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Rachel Stuhlmann

The Top Tennis Fashion Collaborations of the Year

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

Earlier this year in February, I published an article entitled “My Tennis Fashion Thoughts.” I discussed the collaborative opportunities that popular designers have within the professional tennis industry, and how such collaborations between players and tennis brands would present a means for players to further express their personalities on the court. Since then, this year has pleasantly surprised me with a number of unexpected collaborations between tennis brands and fashion brands/ designers.

It is evident that this year tennis has shifted to becoming a sport of trends and style. It has drawn attention not just from tennis fans, but from anyone who enjoys fashion and the latest style trends. The success and attention from this year’s collaborations have the potential to propel future ideas and collaborations into motion, forever impacting professional tennis and the tennis culture. Such collaborations would bring more attention and popularity to the game, making it more mainstream and relatable.

In no particular order, here are this year’s top fashion collaborations in the tennis industry.

Adidas x Palace

Created in 2010, Palace has become one of the most sought-after independent British skateboard brands of modern skate culture, and it is now catching fire in the fashion world.  Artists such as A$AP Rocky, Jay-Z, and Drake have all been seen wearing Palace.  Branching off in to the sports industry, Palace collaborated with Adidas to create a line for the 2018 Wimbledon championships.

The collection combines ‘adidas’ tennis player-approved sports technology with Palace’s signature street-ready styles. Featuring a prominent Adidas x Palace logo, it ranges from immensely collectable tennis accessories, such as terry towel visors and wristbands, to the classic staples in the sport like tennis dresses and T-shirts.

Wilson x Supreme

Founded by James Jebbia, Supreme is an iconic streetwear label that has become known around the world by skaters, artists, and collectors. Supreme is also known for its extensive collaborations with top names like Nike, Vans, The North Face, Comme des Garçons, and now- one of the most popular names in tennis- Wilson.

By pairing up with Wilson to release a can of tennis balls, Supreme surprised the skate and fashion industry by doing an uncommon collaboration with actual sports equipment.  I actually have a can, and it looks adorable sitting on the TV stand in my living room.

Wilson x Bape

My favorite collaboration yet.  A popular Japanese clothing brand founded in 1993, the brand specializes in men’s and women’s lifestyle and contemporary street-wear.  The Wilson Tennis and BAPE collaboration includes a camo racquet and a custom co-branded tennis ball.

Lacoste x Supreme

We must not forget that Lacoste was actually created by a French professional tennis player, Jean Rene Lacoste.  Winning seven Grand Slam championships in the 20s and 30s, Jean was nicknamed the “crocodile” because of his on-court style of play.  Earlier this year, Lacoste and Supreme partnered up with a co-branded collection of ’90s-inspired gear like velour polos, nylon tracksuits, and one particularly standout varsity jacket. The collection also features sweats, bags, an array of hats, and even more track jackets and pants.

NikeCourt x OffWhite

In potentially one of the greatest collaborations in professional tennis attire ever, this performance tennis line was designed by mogul designer Virgil Abloh of Off White, and features the performance tennis shoes NikeCourt Flare 2 and limited editions of Nike Air Max 97.  The line also includes a dress for both day and nighttime play symbolizing that of a ballerina (Serena loves ballet), a bomber jacket, and a tennis bag.

Wilson x Forever 21

By doing something almost unheard of in the sports equipment industry, Wilson may have won the general population of trendy clothing bargain consumers with this collaboration.  In summer 2018, Wilson paired up with a hugely popular fast fashion retailer, Forever 21, and launched a large affordable clothing line featuring Wilson embroidered sweaters, tennis skirts and the likes all under $65.

Individual notable player Collaborations:

Novak x Lacoste
Novak Djokovic pairs up with Lacoste in his new line sporting the “values of sporting elegance, tenacity and fair play.”

Uniqlo x Federer
Potentially causing the most drama of the year was Federer parting ways with Nike and signing a hefty deal with a Japanese casual wear designer, Uniqlo.

