THE LURACO CHAIR: When he retired, Kareem-Abdul Jabbar was famously presented with a rocking chair. Recently retired Mike Bryan already has his own chair – the Luraco i7 Massage Chair. The chair, known for its incredible comfort and flexibility, features its own powerful operating system and easy to use smart touch screen and remote. Integrated health monitoring features can measure blood pressure and heart rates while the chair provides a full body massage. Mike says of the i7, “I don’t have to hire massage therapists or trainers…this thing takes me to my happy place.” For info go to luracochair.com


VINTAGE – Getting Down to Basics for 40 decades

For four decades, Vintage Contractors has gotten down to basics. They’ve put in high quality courts throughout California and Hawaii. A leader in sport, recreation and industrial material installation since 1981, Vintage specializes in a process called Slipsheet Overlay, allowing them to repair severely damaged asphalt courts without having to tear them out. Whether you are looking to repair, replace or build for the first time, Vintage has experience and expertise in a wide range of projects relating to court construction, surfacing and maintenance having worked with top California colleges and clubs like Stanford, UC Berkeley, The Olympic Club, Harbor Point, California Tennis Club, Google Campus, The Claremont, Berkeley Tennis Club and more.

For more information, an estimate, or to learn more about the many successful projects Vintage Contractors has worked on in its 40 years, visit vintagecontractors.com


The FILA Heritage

The tennis industry and tennis fashion are constantly shifting. Brands come, brands go. Trends emerge, then fade – goodbye. There are few constants. 

Then there is FILA. The shoe and apparel company that was born over a century ago in the Italian Alps has style and sport in its DNA, but truly became synonymous with the sport of tennis in the 1970’s as Bjorn Borg rose to prominence. Wearing stylish FILA outfits and a distinctive headband, the Swede was tennis’ answer to the Beatles. 

But this was only the beginning for a singular brand whose distinctive styles have been a constant for decades. Guillermo Vilas, Evonne Goolagong, Boris Becker, Jennifer Capriati, Kim Clijsters, John Isner, Sam Querrey and Karolina Pliskova are just some of the stars who have sported FILA. Two of the four women who now hold Slams, Ash Barty and Sofia Kenin, wear FILA. 

Why all the success?

Drawing on Italian craftsmanship and imagination, using fine fabrics, and deeply committed to sports and performance, FILA is hardly a newcomer. Authenticity matters, consumers know. FILA has long separated itself from others.  Plus, few companies so eagerly support their athletes. And while tradition is in its bones, FILA is always looking to innovate. 

At this year’s US Open, their new aptly-named Heritage Line will be on display. With looks rooted in the brand’s rich tennis fashion history, the line combines contemporary style and strong performance features. Many of the outfits feature improvements that not only make players look good but contribute to on court success. The women’s Racerback Tank features a keyhole cutout to help breathability. The Full Coverage Tank has elastic trim at the neck for comfort and the Cami Tank has an adjustable criss-cross back strapping to ensure good fit.

FILA’s best-selling shoe, the Axilus 2 Energized, boosts performance. Lightweight, flexible and featuring updated outsoles and liners made of anti-slide nylon, it gives players stability without sacrificing comfort, support or style. And style and performance has been what this Italian-born outfit has been all about since a fellow named Bjorn took the sport by storm.

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DUNLOP FX SERIES LAUNCHES

Dunlop is one of the great names in tennis. A major ball manufacturer, Dunlop is the official ball of the Australian Open and top stars from John McEnroe to Steffi Graf and Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson have all used Dunlop.

Known for its innovation and high quality, Dunlop is now launching the FX Series of rackets. In 2018 when Dunlop launched the CX Series (endorsed by Kevin Anderson) it was a fresh take on the classic thin beamed players frame. Full of control and precision, the CX lacked easy power and spin. Introducing the FX Series, Dunlop’s power centric frames that are ready to add weapons to your on-court arsenal.

The FX 500 Tour is the heaviest of the series and will feel most similar to the CX line. At 98 in2 and with a 21-23-22 beam, it is the thinnest and most control oriented of the FX line. Designed for more advanced players who already have full, powerful swings, the FX 500 Tour adds that extra pop when stepping into the court. The 16×19 string pattern allows for plenty of spin potential and the RA of 70 means the racket leans toward a modern, stiffer response on contact while maintaining a classic feel due to the beam width. For a player who loves rackets like the Wilson Pro Staff, Prince Phantom or the Head Prestige but are looking for some extra pop, the Dunlop FX 500 Tour should be on your demo list.

