Spotlight Shines on Tennis Visionaries

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (March 13, 2017) — The spirit of innovation and creativity is alive and well in tennis, as some of the most brilliant new products and services in the tennis industry take center stage on Monday, March 27, at the inaugural Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge.

The Innovation Challenge will follow the “Future of Tennis Forum,” presented by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando, Fla. During the 60-minute Innovation Challenge competition, six companies will present their innovative tennis product or service to a panel of judges and an audience of tennis industry leaders and facility owners and managers. In essence, it will be a “Shark-Tank”-like competition to determine a winner. The winner will be announced at the end of the hour-long morning session.

The six finalists that will present on March 27 were determined by the judges from the 36 companies that submitted applications to be a part of this first Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge. The six finalists are:

* Billie Jean King’s Eye Coach, based in Mount Pleasant, S.C.—This stationary, oscillating product is based around point-of-contact training and simulates live-ball timing, using the concept that 80% of the information needed in tennis is dependent on a player’s vision receiving the correct feedback on time. (Contact: Lenny Schloss,;

* Essential Tennis of Milwaukee, Wis.—Essential Tennis Academy is an online resource for tennis instruction. It has more than 26 million views, 83,000-plus subscribers on YouTube, expanding social media platforms, and serves more than 6,000 paid students in over 145 countries. (Contact: Kirby Bridges,;

* Laykold Masters Gel from Advanced Polymer Technology (APT) of Harmony, Pa.—APT’s Laykold Masters Gel product is a cushioned court system with a fluid-applied gel layer, and is comprised of 60% renewable resources. (Contact: Wesley Baum,;

* Playmate Ball Machines iGenie, based in Viera, Fla.—The iGenie allows the player to select their level, shots they want to work on, and direction of the shots—all conveniently programmed into the unit. Players and coaches also can create up to seven distinct drills to seven positions across the court with a drill restart delay to allow the player to get back to the baseline after finishing a drill at the net. (Contact: Stan Oley,;

* Tennibot of Auburn, Ala.—Tennibot is a robotic tennis ball collector that detects tennis balls on the court using cameras, sensors and complex algorithms. It also comes with an app that allows the user to choose where to pick up balls and keeps track of how many balls it picked up (which helps determine how many balls have been hit). (Contact: Haitham Eletrabi,;

* Universal Tennis Rating (UTR) system, based in Fairfield, Conn.—UTR is a rating system for all players, no matter skill, gender, age, etc.—from beginners to top touring professionals. The 16-point scale, combined with a dynamic digital platform, allows all players to participate in a “single ecosystem” that helps give players “level-based match play” and maximizes the changes for matches at compatible skill levels. (Contact: Sue Hunt,;

“We are thrilled with both the quantity and quality of our Innovation Challenge applicants and finalists,” says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “Many thanks to all those who took the time to apply and to tell us about their innovative product or service helping to grow tennis and industry businesses. The TIA is pleased to offer this unique platform to entrepreneurs, with an eye toward increasing tennis participation and enjoyment for all consumers.”

“With so many strong applicants, it was difficult for the judges to choose among them to identify the finalists,” adds international performance strategist Carlos Salum, president of Salum International Resources and a member of the SportsCouncil Silicon Valley, who will be the moderator for the Tennis Innovation Challenge. “But all of our applicants, along with the quality of these innovative products and services, certainly bodes well for the future of the tennis industry.”

The winner of the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge will receive $1,000, a national news release to about 2,000 media outlets with a potential audience of 30 million consumers, coverage in Tennis Industry magazine, a commemorative plaque, a membership in the TIA, and other benefits.

In addition to Salum as the Innovation Challenge moderator, the judges will include:
* Matt Colton, a cloud architect for IBM, entrepreneur, and founder/owner of Stringjob LLC
* Walid Fattah, entrepreneur and co-founder of Kourts, specializing in mobile apps and tennis management systems
* Dr. Stuart Miller, senior executive director of the International Tennis Federation
* Mike Volkin, entrepreneur, marketing strategist, and owner of Tennis Club Marketing

The Tennis Innovation Challenge and the Future of Tennis Forum precede the three-day Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference, which also takes place at the award-winning Rosen Shingle Creek Resort in Orlando. The TOM Conference brings together leading experts in facility management, programming, technology, sales & marketing, staffing and other key areas to provide vital information that will address the needs of all types of tennis facilities—public, commercial, private, country clubs, resorts, etc.

For more information on the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, Future of Tennis Forum and TOM Conference, visit, or contact or 843-686-3036.

About the TIA

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 the business of tennis by working closely with its industry partners and in support of the USTA in their development of initiatives to increase tennis participation. Core TIA activities include producing more than 70 U.S. and global research reports annually on participation and consumer/trade research, managing the largest relational database, along with hosting annual TIA Tennis Forum, Leadership meetings and the TOM Conference at major tournaments and events. Visit or call 866-686-3036.

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