Wilson Launches Ultra Aces Program to Benefit USTA Foundation

Ultra Aces

I’m a little late to the party on this one, but I wanted to let you know about a very cool initiative from Wilson that’s continuing through the US Open Singles events this year.

In conjunction with the 2017 US Open Tournament, Wilson Sporting Goods Co., has partnered with the USTA Foundation to launch the “Ultra Aces” program to help fuel the Foundation’s efforts to grow the game of tennis in the U.S. The program has been created to demonstrate the powerful difference the tennis community can make when it works together to make the sport more accessible.


  • The “Ultra Aces” program will kick off with the first round of the 2017 US Open Tournament and will conclude following the Men’s and Women’s Singles championship matches.
  • For every ace recorded by a Wilson-sponsored Men’s and Women’s Singles player that takes the court with the brand’s new 2017 Ultra high performance tennis racket, Wilson will donate $200 and a new Ultra Racket directly to the USTA Foundation.
  • Wilson and the USTA Foundation will direct all donated funds generated by this program towards rebuilding tennis in the communities affected by Hurricane Harvey.
  • Donated rackets will go towards the Foundation’s Excellence Team Program, which empowers under-resourced youth interested in playing tennis at a high performance level throughout the U.S.
  • Official social hashtag of the program is #TogetherWeArePowerful.
  • The 2017 Ultra performance tennis racket line is designed for singles and doubles players who seek a racket that can provide effortless power on every shot, while enhancing the effectiveness of their play.

You can follow the “Ultra Aces” program on social media through Wilson Tennis and the USTA Foundation profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @WilsonTennis and @usta (on each social media network).

The program is off to a great start, despite the almost-total rainout on Day 2! Wilson is tweeting daily updates, and I saw this yesterday morning:

Ultra Aces

After yesterday’s 87 singles matches (!), I suspect that “50” will be a much bigger number once Wilson reports its update today!

While this current initiative is seated in philanthropy, I would be remiss if I didn’t Ultramention that I’ve been playing with the new Wilson Ultra racquet for the past 6 weeks or so, and I LOVE it!  “Our 2017 Ultra line is by far the most comprehensive and versatile collection we’ve created to date, said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “We have high expectations for this racket as it delivers on what we have heard from a wide range of professional, avid and amateur players – ‘I want more power without losing feel’. Ultra reflects a unique blend of modern design and novel technologies that expand the hottest part of the racket’s sweetspot by 15 percent. This translates into a racket that gives more power and force where and when it is needed while enhancing feel.”

Now, I’m just a 4.5 player – certainly no Madison Keys or Gael Monfils (!) – but I can absolutely feel the difference in the amount of power and control I get with this new stick. And the new paint job is pretty slick, too: navy and bright blue accent colors, matte finishes, and velvety paint make the Ultra look and feel amazing!

In its release on the new racquet, Wilson tells us that the 2017 Ultra line has been designed to enhance the performance of a wide range of players. It consists of six models: the Ultra 100 Countervail® (CV), Ultra 100L, Ultra 100UL, Ultra 105S CV, Ultra 110 and Ultra Tour. Each model has been developed to reflect differences in athlete age, size, and ability, and varying head sizes, weights, technologies and string patterns allow players to select a model that is right for them based on their individual needs and style of play.

The Ultra 100L and Ultra 100UL are two maneuverable, lightweight options ideal for juniors and smaller adults. Each 2017 Ultra model is compatible with the brand’s X2 Ergo handle technology, which is a customizable handle shape for the top hand of two-handed backhands to create optimal feel for the modern two-hander. This provides players with more power, versatility and leverage.

And, even though Roger Federer isn’t using the new Ultra – he uses the Wilson Pro Staff – here’s a little behind-the-scenes look at how his racquets get strung during the US Open, courtesy of ESPN Sports – Enjoy!

An in-depth look at how Federer’s rackets get made – ESPN Video



Exclusive “Historic Limited Edition” Pro Staff RF97 Roger Federer Autograph Racket

Roger FedererI just received the following from Wilson Tennis and thought I’d pass it along in case one or two of you happen to be Roger Federer fans!

Tennis history has been made again. Wilson Advisory Staff Member Roger Federer set two new Grand Slam records at this year’s Wimbledon Championships. As the only player to achieve eight Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles titles and 19 Men’s Singles Champion Grand Slam victories, Roger Federer continues to rewrite the tennis record-books and excite players and fans on the 2017 ATP World Tour.