Top 5 Most Iconic Tennis Performance Shoes Of All Time

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

I have always believed that tennis court shoes have the potential to be as hyped as their basketball counterparts. Tennis, along with basketball, are the only two sports where fashion freedom is allowed in the shoe game. So, why aren’t tennis performance shoes more fashionable?  Why doesn’t Federer have an evolving tennis court shoe line like Lebron? Why don’t professionals such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Nick Kyrgios make their own shoe/shoe lines? The market for tennis performance shoes is perhaps the most untouched fashion market all of sports. Should there be designated terms within players’ endorsement contracts and a greater effort from their agents to obtain collaborations with top designers/brands for their shoes?

Throughout tennis history, a few iconic shoes have stood out. These shoes have all added a sense of style to the game but were each unique in their own way. Check out the top 5 most iconic of all-time below, starting with #5.

#5 - Reebok Court Victory Pump

Michael Chang wore these shoes in the early ’90s. Reebok officially arrived on the tennis performance shoe scene with the release of this shoe. Although I have never owned a pair of these shoes, aesthetically they are one of my all-time favorites. I specifically enjoyed the whole “pump concept.” The Court Victory Pumps were re-released in 2014.

#4 - Nike Court Flare

I love this sneaker because it was inspired by Kobe Bryant’s Elite footwear. Serena Williams brought this shoe to life in 2015. Rarely seen on the tennis court, this sneaker has a built-in ankle cuff. When I first saw Serena wearing the “Vivid Sulfur” pair while she was playing the 2016 Australian Open, I knew I needed to get a pair. I still practice in them to this day; the extra ankle support is great. Last year, Nike and the Jordan Brand created a special edition of this sneaker collection to honor Serena’s accomplishment of making history by winning her 23rd Grand Slam title. This special edition featured the same colorways as the “Banned” Air Jordan 1s with hot pink to match Serena’s US Open outfit.

#3 - Nike Air Tech Challenge 2

Andre put these iconic sneakers on the map when he sported them in the early ’90s. In 2014, Kanye West revived the soul/sole of the Teck Challenge 2 when he used the sole of that shoe for his own signature shoe, the Nike Air Yeezy 2. It is rare to see a pair of high-tops on the tennis court, let alone a pair of shoes with colorways like “Hot Lava” and “Volt Emerald”. I am slightly obsessed with the re-release of this shoe in 2014 which included the ‘Wimbledon Turbo Green” and “Photo Blue” colorways.

#2 - Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid

In potentially one of the greatest collaborations in professional tennis attire ever, this performance tennis shoe was designed by mogul designer Virgil Abloh and features a light-gray mesh with silver sparkles on the heel panel and midsole. There is big text on the inside of the shoe and stitched-on tabs. The branded zip tie is also included. This shoe is one of the most iconic tennis performance shoes of all time because it is more than just a glamorous shoe; it demonstrates the potential for collaborations and fashion freedom in professional tennis attire. In February, I published an article titled “My Tennis Fashion Thoughts” where I discussed the opportunity that popular designers have within the professional tennis industry and how such collaborations would present a means in which players could further express their personalities. The Off-White and Nike collaboration is much more iconic than it might seem on the surface. This could potentially lead to more ideas and collaborations in the future within professional tennis and for other popular designers. Such collaborations would, in turn, bring more attention and popularity to the game and make it more mainstream and relatable.

#1 - NikeCourt Zoom Vapor RF x AJ3 by Jordan

In 2014, Federer teamed up with one of his idols, Michael Jordan, to create his limited-edition shoe for the US Open. This was a collaboration between two of the greatest, most dominant athletes in sports history. This sneaker combined details from both the court shoe Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour and the Air Jordan III. It is made with premium leather, has elephant-print on the sides, and has both RF and Jumpman signature graphics. In 2017, Federer sported the Nike Court Zoom Vapor RF x AJ3 “Fire Red,” the product of another collaboration with Jordan. This is the ultimate combination of a tennis and basketball shoe, and the sleekest, most fashionable performance shoe in tennis history.

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A GRAND OPENING WITH A LEGENDARY CONNECTION

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

Last September, the USTA reached out to me and asked if I would play an exhibition match as part of the grand opening of the East St. Louis Tennis Courts. I decided to call my childhood coach, Craig Sandvig, so I could discuss this opportunity with him.

