell you that the most diffi- play and/or lessons.
cult time to fill is the period from noon to 3 p.m.
For many years I worked as a territory manager for Wilson Rac- Dave Saxe
quet Sports and saw, firsthand, the many difficulties decision-mak- Lake Country Racquet Club
ers face trying to maximize dollars. Recently, I canvassed facility Hartland, WI
directors, teaching pros and club owners to hear their thoughts on Saxe has long been an advocate of “Tennis 1, 2, 3” for non-mem-
the successes and failures of filling that difficult 12-3 p.m. court bers, who receive eight one-hour lessons for $120. The club
time. offers a total of three eight-lesson sessions, and these programs
One thing that nearly every facility manager or pro told me is have become the backbone of Lake Country’s 2.0 to 2.5 USTA
that the 10-and-under tennis initiative, using the QuickStart Tennis League structure. Private lessons at this time have not worked
play format with age-appropriate equipment and smaller courts, is well, as Saxe found that those who can afford privates want to
a nice stimulus for unused court time. Here’s what else the profes- take them according to their schedule, not the club’s.
sionals said worked in their environment, and what came up short.
Randy Stolpe/Rick Vetter
Mike Graff Elite Clubs, Milwaukee, WI
Baseline Tennis, suburban Detroit, MI Stolpe and Vetter have created some interesting options for their
Baseline Tennis offers a daytime-only membership, half-price court facilities. They ran a “Senior Camp” from noon to 2 p.m.,
time for walk-ins, and a senior round-robin twice a month at a very charged $20 per head and had 15 men and women on a constant
low price, with prizes. Graff says the program itself loses money at basis. Cardio Tennis, a strong performer in tennis clubs, is a
the get-go, but because players meet other players and have a pos- mainstay of their court time. They also had good success with a
itive experience at the club, there is increased play and then play- 1-2:30 p.m. women’s league that allows nonworking moms to
ers mix in with other club offerings, so in the final analysis, the club pick up their children right on time after school.
makes out in the whole deal.
Mike Starke
Ajay Pant Binghamton Tennis Center
National Tennis Director, Midtown/TCA Clubs Binghamton, NY
Midtown offers a “Breakfast at the Club” or “Lunch at the Club,” fol- Stark has found that private lessons, Cardio Tennis and “stroke
lowed by tennis to fill hours. He utilizes the courts as a rental oppor- of the week” clinics have done well during the noon to 3 p.m.
tunity for colleges and high school programs. Pant has used time slot. He’s also found a good market in catering to students
incentives such as higher pay for teaching pros to create more pri- in his area who are home-schooled.


Jim Hendrix Tom Chorney
The Racquet Club, Columbus, OH Cherokee Golf & Tennis, Madison, WI
Hendrix also has successfully cultivated the home-school stu- Cherokee offered nonmembers a 10-week program for $280, with a
dent market to help fill his club’s early afternoon court time. choice of times weekdays from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Saturdays
Something unique that Hendrix mentioned is that he works and Sundays after 4:30 p.m. Cherokee has court times for one hour and
with his club’s database and finds out who among the mem- 15 minutes instead of the normal one hour. The players prepaid for the
bers works at home, then he brings those people to the club 10 weeks of their choice but often wanted the same privileges as mem-
during the slow times. bers, and these demands caused some consternation among the staff.
But Chorney says the club grossed nearly $13,000 from the program!
Mark Faber
Laurel Hill Swim & Tennis, Toledo, OH A Final Thought
Several colleges rent courts from Laurel Hill Swim & Tennis, You might also try utilizing members who wish to promote their busi-
which helps during the slow parts of the day. Faber also has nesses. In this way, tennis facilities can give back to their loyal mem-
had a degree of success with a lunchtime doubles program. bers. If you cultivate the right atmosphere at your club, members will
Bringing in sandwiches from a local sub shop helps to build attend events that promote fellow members’ businesses. Then, they can
a nice relationship with local eateries, too. pick up some court time afterwards. Personally, I would go to my facil-
ity to hear about nutrition, personal training, current trends in travel,
John Gambucci etc., and have interaction with tennis friends.
Pleasant Valley Tennis Club Good club owners pay it forward to their members and thereby
West Bend, WI ensure excellent customer relations. Q
Gambucci promotes a “floating singles” for women mem-
bers. Since scheduling women’s events can be difficult, he Do you have ideas on how to use “dead court time” at your facili-
takes the total group, divides them up in parallel abilities ty? Send us what has worked or hasn’t worked for you. Email
and has them play a round robin within their group on their, put “dead court time” in the subject line.
own. The women schedule their own court time, but the
club tells them of available times and thus able to fill times Denny Schackter is a retired territory manager for Wilson Racquet Sports
that would be difficult to sell. Gambucci also has done the who still does some tennis teaching. He’s an active volunteer for the USTA
Midwest Section and a member of the national USTA Tennis on Campus
same format with men’s singles and doubles. And the USTA
Committee. He directs his own company, Tennis Priorities (tennispriori-
has Flex Leagues like this as well. With everyone’s busy, to bring young people into the tennis teaching business. He can
schedules, this type of flexibility can be important for a club. be reached at April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 23


While the latest Participation Survey shows a decline in players
over last year, the overall trend is still increasing.


he first thing you notice about the 2010 annual Tennis Par- agree that the 10 and Under Tennis initiative being promoted by
ticipation Survey is a decline in total players and frequent all sectors of the industry can boost participation numbers, as
players over the previous year. more kids start to play the game, and as their parents rediscov-
At the beginning of 2010, the industry was celebrating 30.13 er tennis.
million total players, the highest level since the TIA began a Par- Also expected to contribute to an increase in participation is
ticipation Survey in 1988. But when you look at the chart for this the continued awareness of the health benefits that tennis pro-
year (below), it almost appears that the participation number is vides all players, regardless of age. In surveys of players, “health
now “correcting” itself. The 2010 figure for overall participation and fitness” continues to be a top reason for playing tennis. For
has slipped to 27.81 million—but that still is the second highest instance, Cardio Tennis is experiencing increased growth domes-
total ever and is 1 million more players than in 2008. tically and internationally, says the TIA.
And that is the positive news: The overall trend for tennis And now, the USTA’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative has part-
participation still is increasing. From 2003—when the first major nered with First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” initiative
participation study was undertaken jointly by the TIA and to combat childhood obesity and give kids the 60 minutes of
USTA—through 2010, overall tennis participation is up 15.7 per- daily exercise they should have to stay healthy (see page 7).

Frequent Player Concerns

cent (despite the 7.7 percent dip from 2009 to 2010).
Also, the participation rate—that is, the percentage of the
overall U.S. population that plays tennis—is on an overall The number of frequent players in the U.S.—those over age 6
upward trend since 2003. As the total population is now more playing at least 21 times a year—is flat at best over the last seven
than 292 million, each increase of 1 percent represents an addi- years, dipping below 5 million for the first time since 2005 and
tional 2.92 million players. In the 2010 survey, 9.51 percent of barely above the 2003 number. In fact, as a percentage of the
the U.S. population plays tennis, up from 8.74 percent in 2003. total population, the frequent player participation rate is slightly
In addition, data released in early March from the Physical below where it was in 2003.
Activity Council (PAC) shows that among traditional participation “This does cause some concern, since frequent players are
sports, tennis again the heart of the ten-
topped the list with a nis market, spend-
huge 46% increase ing the most on
from 2000 to 2010, equipment, lessons,
making it by far the court time and
fastest growing tradi- more,” says TIA
tional participation President Jon Muir.
sport in the U.S. for the “We have to have
past decade. The annu- more people playing
al PAC study examines tennis more often to
sports trends and par- keep this industry
ticipation for 117 growing the way it
sports. should.”
In the 2010 TIA/USTA Participation Survey, the decline in One big factor that appears to be affecting play, points out
total players from 2009 is disappointing. But industry officials Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community
24 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY April 2011 Charts courtesy TIA
Tennis, is the severity and length of the current
down economic cycle, as people put their con-
cerns over their basic needs before recreational
tennis play. Another contributing factor might
have been prolonged bad weather in key tennis-
playing regions of the country.
But also, Kamperman adds, “We have to ask
ourselves, are we starting to ‘age out’ in larger
numbers? Are we losing players who took up
tennis during the first tennis boom in the
With frequent players relatively flat since
2003, the growth in the sport’s participation has
come from the infrequent (one to three times a
year) and regular (four to 20 times a year) play-
ers. Stepping up these groups into the frequent
player category is a major goal of the TIA and the
The 10 and Under Tennis initiative is key. “If
we look at the best target to create frequent play-
ers, it’s the same target that will have the best
long-term affect on the industry, and that’s
under-10 players,” Kamperman says. “If we can
get more kids into the game, not just in lessons
and clinics, but actually playing, it will have the
biggest long-term economic impact for this
The overall goal, as Muir has stated, is to see
“10 million frequent players by 2020. With all of
our industry partners, we can achieve that goal.”