Similar to the Tour version, the Dunlop FX 500 provides power but with more forgiveness than its smaller, heavier counterpart. The FX 500 is 100 in2 and 7pts HL, meaning it still has some whip but offers stability through the air. The beam comes in at 23-26-23 so it doesn’t cut through the air quite as fast as the tour version but results in increased stability when meeting heavy balls. In addition, the 10.6 oz (300 gr) unstrung weight means it doesn’t feel cumbersome. The FX 500 is a solid choice for intermediate to advanced players. The racquet also comes in a light version, called the FX 500 LS, which features the same specs at 10.1 oz (286 gr).

The FX 500 Lite has been designed for those looking to transition for beginner to intermediate, advanced juniors, or someone who is just getting back into the game after a few years off. At 4pts HL and 9.5 oz (269 gr) unstrung, the racket is extremely maneuverable. Its 100 in2 frame is forgiving yet it still has all the technology and features that bring power into the other frames. If you have a solid technical foundation but you’re ready to step up your game, the FX 500 Lite should be on your demo list. 

The final frame in the series, the FX 700 is the most comfortable in the lineup. It still features a modern response at an RA of 70, but it feels much plusher than the numbers suggest. At 107 in2, 9.3 oz (263 gr) unstrung and 3 pts HL, it is the lightest, most balanced and most forgiving option. If you are a beginner who likes the idea of easy power but you don’t want to sacrifice a larger sweet spot, consider demoing the FX 700.

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Now Here’s a COVID-19 Lesson to be Learned – Insurance

Deep within Wimbledon, well below the Royal Box, lies the club’s power epicenter. The All-England Club’s board room abounds with rich mahogany and old-school memorabilia. Anyone lucky enough to penetrate this sacred space would surely sigh: “How quaint, how old school, how out of touch.”

And how wrong they would be. After all, not just in tennis, but in all of sports, only one institution came out of the pandemic smelling like a rose: stodgy old silver-haired Wimbledon. The All-England Club not only had insurance – it had pandemic insurance. Never mind that worms will be the only winners on Centre Court this year, Wimbledon will be pocketing $141 million, or nearly half of their $310 million expected revenue.

Wimbledon’s genius move has brought an important business to the forefront – sports insurance.

In 2003, as the SARS pandemic emerged, Wimbledon bit the bullet and quietly signed up for pandemic insurance. It wasn’t sexy; it wasn’t cheap. Over 17 years they spent $34 million. “What a waste,” critics muttered. Tweedy All-England Club bean counters complained: “Think of all the petunias we could have planted with that annual $2 million premium!”

Now Wimbledon is not only getting huge kudos for their foresight, they have spawned an essentially new industry. Everywhere, sports business executives are turning to that retro product that doesn’t seem to have much value until it has so much value – insurance.

Everyone knows our sport has essentially been wiped out – tourneys cancelled, players sidelined, clubs closed, jobs lost, confidence shattered. As tennis returns, the certainty of uncertainty is clear. Forget the call, “Just win, baby!” Instead, “Who knows?” is now the prevailing mantra heard from half-empty locker rooms to nervous board rooms. A torrent of questions swirl. “Why were we so unprepared?” “How can we protect our sports, our tourneys, our contracts, our talent, our salaries and our money-making ability?” “How can we mitigate risk and maintain our ability to perform?”

This time around there are no excuses. Now tourneys, agents, players, sponsors, federations, brands, media and clubs are turning to BaseLine Performance Finance, a London-based leader in sports insurance.

With access to the world’s largest insurance businesses, like Lloyd’s of London, they offer a wide-ranging array of products that protect tournaments and players alike. The company is steeped in sports business and tennis savvy. Insiders all know Nike grads Mike Nakajima and Ian Hamilton, who are top BaseLine Performance executives and board members. And the chairman, Steve Miller, who’s in a mere four sports halls of fames, is the former head of Global Sports Marketing for Nike and the current CEO of Agassi Graf Holdings. He’s also the former chairman of USA Track and Field.

No wonder he all but sprints out to explain the role of insurance and risk mitigation in a world dealing with event and broadcast cancelations, restructured contracts and devastating income losses suffered by sidelined pros. Miller explains: “Insurance isn’t one-dimensional any more. It has unlimited applications. Most people think of it only in terms of random acts like a hurricane, or protection for your home or car, but insurance is about anticipation, on whatever level or function you apply it to. We use insurance to do what it’s meant to do: essentially protect our clients’ interests while encouraging athletes, teams and their performance success.”

No, BaseLine Performance Finance can’t prevent Serena Williams from suffering a first-round shock upset. And they probably won’t be handing out too many $141 million payouts. But their team is qualified to get you ahead of the financial issues in a brave new pandemic world. For info go to info@baseline-performance.com

See the Light: GEI's LED Lights Are Easy On the Eye, the Environment and the Checkbook

These days many a club owner or manager is saying, “I’ve seen the light.” The reason? GEI’s (Green Energy Innovations’) LED systems, which bring a new clarity and cost-efficiency to indoor and night tennis.

