Guide To USTA League Tennis

It’s “Championship Season” in the world of U.S. Tennis Association League Tennis as its championships are determined throughout the fall season. Tony Serksnis has been playing USTA League Tennis for over 25 years and authored the book “A PLAYER’S GUIDE TO USTA LEAGUE TENNIS” available here about the ins and outs of playing on a club, town, school or league tennis team. The following is Serksnis’s introduction to the book, available exclusively to Tennis Ledger readers.

 

I hve been playing tennis in the United States Tennis Association’s League Tennis program since I moved to Mountain View, California in 1985. However, my tennis “roots” are from playing summers as a teen in Cleveland, Ohio. I wish I still had my original wooden Wilson racquet, which had one of those “racquet anti-warp” guards. It was one where you were always tightening and un-tightening the screws to make sure your racquet didn’t get a twisted head due to humidity in those regions of the Midwest. I can also recall using a single (white!) tennis ball for an entire summer. We didn’t have money to be “extravagant” with such things as tennis balls.

Upon arriving in Mountain View, I could see many public court parks that looked inviting to play at. Mountain View also had a tennis club that was mainly social at the time. After joining that club (dues were only $20 per year), I was quick to make friends with the other club members and participated in ladders and club tournaments. It wasn’t long before I noticed that there was some sort of “league play” which turned out to be the USTA League Tennis program and the club sponsored teams at a few levels.

Back in those days, we were given National Tennis Rating Program (NTRP) ratings individually by USTA officials. One would gather with several other individuals in search of their “correct” rating, play perhaps 15 minutes, and your rating was established. I started with an NTRP rating of 3.5. I did fairly well, and in two years, I got bumped up to 4.0. I stayed at that level for 23 years (yes, 23 years!) until 2009, when I was moved to a 4.5 rating at the age of 63. That is something I am very proud of. Today, NTRP ratings occur without “external verification” in that one self-rates against published guidelines. After playing a few matches, and definitely after an entire season of competitive play, one gets a computer rating based upon one’s record and “strength-of-opponent.”

League tennis has then been a serious part of my life. I used to run marathons, with tennis being a healthy “alternative” exercise, but now (due to knees being pounded by over 20 marathons) tennis is my main exercise and hobby. I hope to continue league play for as long as my body holds up and league play still remains fun. Since league play is based on playing people with similar abilities, even if one’s level decreases over the years, one can continue to compete at possibly lower levels. Players can have any skill level before their very first rating. As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t played much tennis at all before getting an official rating and starting league play. Others may have been on high school teams or even played in college. Thus, USTA League Tennis provides for the entire range of beginning skill levels.

My viewpoint is from a player who plays in sunny California, where we are indeed fortunate to experience very tennis-friendly weather for most of the year. Here, the rainy season lasts for a short period at the beginning of the calendar year. This could lead to a rather narrow view of the entire USTA . One thing is for certain – the competition level doesn’t diminish beyond the Northern California region. Every USTA team steps out on to the court with the hopes of both winning and having an enjoyable experience.

In those 20-plus years of playing USTA League Tennis, I’ve served as team member, captain, and co-captain. In my first season, our team was fortunate enough to actually win our league and qualify for our local district championship and then went on to qualify for the USTA Northern California Sectional Championships. However, we were denied in our attempt to qualify for the USTA League Tennis National Championships. I’ve decided to position this book from the captain’s perspective. The captain certainly must function as an organizer, leader and motivational coach to the rest of the team. All of that for no overt compensation other than knowing that this was the best one could do. Most of the time, the captain is also a player, so while also trying to lead the team, the captain is also trying to improve their own game as player. The captain could be looked upon as the CEO & CFO of the team.

My first thought was to write (and title) the book from a “captain’s viewpoint” but I believe that all players of the USTA will find the book of value and thus, this is a “Players Guide.” I believe that if all players who are members of a USTA team look at the team from the perspective of the captain, the team will be richer for that perspective.

