Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Skinny on Internet Tennis Racquet Purchases

Buying a new racquet on the internet? Here’s a bit of news that may surprise you.

Fake sports products, including tennis racquets, shoes, apparel, strings and other accessories have invaded many sites on the world-wide-web. Unfortunately, this is an epidemic that we all try to believe does not exist. That is, until it happens to you.

Authorized dealers can never be sure how much money they may be losing to sales of fake products since it is only when a racquet is placed on a machine for restringing that they come face-to-face with a deception. And customers are often unwilling to admit they were taken in by too-good-to-be-true deals they found on the internet. No matter how many eyes are diverted from the problem, it does exist for tennis and the sporting goods industry as a whole. The tennis industry alone estimates, consevatively, that legitimate dealers are losing $30 million a year to fake racquets.

Racquet Sports Industry’s Kent Oswald has reported that steps have been taken to drive the counterfeiters out of the business. Last spring, the United States Department of Justice seized more than $1.5 million in proceeds as part of a crackdown on counterfeit merchandise codenamed Operation in Our Sites, begun a couple years ago to fight intellectual piracy on the internet. Last year, the U.S. Department of Justice “celebrated” Cyber Monday by taking down 127 domains selling bogus sporting goods. In both cases, tennis merchandise was part of the scam.

And in a critical development, top apparel brands have recently won millions of dollars against websites selling counterfeit products – and the courts awarded them the money from the culprits’ PayPal accounts. Previously, it was nearly impossible to recover money from defendants, but an initiative implemented by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement allows the Dept. of Justice to recover funds collected via PayPal as well as money transfered from PayPal accounts to bank accounts in other countries.

Additionally, the Tennis Industry Association’s Retail Panel has taken steps to bring the problem to the forefront with a “Counterfeit Racquet Alert” that includes the website https://www.tennisindustry.org/alert/index.cfm to help consumers, and to have retailers become “verified dealers.”

Despite all the efforts put forth by all of these agencies, there remains an explosion of internet shopping sites popping up, with the majority from China, that offer discounts and amazing deals, and these sites are illegal. They hurt the industry on every level as well as the unknowing consumer who just wants to play tennis with the best equipment available.

And because counterfeiters are becoming increasingly sophisticated, I can’t emphasize enough the importance of purchasing from an authorized, verified dealer. If you get a product that looks suspect, here are some things you can check…

Racquets – 1)Check graphics carefully for “mis-spellings”, questionable paint jobs, and other cosmetic miscues. 2) Compare published racquet specs as the weight and balance. 3) Listen for any rattles or loose parts inside the frame. 4) Poor quality grips – in material and application.

Clothing and Shoes – 1) Consider “hand feel” of the garment, of the “interior construction” and “comfort” of the shoe. 2) Look for shoddy stitching or missing, poorly designed labels.

Strings – 1) Look for manufacturer’s stamp on the string and make sure of correct brand name, model name and gauge. 2) If there is a question, check for industry updates or file a report @ “Counterfeit Racquet Alert”.

Posted by Steven White, Author and illustrator of Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933794240

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Ivan Lendl Honored with Davis Cup Award of Excellence

International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum           International Tennis Federation
Contact:

Anne Marie McLaughlin International
Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum amclaughlin@tennisfame.com
Contact:
Barbara Travers International

NEWPORT, R.I., U.S.A., November 18, 2012 – The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) are pleased to announce that Ivan Lendl, who was an integral member of the Czechoslovakian Davis Cup team before becoming an American citizen, is the recipient of the 2012 Davis Cup Award of Excellence. The award was presented today in Prague, in a special ceremony at the 2012 Davis Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final between Czech Republic and Spain. The award was presented by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Geoff Pollard, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the former president and chairman of Tennis Australia.

Ivan Lendl Honored with Davis Cup Award of Excellence

“The Czech Republic has been one of the most successful teams in Davis Cup World Group history, and Ivan Lendl is undoubtedly one of its most influential and inspiring team members. We are pleased to recognize Ivan’s contributions to the competition by honoring him with the 2012 Davis Cup Award of Excellence,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

Each year since 2001, the ITF and the Hall of Fame have presented the Davis Cup Award of Excellence to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Davis Cup competition. It is presented to a person who has been an active member of a past or present Davis Cup team.

Lendl competed for eight consecutive years on the Czechoslovakian team, from 1978 – 1985. In 1980, he led the team to its only Davis Cup title, defeating Italy in the final in Prague after a major upset over Argentina in the semifinals. He also helped his country reach the semifinals in 1984 and 1985. During his Davis Cup years, Lendl was always a key component of the Czech team and he recorded a winning record of 22-15 overall, winning 18 singles matches and 4 doubles matches.

