Letter to Players from SDA Board Chair Kevin Luzak

DATE:             August 17, 2017
TO:                  SDA Players and Supporters
FROM:            Kevin Luzak, Chair
RE:                  2016-17 Season Recap; 2017-18 Intro

I hope everybody is enjoying the final weeks of summer.  It’s time to start gearing up for the 2017-18 season, which begins on a high note with the Worlds in St. Louis on September 21.

We held our yearend board meeting in mid-July and are finalizing the 2017-18 budget this week.  The 2016-17 season was very successful, as the following metrics and initiatives demonstrate:

  • Tour value was $628,000, comprised of the total purse ($470,000), the pro-am fees ($88,000) and the hotel stipend ($70,000). Adjusted for the purse and pro-am impact of the rotation from the Briggs last year to the Kellner this year, this value level is roughly equivalent to the $707,000 total for the 2015-16 season.
  • We added an event in Buffalo, saw the return of the Creek and Tomkins events, and increased the purse at the Bentley and the Graham Cup. On the negative side, The Toronto Cricket Club did not come back for a second year.
  • Membership now stands at 115, up from 32 at the launch of the SDA. We continue to focus on increasing the size and quality of the professional player pool.  We held our first SDA Combine at the Apawamis Club in June where we introduced 12 elite singles players to the game with the help of four of our experienced doubles pros.  The Combine model proved to be very successful and we intend to repeat it at least once every year.
  • We streamed all but one event live which helped to drive more than 280,000 page views to the SDA website. We began adding commentary at several events this past season and plan to push it out to more events going forward.
  • The SDA continues to maintain its financial strength. Our organization-wide revenues of $136,000 were used to pay for refs, video equipment and streaming, the Combine, support for the now full-ranking Graham Company Cup, bookkeeping and management of the player payroll, and staffing and management fees to US SQUASH.  We retained $8,800 in profit after these expenses.
  • Johnnie-O, a clothing company with which many of you are probably familiar, has joined the tour as a sponsor. We will share the details of this new relationship once we have ironed out the details.  We have also established a partnership with Western Union that will reduce the cost of getting funds wired to players.

This progress and momentum should continue into the 2017-18 season.

  • We are adding a platinum event at Westchester Country Club which will help to offset the temporary hiatus of the Maryland Club during their renovation project and the St. Louis Events who are skipping a year to host the Worlds. We are budgeting a total purse of $525,000 and total tour value of $600,000, which are in line with the previous Briggs season in 2015-16.
  • All events will be streamed, and we have budgeted $3,000 toward enhanced commentary.
  • Working with both Harrow and Johnnie-O, we are developing an online merchandise platform through which we will sell on-court and off-court SDA gear to our supporters.
  • We actively courting two new Canadian sites (Burlington, ON and Vancouver) as well as new leads in San Francisco.
  • In addition to another annual Combine, we hope to put together a Bentley-style invitation event that would pair PSA singles players with SDA doubles players to further develop the pipeline of new talent.

We received the results of the player and sponsor surveys that were distributed at the end of last season.  The feedback is very helpful, and we are going to supplement the surveys and the player calls with a secure online “suggestion box” that will allow much more continuous communication of issues between players and the board.   Please don’t hesitate to use this resource to inform us about any issue, positive or negative, that you feel is important.  We work for you, and we will drive better outcomes in your organization if we know more about what you want.

Thank you all for contributing to our successful past and our promising future.   As always, please do not hesitate to contact me if you want to discuss anything.

Kevin Luzak
Chair
SDA Board of Directors