The United States Tennis Association defines its League Tennis program as follows; “USTA League Tennis is organized, competitive team play for women and men age 18 and older of all abilities and experience. Whether you’re new to the game or a former college player, there’s a spot for you. Teams are made up of a minimum of five to eight players depending upon division. Teams and matches are set up according to NTRP ratings, so your teammates and opponents will be at your skill level. The competition is exciting, the atmosphere is social, and since players compete on teams, you have a built-in cheering section. Teams compete in four national divisions: Adult, Senior, Super Senior, and Mixed Doubles. The format features singles and doubles matches for adult leagues, and three doubles for seniors, super seniors, and mixed leagues.”

I would add that USTA League Tennis is a way for people, who have just taken up the game of tennis, to play the sport in a competitive format. The USTA sets up this competitive format at various levels of skill, so that a person just needs to join and participate on a team to enjoy the competition. Playing against people of similar skill, who also are trying to win for their teams, will certainly improve one’s own personal skills. It is a major charter of USTA League Tennis to permit tennis players to work on improving their personal tennis skills through a competitive (yet fun) environment. Any level of player is given the chance to compete against like-skilled players in a team environment.

USTA League Tennis is an organized way to compete at your own particular level. Thus, one just needs to join a team and the USTA will set up leagues within a local geographical area where the team can win local leagues and progress all the way to a national championship. There are few other sports that allow competition to continue beyond winning their local and regional championships and lead to a recognized national championship. If a tennis-playing person moves from one “region” (or state) to another, USTA League Tennis provides an organized and consistent method to participate in a league that has uniform rules across the USA. As the USTA has 17 geographical regions within the USA, a player can expect a consistent set of league-playing rules and skill-level consistency throughout the entire league.

USTA League Tennis is fun. It’s a low-expense hobby with a decent chance of improving one’s fitness through competitive play. There is a social aspect to it in that one can pull for one’s teammates and acquire a healthy respect for the skill of the opposition. Also, the USTA rules as stated in this book could be slightly different for your particular USTA Section, or may change slightly from year to year. The team captain should actually review the USTA rules for their USTA Section each year and print those rules out to keep with them. When issues arise during a match, the rules can be quoted to help resolve that issue. The USTA general rules are meant to cover all players in the USTA , but some different “interpretations” are offered by each USTA Section.

Each player of the game of tennis should be familiar with all of the basic rules so that they can contribute towards issue resolution. I’ve found that tennis players (with rare exception) are not prone to arguments even under extreme “important match considerations.” If every USTA League Tennis match being played under a USTA sanction resulted in a negative aftermath, I’m sure the league wouldn’t be growing in members as it has. Tennis remains a game that is largely self-umpired, and 99 percent of the players “get it right” and thus the game continues to be an overall enjoyable experience.

The USTA ’s national website is www.usta.com. I’m sure all USTA players are already familiar with the site. It is certainly full of the most up-to-date information of a more general nature. In addition, each USTA Section has its own website. For example, for the Northern California (Norcal) Section, it is www.norcal.usta.com. That site would have the most information on the local league schedules, rule interpretations, and events in one’s local area. The rules, of course, must be consistent across the USTA , but I would check one’s local USTA Section’s website as they clarify certain rules for their area. I’d also like to encourage any reader of this book to consult these rules directly as I may have inadvertently put an incorrect interpretation on the particular rule for a USTA Section.

There are over 300,000 league participants throughout the USTA ’s 17 Sections, and I salute them all. I hope you enjoy my book and take something away from this that can help you and your team. Best of luck!

Tony Serksnis

Mountain View, Calif.

ATP Launches Art Series

LONDON, ENGLAND – The ATP has commissioned the world’s top tennis players to create a series of one-of-a-kind self-portraits in celebration of their qualification for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, to be played at The O2 in London from 21-28 November.

The world’s leading players used their tennis skills to create individual masterpieces by hitting paint covered tennis balls against large art canvases. Each canvas was overlaid with a stencilled image, which, when removed, revealed a unique self-portrait showing one of the player’s signature moves on court.

The Barclays ATP World Tour Finals sees the Top 8 men’s tennis players in the world battle it out against each other for the last title of the season. Players compete for South African Airways 2010 ATP Rankings points throughout the season in a bid to earn one of the eight coveted berths and a chance to win the $1.6m prize money on offer for the winner.

The artwork created by the final eight players will be exhibited for public viewing in Central London in early November, and during tournament week at the new Fan Zone at The O2. The artwork then will be auctioned off for charity with tennis fans around the world getting the chance to bid on a rare piece of art created and signed by their favourite player.