“In my opinion every tennis club and country club in the country is going to have LEDs in the next few years,” says GEI’s Josh Conlin. “From a player’s point of view, it’s the spread and evenness of the light that’s special – it doesn’t make you blink. It’s easy on the eye.”

GEI’s LED lights are also easy on the checkbook. “From a club’s perspective, they are getting instant on-and-off savings,” says Conlin. In NorCal alone, at least 22 clubs and sites have already seen the light about working with GEI.

GEI’s LED lights (left court), in comparison to an older lighting system (right court)

A lifelong player and junior tennis devotee who was just elected to the USTA NorCal’s Board of Directors, Conlin’s Eureka! moment came when talking with fellow players. “Someone said UC Berkeley had LEDs,” he explains. “One of my sons was practicing with a Cal player and I saw those lights. I thought, ‘This is a much better light – this is a huge opportunity.’”

Conlin singles out some local stalwarts for special thanks in his success with installing GEI’s LED systems, including UC Berkeley’s Peter Wright, Dave Houston and DH Distribution, Chip Moreland and Vintage Contractors, Brian Hansen and Saviano Co. Inc. and Jim Thompson of Oakland Hills Tennis Club.

GMs, club directors and tennis lovers have taken quickly to GEI’s GigiTera LED systems for a number of reasons. “Partly, it’s the color, it’s the Kelvin,” says Conlin. “It’s a snow-white, or cool. People don’t want that yellow light. LEDs are better at night.” LED is also literally a lighter light. “The [LED] box is just 44 pounds – technology has advanced,” Conlin notes, adding, “The new lights just blend into the scenery. They’re not as obtrusive.”

To prove his point, Conlin makes frequent visits to sites. “I come out to the club and take your current [lighting] measurements so you know what your current lights do,” he explains. “Then I present a photometriecs report. Nobody else does that. I actually show up.”

Conlin shows up because of his passion for tennis. He’s also committed to the savings that come with switching to greener energy, giving clubs the option of PG&E’s On-Bill Financing program, and offering a 10-year warranty for up to 12-hours-a-day of use.

Recently, GEI’s LED systems lit up an ATP pro event in Fairfield run by Phil Cello. “We received a lot of compliments,” says Conlin. As for the shift from old-school 1000-watt lights to 400-watt LEDs, he quips, “It’s like going from a ten-year-old Honda to a new Tesla.” For info call (415) 518-8862 or go to geiinnovations.com.

Tennis Warehouse presents RACKET REVIEW

By Chris Edwards

Players seeking a great blend of power and control will find the perfect partner in the Babolat Pure Strike 16×19. The racket offers the maneuverability and easy acceleration players enjoy in the Pure Drive and Pure Aero, but the Pure Strike features a lower stiffness level and boxier beam for control. The result is a racket delivering impressive power without sacrificing control and feel. In the Pure Strike 16×19 we feel Babolat has created a great option for the all-court player who likes to add some variety to today’s power game. Best suited to intermediate through advanced level players.

The iconic Babolat Pure Drive just keeps getting better and better. Huge spin and crushing power make this a popular choice with club players through to top pros. This updated Pure Drive features a retooled string bed. FSI Power Technology includes diamond-shaped grommet holes and wider string spacing for even more power and spin. The Cortex dampening system was updated to provide a more dampened feel at impact and mute the natural stiffness of the frame. Perfect for the modern aggressive baseliner who likes free power, our team also found great put-away potential at net for players who are forward-inclined.

Stronger beginners through intermediate players will enjoy a solid blend of power, access to spin and ample control in the Volkl V-Feel 4. The racket’s versatile nature makes it a great choice for all-court players and doubles specialists. At 27.6 inches in length, the V-Feel 4 provides some added leverage for more pace and spin. The 105-square-inch headsize offers a generous sweet spot while the open 16×19 string pattern grabs the ball for added spin and control. Volkl has also improved its handle technology to include a new material called REVA for greater shock absorption.

Volkl has completely revamped its 9 series racket with the Volkl V-Feel 9. This version is all about big power and big spin. A stiff beam construction teams up with an open string pattern to help players maximize big baseline hitting. At net the V-Feel 9 feels solid, with a direct and crisp response at impact. As from the baseline, stronger intermediate through advanced players will find lots of pace and spin available on serves. With its power and spin capabilities, the V-Feel 9 works just as well finishing off a point with a one-two punch as it does trading heavy shots from the baseline.