Ball Shipment Data

Historically, ball shipments have tracked with
participation levels, and the latest data shows
that ball shipments dipped in the last two years,
yet the overall trend from 2003 remains up 11
percent, vs. up 15.7 percent for players.
The “balls per player” ratio has consistently
been around 5, but the low point in 2009 of 4.25
confirms that the player increase in that year to
30.13 million was among less frequent players,
who bought fewer tennis balls, says the TIA.
A TIA Consumer study of more than 2,200
frequent players shows a decline in tournament
play and lessons, while recreational tennis and
league tennis increased. Industry officials agree
that the decline in tournament play and lessons
is “totally economic.” In the case of tourna-
ments, for instance, players most likely would
have to spend on travel and hotels, whereas
league play generally is local, involving less
Like everyone else in this economy, frequent
players appear to have cut back on their spend-
ing. “As an industry, we want these players to
continue to make tennis their priority,” says TIA
Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “And this sport
offers many reasons to do that.” Q



Teaching pros don’t have all the answers, and ‘sharing’ students
can bring benefits for everyone.

S Why Share Students?

tudent retention is the result of the teacher’s value to the
student. Once a student realizes their progress has begun to
diminish or has come to a halt, they will either stop taking What are the benefits of sharing students? First, as mentioned it
lessons or find another instructor. actually helps student retention. Instead of the instructor and stu-
In the course of a person’s school life, they experience as dent running into an impasse, arrangements are made and
many as 50 teachers as they move from elementary, middle understandings of common goals are implemented.
school, high school and college. As a result, we are trained as stu- Second, in the end, it’s better business. This is especially true
dents to transition from instructor to instructor. It is how we nat- for clubs and organizations. If a student leaves a teacher, they
urally progressed through our schooling, so it only seems logical often will also leave the club or facility. Moreover, they may find
that would be true in any other learned skill. it uncomfortable to return to that facility, not wanting to cross
Unfortunately, some tennis teachers fail to recognize this pro- paths with their former pro.
gression and believe that they can continue to advance a stu- These are a few of the financial motives involved, but what of
dent’s game for an unlimited amount of time. Taking additional the psychological reasons? According to sport psychology consul-
courses, reading and studying the game will help the instructor, tant and licensed family therapist Jeff Greenwald (see “Educate
but recognizing that you may have limitations is a valuable under- Yourself More” at right), there are three factors that need to be
standing that helps the teacher become more flexible and, in understood to move toward a more collaborative, growth-orient-
turn, more capable of student retention. ed mentality:
As an example, there are a number of tennis teachers who Q Many pros are used to working alone and perceive their job as
excel in teaching the serve. Other instructors have a great handle needing no additional support.
on the net game, or doubles. It’s also possible that your lefty stu- Q Many teaching pros, who have been players themselves, are
dent might find some answers by working with a left-handed ten- used to finding answers on their own, so later in life, self-
nis pro. reliance and autonomy are traits they possess.
The real question is, are you comfortable as an instructor Q Having another pro in the mix can be threatening—we all like
passing on your students to someone else for additional input? to feel good about what we do and see the results of our work.

From Teacher to Teacher

This is especially challenging with tennis pros who develop top-
level players. The time invested to produce such a player is exten-
sive and often includes a number of volunteered hours. These So how does a tennis pro, tennis director or club take on this chal-
students represent both a major amount of time invested and also lenge of students working with other teachers? There are several
represent a product of great pride. different approaches that tennis programs can develop to make it
For many teachers these accomplished players are a form of more convenient for students to work with different teachers.
advertising and help produce additional students. They also con- If there are several pros working under the same manage-
tribute to elevating the reputation of a tennis pro. Those facts alone ment, common “command lines” are always helpful. These are
can persuade a teacher to try to keep a student’s loyalty beyond comments teachers use during drills or the feeding of balls that
reason. Giving up that investment may require more insight that each pro in the facility uses in common. With this in place, stu-
may not be part of a tennis pro’s better business judgment. dents sense a common connection and trust. From this start, it


Educate Yourself More,
Seek Out Others to Help
can allow the individuality of each teacher to
foster and provide alternative solutions to stu-
dents. Forcing a group of teachers in a facility to
all teach exactly the same way is a sure-fire way
to eventually force students to other locations to
seek new solutions to their problems.
What also works well is to have teachers If we look at almost every other sport, particularly team sports, this collaborative par-
specialize in certain areas. Some teachers will adigm is the norm. No one coach alone is expected to manage every technical, tacti-
become doubles specialist, others are great cal, physical and mental component in an athlete’s development. In tennis, there
working with service motions, and still others seems to be a lingering perception that one pro needs to do it all, although this does
are great with giving students very physical seem to be shifting gradually.
workouts. Whatever it may be, this makes it On one hand, I think some pros are simply used to working alone and don’t think
easier and practical to have students move from they should be outsourcing aspects of their job. In many cases, I think it’s largely a per-
one teacher to another. ception issue where pros don’t view their job as needing additional support—whether
If there is only one teacher at a facility, they that means a strength and conditioning expert, sport psychologist, nutritionist, or
may want to seek out others in their communi- someone who specializes in the serve or net game. Of course, these components of
ty who have a history working on certain areas the game are well integrated at most academies around the world.
of the game. You would be able to say to your If you look at the profile of tennis pros, naturally, many have been players them-
student, “Because you are becoming such a selves. Psychologically, tennis players are forced to look within themselves to find the
strong net player, maybe you should take a few answers to play highly competitive tennis. Other than college tennis, tennis is gener-
lessons from Derek who is a great serve-and- ally not a team sport and players are used to becoming independent and resourceful.
volley player.” Or, “Because you are coming up When we extrapolate this to being a pro later in life it is not surprising that self-
against some big servers, maybe it’s time to reliance and autonomy are traits that many pros possess. In other words, with a more
work on serve returns with Kathy over at the limited and fixed mindset (I must do it all), outsourcing the serve would be akin to
Beach Club because she has a big serve and throwing in the towel and giving up. Of course, this is not accurate for many reasons.
could really challenge you.” Providing these Given that we are in the midst of a technological explosion where cutting-edge
alternatives shows that you are focused as a research and information is now ubiquitous, I do think many pros are seeing the value
teacher in seeing the improvement of your stu- in not only educating themselves more but also seeking out others to help with differ-
dent. ent aspects of the game. It is shifting, which is evidenced in the continued interest in
What if your student returns with news that the USTA High Performance program, for example, that provides more in-depth infor-
they thought this new instructor was a great mation on all aspects of the game. And the truth is that specialization is often now
new source of instruction? If you really care expected. Parents have become more knowledgeable consumers, albeit impatient as
about your students and the business you are well. The irony is that when parents and players believe their pro cares enough to sug-
in, this should be good news. Your answer, “I'm gest additional and complementary resources to improve their game, the relationship
so glad to hear that. What did they have to say? strengthens and a long-term connection is actually more likely.
I’m very interested.” With that response, you I believe another psychological factor relates to what I call “ego management.” We
stay part of the team and maintain a positive all like to feel good about what we do, believe in our abilities, and see the results of our
relationship with that student. Both your repu- hard work. Having another specialist in the mix can be threatening and make them
tation and the club you are representing will feel that they are no longer the primary factor in the player’s development. In other
fare much better in the long run. Not only are words, now they have to share a stake of the pride they might have been getting in
you more likely to retain that student for more watching their player improve.
lessons, but they are also inclined to recom- For pros to admit that they may not have all the answers takes a level of confi-
mend you to others; it’s a classic win/win sce- dence, curiosity to learn and an “other” vs. self-orientation. The reality is that good out-
nario. comes happen between player and pro and no one person is at fault if the development
The power of collaboration can be fruitful in becomes stalled. Rather than pros thinking, “I have to do this alone because I need to
so many ways, an example is this very article, be perceived as having all the answers,” pros would benefit from a positive reframe:
which emerged out of a collaborative relation- “How can I help my player achieve in all aspects of the game? Who can help me take
ship between two professionals in the game. Q this player to the next level?”
While pros ask players to commit to the developmental “process” and focus on
learning over results, it would be fruitful, I think, for more pros to model this “growth
mindset” and recognize their strengths and limitations. Putting aside ego, opening one-
Rod Heckelman is the general manager at the
Mount Tam Racquet Club in Larkspur, Calif. A fre- self up to learning while continuing to emphasize the player’s growth would likely fos-
quent presenter at industry events, Heckelman ter a relationship that endures with even better results.
was named the USPTA’s “Manager of the Year” in
2010. His “Facility Manager’s Manual” has been Jeff Greenwald, M.F.T., is a sport psychology consultant and author of “The Best Tennis of
excerpted in RSI and is now available digitally Your Life” and Amazon's best-selling, double-cd audio, “Fearless Tennis.” Greenwald was for-
through the Tennis Industry Association at merly ranked No. 1 in the world by the ITF and No. 1 in the U.S in the Men's 35 age division. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 39