We met the next day for lunch, and Craig encouraged me to attend this event. Craig also told me that his long-time friend and fellow St. Louis tennis coach, Martin Rogers, would be attending the event as well and that I should introduce myself to him there. Specifically, Craig suggested that I inquire about Martin’s friendship with one of Arthur Ashe’s childhood coaches. I kept Craig’s advice in mind and made it my mission to introduce myself to Martin at the opening.

I cannot discuss Arthur Ashe without discussing the 2002 National Arthur Ashe Essay Contest. When I was 12 years old, I had the good fortune of winning this contest. In doing so, I was given the opportunity to go to the US Open where I was able to sit in the Arthur Ashe Box and attend Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day. Most memorable though, I was able to meet Arthur’s wife and daughter. Even though the civil rights hero and tennis icon had passed on, I felt like I was able to meet a piece of Arthur that weekend. As the grand opening drew near, I thought more about Arthur. I thought about his poise, his many accomplishments, and the barriers that he broke. Finally, I thought about his connection to St. Louis. I knew that Arthur had trained in St. Louis when he was 18
years old, but I did not know what had brought him here. I was excited to learn more from Martin.

The day came for the grand opening, and I made my way over to Lincoln Park. There, right in the middle of the park, were three brand-new, beautiful tennis courts. There was a huge crowd of around 600 people in attendance. The East St. Louis High School band and cheerleaders and city leaders and officials were all present to mark the occasion. It was a celebration. After I played in the exhibition match, I finally had a chance to meet Martin. He was so kind and gave me a hug right away. I told him that I wanted to hear all of his stories about Arthur Ashe and the time that he spent in St. Louis. He began by telling me how Arthur came to St. Louis to complete his senior year of high school at Sumner High School.

Of Arthur coming to St. Louis, Martin says, “African American’s were not allowed to play open tournaments in Richmond, VA, his hometown. He was encouraged by Dr. Walter Johnson, his coach then, to come to St. Louis…and train under the tutelage of Richard Hudlin who taught social studies at Sumner and coached their tennis teams. “The rest (as the saying goes) is history.” Hudlin coached Arthur during his time in St. Louis at the Armory tennis courts (now the site of an abandoned building) located in downtown St. Louis. (Hudlin also has ties to Althea Gibson, the first African American woman to compete on the World Tennis Tour and win a Grand Slam tournament.) These courts were basically a gym floor with lines painted on them and a net separating the sides. Martin told me how his friend coached Arthur during this time in St. Louis, transforming him from a back-court player to a serve and volley specialist.

Photo Credits: Martin Roger. Arthur Ashe in St. Louis a year after winning his first Wimbledon in 1976

When Martin told me all of this, I immediately got chills. The thought of Arthur Ashe developing his game in the city where I grew up had a profound impact on me and I was glad I had the opportunity to attend this event, play in the exhibition match, and play a small role in getting St. Louis excited about the sport of tennis. I can truly say that it was an honor to have been asked to be a part of the East St. Louis Tennis Courts’ ribbon cutting ceremony, and to be the first to play on the courts. I am thrilled with the support and efforts of the Tennis Service Organization in East St. Louis. Now that East St. Louis has courts, I am happy to see that the committee has plans to raise money and work to ensure maintenance, programming, and support for gifted players. Through programs like the Tennis Service Organization in East St. Louis, the USTA, and NJTL, boundless opportunities are being created.

Martin has written an article about Richard Hudlin. I am providing the link below, because Hudlin’s is an incredible story. Martin also shared a rarely before seen picture that he personally took of a young Arthur Ashe seated next to coach Richard Hudlin during a visit to St. Louis a year after he won the 1975 Wimbledon title. Martin gave me permission to share this photo. It is one of my favorite pictures of all time.

ATP Tennis Players and Their NBA Counterparts

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

I like comparing athletes from different sports, whether it be for their athleticism, playing style, or overall personality. The NBA playoffs have been on every evening in my apartment lately. In watching these playoffs, I have noticed many unique skills particular players possess and thought about who these players resemble most on the tennis court.