Known for its hallmark blend of controllable power and feel, the Wilson Blade 98 16×19 Countervail adds a dose of comfort to create a modern classic. Wilson’s Countervail technology is designed to reduce shock and muscle fatigue without sacrificing the feel Blade fans love. At the baseline our testers found access to the big spin and easy depth of modern tennis, but there was still plenty of versatility to allow all-court players to be creative. Players who prefer lighter rackets might find this one tougher to maneuver and should check out the lighter Blade 98S. We recommend this one to stronger players seeking a well-balanced racket with a comfortable response.

The Wilson Ultra 100 lives up to its name, delivering ultra power and spin. A great option for strong beginners all the way to the pro tour ranks, this is a racket that can be fine-tuned by your string setup. Players seeking power and comfort will love the response of the Ultra 100 with a multifilament string like Wilson’s NXT. Add a co-poly string and the racquet becomes a spin monster with ample control for big-hitting advanced-level players. From the baseline to the net, the Ultra 100 feels fast and user-friendly, making it a great all-court option.

Players seeking a fast and easy-to-maneuver racket with solid baseline power will find a great partner in the Tecnifibre TFlash 300 PS. The PS in the racket’s name stands for Power Stab, a convex yoke designed to extend the length of the center main strings for more power, stability and comfort. Our play-testers agreed that the TFlash 300 PS delivered the goods. There was easy depth from the baseline, and the racquet was extremely user friendly. Some higher-level players would have liked a little more feel on volleys, but for other areas of the court the big power and easy access to spin was put to good use.

Yonex hits another ace with the release of the Yonex EZONE 100 (300g). An update to the EZONE DR 100, this racket is loaded with new technologies and offers a firmer, crisper feel. The result is a stable-feeling racket that delivers controllable power. Our testers found the racket easy to get into position even when up against hard-charging opponents. At net the racket delivers ample power for deep volleying while blending a solid feel with easy maneuverability. Touch players may favor the previous DR version, but those seeking power and spin will find this update a better fit.

The Yonex VCORE Pro 97 G builds on the popularity of the Duel G 97. While the two appear similar, a closer look reveals the Pro 97 G has dropped a cross-string (16×19 vs. 16×20) and offers a firmer flex. The subtle changes definitely sparked some magic on court. Better at withstanding big-hitting opponents, the Pro 97 G also provides more depth. Testers loved both the spin and the responsive feel from the racquet. Big hitters can step up to the heavier Pro 97 HG, which brings pro tour mass to every swing, but many intermediate through advanced players will find a great fit from this faster-swinging Pro 97 G.

Successful modern player’s rackets seamlessly combine spin, pace and control in an accessible package. The Dunlop Srixon Revo CV 3.0 does just that. From the baseline our testers immediately noticed the easy pace and spin they were getting. This racket features one technology to stiffen the frame, adding power and stability, while another, more flexible material softens the vibration for more comfort. All in all, the Srixon Revo CV 3.0 impressed our testers and is a great option for intermediate through advanced-level players who prefer user-friendly rackets.

Following a rich heritage of successful and beloved rackets, the Head Graphene Touch Radical MP is the newest stop on the Radical line. Don’t be fooled by the name, though, this newest Radical is loaded with spin and power thanks to a stiffer layup of graphite. That stiffness is complemented by Graphene Touch technology, which noticeably dampens the feel at impact for a plush and comfortable experience. Due to its power and spin potential, this racquet should suit a variety of playing styles and levels, but intermediate and advanced level players who like to take aggressive swings need to give this one a serious look.

The Head Graphene Touch Prestige Tour is an all-new offering in the Head Graphene Touch Prestige line. Weighing in on the lighter side of the Prestige family, the Tour is a user-friendly option and perhaps the easiest entry into swinging a Prestige. Many testers found control and maneuverability to be the racket’s main attributes. In true Prestige fashion, power generation is mostly left to the player. In the right hands (likely stronger intermediate through advanced-level players) the Graphene Touch Prestige Tour lets players swing aggressively and rely on the racket’s excellent control and stability to keep shots on target.

DH Distribution – Tennis Court Equipment & Playmate Tennis Products

Years of experience with Playmate products and a company you can trust. We are your Authorized Playmate Ball Machine Dealer for Northern California. DH Distribution is the Northern California authority in Playmate Ball Machine Parts, Repairs, Service, Sales, and Inventory. We are factory trained “Tech-Reps” and our facility in California is an Authorized Sales and Service Center. (ASSC) We have the most comprehensive selection of Playmate Ball Machine parts online. Our knowledge of past and present Playmate Ball Machines is only second to Playmate (Metaltek). We keep a wide selection of inventory stocked in our Half Moon Bay, Ca. warehouse. Our agents ship parts nationwide usually on the same day of order and can help you with installation and repair questions. Because we care, we can help with your Playmate Repairs. If you have any parts or ball machine repair questions whatsoever, do not hesitate to call. 650-563-9600