To celebrate Roger Federer’s incredible achievements, Wilson Sporting Goods has created an exclusive “Historic Limited Edition” Pro Staff RF97 Autograph racket. Only eight of these commemorative rackets have been created, each individually numbered (one through eight) and authenticated by Roger Federer following his championship win today.

Each commemorative racket features the following elements:

  • A pure white matte paint with a gloss finish on the inside of the racket hoop and throat, which highlights the details surrounding this remarkable accomplishment.
  • A specially designed “8” logo featuring an image of Roger Federer’s face.
  • Roger Federer’s signature in silver.
  • Matching white and silver grommet medallions, as well as a white and sliver “W” butt cap.

The eight “Historic Limited Edition” rackets were autographed by Roger Federer after his Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Singles Championship win. They will be offered on www.rogerfederer.com.  One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of the rackets will go to the Roger Federer Foundation.

Roger Federer Works with Wilson to Design New ProStaff

Wilson ProStaff

Can you imagine working with a racket company to design the perfect weapon for your game? That’s exactly what Roger Federer has done with his long-time sponsor, Wilson Tennis!

Please understand that I have a soft spot in my heart for Wilson. When I first started playing tennis a very long time ago (!), I played with a Wilson Chris Evert Autograph. All these years later, I’m still a Wilson player. And, as if that weren’t enough, Wilson is providing the amazing prize package for the upcoming Sol Schwartz #SaveCollegeTennis All-In tournament presented by Holabird Sports. How could I NOT love them?!?!?

According to the release from Wilson’s PR firm, long-time Wilson Advisory Staff Member and tennis icon Roger Federer and Wilson Sporting Goods Co., unveiled today the new Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph racket. The racket is the result of an 18-month collaborative, co-creation process between Roger Federer and Wilson Labs, the innovation hub at Wilson. Together with Roger Federer, Wilson sought to radically change the current design standards in performance tennis rackets.

Roger_Federer_Headshot“Nearly two years ago, we set out to change the design DNA of our performance tennis rackets and elevate design to an equal level of appreciati on as technology,” said Hans-Martin Reh, General Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “In that process, we deconstructed today’s racket and reimagined every element from the inside out. With Roger’s help and insight, we removed unnecessary components and meticulously created a new look and feel for tennis rackets not seen before in the industry.”

“To be involved with any design process with a brand is exciting, however, with Wilson, it is extra special because I’ve played with a Wilson racket my whole life,” said Roger Federer. “I remember going to the shops as a kid and pointing to the Wilson rackets, hoping my dad would buy it for me. And now, I’ve been able to help design my racket to look and feel like me. This racket is truly special and I hope it inspires every player who holds it in his or her hands.”

The new 2017 Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph racket has been designed with sleek, modern elements to communicate Roger Federer’s elegant playing style and boldness on the court. The racket’s look is grounded in two, high quality paints, Black Velvet and Tuxedo Black. The matte Black Velvet paint provides a smooth, soft, light-absorbing finish that has been engineered to create a “feel”, or tactile experience, for attacking players like Roger Federer. These types of finishes and paint have not been previously used in the tennis industry.

WRT7314_Pro_Staff_RF97_Black_Black_3_4_SideThe outside throat of the racket features the Pro Staff logo as individual sliver chrome letters that are laser etched into the racket, which required the Company to develop a new manufacturing process to support this textural element. Small pops of red include a Wilson-branded butt cap.

The inside of the racket’s throat carries Roger Federer’s signature and an image of his face for added personalization. These features are accompanied by the language “Designed with Roger in Switzerland. Engineered in Chicago.” And a special feature of the new racket design is a simple, elegant-looking chrome grommet medallion that seamlessly connects the grommet strip to the racket frame.

The new Wilson Pro Staff line includes the RF 97 Autograph and four other models designed for a variety of attacking players. Importantly, Roger Federer requested Wilson produce two lighter weight versions of the racket – the Pro Staff 97 LS and Pro Staff 97 ULS – in his signature black on black design specifically for young tennis players.

“As someone who deeply cares about the future of this sport, we created this new Pro Staff franchise so it would appeal to everyone,” added Federer. “These two lighter weight models are designed to be very playable for young kids. This is the group of athletes I will watch and cheer on many years from now, and I want them to feel like this racket is every bit theirs as it is for the adult player.”