These 8 outdoor hard-court facilities are great
examples of excellent construction.
s court construction coming back? Well, in this economy, it’s still hard to say, and at least in

I the Northeast, the amount of money municipalities have to spend due to the harsh winter is
expected to negatively impact funds available for court projects. But when you look at our crop
of outdoor hard-court award winners in the Racquet Sports Industry/American Sports Builders
Association 2010 Distinguished Facility-of-the-Year Awards, you get the sense that large munici-
pal projects are still out there.
The latest winners, eight in all, are all new construction. Most of the projects are at least six
courts, and in possibly another sign of the times, five have courts colored blue, similar to the
courts at the US Open and US Open Series tournament sites. Only two of this group used post-
tensioned concrete, but many projects had to deal with site difficulties that required “terracing”
the courts.
The 10 courts at Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas are post-tensioned concrete,
sloped to a central walkway between the court batteries. Lights were installed on two courts, but
conduits and foundations were put in for the others; to prevent a tripping hazard and avoid rust,
the contractor set the foundations for the future lights 6 inches below the top of the concrete,
then capped it with concrete grout.
The Brewster Municipal Tennis Court Complex in Massachusetts includes four shorter
QuickStart Tennis courts for 10 and Under Tennis. Construction on this heavily wooded site,
which has an elevation change of 25 feet, required building significant retaining walls, removing
many large boulders and moving large amounts of earth. The innovative grading plan resulted in
full ADA access without unsightly or complicated ramps.
In Novi, Mich., Catholic Central High School’s new courts are nestled into an existing clear-
ing among 45 acres of trees, allowing for a beautiful backdrop for tennis. The site is surrounded
by wetlands and woodlands, so it required more preparation so as not to impact the buffer zones.
The eight courts at Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Pa., are on a narrow tract of land,
so they were arranged in four two-court batteries and terraced with 4- to
6-foot-high retaining walls. The school district needed the new facility to For details on the 2011 Outstand-
be able to compete in a new scholastic league they had just joined. ing Facility-of-the-Year Awards,
Holland Christian Schools in Michigan also needed to contact the ASBA at 866-501-
ASBA or,
Silverton High School Tennis Facility tier its 12 courts, in three groups of four courts each (the
or visit
courts are in six batteries of two courts). Post-tensioned
Silverton, Ore. concrete was used to overcome the heavy clay soil con-
(Nominated by Atlas Track & Tennis, Tualatin, Ore.) ditions. The blue courts at Lynn University in Florida are in two three-court bat-
No. of Courts: 4 teries. The contractor had major time constraints, as the school insisted the
Surface: Plexipave courts be completed and ready for play at the start of the new year (January
Court Equipment: Douglas Industries
Lighting: LSI Courtsider Lighting
The Packer Park Tennis Center, with 12 courts, is the first tennis facility of
Fencing: Atlas Track & Tennis
its size in Colquitt County, Ga. The state had record amounts of rainfall during
construction, which delayed the project several times as the sub-base needed
time to dry out. At Oregon’s Silverton High School, the athletic director and tennis coaches were
concerned about windy conditions that come up early in the evenings. To solve that problem, a
full-length hitting wall was constructed on the west ends of the courts and halfway across the
south end, to act as a wind buffer while providing a training area. —Peter Francesconi Q



Bishop Gorman High School

Las Vegas, Nev.
(Nominated by Renner Sports Surfaces, Denver, Co.)
Specialty Contractor: Renner Sports Surfaces
No. of Courts: 10
Surface: Renner Sports Surfaces
Net Posts, Nets: Douglas Industries
Lights, Posts: LSI Courtsider Lighting

Brewster Municipal Tennis Court Complex

Brewster, Mass.
(Nominated by Gale Associates Inc., Weymouth, Mass.)
Architect/Engineer: Gale Associates Inc.
General Contractor: R.A.D. Sports Inc.
Specialty Contractor: Cape and Island Tennis & Track
No. of Courts: 8 (4 standard, 4 QuickStart)
Surface: Plexipave

Catholic Central High School

Novi, Mich.
(Nominated by Grissim Metz Andriese Associates,
Northville, Mich.)
Architect/Engineer: Richard Houdek, Grissim Metz
Andriese Associates
No. of Courts: 8
Surface: Plexipave


Garnet Valley High School
Glen Mills, Pa.
(Nominated by ELA Sport, Lititz, Pa.)
Architect/Engineer: ELA Sport/ELA Group Inc.
General Contractor: Sportsline Inc.
No. of Courts: 8
Surface: Plexipave
Net Posts: J.A. Cissel
Nets, Accessories: College Pacific

Holland Christian Schools

Holland, Mich.
(Nominated by URS Corp., Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Architect/Engineer: URS Corp.
Construction Manager: DVK Construction
No. of Courts: 12
Surface: DecoTurf
Nets, Posts, Straps: Douglas Industries
Caulk: NovaSports USA

Lynn University Tennis Facility

Boca Raton, Fla
(Nominated by Fast-Dry Courts, Pompano Beach, Fla.)
Specialty Contractor: Fast-Dry Courts
No. of Courts: 6
Surface: Nova Sports
Windscreens: Aer-Flo
Nets, Accessories: Fast-Dry Courts
Fencing: Fast-Dry Courts

Packer Park Tennis Center

Moultrie, Ga.
(Nominated by Talbot Tennis, Marietta, Ga.)
Specialty Contractor: Talbot Tennis
No. of Courts: 12
Surface: Laykold
Fencing: Talbot Tennis April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 33


STOCK? Tips from a top tennis

retailing pro can help find
B Y T I F FA N Y G R AY S O N N what will sell in your shop.
f racquets are the root of tennis, having the right rac- brands or too many styles all hooked on the same
quets in stock is certainly key to a successful tennis peg can be confusing to the customer. Simplify your
retail business. Selecting the right racquet assortment brand and/or style assortment to meet your spacing
for your shop can be a daunting task, and it is also a requirements.