Often regarded among the greatest tennis players in the history of the game, Lendl was ranked world No. 1 for 270 weeks. He won eight Grand Slam titles over the course of his career, and an incredible total of 94 singles titles. He was known for his discipline and drive, and he brought a higher level of awareness for the importance of fitness to the sport. Lendl was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2001.

Past recipients of the Davis Cup Award of Excellence have been Emilio Sanchez of Spain in 2011; Slobodan Zivojinovic of Serbia in 2010; Manuel Orantes of Spain in 2009; Guillermo Vilas of Argentina in 2008; Stan Smith of the United States in 2007; Alex Metreveli of Georgia in 2006; Miloslav Mecir of Slovak Republic and Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia in 2005; Manolo Santana of Spain in 2004; John Newcombe of Australia in 2003; Pierre Darmon of France in 2002; and Neale Fraser of Australia in 2001.

About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 224 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

About Davis Cup by BNP Paribas

Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in sport with 122 nations taking part in 2012. The 100th Davis Cup Final marked the start of the ITF 2013 centenary celebrations. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Davis Cup. International sponsors are HP (Official Technology Sponsor), Rolex (Official Timekeeper) Hugo Boss (Official Men’s Fashion Clothing Sponsor), Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and NH Hoteles (Official Hotel). Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. Follow all the action on http://www.daviscup.com, http://www.copadavis.com and www.twitter.com/daviscup.

Photo by Paul Zimmer

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I Miss Rafa

I guess I’m speaking for everyone who has ever picked up a tennis racquet and for everyone who enjoys watching tennis live or on TV when I say, “I miss Rafa!”. Don’t we all.

Well, I’m sure his return is on the horizon. And like everyone, I’m wondering if his knees will allow him to mount a successful return competing for Grand Slams against the top guys – you know who they are.

There’s no doubt Nadal will have to work very hard to keep up with his peers. He knew that a couple of years ago when he embarked on his campaign to become a more complete player. Winning on grass and hardcourts is proof of that. At any rate, and in the immortal words of Dan Rowan and Dick Martin of the comedy hit show Laugh In, “You bet your sweet bibby” Nadal knows that it won’t be easy and that he’ll have to do everything he did before, and more, to win more Grand Slams running on JoeNamath-like knees. But he can do it!

Let’s take a look at some of the things Rafa did to be a more complete player. Here they are…

Forehand  – This is an obvious one. As everyone knows, Nadal’s forehand is one of the biggest weapons the sport has ever seen. Not only can he keep you pinned on the baseline till hell freezes over, he can pull you off the court with sharp angles while maintaining a high shot percentage. But that’s not all, his inside-out forehand has taken his game to new heights and he doesn’t mind punishing any and all balls landing short on his side of the court. Like I said, this is a gimme, and all of the guys at the top are capable of hitting the same shots with equal enthusiasm and skill. Rafa’s coach knows this, and Rafa has put in the work. As a lesson to all tennis players, be sure to practice your big weapon as much as you do the weaker shots of your game, that is, if you want to keep beating the guys on your club ladder.

Backhand – If you know @juanjo_sports you would also know he has a wonderful insight and mind for the game of tennis. The following is his assessment of Nadal’s improved backhand.

If you took someone who never saw Nadal play and made that person watch any of Nadal’s Grand Slam finals, that person would have been hard pressed to name Nadal’s weak side. You could have told him that once upon a time Nadal never even considered attacking with his backhand (unless he was attempting a pass—he was always good at those) from the back of the court. It used to be that everyone and their mother started their gameplan by attacking Nadal’s backhand. Good luck these days, as he has more than one alternative to make you look dumb.

While he still rarely attacks with his backhand down the line, his cross-court backhand has become vicious. He’s developed incredible timing on it, especially because he hits it flat (this might be the lone flat stroke in Nadal’s arsenal).

So if three years ago Nadal hit his backhand short and spinny, with no aggression to it, almost inviting you to pummel him on that side, he now can hurt you with it immediately, or at the very least, give himself a chance to hurt you properly with his main weapon. And in the past year or two, he’s developed a new tool – the slice backhand. I remember when he started using this shot a little over a year ago. It was hilarious. He was obviously not very good at it. I would even say “thank you, Nadal” when he hit one of those pathetic slices to Djokovic. The basic problem was that he hit it short and his ball didn’t skid. So it sat there, waiting to be killed. Any other player would have pulled the plug on this little project, but Nadal being Nadal, he kept at it. He kept trying to get better at it. Incredibly, his slice worked even on clay, a surface where you’re not supposed to hit slices. Then again, Nadal could probably try any shot and it would work on clay.

Still, from that sad little shot he used to hit, we arrive to those ridiculous, Federer-esque slices he hits today – buying himself time, disrupting everyone elses timing.  It’s just amazing to watch how good that slice backhand is these days.

Volley – When Rafa started improving this aspect of his game, it was clear he needed to put in the long hours.