Hallmark technology features of the new 2017 Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph are similar to Roger Federer’s previous racket, including a wider racket beam providing a significant boost in power and larger headsize than on previous generations of the racket, which produce a larger sweet spot. The racket uses braided graphite to maintain the pure, consistent feel that players have come to know and love in the Pro Staff line.

The 2017 Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph racket will be available for pre-sale via tennis specialty retailers (in-store and online) and on www.wilson.com on August 18. The racket will be available for purchase starting on August 27, exclusively at the Wilson US Open tennis store on the US Open grounds. The racket will be available for purchase in-store and online worldwide on September 1. The MRP for the new Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph is $249.00 (US).
Wilson intends to introduce additional products which have been co-designed with Roger Federer and that compliment his new Pro Staff racket. Those products will be introduced over the next six – 18 months.

Wilson Labs set out to develop a new design aesthetic for its performance rackets after years of player feedback that racket selection continues to be challenging, overwhelming, and differences between rackets difficult to discern (majority of performance rackets look similar to one another).

Taking cues from other industries that lead in product design, such as the automobile, mobile device, high tech, and fashion industries, Wilson Labs product designers developed a minimalistic aesthetic with simple, modern, clean lines and bold color accents that symbolize the strength, power and ability of every player.

As this new design took shape and with feedback from Roger Federer and numerous elite players on the Wilson Advisory Staff, Wilson product designers engineered new textural elements to the racket design to create a full sensory experience for a player.

New 2017 racket lines from Wilson will reflect the core elements of this new design aesthetic, including slight nuances in color so that they are easily identifiable, yet as modern and unique as the people who play the game.

So, give the newest member of the Wilson family a try and let me know what you think in the Comments below!

World Tennis Day 2015 Coming to Madison Square Garden


Those of you who have been around the Tennis World a while will certainly know who Monica Seles and Gabriela Sabatini are – the two of them made a huge splash in the late 80s and 90s and into the early 2000s. Madison Square Garden just announced that they will be playing each other as part of the 2015 BNP Paribas Showdown on March 10th (Roger Federer will be playing Grigor Dimitrov, too). If you’re going to be in the New York area on that day, I highly encourage you to take your junior player and see these incredible legends compete in what is arguably the best sports venue in the world!

Tickets start at $50.00 and are currently on sale. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

The BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden will once again headline a full day of international activities as part of “World Tennis Day,” a global tennis participation effort. All events promote tailoring the game to players 10-and-under with smaller racquets, lighter balls, and modified scoring as well as more play and a healthy lifestyle.

I recently had the opportunity to be on a conference call with Monica Seles as she talked about her excitement over the World Tennis Day event as well as her predictions for the upcoming Australian Open. Of course, I couldn’t forego the opportunity to ask her about her own Tennis Parents! Here’s what she had to say . . .

I had one tennis parent and that was my dad.  My mom never played tennis in her entire life she was opposite of my dad….I think it was really good because I got a great balance.  If I wanted to do sports I was with my dad and when I got home there was no talk of tennis or any sports.  That way I got a dose of normalcy….. With my dad early on he wanted me to try different sports.  For a while I liked ice skating but really didn’t stick with it.  Tennis became something I enjoyed to play.  Back in my former country,   unfortunately young girls really didn’t play tennis and there were only four tennis courts.  I had no capability to play tennis with my dad until I was seven or eight years old.  That is why I started in front of my building with string pulled between two cars and then sneak on, once in a blue moon, on weekends with my dad for 15 minutes on the court.  For me, it was something I really enjoyed being with my dad, it was fun learning.  My dad was a cartoonist and my favorite cartoon back then was Tom and Jerry.  He would draw Jerry on the tennis ball and say “Monica you’re Tom now hit that ball on the rise” and that’s where I learned how to hit the ball on the rise.  He really made it, for me a game and fun and I’m very thankful for that.  As a kid I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have parents like that who never pushed me but made it fun for me.   That is why I think I have such a good and healthy relationship with the sport.

So, mark your calendar for March 10th and take your family to see Monica, Gabriela, Roger, and Grigor. It’s sure to be an experience your young player(s) won’t soon forget!