5. Know your competition

major buying expense to any retailer or pro shop.
Although you can’t pull out a magic 8-ball and find
the miracle solution to “what sells,” you can follow a If your competitor down the road is known for carry-
few simple guidelines to help you get started. And ing a specific brand or racquet, you may need to
you can also use our Racquet Selection map starting adjust your assortment. Also note competitor’s prices
on page 36 to help you find exactly what your cus- and vendor pricing guidelines.

6. Partner with your

tomers need.

1. Know your budget vendor representative

Take a look at your payment terms with each vendor Your vendor representative will inform you of buying
before deciding how many racquets you can afford to programs to optimize your spend. When you can,
stock in your shop. take advantage of these plans to increase your mar-

2. Know your customer base

gins and add to your assortment. Additionally, your
vendor representative can give you guidance on what
Choose racquets that coordinate with your cus- might work for your shop based on your overall
tomers. If you are in a country club that focuses on needs.

7. Train your staff

game improvement, limit the number of heavy, con-
trol frames that you purchase. At the same time, you
should offer some variety. Stock and sell racquets Take the time to train your employees. Your vendor
that will meet your customer’s needs and compli- rep will provide you the product knowledge neces-
ment the levels of play. sary to understand the differences in manufacturers

3. Be realistic
and technologies.

regarding your service level Every store or shop is different. Having the courage to
If you are a “one-man show” at your club or a store take a risk or try something new is part of being a retail-
with limited labor resources, you may want to con- er. Knowing what your boundaries are is part of being a
sider simplifying your racquet selection. If your cus- smart retailer.
tomer is often shopping unassisted, a simple tech- The game of tennis requires knowledge, skill,
nology story is an easier story to tell. Lastly, if you patience, and the ability to close out the point at the
have a part-time person working in the shop who right time. Good retailers will apply the same logic—
doesn’t have the product knowledge to sell higher- and hopefully still come out with a big win. Q
priced technology, you may want to adjust your
assortment in the short term while you train your Tiffany Grayson is the Division Merchant for PGA Tour
staff. Superstore based in Atlanta, Ga. With 11 stores nation-

4. Keep your wall simple

wide, she is responsible for all aspects of the business
related to tennis, including buying, merchandising, mar-
keting, operations, and grassroots initiatives. Prior to
Know the space you have available for merchandis- PGA Tour Superstore, Grayson owned and operated her
ing your racquets and related accessories. Too many own tennis specialty stores located in the Atlanta area. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 35


O ur exclusive Racquet Selection Map enables you to
help your customers choose the perfect racquet for
them quickly and easily, with the features and per-
formance they want.
The map on the following page presents the entire per-
location on the grid, you can narrow down the racquet’s feel
attributes by choosing from length, size, and flex specs coded
into the racquet number.
Next, look up the racquet(s) by number in the accompany-
ing table. Note, though, that the table on these pages lists every
formance racquet universe on one grid that instantly locates new performance racquet that came out in the last 12 months.
each racquet compared to every other in terms of power, con- If the racquet you find on the grid is not in one of these charts,
trol, and maneuverability. Simply locate the specs of your cus- you’ll find it online at, where
tomer’s current racquet on the map, then move outward in we have the complete list of every racquet that is currently on
large or small increments in the direction of the customer’s pri- the market, both the newest and the older models.
mary preference—relatively more or less power, control or Your customer will now have a handful of “choice-cus-
maneuverability. Once you’ve zoomed into an approximate tomized” demos. And you’ll have a satisfied customer.


1. Power/Control (columns). (formula = length 8. Racquet Quadrants and the Center of the How To Use It
index x headsize x flex x swingweight) ÷ 1000. Racquet Universe. The center of the racquet uni- 1. Ask questions. What are you looking for
Length index calculation: 27" = 1.0, 27.5" = verse is located at the intersection of the two red that your current racquet does not provide?
1.05; 28" = 1.1, etc. lines. Approximately half the racquets lie to the What do you like most and least about your
2. Maneuverability (rows). RDC (Babolat right and left, and half above and below these current racquet? What are the strengths and
Racquet Diagnostic Center) swingweight units. lines. The lines divide the racquet universe into four weaknesses of your game?
3. Racquet ID. The number in the grid corre- color-coded quadrants – clockwise from top left: 2. Locate current racquet on map. If the rac-
lates to the accompanying racquet list. (1) quick power, (2) quick control, (3) stable con- quet is not in the list, take measurements.
4. Headsize. Midsize and midplus (≤104 sq. trol, (4) stable power. These characterizations pro- 3. Locating potential racquets. Depending
in.) have no indicator. vide a general vocabulary for comparing racquets. on the answers to the above questions,
Oversize (105 -117 sq. in.) = •. Superoversize 9. Racquet Finder List. The racquet list accompa- draw an imaginary arrow (a wide or skinny
(≥ 118 sq. in.) = :. nying the map identifies all the new racquets and one) from your present racquet in the
5. Length. x = extended length. Standard gives additional information. For a complete list of desired direction for power and maneuver-
length (27") racquets have no indicator. all current frames on the map, go to ability.
6. Flex (RDC). a = < 60; b = 60-64; c = 65-69; The map provides spe- 4. Narrowing the field. Shrink the choices
d = 70-74; e = > 74. The higher the number, cific (very narrow ranges, anyway) swingweight, using the length, headsize, and flex codes to
the stiffer the racquet. flex and power statistics, and general size and match customer preferences.
7. Company. Coded by number and color. See length characteristics. The racquet list specifies the 5. Selecting racquet demos. Once the choic-
accompanying racquet list on the following length and size and further specifies weight, bal- es are narrowed, locate the racquets by
pages. ance, and price. number in the racquet list.

New Racquets from April 2010 to March 2011

Racquet Headsize Length Weight Weight Balance Balance Flex Swingweight Power Retail
(in2) (in.) (gm) (oz) (cm) (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula Price

babolat 877-316-9435 •
13 OverDrive 105 105 27.50 282 9.95 35.00 13.78 71 312 2442 $199
14 OverDrive 110 110 27.50 283 9.98 36.00 14.17 69 318 2534 $199
23 Pure Storm Team GT 100 27.00 304 10.72 34.00 13.39 64 317 2029 $179
26 XS 102 (Xtra Sweetpsot) 102 27.00 286 10.09 36.00 14.17 70 322 2299 $119
28 Y 105 (Smart Grip) 105 27.00 281 9.91 34.75 13.68 68 301 2149 $199
29 Y 109 (Smart Grip) 109 27.00 285 10.05 35.95 14.15 68 314 2327 $199
BECKERBecker 866-554-7872 •
35 Delta Core London 98 27.00 312 11.01 33.30 13.11 64 311 1951 $160
36 Delta Core Melbourne 98 27.00 339 11.96 32.20 12.68 66 317 2050 $180


RSI’s annual Racquet Selection Map was compiled by Jonathan Wolfe and designed by Kristine Thom. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 37