At random, I chose eight top professional ATP tennis players and compared them to their basketball counterpart.  Below are the similarities between these athletes, including what makes them special, unique, and able to perform at their highest level on the biggest of stages.  If these top-ranked ATP tennis players were NBA players, here’s who they would be and why.

Gaël Monfils – Russell Westbrook

Along with being the most athletic players in their respective leagues, both athletes are extremely aggressive and have a go big or go home game style.  They are also the most exciting athletes to watch in the NBA and ATP.

Nick Kyrgios – J.R. Smith

Smith plays by advice he once received from his father: “shoot every time you get [the ball]. Your shot is better than a turnover. Don’t risk turning the ball over; just shoot it.” Kyrgios has a very similar game style where he seems to go for every shot, no matter how impossible it seems. Kyrgios should take the advice of Smith’s father but should not forget to take into account that an unforced error is similar to a turnover.

John Isner – Andre Drummond

Being 6’10” and having the best serve on tour, Isner is known for keeping points short and looking for the big forehand to end the point. Listed on nba.com as 6’11”, Drummond is a dominant rebounder who is good at finishing around the rim. Similarly, Isner is a dominant server who can crank out a 140mph+ ace when he needs a quick point.

Novak Djokovic – Al Horford

Djokovic and Horford set the standard for overall professionalism and athleticism. Exuding everything solid and clean about their sports, both athletes are also known for making the right play and executing their shots.

Roger Federer – Lebron James

It’s only right. They are the kings of tennis and basketball and are known for execution, domination, and overall greatness. Class acts on and off the court, they will stay the faces of both sports for decades to come and go down in history as the best athletes to play their respective sport. That Federer was seen recently purchasing a pair of the Lebron 8 South Beach shoes, does not weaken this comparison.

Alexander Zverev Jr. – Giannis Antetokounmpo

Zverev’s overall talent level is comparable to Antetokounmpo’s. They both do the burly things a big player can do and the nimble things a smaller player can do, without sacrificing anything for this dual citizenship.

Rafael Nadal – Chris Paul

Both athletes are all-time greats and known for their scrappy style of play. They are also known for being aggressive on the court. Paul is known to carefully create holes in opposing defenses with precise dribbling and meticulous passing angles. Similarly, Nadal is known for his heavy topspin shots, angles, and aggressive game style, but he also has the athleticism to stay patient, work the points, and defend until it’s time to attack.

Stanislas Wawrinka – Damian Lillard

Both athletes are overlooked, but are constantly delivering and performing. Wawrinka is known to consistently make it to at least the quarterfinals of every Grand Slam tournament, while Lillard quietly averages 27 points-per-game and is known to deliver in the clutch.

The Generational Gap in Tennis

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments
THE STORY

The Generational Gap in Tennis

Since the early 2000s, it seems like the world has constantly been adapting to the latest technology trends; specifically different social media platforms, advanced software structures, and up-to-date applications. The leaders and fore fathers who have paved the pathway of the current technology system are now in their 30s and 40s.

The Culture

Keeping this in mind, I want to switch gears and share what the set up of an average tennis club or facility is today. Let me ask you a question: “how often do you see someone in their 30s and 40s working at a tennis facility?” Generally speaking, the director of tennis or club owner appears to have been running the club since it was built. The reliable, solid, experienced older director have had job stability for decades by managing and running these clubs and programs.

On the other side of this, there is another group of workers at these clubs and facilities. This group is the fresh-out-of-college and young tennis pros who spend hour after hour grinding on-court teaching lessons. For these coaches, aside from the occasional raise, there are not a lot of advancement in career options, as the top positions of the facilities are locked out by the club owners and directors I mentioned previously. After realizing this, and becoming burnt out and tired from the taxing hours on court, many pros leave and pick up a completely different career in finance, the family business, or something that offers more stability, potential career advancement, and doesn’t require them to be athletic for 8 plus hours a day.

Technological Advancement

With this tennis work place age gap from the college graduate to the club owner in his 50s, 60s or 70s, and the technology trends all happening in the early 2000s, it seems that the Mark Zuckerberg’s have skipped the tennis industry almost entirely. Tennis has fallen far behind in the potential technological advancement that it could have experienced years ago. We are just now seeing chips being put into to rackets to trace swing speed, shot count, playing patterns etc. We are now seeing new applications come out that offer coaching tips, ways to find people to hit with, and ways to track your playing progress.