The tennis community is truly something special.  If you haven’t experienced it yet, just wait . . . you will.  Whether it’s a coach inviting your child to join his academy’s warmup at a tournament or a parent offering a protein bar to your child when he forgot to pack one or a child comforting your child after a tough loss, the community is there and it’s there en force.

And, when a challenge or a tragedy strikes our tennis community, we rally.  We speak out.  We show up.  We stand together in support.

Nothing illustrates this more clearly than the support coming out for one of our top junior players, Sean Karl.  I wrote about Sean‘s recent diagnosis of Ewings Sarcoma a couple of weeks ago.  Since then, the Facebook group created by a group of his tennis friends has grown to over 1500 members posting daily words of support.  A couple of tennis parents joined forces to create a logo, merchandise, and website to raise money to help offset Sean’s medical expenses. Roger Federer posted a video on YouTube encouraging Sean to keep fighting.  Babolat sent Sean a racquet autographed by Rafael Nadal.  The tennis teams at several universities have written Sean’s initials on the backs of their shoes, showing their support for his battle.

And, this is only one example of our amazing community.  If you think it ends when your child is done with junior tennis, you’d be wrong!  A new-found adult tennis friend of mine lost his father suddenly to leukemia last week.  His local – and global – tennis community showed its support by sending emails, cards, phone calls, Facebook posts, and, most importantly, by coming to his father’s funeral.  One attendee called the funeral a “virtual who’s who” of local tennis coming out to pay their last respects.  They were all people that my friend had met through his years of playing and coaching tennis.  He is now an adult.  His tennis community is still there for him and will be probably forever.

Now I’m seeing my son create his own tennis community.  Thanks to the Maccabi Games, ITF, USTA, and summer tennis camps, his community extends around the world.  And thanks to Facebook and Twitter and FaceTime, my son and his community can stay in touch anytime, anywhere.  And, they do!  These kids are learning incredibly valuable lessons about friendship and healthy competition and what it means to be part of something bigger than yourself.

The amazing thing to me about this community is that you may lose track of it for a while – even a long while, as I did – but it will still be there when you want or need it.  After 30+ years away from my tennis community, I reconnected thanks to my son.  I have re-established friendships with my former tennis buddies whose kids are also now playing and traveling to tournaments.  We ask each other for help with warm-up courts, or local restaurants, or a place to stay.  We check in with each other to see how the latest tournament went.  We keep up with each other’s non-tennis lives, too, also thanks to Facebook and Twitter, and support each other when needed.

If you think tennis is just about what happens between the lines, think again.  The relationships your child – and YOU – is forging now will be there for years to come.  The tennis community is truly something special.

Tennis Parent/Non-Tennis Parent – It Takes Two!

If you’ve watched any professional tennis in the past couple of years, no doubt you’ve noticed Novak Djokovic’s parents in the stands during his matches – they are the ones cheering loudly, wearing their son’s image on their shirts, standing and fist-pumping after every winning shot.  Rumor has it that the King of Decorum, Roger Federer, once told them to be quiet (not the words he used!) during a match with their son.  They are the epitome of the hard-core Tennis Parent.

In most junior tennis families, though, typically there is one parent in charge of all-things-tennis and one parent who is less involved.  Even in families where the parents are no longer living in the same household, I’ve seen this distinction develop.  There is one parent who you see at pretty much every tournament though every now and then the other will make an appearance.

The role of the All-Things-Tennis parent are pretty clear – and I think I’ve covered them sufficiently in previous posts (click here and here) – but what, exactly, is the role of the Non-Tennis parent?

I actually posted this exact question on a Facebook group that I frequent consisting of former junior tennis champions who are now Tennis Parents, coaches, or otherwise still involved in the Tennis World.  One response I received was, “If I get this question right, what you will have is a non-tennis parent who becomes totally disenchanted with the behavior of the tennis parent. He/she voices their opinion to said tennis parent who immediately tells the non-tennis parent that they have no clue what the heck they are talking about and stay out of anything that has to do with Jr’s sports. ”

According to David Benzel, founder of Growing Champions For Life, in a family where one parent is “NOT the tennis parent”, the opportunity exists for this parent to provide the voice of balance for both the spouse and child who are immersed in the tennis culture. It’s important that tennis occupy the appropriate amount of space, time and energy for the health of any family.  However this is a tricky role to play because this parent may come to feel alienated from the tennis two-some and their dedication to the sport. Therefore, the ideal scenario may actually be when two parents alternate with each other in playing “tennis-parent” with all its travel, time, and emotional demands.  This facilitates an equal sharing of the tennis experience with the child and keeps both parents on the family team, not just the tennis team, in the eyes of the child.