I think Nadal is the one person that truly understands the point of going to the net in the 21st century. Mainly, you cannot charge the net trying to find something. Trying to dare your opponent to hit a great shot. That used to be the old wisdom: you attack the net because you have a higher percentage shot by volleying than does your opponent by hitting a perfect passing shot. Now, EVERYONE can hit perfect passing shots. Off any wing. So hitting a volley after someone hits a killer pass these days is way more difficult than hitting that same passing shot.

Nadal understands that you come to net to finish a point. Not to tempt anyone, not to dare someone to come up with something great. You come in with the point half in your pocket, so you can truly have a high-percentage shot. So you’ll rarely see Nadal get passed, and you’ll rarely see him miss a volley. He’ll get to net, but he’ll only get there when it’s absolutely right to be there. Which is the most important piece of strategy you can have.

Serve – It’s still not great. And this is the one item on the list that probably won’t improve that much for the rest of the way. Like Uncle Toni says, this is not a natural movement for Nadal, and the serve is the one instinctive, organic part of everyone’s game. Sampras said it best himself, by not saying what exactly made his serve the best ever. He said he didn’t know. It just happened.

Nadal had to learn it, and he clearly understands what needs to be done. And his serve is very successful anyway, because it carries so much spin, and has that tricky lefty trajectory. Only two or three players force him to come up with something special on this side, and nowadays, he does.

He is using the lefty wide serve on the ad court a lot more, and he should. But he’s hitting that hard one down the line that gives him a free point more often than not, since everyone is covering for the dreaded wide serve. And he’s developed a very efficient body serve that forces people to adjust in a milisecond. This gives him either a short ball or a free point.

So while he doesn’t serve particularly hard, on a good day Nadal will place his serve really well. He’ll look for corners, he’ll surprise you most of the time. And again, this is for the times when the basic, serve-to-the-backhand strategy doesn’t work. Which is rarely.

Return of Serve – This is also an area where Nadal wasn’t really that good. He’s not an instinctive returner, and too often he used a longer swing. But slowly but surely, he was reading serves better, and he was shortening that swing. He rarely goes for winners off returns (and he can), but he’s also understood the changing times, and he’s becoming increasingly good at not missing second serve returns. And he’s getting them deeper and deeper. Which is a problem for everyone. Because if you once could serve Nadal out the court, now he rarely gives you free points. And the more he steps in for second serves, and the deeper his returns get, the more pressure he puts on other people. Which is why he leads most of the return of serve statistical categories.

Court Positioning – This one is the key, because it enables him to dispatch opponents quicker. And the strategy is simple: you want to stay close to the baseline so you can pounce any short balls that come your way. If you’re too far behind, the odds that you come up with a momentum-changing shot are slimmer, and you’re going to be doing way too much running. And while sometimes that’s inevitable, it’s not advisable that you’re running around like crazy in the third round, chasing down balls from someone ranked 58 spots below you.

So the kid worked on all of these things for a couple of years. He worked hard, and he worked relentlessly. Of course, it wasn’t a one-man journey: Toni Nadal might just be the greatest coach of this era. If anything, Toni is successful at keeping Nadal hungry, giving him constant reality checks. Everyone remembers how after Nadal won his first French Open, the gift his uncle gave him was a list of things he did wrong in that match. As an example of what’s more common on the ATP, Marian Vajda’s reaction to Djokovic winning last year’s Australian Open was to proclaim that Djokovic could become no.1 by the end of the year. Which of course, he did.

Toni Nadal understands tennis. He understands his nephew. He understood what needed to be done, and what still needs to be done.

It was particularly touching to read Nadal’s presser after the final. If the French Open was his destiny, Wimbledon was a dream, then this Australian Open was about reaping the rewards of hard work. A symbolic prize for all those hours working on his game. For all those minutes spent on hardcourts everywhere.

Posted by Steven White, Author and illustrator of Bring Your Racquet: Tennis Basics for Kids http://www.amazon.com/dp/1933794240

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Bob Hewitt Suspended from International Tennis Hall of Fame

International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum
Contact: Anne Marie McLaughlin

NEWPORT, R.I., U.S.A., November 15, 2012 – The Executive Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame has voted to indefinitely suspend South African tennis player Bob Hewitt from the Hall of Fame. Hewitt was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992. The suspension of Mr. Hewitt follows a comprehensive investigation conducted by Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP into multiple allegations brought concerning sexual misconduct involving Mr. Hewitt and minor students that he coached. The investigation was led by Michael Connolly, a former Assistant United States Attorney.

“Suspension of Mr. Hewitt is appropriate given the serious allegations that have been made and the findings presented to our Executive Committee,” said Mark Stenning, CEO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. “After carefully considering the issue, we commissioned a thorough investigation by outside legal counsel. Our Executive Committee considered the findings of the investigation and has voted to suspend Bob Hewitt indefinitely. We feel suspension is the proper course of action on behalf of the Hall of Fame, the women who have made these allegations, and our sport.”