New Racquets from April 2010 to March 2011 (Cont.)
Racquet Headsize Length Weight Weight Balance Balance Flex Swingweight Power Retail
(in2) (in.) (gm) (oz) (cm) (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula Price
Donnay 800-264-0509 •
41 X Black 99 99 27.00 339 11.96 32.70 12.87 61 328 1981 $299
42 X Dark Red 94 94 27.00 330 11.64 32.50 12.80 63 314 1860 $279
43 X Orange 99 99 27.00 316 11.15 33.00 12.99 67 304 2016 $249
44 X Red 94 94 27.00 329 11.61 33.00 12.99 67 327 2059 $279
45 X Red 99 99 27.00 327 11.53 33.00 12.99 67 316 2096 $279
46 X White 99 99 27.00 300 10.58 33.40 13.15 68 292 1966 $249
47 X Yellow 99 99 27.00 304 10.72 33.75 13.29 65 303 1950 $279
DUNLOP 800-768-4727 •
49 Biomimetic 200 95 27.00 339 11.96 32.50 12.80 62 330 1944 $210
50 Biomimetic 200 Lite 95 27.00 328 11.57 32.10 12.64 61 312 1808 $199
51 Biomimetic 200 Plus 100 27.00 323 11.39 32.50 12.80 64 316 2022 $210
52 Biomimetic 300 98 27.00 304 10.72 33.25 13.09 65 305 1943 $200
53 Biomimetic 300 Tour 97 27.00 317 11.18 32.90 12.95 65 292 1841 $210
54 Biomimetic 500 100 27.00 287 10.12 34.15 13.44 67 298 1997 $199
55 Biomimetic 500 Tour 100 27.00 315 11.11 33.20 13.07 70 314 2198 $199
56 Biomimetic 500 Tour Plus 110 27.50 263 9.28 36.90 14.53 72 316 2628 $210
57 Biomimetic 600 102 27.00 297 10.48 33.80 13.31 73 312 2323 $200
58 Biomimetic 600 Lite 105 27.25 320 11.29 35.50 13.98 74 321 2557 $190
Gamma 800-333-0337 •
67 CP 800 100 27.00 302 10.65 33.00 12.99 66 292 1927 $160
68 CP 900 100 27.00 329 11.61 33.00 12.99 71 345 2450 $180
69 CP 900 Team 100 27.00 281 9.91 32.50 12.80 67 284 1903 $140
HEAD Head 800-289-7366 •
81 Youtek Extreme MP (Black Throat) 100 27.00 311 10.97 33.45 13.17 76 311 2364 $180
83 Youtek Extreme OS 107 27.00 303 10.69 34.10 13.43 72 307 2365 $180
84 Youtek Extreme Pro (Black Throat) 100 27.00 342 12.06 32.95 12.97 77 337 2595 $180
86 Youtek Five Star 107 27.25 280 9.88 37.20 14.65 74 329 2670 $200
87 Youtek Four Star 115 27.25 264 9.31 37.95 14.94 72 325 2758 $210
99 Youtek Seven Star 115 27.30 275 9.70 37.00 14.57 70 327 2711 $210
100 Youtek Six Star 107 27.25 274 9.67 37.00 14.57 71 317 2468 $200
101 Youtek Speed Elite (Black Throat) 100 27.00 292 10.30 34.40 13.54 67 310 2077 $179
103 Youtek Speed Lite (Black Throat) 102 27.00 276 9.74 35.00 13.78 69 292 2055 $199
107 Youtek Speed MP 300 100 27.00 310 10.93 33.50 13.19 59 308 1817 $199
108 Youtek Speed MP 315 (16x19) 100 27.00 328 11.57 32.00 12.60 67 321 2151 $199
109 Youtek Speed MP 315 (18x20) 100 27.00 327 11.53 32.50 12.80 67 310 2077 $199
111 Youtek Three Star (Black Throat) 115 27.75 260 9.17 37.90 14.92 71 315 2765 $200
112 Youtek Three Star (White in Throat) 115 27.75 260 9.17 38.40 15.12 72 322 2866 $200
Origine 514-531-3453 •
113 Origine 103 27.25 302 10.65 32.90 12.95 57 319 1920 $135
PACIFICPacific 941-795-1789 •
118 Speed Comp 107 27.00 300 10.58 33.80 13.31 67 297 2129 $150
119 X Feel Pro 90 Vacuum 90 27.00 343 12.10 32.00 12.60 61 328 1801 $240
120 X Feel Pro 95 95 27.00 334 11.78 32.10 12.64 65 311 1920 $279
121 X Feel Tour 100 27.00 311 10.97 33.40 13.15 64 307 1965 $210
123 X Force Comp 105 27.00 310 10.93 33.40 13.15 66 312 2162 $180
PRINCEPrince 800-2TENNIS •
133 EXO3 Blue 110 (Black Throat) 110 27.25 289 10.19 35.00 13.78 70 322 2541 $229
136 EXO3 Hybrid Gold 107 107 27.00 269 9.49 37.40 14.72 67 323 2316 $159
137 EXO3 Hybrid Red 102 102 27.00 267 9.42 35.60 14.02 68 297 2060 $159
141 EXO3 Red 105 (Black Throat) 105 27.25 295 10.41 34.00 13.39 68 310 2269 $229
142 EXO3 Silver 115 115 27.50 270 9.52 36.95 14.55 69 317 2641 $229
143 EXO3 Tour 100 (16x18) 100 27.00 326 11.50 32.50 12.80 59 327 1929 $189


Racquet Headsize Length Weight Weight Balance Balance Flex Swingweight Power Retail
(in2) (in.) (gm) (oz) (cm) (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula Price
144 EXO3 Tour 100 (18x20) 100 27.00 327 11.53 32.10 12.64 55 321 1766 $189
145 EXO3 Tour Lite 100 100 27.00 270 9.52 36.40 14.33 61 312 1903 $149
147 EXO3 White Lite 100 100 27.00 286 10.09 35.00 13.78 65 325 2113 $179
SOLINCO 310-922-7775 •
154 Pro 10 98 27.00 344 12.13 33.00 12.99 72 353 2491 $179
155 Pro 10 Xtend 98 27.25 343 12.10 33.10 13.03 70 334 2349 $179
156 Pro 7 98 27.00 300 10.58 34.15 13.44 70 307 2106 $179
157 Pro 8 98 27.00 317 11.18 32.70 12.87 69 311 2103 $179
Tecnifibre 877-332-0825 •
159 T Fight 305 VO2 Max 95 27.00 318 11.22 34.00 13.39 73 326 2261 $200
VOLKL Volkl 866-554-7872 •
173 Organix 10 (295g) 100 27.00 313 11.04 33.00 12.99 64 312 1997 $190
174 Organix 10 (325g) 98 27.00 345 12.17 32.00 12.60 67 323 2121 $190
175 Organix 4 105 27.60 293 10.34 33.50 13.19 66 308 2263 $200
176 Organix 6 100 27.00 291 10.26 33.90 13.35 67 302 2023 $185
177 Organix 8 (300g) 100 27.00 310 10.93 33.20 13.07 69 320 2208 $185
183 Power Bridge 7 107 27.30 303 10.69 34.20 13.46 69 320 2433 $180
184 Power Bridge 8 (315g) 100 27.00 324 11.43 32.50 12.80 71 315 2237 $180
188 V1 Classic 102 27.00 313 11.04 33.50 13.19 68 320 2220 $180
Wilson 800-272-6060 •
200 BLX Blade 98 98 27.00 320 11.29 34.00 13.39 66 336 2173 $220
201 BLX Blade Lite 100 27.00 268 9.45 34.50 13.58 68 305 2074 $210
202 BLX Blade Team 104 27.50 303 10.69 33.00 12.99 55 311 1868 $210
203 BLX Blade Tour 93 27.00 341 12.03 32.50 12.80 69 335 2150 $230
204 BLX Bold 100 27.00 285 10.05 34.50 13.58 52 303 1576 $130
205 BLX Cierzo Two 120 27.90 272 9.59 37.60 14.80 76 335 3330 $300
207 BLX Coral Reef 110 27.25 279 9.84 34.20 13.46 70 301 2376 $180
209 BLX Pro Lite 102 27.00 272 9.59 34.50 13.58 67 294 2009 $190
217 BLX Stratus Three 115 27.50 282 9.95 38.50 15.16 48 349 2023 $280
219 BLX Tempest Four 110 27.25 247 8.71 29.00 11.42 70 319 2518 $210
220 BLX Tidal Force 105 27.25 280 9.88 33.40 13.15 65 288 2015 $180
223 BLX Tour Limited 95 27.50 309 10.90 34.00 13.39 75 333 2491 $230
224 BLX Tour Lite 103 26.75 268 9.45 34.50 13.58 70 283 1989 $190
YONEXYonex 800-44-YONEX •
231 Ezone 100 100 27.00 307 10.83 32.50 12.80 69 301 2077 $199
232 Ezone 107 107 27.00 292 10.30 34.00 13.39 69 335 2473 $199
233 Ezone Lite 100 27.00 289 10.19 33.20 13.07 66 289 1907 $199
234 RQiS 30 102 27.00 271 9.56 34.10 13.43 67 279 1907 $99
239 VCon X 18 100 27.00 297 10.48 35.50 13.98 64 311 1990 $209 April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 39