In our family, my husband is the Non-Tennis parent (duh!), and his role ranges from earning the money to pay for our son’s sport of choice to reigning in the All-Things-Tennis parent (Moi!) when she gets out of hand.  Though we have definitely had our share of moments like the one described in the paragraph above, I think we have done a pretty good job of finding the balance and working TOGETHER to keep our son’s tennis in perspective.  While I’m typically the parent who goes to the tournaments and communicates with our son’s coach, my husband does do Tournament Duty a few times a year and does get involved when there’s a Big Issue to discuss.  I’m always grateful for that break, and our son is definitely grateful to have Guy Time with his dad.

That said, I wouldn’t trade my Tennis Parent role for anything – it has given me the chance to spend some high-quality time with my son and to meet some wonderful people.  What is your role and how do you keep balance in your family?

There’s No “I” in T-E-A-M

UGA Men's Tennis Team - 2007 NCAA Champions

Jim Courier, Bob Bryan, John Isner, Mike Bryan, Ryan Harrison

I know I’ve written a lot lately about high school and college tennis, but it’s just where I am right now, so please indulge me one more time!

I watched this past weekend’s Davis Cup matches with great interest, not only because my childhood friend’s son was playing for the US but also because our #1 singles player, John Isner, was a 4-year member of the University of Georgia men’s tennis team (Go Dawgs!).

As I watched World #11 Isner play against World #6 Jo Wilfred Tsonga, in what turned out to be the clinching match, I couldn’t help but wonder how Isner’s experience at UGA shaped his ability to close out such a decisive match on Sunday or how it affected his ability to close versus Roger Federer in the previous Davis Cup tie.

In John Isner’s own words (via Twitter), “That’s the beauty of team tennis, Coach!! Lay it all out there!!!”

Laying it all out there is exactly what John did to help lead the US team to victory versus Switzerland then versus France, coming in as the underdogs in both ties, being forced to play on what has been considered the US team’s weakest surface, red clay.  But, as a Georgia Bulldog, John had lots of experience in coming from behind and using the sideline energy of his teammates to push him to victory.

UGA Head Coach, Manny Diaz, told me that John was always a great team player. “I believe that playing a team sport at an early age (basketball) plays a big part.”

Coach Diaz went on to say, “I think that we [UGA] emphasize the ‘team’ concept very strongly. I feel that it helps develop closeness and it teaches them that even when you do not feel your best you play a very important part of what happens each day in practice. It’s much easier to just go through the motions when you are tired. But if you have a close team, you do not want to let the others down.”

There are many, many high-performance coaches out there who will tell you that high school tennis is a waste of time.  There are many, many high-performance coaches out there who will tell you that college tennis is NOT the proper path to the pros.

According to Coach Diaz, Isner is one of the greatest competitors and leaders his UGA team has ever had. In college, he was always at his best when others were counting on him. He would never let down the team by giving less than 100%, and when his teammates needed a win from him, he would raise his level to meet that need.  Now that Isner is on the ATP tour and playing Davis Cup, he seems to have carried that never-say-die attitude with him and is quickly becoming the go-to guy for Davis Cup coach Jim Courier.

I do realize that John Isner is an exception, that as Andy Roddick said, “You can’t teach 6-9!”  But, I can’t help but feel that, but for Isner’s 4 years under the tutelage of Coach Manny Diaz, he might never have developed into the kind of player who can withstand and thrive under the pressure of Davis Cup, especially the “away” matches with thousands of fans cheering against him.  If you’ve ever had the chance to watch your favorite college team play live, you know the kind of noise the home team can make.  Davis Cup fans have NOTHIN’ on college fans, especially in the SEC!

Here’s the thing . . . the odds are stacked waaaay against any junior player hoping to find success at the professional level.  Sorry to burst your bubble, but that’s just the way it is.  So, why not advise your child to take at least a year or two (or four!) to mature, develop, and educate before making the decision to go on the tour?  Your child could be the next Davis Cup hero!