Personally speaking, about two years ago, I was head tennis professional at a very nice country club in Sun Valley, Idaho. Every day, I would manually check in every attendant to every clinic in an excel sheet. 

I would also manually bill every single client daily into a separate excel sheet. I would constantly update our handwritten client address book which were sheets in a binder. Frustrated after long coaching days on court, I would complete these excel sheets.

I remember thinking, “It’s 2016! Why am I writing everything down? Is there not a template or program I can easily plug this information in to?” About two months ago, I was contacted by a company called “Courtly”. They explained to me how they are a tennis software company that markets and manages your tennis systems all in one place. Where was this when I was in Idaho? The perfect solution to unorganized and not updated tennis clubs and facilities. I saw an immediate need for this in the tennis industry, and see how much of an impact this management system will have over the entire tennis industry this year.

Clubs and facilities,

need to create a culture,

that motivate younger generations

Specifically speaking, the lost generation in the tennis industry is age 30 to 43. Clubs and facilities need to create a culture and environment that motivates younger generations to get into the tennis business as a long-term career. And it is the responsibility of those currently in the industry to update their “way” of doing things to support smart and talented younger coaches to succeed in the business. This type of adaptation in the business would help the sport to grow overall and attract more young ambitious people to the industry. In order for there to be a better environment and more stability to demonstrate tennis as an attractive career path, industry leaders across the board would have to change their models.

My point is, even though it’s 2018, and all of these technological influences may have gotten a late start to the sport, the tennis industry is changing. It is becoming more advanced, more available, but most importantly more up to date and structured.

Rich Forever: WTA

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

Let me start with a simple fact. Out of any sport,

female tennis players are the richest women athletes in the world..

Have you ever thought about the richest athletes in the world?

When thinking about wealthy athletes, the first thing that comes to mind is baseball players and position football players like quarterback Tom Brady and wide receiver Deandre Hopkins. I also think about standout basketball players like LeBron James and Steph Curry.

Thinking about women getting paid -like REALLY paid- for being an athlete just never crosses my mind (aside from Serena of course). According to an article by Forbes, men make up the entire top ten highest paid athletes, with Roger Federer being the only tennis player. After reading this article, I started to think, who are the top ten wealthiest female athletes in the world? A brief flashback of watching Sloane Stephen’s holding up her 3.7 million dollar check for winning the 2017 US Open crossed my mind. Hands down, women’s tennis players are the highest paid female athletes in the entire world.

According to Forbes, eight out of ten of the highest paid female athletes in the world are tennis players. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova take spots one and two, while Rhonda Rousey and Danica Patrick come in third and fourth. The fifth through tenth spots is made up entirely of top-ranked tennis players.

The difference between the highest paid female tennis player from the highest paid female athletes from other sports are extreme. For example, Serena Williams made 3.7 million for winning the 2017 Australian Open. The highest paid WNBA player, Nneka Ogwumike earns a yearly salary of $95,000. To break it down even further, the average WNBA salary is $72,000 followed by the average professional soccer league: $27,400. Women’s salaries from other sports are not even worth an honorable mention in this article.

What stands out to me the most is that every woman on the Top 10 Forbes list plays an individual sport. I am convinced that if you are a young female with aspirations to make significant money playing a sport, individual sports is the route to go. There is no salary cap, which means that an individual sport athlete can increase their wealth with no limitation on the prize money they earn. It is all dependent on their winning results.

I am not trying to paint this beautiful picture where if you declare professional in the sport of tennis you are going to be happily rich forever. I’m saying that even though the opportunity for a tennis player to earn over 3 million dollars are only 7 wins away at a Grand Slam, the level of difficulty it takes to successfully win on tour and make a living is incredibly difficult. Remember, there is only one tennis tour; ATP for men, and WTA for women. There is no separate league or opportunity like football where they offer Canadian or Indoor Football to players who do not play NFL, and there are not any overseas teams or leagues offered like basketball or volleyball.