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About the International Tennis Hall of Fame

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

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Jana Novotna Honored with Fed Cup Award of Excellence

An active Fed Cup competitor and committed team member for more than a decade, the Czech star helped her team to Fed Cup victory in 1988.

NEWPORT, R.I., U.S.A., November 3, 2012 – The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and the International Tennis Federation (ITF) are pleased to announce that Jana Novotna of the Czech Republic is the recipient of the 2012 Fed Cup Award of Excellence. The award was presented by ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti and Jane Brown Grimes, president emerita of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum, on Saturday, November 3 in Prague, during the 2012 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group Final between Czech Republic and Serbia.

Jana Novotna honored with Fed Cup Award of Excellence

Photo by Paul Zimmer

“In addition to being a talented and successful player, Jana Novotna was a leader and role model on and off the court during a pivotal time in her nation’s history. She demonstrated great commitment and was an integral member of the Czech Fed Cup team for more than a decade. In appreciation of her contributions to tennis and to Fed Cup, we are proud to present her with the Fed Cup Award of Excellence,” said ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti.

Each year since 2001, the ITF and the Hall of Fame have presented the Fed Cup Award of Excellence to a person who represents the ideals and spirit of the Fed Cup competition. It is presented to a person who has been an active member of a past or present Fed Cup team.

Novotna contested 33 Fed Cup ties over the course of 12 years and she played a key role in the team’s success. She was a member of the championship Czechoslovakian team in 1988 and helped lead the team to three other semifinal finishes. Overall, Novotna compiled a winning record of 22-7 in singles and 11-5 in doubles.

In 2005, Novotna was inducted to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in recognition of her tremendous career success. She achieved a career high ranking of No. 2 in singles and No. 1 in doubles, and was the year-end No. 1 in doubles 11 times over the course of her career. Novotna was the Wimbledon champion in 1998, and she was a three-time Grand Slam singles finalist. In addition to her Wimbledon trophy, Novotna won 12 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles (four at Wimbledon, three at the French Open, three at the US Open, and two at the Australian Open) and four Grand Slam mixed doubles titles (two at the Australian Open, one at Wimbledon, and one at the US Open). Known for her dramatic serve and volley game, Novotna won 100 titles (24 in singles and 76 in doubles) during her 14-year career.

Past recipients of the Fed Cup Award of Excellence have been Anastasia Myskina of Russia in 2011; Billie Jean King of the United States in 2010; Mary Joe Fernandez of the United States and Silvia Farina of Italy in 2009; Miguel Margets of Spain in 2008; Lea Pericoli of Italy in 2007; Sabine Appelmans of Belgium in 2006; Françoise “Frankie” Dürr of France in 2005; Olga Morozova of Russia in 2004; Larisa Savchenko of Latvia in 2003; Virginia Wade of Great Britain in 2002; and Spain’s Arantxa Sanchez Vicario and Conchita Martinez in 2001.

About the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum

Established in 1954, the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is a non-profit institution dedicated to preserving the history of tennis, inspiring and encouraging junior tennis development, providing a landmark for tennis enthusiasts worldwide, and enshrining tennis heroes and heroines with the highest honor in the sport of tennis- induction into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. In 1986, the International Tennis Federation, the governing body of tennis, officially recognized the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum as the sport’s official Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, on a six-acre property that features an extensive Museum chronicling the history of the sport and honoring the 225 Hall of Famers; 13 grass tennis courts and an indoor tennis facility that are open to the public and to a club membership; a rare Court Tennis facility; and an historic 297-seat theatre. Annually in July, the venue hosts the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships for the Van Alen Cup, an ATP World Tour event. The buildings and grounds, which were constructed in 1880 by McKim, Mead & White to serve as a social club for Newport’s summer residents, are renowned for their incredible architecture and preservation. The facility was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1987. The International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum is supported by Official Partners including BNP Paribas, Chubb Personal Insurance, Kia Motors and Rolex Watch USA. For information on the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum and its programs, call 401-849-3990 or visit us online at www.tennisfame.com.

About Fed Cup by BNP Paribas

Fed Cup by BNP Paribas is the largest annual international team competition in women’s sport, with 85 nations taking part in 2012. The event will celebrate its 50th birthday in 2013. The title sponsor is BNP Paribas, the Official Bank of Fed Cup. Adecco (Official HR Sponsor) and BoscoSport (Official Clothing Sponsor) are international sponsors, and Wilson Sporting Goods (Official Ball) is an international partner. Follow all the action on http://www.fedcup.com, http://www.fedcup.com/es and http://www.twitter.com/fedcup.

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