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer have already qualified for the tournament. The remaining six places are still up for grabs, as a chasing pack featuring the likes of Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Andy Roddick continue to battle for rankings points at ATP World Tour events during the remainder of the season in order to finish among the Top 8.

Nadal, the 2010 Wimbledon, Roland Garros and US Open Champion, is looking forward to returning to London in November. “Making the artwork was fun and something I’ve never done before. It’s a great way to celebrate the World Tour Finals coming back to London. Last year the crowd and the stadium were amazing although I didn’t play my best tennis. Hopefully this year I will arrive playing well again and will try to do my best in front of the London fans who add such a special feeling to the event,” said the World No.1.

Federer, a four-time winner of the season-ending tournament, has qualified for the event for a ninth consecutive year. “They staged a fantastic event at The O2 last year and I look forward to returning in November and finishing the season strong. It was great fun being invited to create my self-portrait and I’m excited to see how the finished artwork looks hanging in the gallery,” said the Swiss.

The tournament is the world’s biggest indoor tennis event, where each of the top eight players are drawn to play a minimum of three round-robin matches to determine which four players advance to the knockout semi-finals. Tickets are available online at www.BarclaysATPWorldTourFinals.com.

Youzhny Moves To Semis After Five Set Classic

The American flag flapped frantically behind a biting wind at the top of Arthur Ashe Stadium while Mikhail Youzhny and Stanislas Wawrinka fought furiously on the court below.

On a day when a wickedly wild wind swirling at high speed made tennis balls bounce as bizarrely around the court as ping pong balls careening crazily inside the glass of lottery hopper, Youzhny effectively exploited the elements and mastered massive fifth-set pressure to advance to his second US Open semifinal with a hard-fought 3-6, 7-6(7), 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Wawrinka that spanned exactly four hours.

“It was so close,” Youzhny said. “Right now I’m happy because I just finished the match and I win this match. So (it is a) good result, but already you are in semifinal and you still play.  Of course you want more. Anyway, I don’t think now is good result, so I want more.”

The 12th-seeded Russian will face either World No. 1 Rafael Nadal or eighth-seeded Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in Saturday’s semifinal. The winner of that match will face five-time US Open champion Roger Federer or third-seeded Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

“He’s No. 1; he won two Grand Slams; he play really, really well; it will be very tough for me,” Youzhny said of Nadal , adding “Of course it’s better to play (Nadal) here (than) on clay.”

New York City has often brought the best out in Youzhny.

Four years ago, Youzhny reached the Flushing Meadows final four, falling to Andy Roddick, 7-6(5), 0-6, 6-7(3), 3-6..

“It was also close, tough match.  I won first set; I easily lost second.  It was tiebreak in third set.  Nobody know what happens if I won this tiebreak,” Youzhny said. “But, you know, it was four years ago.  Now I think it’s another time, and I’m like another player.  I cannot say I am better player now, but it’s another time and other opponent, so everything can happen.”

While the 28-year-old Russian could face an immense challenge against either Nadal or Verdasco, Youzhny is the only man left in the draw who has a win over Nadal at the US Open.

He beat Nadal in four sets in the 2006 US Open quarterfinal. Though Nadal has won seven of 11 meetings with Youzhny, the Russian with the brilliant one-handed backhand has a 4-3 record vs. Nadal on hard courts.

The victory vaults Youzhny back into the world’s top 10 for the first time since February of 2008 when he reached a career-high rank of No. 8.

Playing determined defense in the opening game of the fifth set, Youzhny centered the ball in a long backhand-to-backhand exchange. Finally, Wawrinka made a move to net, Youzhny bending his legs to get low lasered a backhand blast crosscourt to pass the Swiss and break for a 1-0 fifth-set lead. Youzhny worked his way through a deuce game to consolidate for 2-0.

Youzhny fought off a break point in the fourth game when Wawrinka steered a forehand pass up the line wide. But on the second break point, Wawrinka lured Youzhny forward and the Russian lifted a backhand approach beyond the baseline as a fired-up Wawrinka broke back for 2-2.

It proved to be a short-lived as Wawrinka set a backhand wide and Youzhny broke back for 3-2. Working his way out of a 30-all game, Youzhny held for 4-2.