Every serious tennis player who wants to play is trying to make it on the one single tour. When I was in college, I had a discussion with one of my coaches about going pro. We had a serious talk about the pros and cons and what it would take to make the best decision. We started to talk about the financial stability of a professional tennis player and he told me an astounding statistic. He stated that the 114th ranked female tennis player in the entire world is where she breaks even between earnings and expenses. That means that without the endorsements and sponsors, and after paying all of her expenses such as coaches, travel, etc, she is not making any money.

At the end of the day, if you want to be an incredibly wealthy female athlete, training and setting goals to be a top fifty player on the WTA tour is the way to go.

My Tennis Fashion Thoughts

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

In the only sport where a uniform is not required, why is it that tennis players are not more fashionable on court?

I think my love for tennis fashion started in 2007 when I was in 6th grade. I begged my mom to buy me the Nike Air Zoom Revive tennis shoes. The shoes were epic. They came with replaceable soles. The bottom of the shoes could be removed and replaced with another color. I had four different colors that I would alternate between, and I would coordinate these with whatever outfit I wore. I also remember being obsessed with every outfit Serena wore and saving enough money to buy Sharapova’s pomegranate perfume.

Now, I know that sponsorship deals play a very significant part in a tennis players salary. But if I was on tour, I would take a unique strategy to express my own individual personality. I would force my agent to reach out to my favorite designers. Why don’t designers like Gucci or Supreme or Off-White make outfits for tennis players? Why doesn’t MCM make tennis bags? Would it actually bring more value to the game for players to have spaces in their contracts for collaborations with different brands and designers?

To me, one of the coolest tennis fashion moments was when Michael Jordan created the Nike Zoom Vapor RF AJ3s for Roger Federer to wear at the 2016 US Open. Also, at last year’s US Open, Pharrell Williams collaborated with Adidas to make outfits for the Adidas sponsored players. This kind of collaboration between mogul celebrity and athlete is something I want to see more of. I used to like how Berdych had a unique sponsorship with H&M and would wear their clothing on court.

Changing the game like this breaks all barriers of the tradition of the classic sport of tennis. But, it’s time- it’s 2018. This is the decade of “athleisure” and casual sporting attire. I mean look, FILA (originally a tennis brand) has made a huge come back. It’s time to let players express themselves and their own personal style on court. I’m tired of seeing players wear the exact same outfit across the court from each other at high level tournaments. Where is the unique personality of the players? Maybe it’s too much to ask the players to drop their basic sponsorships and wear whatever they want. But what if high end designers and clothing brands started making custom made pieces for the players on tour?

In a sport where you can have your own personality, completely separate from the rest of the other players, why not express yourself? I respect players like Dominica Cibulkova and Michael Mmoh who appreciate fashion off the court. You can see Cibulkova off the court sporting Valentino dresses and Mmoh sporting Off-White apparel.

Tennis fashion has come a long way but why not take it further. Think about it, in the early 1900s, male players were seen and required to wear all white long pants and collared button up shirts. Women were required to wear ankle length skirts, lace corsets and the occasional pullover fur. Flash forward to the 80s and 90s where Agassi’s rebellious ensembles drew attention to the game. My favorite outfit of all time was Agassi’s 1990 US Open look against Pete Sampras. With highlighter yellow Nike biker shorts under a pair of short shorts, a coordinating Nike collared zip up and headband to match, he brought his unique wild style to the court. Agassi also rocked a pair of hoop earrings.

How fun was that to see something different from the average white button up and shorts? I also used to love the early 2000s Rafael Nadal look with the sleeveless Nike muscle shirt and Capri shorts complete with the bandana to match. One of my favorite women’s outfits was Serena’s 2002 Us Open Puma skin tight, catsuit-like spandex shorts and matching top. I also loved her 2004 US Open outfit. She was seen sporting a denim tennis skirt; black, crop tank; and black, knee-high Nike socks; with black shoes to match.