The man behind the innovative
innovative Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team
shares what he’s learned in the world of tournament stringing.

Television and the internet have profoundly changed the way fans follow tennis. Multiple chan-
nels and live video feeds, along with massive amounts of statistics, stream to our TVs, comput-
ers and hand-held devices anywhere on the planet. Even so, many parts of professional
tournaments remain hidden from the public, even if you happen to be at the tournament site.
In the next few issues, RSI will take you behind the scenes at the complex art of racquet
stringing at the tournament level. Our guide for this journey will be Ron Rocchi, RSI’s 2009
Stringer of the Year and the Global Tour Equipment Manager at Wilson Sporting Goods.
In this first installment, Ron will introduce the Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team and describe
how, and why, it developed. In subsequent articles, he will talk about tournament stringing
specifics, introduce some of the highly skilled Stringing Team members, and discuss what he
calls “red flag areas,” including problems and how to solve them. Ron’s, and RSI’s, goal is to
share what he’s learned in a way that will help you improve your stringing business. April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 41

efore I started working with the Wilson/Luxilon Stringing The biggest difference in our approach to stringing at these
Team, it seemed a simple thing: Have some stringers show events is that we’ve formed a true “team,” and that team concept
up at the tournament so they can string racquets for the is part of our identity. Every stringer is working toward the com-
players. How difficult could it really be? Over the last few years, my mon goal of providing the best player service possible. Everyone
perspective has changed greatly. cuts strings, helps each other stencil, picks string up off the floor,
The Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team got its start in 2006 at the and takes ownership of what the team is doing.
Tennis Channel Open in Las Vegas. This was a unique event—the This is not easy to set up. Racquet stringers by nature tend to
small draw of top players, casual atmosphere, and circus-like envi- work alone, doing things “their way.” The Wilson system is so
ronment contributed to this special tournament. We knew all the comprehensive and detailed that every stringer uses the same
players by name, and they felt comfortable in the stringing area, knots and duplicates the same techniques, right down to “bagging”
even though there was room for only three stringers. Players completed racquets.
would chat with the stringers for a few minutes, and then go about With this team concept, we’ve accomplished some amazing
their day. things, such as stringing 378 racquets in one day—100 percent
The service we provided was casual, similar to most tennis spe- accurately and mistake-free. Our team members come from
cialty shops where a friendly relationship exists between the staff around the globe and are some of the best stringers in the world
and its customers. Despite this relaxed environment, there was today.
nothing relaxed about the actual stringing, which as always had to World-class service and innovation starts at the front desk
be flawless in both execution and delivery. where players check in their racquets. No matter how good the
We soon found that the key to providing an excellent experi- stringers, if you do not have a great check-in process, bad things
ence for the players is to identify and understand all the moving will happen. For example, when a player drops off racquets for
parts, and then innovate to provide the best possible service. Top- stringing, he may want different tensions on the mains and cross-
level, world-class tournament stringing means that when a player es, two racquets at one tension and one racquet at another ten-
picks up his racquets, they are exactly the way he wants them. sion, or one racquet right away and the rest for pick up as close to
The Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team is now the official stringing match time as possible. The person who is taking in these racquets
service of the Australian Open, US Open and Sony Ericsson Open, must get all that information correct and communicate it accu-
as well as some smaller tournaments. At majors, we use 10 to 12 rately to the stringer—and do this for hundreds of individual rac-
stringers, each of whom has completed a rigorous training pro- quets each day.
gram and proven himself during previous qualification rounds. Our approach is to minimize the time it takes for players to
(We’ll talk about specifics of our training methods and stringing drop off and pick up racquets, while still getting all the information
techniques in future articles.) we need. To do this, we created proprietary computer software


and integrated many facets of the operation. We have detailed the tournament. We have to monitor the construction to ensure it
records and a knowledgeable staff, and we encourage players to will meet our needs. Our list is long and includes: secure lockable
interact with the stringers directly. This small yet critical touch is area; air conditioning with temperature control; electrical supply
reassuring to players. for all the computers and stringing machines; internet access;

Preparing for the Big Events

solid, stable floor with individual electrical outlets for machines;
plenty of lighting; a roof that does not leak; windows; private
In contrast to the small size of the Tennis Channel Open, Wil- access for the players; wheelchair access; manpower to install all
son/Luxilon recently complet- desks and racks for rac-
ed its third year as the official quets; and so on. Typical-
stringer for the Australian ly, the tournament has
Open. In my opinion, the size, plenty of other things to do
location, infrastructure, costs in setting up an event, so
and timing of the Australian making certain it spends
Open make it the most diffi- enough time correctly
cult tournament for stringing completing our list, from
on the ATP/WTA calendar. halfway around the world,
This year, the Australian is no easy task.
Open started on Jan. 17 with At a major such as the
the finals on Jan. 30. Those of Australian Open, players
us involved with stringing drop off their racquets in
boarded airplanes on Jan. 2 what seems like tidal
for Melbourne. Qualies start waves, sometimes up to
the week before and we have 350 per day. We cut out
players practicing on the about 25 miles of string
grounds as early as Jan. 6. during the event, and then
What most fans don’t know is install another 25 miles of
that a significant number of string to exacting tensions.
players fly to Australia in mid- Our days start early and
December to acclimate to the finish late, and the chal-
conditions and begin prepara- lenge is to string each rac-
tion for the lead-up events. quet exactly as requested
We shipped our stringing and on time.
equipment to Australia in The biggest challenge
early December, which meant is to string utterly consis-
that all critical decisions about tently. Even a veteran
equipment, supplies and inci- stringer has to focus
dentals had to be made well in intently to pull this off, as
advance. In total, three he knows the player will
months of work is needed to check his work. In a typical
string for this two-week tour- busy day at a major, each
nament. stringer will have 30 or
But well before we ship more racquets to com-
equipment to an event, a con- plete, on top of finding
tract is negotiated between time to eat and rest. All of
Wilson and the tournament. the work is performed in a
In this contract, hundreds of crowded space, and the
points and issues are clearly defined, right down to the time allot- pressure builds in a manner that is almost palpable. This type of
ted for “on court” racquet stringing. (A racquet is called “on court” environment is the pinnacle of tournament stringing, and a rare
if it is being strung for a player who is currently in a match. It is experience for even the

Coming up:
the highest priority for the stringer. For the Australian Open in best of stringers. And yes,
2011, the average “on court” racquet was strung in just under 18 there have been cases
minutes.) where stringers were over- Specific techniques and procedures the