Seeing the match slip away a frustrated Wawrinka smashed his racquet to the court after burying a backhand into the net as Youzhny held at love for 5-3.

A weary Wawrinka was playing with protective adhesive taping on both quads and took an injury time-out to get re-taped midway through the fourth set. Walking slowly behind the baseline between points, Wawrinka looked lethargic as if worn down by the draining duel he had with Sam Querrey in the fourth round. Wawrinka emerged with a 7-6(9), 6-7(5), 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 win in that match and it took a toll today.

“I think I gave everything today and I try for sure,” Wawrinka said. “I made some big mistake, but after four hours, you’re really tired. I was tired. So it’s not always easy to think and to play the right drop shots or to play the good point and not to break the racquet.”

Youzhny gained the early break and made it stand up as Wawrinka tried to shorten up the points. After Youzhny blocked a backhand volley winner into the open court  to hold for 5-2, Wawrinka left the court, returned minutes later and relied on some strong serving to hold for 3-5.

Wawrinka pulled a new Head racquet out of his bag, but lost his grip in the ninth game. After slicing a backhand into the net, the Swiss wound up and slammed the racquet to the court. Two points later, Youzhny served out the fourth set to level the match.

Wawrinka burst out to a fast start in the third set, breaking in the second game and holding for a 3-0 lead. Sprinting with his back to the net, Youzhny hit a between the legs shot that seemed to surprise Wawrinka who pushed an easy forehand volley wide as Youzhny got on the board at 1-3.

Maintaining his break lead throughout the set, Wawrinka, who bungled several volleys, was stuck at net. Youzhny had a clean look at a pass, but opted to lob and the wind tossed the backhand lob long giving Wawrinka  second set point. Rearing back, the Swiss slammed a 135 mph ace to take a two set to one lead two hours, 28 minutes into the match.

Serving at 5-6 in the second set, Wawrinka was at 30-all when a Youzhny drive was called deep. He challenged and replay showed the ball clipped the back of the line. It ws an unfortunate call for the Russian as Youzhny had the offensive at that point in the rally. He buried a backhand into net and two points later Wawrinka held to force the tie breaker.

Wawrinka withstood two set points and on Youzhny’s third set point he sliced a backhand that flirted with the top of the tape before settling on his side of the net.

Shrugging that near-miss off, Youzhny curled a crosscourt running forehand pass that eluded Wawrinka’s outstretched racquet for a fourth set point.

That shot prompted Youzhny’s typically non-expressive coach, Boris Sobkin, who can be as stoic as Stonehenge, to leap out of his seat and pump his fist toward Youzhny. Empowered by that shot, Youzhny cornered Wawrinka on the backhand side and beat him with an inside-out forehand winner, leaping in the air in celebration after seizing the one hour, 10-minute second set.

Wawrinka sprinted out to a fast start in the third set, breaking in the second game and holding for a 3-0 lead. Sprinting with his back to the net, Youzhny hit a between the legs shot that seemed to surprised Wawrinka who pushed an easy forehand volley wide as Youzhny got on the board at 1-3.

Richard Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

USTA Announces New Rule Change for 10-and-Under Tennis

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., September 7, 2010 – The USTA announced today that it has passed new rules governing competition for 10-and-under tennis tournaments.  The new rules require that 10-and-under tournaments be played using slower-moving and lower-bouncing balls, on smaller courts and utilizing shorter, lighter racquets.  The rule change follows the International Tennis Federation’s recent rule change and will take effect on January 1, 2012.  It will apply to all USTA-sanctioned events for children 10-and-under.

“We’re very excited about what this change means to the future of tennis in the United States,” said Lucy S. Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA, and Chairman of the US Open. “Competition is an important element of learning and growing the game, and now all children 10 and under will have the proper platform with which to compete.”

The rule change signifies the emergence of the QuickStart play format as an integral part of the development of young players.  The scaled-down equipment and smaller playing court will allow kids to rally and play the game early on, increasing the likelihood that kids will return to the court and continue to improve.

“Scaling tennis down to the size of children will promote greater participation and ensure that young kids will be able to play tennis much more quickly,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “This rule change to the competition format for kids 10 and under is critical to the long-term growth of our sport, and ultimately will help us develop new generations of talented players.”