I want to see more personality on court. Individuality. I feel like the last time anyone really talked about a tennis player’s on court fashion style choice was during the 2010 French Open, where Venus Williams was seen wearing a lacy black dress with what looked like a red corset out lined into the dress, almost resembling lingerie. Under the dress she wore a pair of skin colored spandex. I remember her receiving criticism for the outfit, but I loved it. Her 2010 see-through sequined US Open dress also did not allure much to the crowd. But again, I loved it. Not just because of how it looked, but because she was expressing her personality through her style on court and outfits that she designed herself. Her 2011 Australian Open outfit had unique cutouts in the midsection. Now, Venus is an anomaly, as she designs all of her own outfits with her clothing brand EleVen. Nick Kyrgios almost has the idea and expresses himself with unique hair cuts and spandex tights under his shorts.

I want to start seeing tennis players express themselves through their on-court fashion, because they can. Look at NFL players. They can only go as far as wearing a pair of cleats with designs and drawings that they had hand painted on for them. Look at baseball players, they might be able to wear an extra chain or two. Look at basketball players. Aside from their shoe choice, they might be able to wear an arm sleeve. If I was playing at Indian Wells in a couple weeks, in an ideal world, I would wear a Moschino t-shirt dress with a pair of Nike Pro Combat Shorts underneath. And Lebrons for the wheels. I’d figure out a way to make them work. Players today should too.

US Open Recap

By Rachel Stuhlmann No Comments

Hey everyone! I just got back from my New York City trip, and cannot wait to share all of my experiences with you. I am writing a series of 3 columns for this trip! Here is the first one, I hope you enjoy!

13 Years Later

My mom first signed me up for my first tennis lessons through Sunset Tennis Center in St. Louis when in kindergarten. A coach there, Craig Sandvig, saw me practicing and talked to my mom about coaching me. Craig became my childhood coach and lifelong mentor. I remember when I got to practice one day when I was 12, Craig gave me a cut out of a newspaper article. The article said something like “NJTL Arthur Ashe Essay Contest win a free trip to the US Open!” I remember right away not wanting to write it.  But Craig was persistent and asked me every practice if I had submitted my essay. After I finally wrote my essay on why “Arthur Ashe is a sports legend”, I submitted it. A week later, I received a phone call from the NJTL organization saying that my essay had been chosen as the winning essay and to pack my bags for a trip to the US Open.

It was an all-expense paid trip for two (I brought my dad) to the 2004 US Open. Along with going to the US Open, hanging in the Arthur Ashe suite, and attending Arthur Ashe Kid’s Day, we received tickets to a Mets game, tickets to the Broadway play Beauty and the Beast, and a ferry tour around New York City. I met some amazing people that trip and I remember being inspired by the atmosphere. Sitting in the suite, I remember feeling overwhelmed with the feeling of being on center court. I remember thinking how cool it was to play such a fun sport and be at such an amazing event. I watched Donald Young who at the time was “up and coming”, Andy Roddick, Maria Sharapova, Mary Pierce, and many other players. Fun fact: Roger Federer ended up winning his first US Open title that year.  Perhaps the most memorable moment for me of the whole trip was meeting Arthur’s wife, Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe. I remember thinking she was one of the prettiest, most graceful women I had ever seen. When I met her, I gave her a picture I had drawn of Arthur. She sent me a thank you note after the trip that I still have. If you do not know the story of Arthur Ashe, I urge you to read about him, and learn about all of the amazing qualities he had and stood for. Throughout my life and career, I have tried to use him as an example to me on discipline, hard work, and courageousness.

It took me 13 years later to finally make it back to the US Open. This time I did not need to win an essay contest. My trip consisted of attending the New Haven Open, the WTCA conference, and the 2017 US Open. After spending two entire days on site at Flushing Meadows, I thought to myself “why did it take me 13 years later to come back here?” The US Open is different from anything I have ever experienced in the tennis world, and I am going to make it a point in the future to return every year. I have played in many different places and tournaments and attended many different professional tournaments. It is safe to say that nothing compares to the environment, the energy, and the overall magical feeling of being at the US Open. A couple nights ago, when I was sitting on center court at the US Open watching Roger Federer take on young American Frances Tiafoe, I had that same overwhelming feeling I had when I was 12. How lucky am I to be involved in such an amazing sport that has shaped my life and taught me so much!