Customizing the ‘Stringing Hut’

whelmed and crumbled Wilson/Luxilon Stringing Team uses at
under the pressure. This is major tournaments.
One aspect that the tournament must provide is the space the not a pretty sight.
Aussies call the “stringing hut.” This is the area where we will But for the Wilson/Luxilon crew, that’s where the “team”
string and live in for almost a month. At the Australian Open, it has comes in—as we're able to support each other through the rough-
to be built each year, and is removed from the site at the end of est patches.Q April 2011 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY 43

Tips & Techniques
Readers’ Know-How in Action
lished a positive grounding path from the
battery to the housing, the unit worked
I pulled out my UltraSport 50 handheld flawlessly.
digital scale the other day to calibrate my Because the painted contact area
stringing machine, and it was dead. I could compromise the ground path even
popped the cover off the back so I could on a working scale, it’s a good idea to
replace the batteries. When I did, I noticed perform this modification before a prob-
that there was some electrolysis damage lem arises.
between the outer battery and the battery 5 sets of Head Sonic Pro 16 to:
cover, against which it grounds, which I tried a new set of batteries and still Greg Peek, Englewood, CO
seemed to explain why the unit was dead. nothing. Then I realized something: When I Editor’s note: If you don’t have a counter-
I dressed the inside of the battery cover removed the screws that hold the battery sink tool, the tip of a sufficiently-large drill
on a sanding block and some 400-grit cover to the housing, the inside of cham- bit should do the trick.

wet-or-dry sandpaper, replaced the batter- fers had been painted along with the cover
ies, and reattached the rear cover. itself. On a hunch I grabbed my counter-
Nothing. sink and used it to scrape the paint off the The old pruning shears I’d been using
At this point, it seemed as though the countersunk section, where the underside were shot, so I bought the Black and
corrosion from the battery failure had of the screws touch the cover when the Decker Cordless
spread inside the unit. I went on-line to housing is attached. Power Scissors after
see what experiences others were having On reassembling the scale, it worked reading about it in
with this device, only to find that many immediately. It’s a mystery how the cur- the July issue. It does
users were unhappy with the service they rent flowed around or through the paint on work great at cutting
received returning the unit to the factory. the back cover originally, but once I estab- out stringbeds, when
it works. It doesn’t
handle all strings equally well, and it
doesn’t cut anything if the battery doesn’t
have enough of a charge. I needed a new
pair of “backup” shears, but finding any-
thing except gardening shears with offset
handles is more difficult than it sounds.
I found what I was seeking at Harbor
Freight Tools. They had not one but two
different pairs of scissors with offset han-
dles. The ones in the photo with the
green handles were dirt cheap ($3), and
the packaging promises they’ll last forever
and I’ll never need another pair. Despite
the apparently flimsy construction, the
serrated jaw grabs and cuts the string
well, and the blunt bottom jaw and
recessed top jaw seem to be great safety
The other pair seems to be an odd
hybrid of pruning shear jaws with large
looped grips. Unlike gardening clippers,
there is no return spring, so they stay
closed without locking. They’re comfort-
able to use, feel substantial, and even so
they cost only $7.
5 set of Wilson K-Gut Pro 16
Ted Ruthling, Santa Fe, NM


The Stringmeter ( appears
to be used by almost half of USRSA mem-
bers as indicated by the “2002 Member Sur-
vey.” The Stringmeter is a good, low-cost
instrument that can be used to read tension
quite accurately. As with any testing instru-
ment, though, it must be calibrated to be
accurate. A simple calibration can be done
if you use a constant-pull stringing machine.
The whole process can be accomplished in
less than a minute and is aimed at a specific
string and tension range. The procedure is
as follows:
a. Select about three feet of the type of
string you are going to be using.
b. Clamp the end of the string opposite
the tension head.
c. Adjust the tension setting to your ref-
erence tension and pull tension.

d. Move the other string clamp to a dis-

tance of about 5 inches from the first clamp
and clamp the string. Attach the Stringme-
ter, and slide the outer ring on the String-
meter to read the same value of tension as
the reference tension setting indicated. Note
that as a matter of convenience an unstrung
frame is shown to do this calibration, but is
not a requirement.
5 sets of Dunlop Comfort Synthetic 16 to:
Carl Love, Albany, OR
Editor’s note: This method assumes that
your stringing machine is calibrated in such
a way that it pulls at the reference tension
setting. If it isn’t, you are “calibrating” your
Stringmeter to an uncalibrated setting. Also,
if you note the “at rest” setting of the String-
meter after performing this procedure, you
will be able to check that type of string at
that tension later on, even if you have subse-
quently used your Stringmeter on other rac-
quets in the meantime. —Greg Raven Q
Tips and Techniques submitted since 2000 by USRSA members,
and appearing in this column, have all been gathered into a sin-
gle 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 92084; or email


String Playtest
Yonex Poly Tour Pro 130
Yonex Poly Tour Pro has a monofila- thetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217
ment core, which is finished with high and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while
polymer polyester. During manufactur- Yonex Poly Tour Pro 130 has a stiffness of
ing, it is stretched under controlled 262 and a tension loss of 19.65 pounds.
temperature, making the string more Poly Tour Pro 130 added 16 grams to the
weight of our unstrung frame.
resilient to tension loss, and increasing
The string was tested for five weeks
durability and consistency, while main-
by 35 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP rat-
taining its energy transfer characteris-
ings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests,
tic. The soft feel of the string makes it with playtesters receiving unmarked
comfortable to play with, and reduces strings in unmarked packages. Average
vibration levels and duration. stringing, eight reported problems with
number of hours playtested was 22.5.
Tour players Maria Kirilenko and coil memory, three reported problems
Yonex recommends a 5 to 10%
Richard Berankis use the Poly Tour Pro tying knots, and two reported friction
reduction in reference tension compared
125. Maria commented, “The Poly Tour burn.
to nylon string, which is what we recom-

Pro string allows me to trouble my oppo- mended to our playtesters.
nent with extreme spin. It helps me play No playtester broke samples during
with great aggression.” The information Yonex sent us on Poly
Yonex designed Poly Tour Pro for big EASE OF STRINGING Tour Pro emphasized its durability, and
hitters with an attacking, aggressive style (compared to other strings) the packaging has “DURABILITY” in black
of play. This includes players looking for Number of testers who said it was: capital letters against a yellow background
a softer-feeling poly that retains tension much easier 0 for maximum durability. Our playtest
somewhat easier 7 team didn’t have access to any of this
and has added durability, and those look-
about as easy 18 information, but still pegged Poly Tour
ing for a spin-friendly string that allows
not quite as easy 9 Pro as a durability string, rating it well
them to rip the ball with confidence. not nearly as easy 1
Poly Tour Pro is available in 16 gauge above average in the Durability category.
(1.30 mm) and 16L gauge (1.25 mm) in OVERALL PLAYABILITY They also rated Poly Tour Pro well above
Flash Yellow only. It is priced from $8 for (compared to string played most often) average for Resistance to Movement — a
sets of 39 feet, and $100 for 200-meter Number of testers who said it was: traditional strength of poly strings. How-
much better 1 ever, they also rated it well above average
reels. For more information or to order,
somewhat better 6 for Power and Tension Retention, which
contact Yonex at 800-44-YONEX, or visit
about as playable 12 are nice attributes for a poly string. Filling Be sure to read the con- not quite as playable 11
clusion for more information about get- out the categories, the playtest team rated
not nearly as playable 5
ting a free set to try for yourself. Poly Tour Pro above average in every