The specifications for the revised rule hold that all tournaments for those aged 9-10 be played on 60-foot courts using orange low-compression tennis balls and regulation nets (3 feet at the center) or, for those more experienced and more skilled players, on 78-foot courts with green lower-compression balls. Tournaments for those 8 and under are to be played on 36-foot courts using red foam balls and nets at a height of 2 feet, 9 inches.

The change in tournament format by both the USTA and the ITF was reached after weighing the benefits for beginners as well as recurring and high-performing youth players. Studies have found that competition, when conducted in a welcoming environment that allows for multiple play opportunities, enhances kids’ enjoyment of the game. And for aspiring collegiate and professional players, the QuickStart Tennis play format fosters proper technique and enhances strategy, key components to success in competitive play.

In addition to the USTA, the change has been endorsed by USTA Player Development and supported by the Tennis Industry Association and teaching pros throughout the country. Moreover, in May the Intercollegiate Tennis Association approved a measure to allow NCAA competition to take place on courts with blended lines (i.e., courts lined to accommodate both 10-and-Under Tennis and 78-foot tennis).

“Competition is at the very heart of our sport,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development. “And learning how to play tennis the right way, with the right strokes and the proper technique, is beneficial for kids both now and into the future, whether they pursue the game recreationally or at the very highest levels.”

For more information on the rule change, please visit www.usta.com/rulechange.

Monfils, Peer and Montanes Win in Metz, Tashkent and Bucharest Respectively

Bordentown, NJ, September 28, 2009 – This weekend proved to be another successful one for the Prince Tour Team as it dominated three of the events on the ATP and WTA calendar.  Gael Monfils, Shahar Peer and Albert Montanes, all took home titles on Sunday, winning in Metz, France; Tashkent, Uzbekistan and Bucharest, Romania respectively.  Aside from their on-court talent, Prince product was also on display in each championship.

Gael Monfils, using his Prince EXO3 Rebel 95 racquet, showcased his masterful blend of punishing offense and tactical defense to take out Phillip Kohlschreiber 7-6, 3-6, 6-2 in the Open de Moselle finals.  Monfils, one of the first players on tour to pick up a racquet from Prince’s highly-acclaimed EXO3 line (in fact, he made the switch from him former brand to Prince after hitting only two tennis balls with the new EXO3 frame at the end of last year), shot up to a career high ranking of #9 after doing so, reached the quarter-finals of Roland Garros and now captures his first title of the year.  With a cosmetic as colorful as Monfils himself, the EXO3 Rebel 95 not only suits his game-style, but has become one of the most welcomed additions to the player frame market this year.

Not to be outdone, Prince’s Shahar Peer showed that while the EXO3 Rebel 95 may be the right racquet for Monfils, the Prince EXO3 Red 105 is best suited for her game.  With her EXO3 Red in hand, Peer took home her second straight WTA title – winning the Guangzhou Open in China last week and capturing the Tashkent title yesterday.   The title is Peer’s fifth for her career and second since making the switch to the EXO3 Red earlier this year.

Rounding out the weekend, Spaniard Albert Montanes edged Juan Monaco 7-6, 7-6 in the finals of the BCR Open in Bucharest to win his second title of 2009 (Estoril) and his third ATP title overall.  The fifth seed, Montanes is one of the players on tour to not only wield a Prince racquet (Prince Ozone Tour), but rely on Prince apparel and footwear in competition as well.

“This weekend was a significant one for the brand – having three title winners and the opportunity to showcase our product, in multiple categories, at the game’s highest level,” said Linda Glassel, VP of Marketing at Prince.  “From Gael’s EXO3 Rebel 95, to Shahar’s EXO3 Red 105, to Albert’s Ozone Tour, Aerotech apparel and O-Series footwear, Prince was omnipresent.  Not only do these wins show the strength and depth of our Tour team, but these three all have very distinct playing styles and we are proud to develop, and make available, the best products for all playing styles and player-types.  From touring pro to club level to juniors, we have the right product to help you win.”

More information regarding Prince Tour Team members, products (including the EXO3 racquet line) and where to buy Prince products, log onto: www.princetennis.com.

About Prince Sports, Inc.

Prince Sports, Inc, based in New Jersey, is a company of racquet sports enthusiasts whose goal is to create cutting edge, functional and technically advanced products that deliver performance benefits for avid players.  The Company’s portfolio of brands includes Prince (tennis, squash and badminton), Ektelon (racquetball) and Viking (platform/paddle tennis).   The Company has a history of innovation including inventing the first “oversize” and “longbody” racquets, the first “Natural Foot Shape” tennis shoe, the first “synthetic gut” string and the first electronic ball machine.  Today, Prince markets leading technologies in racquets (EXO3), string (Recoil), footwear (Precision Tube Technology) and apparel (Aerotech).   It has operations on three continents with distribution in over 100 countries. For more information on players, products or programs please visit www.princesports.com.

TIA Tennis Forum Reviews Industry, Sets Path for Future

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (Sept. 24, 2009) — The third annual Tennis Industry Association Tennis Forum, presented by Tennis Magazine, took place in New York City during the US Open and brought together industry leaders and many others interested in the future of the tennis business. The audience heard about the state of the industry, various TIA and Growing Tennis initiatives, and plans for moving the sport and industry forward.

USTA Chairman of the Board and President Lucy Garvin led off the Forum, which was held during the USTA’s annual Tennis Teachers Conference. “The TIA and USTA have a long history of working together,” she told the crowd. “While we all have our own brand which we represent, what brings us together is our shared brand, which is tennis.”

TIA President Jon Muir said that while the Tennis Health Index (a composite of five key measures) shows that the health of the sport has increased 18.1 percent in the U.S. over the last five years, the sport is still facing many economic challenges. “The general feeling is that we kind of bottomed out in the third quarter [2009] in terms of racquet shipments,” he said. “Are consumers essentially delaying certain discretionary purchases? Yes.”

Tennis ball sales, said Muir, are now trending relatively flat. However, sales of transition tennis balls are up 63 percent over a year ago. “We’re starting to see the impact in sales and distribution of QuickStart Tennis products”—which are age-appropriate racquets and balls for children.

Muir referred to recent, continued increases in tennis participation: “What else can we do to build on the momentum from a participation standpoint?” he said. “Frequent players are the ones that fuel the majority of the economic drivers of this industry. If we could get 1 million people—a 20 percent increase in frequent players—to become frequent players, it will have a huge impact.”

Addressing frequent-player growth is the subject of one of the three ongoing Task Forces that came out of two TIA “Tennis Summits” held earlier this year, Muir said. Other Task Forces deal with communication/positioning (“We need to be clear on defining a roadmap for the future and clear communication,” said Muir) and economic benchmarks (“It’s hard to grow something you can’t measure”).

Key in the communication/positioning area is the promotion of the website PlayTennis.com, a new consumer site still under development. The website is designed to be a simple portal that will serve as a central “clearing house” for the mainstream audience to learn more about tennis, to join the sport, and to get on the pathway to becoming frequent players. “PlayTennis.com will be the first step,” said Muir. “We’ll get key messaging out there through this site. It’s a wonderful opportunity for all stakeholders to get behind.”

TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer talked about key industry initiatives such as the GrowingTennis System (www.GrowingTennis.com) and new features and interfaces that are helping consumers and players find places to play, programs, partners and retailers. She also updated the audience on the “Racket Up, America!” promotion (www.PlayTennis.com/million), which ends Sept. 30 and is designed to drive awareness of the sport and help retail sales.

Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis, gave an update on QuickStart Tennis, designed for kids 10 and under. “Training is big,” he said. “We have to be training 20,000 parents a year” in QST, emphasizing that the training is not designed to take over from certified teaching pros. Currently, there are more than 17,000 recreational coaches and parents trained in the QuickStart Tennis format.

“The biggest challenge,” said Kamperman, “is that there’s not enough organized play and competition” on QuickStart courts. He added that there needs to be a sound progression that will lead to Jr. Team Tennis and tournaments on the shorter QST courts.

About 1,300 QuickStart Tennis facilities are registered on GrowingTennis.com. More than 400 permanent QST courts or courts with permanent QST lines have been installed in the U.S. in the past two years. And starting next year, WalMart will carry transition balls that are used in QST.