OVERALL DURABILITY other category, which indicates that it’s a
(compared to other strings more balanced string than its high durabil-
of similar gauge) ity rating would seem to indicate. The
We tested the 16-gauge (1.30 mm) Poly Number of testers who said it was:
Tour Pro. The coil measured 40 feet. The resulting overall rating is also well above
much better 8
diameter measured 1.30-1.33 mm prior somewhat better 13

to stringing, and 1.26-1.27 mm and mm about as durable 12
after stringing. We recorded a stringbed not quite as durable 2
stiffness of 76 RDC units immediately not nearly as durable 0 The members of our playtest team must
after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson really have gotten carried away with how
RATING AVERAGES great Yonex Poly Tour Pro 130 is on
Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a From 1 to 5 (best)
constant-pull machine. court, because not one of them even
Playability 3.2
After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed mentioned the great color. They did men-
Durability 4.1
stiffness measured 69 RDC units, repre- Power 3.4 tion the durability, of course, but they also
senting a 9 percent tension loss. Our con- Control 3.5 mentioned the comfort and feel of the
trol string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Comfort 3.1 Poly Tour Pro, which we don’t always see
Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units imme- Touch/Feel 3.1 in playtests of poly strings.
diately after stringing and 71 RDC units Spin Potential 3.3 If you think that Yonex Poly Tour Pro
Holding Tension 3.4 might be for you, fill out the coupon to
—Greg Raven Q
after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent
Resistance to Movement 3.7 get a free set to try.
tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Syn-


“ No break-in required. Excellent con-
trol. I will recommend this string to my
“ The power is on the low side. Non-
poly players should consider lowering
Yonex will send a free set of Poly
Tour Pro 130 to the first 500

customers. 4.5 male all-court player
using Head Youtek Radical OS strung at
the tension.
”4.5 male baseliner with
heavy spin using Babolat Aero Storm GT USRSA members who cut out (or
57 pounds LO (Luxilon M2 16) strung at 52 pounds LO (Babolat N.vy copy) this coupon and send it to:

“ This is a powerful polyester with USRSA, Attn: Yonex String Offer

excellent control and comfort. 4.0
male baseliner with heavy spin using
“ Unlike some strings that are too
springy, this string has excellent playa-
330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084
or fax to 760-536-1171,
Wilson nPro strung at 52 pounds LO bility and control at ultra low
or email the info below to
(Signum Pro Poly Plasma 18) tensions.
” 4.0 male all-court player
using Wilson K Pro Tour strung at 32
pounds CP (Golden Set Hex Poly 18)
“ This is a tendon friendly polyester Offer expires 15 April 2011
that feels closer to a nylon string.
5.0 male all-court player using Head” “ This is recommended to polyester
Offer only available to
USRSA members in the US.
MicroGEL Extreme Pro strung at 49 users in search of heavier spin and bet- Name:
pounds LO (Prince Poly EXP 16) ter tension maintenance.

4.0 male
baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat USRSA Member number:
Pure Drive Roddick strung at 57 pounds
“ Good combination of spin and
power. Easy on the arm, wrist, and LO (Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 17) Phone:
” 5.0 male all-court player
using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 56 For the rest of the tester comments, visit
If you print your email clearly, we will notify
pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Rough
you when your sample will be sent.

“ The extra spin gives my opponent

fits. 4.5 male all-court player using
Wilson nTour strung at 55 pounds CP
(Nylon/Polyester 16/16)

“ Good durability and control. The

feel is impressive. This is worth stock-
” 4.5 male baseliner with moder-
ate spin using Head Youtek Radical MP
strung at 56 pounds CP (Isospeed Pro-
fessional 17)

“ Lower tensions yield comfort and

playability. Plays a bit boardy at first,
but eventually settles in.
” 4.5 male
all-court player using Babolat Pure
Drive Roddick strung at 55 pounds CP
(Solinco Tour Bite 18)

“ This string might be playable in a

hybrid, but it is too stiff as a full set-
” 4.0 male using Wilson BLX Six
One Team strung at 54 pounds LO (Wil-

Your Serve
Tennis Lessons
For this father, the sport made all the
difference in his life—a lesson he’s

passing on to his children. B Y D O U G M C P H E R S O N
ooking back, it’s taken me a good Curtis Jackson, a lean, clean-cut man
30 years to appreciate just how in his 50s with jet black hair, a clunky but
important tennis has been to my reliable backhand, and a fiery competi-
life, and I hope, will be for my kids, too. tiveness. Don Huie, built like a linebacker,
My story starts in Paris, Tenn., a town of with a volcano-like temper, from which I
about 8,000 people and six tennis courts, learned two things: new cuss words and
fortunately two blocks from the dysfunc- that the right amount of force mixed with
tional home where I grew up. anger could break a racquet. Larry Arnett, of a dad showing me how to be a dad. So ten-
Dysfunctional? You decide. My father a meticulous dresser who drove a nis has become a way for me to share with my
hanged himself eight months before I banana-colored Cutlass and always hit a kids the true values they'll need in life. How to
was born. That left my mother emotion- slice backhand. persevere (when you're behind, don't quit, try
ally deflated—flat and unresponsive to And Charlie Marlow, an easygoing 50- harder). That becoming good at something
life’s daily duties, toward herself or something, well-mannered player who takes work (practice and patience make a dif-
employment. I remember when the displayed a sophisticated etiquette and ference). That bad decisions sometimes have
phone was cut off and when the utilities perspective. He took bad shots in stride. horrible consequences (be choosy about when
man came to cut off our electricity. A few After missing an easy putaway, he’d just to try a drop shot). In life, as in tennis, it’s just
years later, my brother, 10 years my you out there (you’re responsible, make fair
calls, work hard and do your best). And anoth-
senior and whom I idolized (he had been ‘Tennis has become a er key lesson: there's always a net on the court
captain of his high school football team
and class president and my only male way for me to share with (and there's always a net in life; some things
role model), developed schizophrenia you simply have to overcome, but you can
and spent the rest of life in and out of
my kids the true values have a damn good time doing it).
I overcame a couple of “nets” as a child and
mental hospitals. they'll need in life.’ tennis helped. During my teens, I could have
Where did all this leave me, a 10-
year-old trying to make sense of people brush it off. He knew a bad shot in tennis traveled down so many wrong roads, but ten-
he loved leaving him, with no control to was just that. I knew that early on, too. nis and some great father figures made all the
stop them? For most days, in front of a When I was 17, after a long three-setter difference in my life. They never spoke of my
20- by 15-foot pale green cinderblock under the lights, Charlie gave me a beer. troubles at home, although I'm sure they knew.
wall with a white line painted 3 feet from Acceptance from a man I admired. Yes, But they let me in. They made me feel I was
the bottom and straight across. It was tennis was important. OK. They just showed up and played tennis
there I’d spend hours batting a dead, bald Today, at 48, I’m the father of a 12- with me. I'll never forget them and their kind-
tennis ball with an old metal racquet I got year-old girl and 14-year-old boy. As they ness. And I doubt my kids will ever forget the
at a yard sale for 50 cents. grew older I started using tennis, at the lessons they’re learning, either.
My first lesson from tennis was that two public courts near our house, as a Who knew a sport so simple could be so
the rhythmic thud of a tennis ball hitting way to have some fun with them and get magnificent, useful and beautiful? Q
a wall could be comforting. Therapy real- some exercise. But soon I began to think
ly. I could always count on that wall. I about tennis in a way I never had—as a
Freelance writer Doug McPherson is
would eventually learn that I could count teaching tool. In fact today, as I've an avid 4.5 tennis player in Centen-
on tennis, too. renewed my love of the sport, I see it as nial, Colo. He also says he can’t get
In time I was able to keep the ball in the perfect way to teach my kids about enough of his kids.
play long enough against the wall to get life.
the attention of older players, sometimes For me, tennis has become a much-
a threesome seeking a fourth. I remem- needed tool because I’m basically a father We welcome your opinions. Please email com-
ber them clearly: without a map—I can’t rely on memories ments to