The last part of the Forum was the induction of Alan G. Schwartz of Highland Park, Ill., into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame. As an avid player, club owner, founder of Tennis Corporation of America, volunteer, former USTA president and more, “Alan stands alone as a titan of our sport,” said Jeff Williams, Tennis Magazine publisher and chairman of the TIA’s Tennis Industry Hall of Fame Committee.

“Twenty years ago, [the TIA and USTA] were not a united family, but because of the efforts of Alan and others, bridges have been built that have brought us together,” Williams said in his introduction. “Few people in the history of the tennis business have had the influence and prolific presence that Alan has had in his more than 40 years in this industry.”

The audience gave Schwartz a standing ovation as he received a plaque. “I love tennis. I love the sport. I love this industry and I love being a contributor,” said Schwartz. “You have my promise that I will continue with undiminished passion to give back to this game I love so much.”

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The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, is THE unifying force in the tennis industry whose mission is to promote the growth and economic vitality of tennis by working closely with the U.S. Tennis Association and industry partners to develop and implement initiatives to increase tennis participation. Core TIA activities include TIA/USTA Tennis Health Index, Consumer and Trade Research, GrowingTennis System™ including Tennis Welcome Centers, Cardio Tennis, 50-50 Co-op Program, QuickStart Tennis and TennisConnect.org. For more information, visit TennisIndustry.org or GrowingTennis.com or call the TIA at 866-686-3036 or email info@tennisindustry.org.

Serena Needs To Cut The Diva Act

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A few years ago, it seemed like Serena Williams was more concerned about her social life, fashion, and her brand name, rather than her play on the court. And it got so bad in 2006, she was unseeded in the US Open, because her ranking was so low.

Yet, Serena learned something about herself. She liked to win and as long as she is successful on the court, the other things off of it would come much, much easier.

So in 2007, Williams rejuvenated herself, winning the Australian Open and impressive runs in the other three Grand Slams, all resulting in Quarterfinal losses to Justine Henin.

More importantly, though, the diva went away. Williams was much more pleasant to deal with, even poking fun at herself from time to time.

Last night, though, the diva returned…big time. And Serena’s actions not only cost her a repeat at the Open Title, but also her reputation is going to take a hit.

For those of you who didn’t see, Williams was down a set in the second to Kim Clijsters with the score 5-6, 15-30 in the game. The lineswoman, who was not identified by the USTA, called a foot fault on Serena’s second serve, causing a double fault and the score to go to a match point for Clijsters.

Already warned after she smashed her racquet after losing the first set, Williams took a tirade at the lineswoman, threatening to shove a few tennis balls down her throat in a profanity laced tirade.

The lineswomen then went over to chair umpire Louise Engzell and tournament umpire Brian Earley to discuss the situation. She told them that Williams threatened to killer her, which Serena clearly denied. Sure, she didn’t. Serena is just promoting a new tennis ball diet.

Anyway, because it was her second violation, a violation point was awarded to Clijsters.

Game. Set. Match.

Afterwards, Williams was unapologetic about the situation.

“Well, how many people yell at linespeople?,” she said. “So I think, you know, if you look at –I don’t know. All the people that, you know, kind of yell at linespeople, I think it’s –kind of comes sometimes. Players, athletes get frustrated. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen that happen.”

Frankly, this diva routine needs to stop. It’s one thing to lose your temper. I’ve done it. I am sure you have as well. It’s another to think it’s alright to treat people that way. The WTA needs to fine and possibly suspend Williams for her actions.

The USTA has done a great job making tennis the fastest growing sport in the county. This grass roots effort produced players like Melanie Oudin and Carly Gullickson, who are young kids making their mark at this year’s Open.

But Serena is the lead horse here and her actions will be copied by young girls everywhere. If she gets away with abusing a linesperson, then other players will do the same. It will create a vicious cycle which will haunt the sport of tennis.

Because of her actions, Serena already cost herself $450,000 by losing the match. She needs to pay more, unless we see some kind of contrition soon. Williams still has a chance to do it at this Open, because she is playing in the doubles final with her sister Venus.

She needs to call a press conference and read a statement saying how she was wrong, sorry to the lineswoman, and she will be making a donation to the lineswoman’s favorite charity.

Otherwise the WTA needs to step in and do something. If they don’t make an example of Serena, the WTA will once again prove that it’s an empty authority that will let its stars run wild.