Coastal Point - Pickleball Points

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Delaware & First State Pickleball Club Shine at National Senior Games

First State Pickleball Club let everyone know that Delaware was ready to mix it up with anyone.  There were several teams that need to be singled out:

Pearl Morris and Diane Milam placed 6th place in the Women's Doubles 55-59. 

Marion Lisehora and Judy Lang placed 4th place in the Women's Doubles 80-89.  

Rick Bell and Bob O'Malley ended up in 4th place in Men's Doubles 55-59.

Georgia Billger and Delia Wan placed 5th place in Women's Doubles 65-69

Georgia Billger also placed 8th place in Mixed Doubles 75-79.

Georgia Billger took Gold in Women's Singles 75-79

Marion Lisehora took Gold in the Mixed Doubles 85-89!

 more about you.

How Important Are Performance Paddles?

Allow me to relate a true story from my tennis past that I think has some application to pickleball today in Delaware.

I was working for Wilson recruiting World Class players from around the world to play with Wilson. Those conversations would normally include questions about what each player felt they needed for their game, and then some recommendation as to a specific model, a specific string, and a specific range of tension.  This was their profession, their life, and these were serious conversations.

On this particular occasion, we were at the location for the US Tennis Open.  John Newcomb was on the nearby practice court and playfully trying to throw off my conversation.  John was playing with a cheap aluminum racket for which he was paid a ton of endorsement money.  While  devilisly smiling at me, he was actually taking his racket and standing on it to straighten it while I was doing my bit on the sidelines with these other players.  

The truth is, and he would prove it that year, that John could then play with anything. His eyes, reflexes, and body allowed him to hit every ball dead center in his racket. 

But our eyes are no longer that good, nor our reflexes, and our legs don't allow us to get in position for every shot, nor do we have the upper strength to manage off center hits or generate necessary speed.  That is the plain and ugly truth.  Never mind that the flight  of the pickleball is like baseball's 'Screw Ball.'   So today, we need performance paddles more than ever! Different designs and materials allow us to do different things with our paddles, and hopefully the paddle of your choosing will allow you to compensate for those deficiencies given us by Mother Nature.  

I have an entire bag of hitting demos of Pro Lite paddles for players to use in helping decide what they might need for their game.  Pro Lite prides themselves on building different paddles for different requirements.  And Pro Lite has a stable of the very top players using their product just like I did at Wilson. Pull me aside, or email me, and we can arrange for you to play test these various samples. 


The "Better?" Pickleball Player

Steve, Dom, and Mike out of range.

There is something that I must get it off my mind,

Because so many who play this game are kind, 

The novice wants to improve their pickleball game,

And the real better players want to do the same, 

In our sport they are expected to mix and play down,

At least two or three games, with a smile, not a frown. 

There are some who think themselves above this chore,

And they express it as if it as tedious, a snore and bore.

How else is the novice expected to learn this great game,

Unless they are challenged with a higher rated guy, or dame.

Truth be told, some of the "better players" are not that good,

Novice, that is the very first thing that has to be understood,

Their greatness is between their ears, in their head,

While they charge around the court, with feet of lead,

The novice should just practice, and become very good,

Then  beat the pants off them, regardless of their hood

So get moving, drill, condition, and do your own thing,

Then beat those "Better Players" and make it sting, 

It wont take that long to practice, drill, and get better,

Before you send them their Retirement letter!

"The Baron", "The Sultan of Swat"

Equipment Does Make A Difference

Saving Chris & the first ever Chris evert Autograph

 I am not sure how many in the Pickleball community believe equipment counts. I do know  from some of the Questions I am asked would suggest little, or less. In fact some of you folks tell me the craziest stuff about paddles as if I know nothing.   

If you are a sometimes player with less than ten games a year in your plans, it doesn't much matter what you use.  But if you are like most Pickleball players that I know, playing ten hours or more a week, equipment can be very important. If you are watching ten hours of TV a week, I am sure you are not using a Westinghouse manufacturered in 1956.  The cost of a performance paddle spread over  a thousand hours of enjoyment is a matter of cents. 

Shoes. Use shoes with soles for tennis courts. Other type shoes don't give you enough ankle support for quick changes of direction on the Pickleball court.  Thus the backward fall, if you are lucky, on your butt, not your head. New Balance, who makes a great shoe with a wider toe box, gives members of First State Pickleball Club a 15% discount on court shoes.  

Clothing. Dress in layers in the winter, light colors to reflect the sun in the summer. New wicking sport clothes help pull the moisture away from the skin which is important on cold windy days, and in the summer when cotton shirts begin to weigh more than you.  Nike, Under Armour, Reebok all have company stores here where you can buy performance clothing  at reasonable prices. 

Body Weight. I am aware how so many people handicap themselves by packing on thirty extra pounds. It is nice of you to spot your opponents this weight advantage, but a healthier alternative is to lose weight and then stick 30 pounds of potatoes in your compression shirt and shorts to give them the sporting advantage. While hopefully living longer. 

Paddles. OK, now you are in my wheelhouse. After forty years developing, designing, marketing, and selling tennis rackets made of the same materials as current day Pickleball paddles, I can help players understand which combination of materials would most assist their game styles. Pay attention - Just because someone a month ahead of you in the learning curve likes a certain type paddle does not mean it is going to help your game. 

Paddle Weight. Hundreds of women have told me they like very light paddles with very thin handles.  When they tell me this, I can't help but mentally say to myself, "Why not play with a feather?"  Of course, the answer is a feather is too light to hit the ball. But when does a paddle pass the feather weight and  have enough weight or hitting power?  If the paddle is too light, and not designed to enhance swing weight, then the ball simply drops short and the shock of the impact with the ball at impact lends itself to a sore shoulder.   

Yes, sore shoulder. The composition of the core of your paddle and the material in the face dictates how much power and control you can expect from your paddle. The treatment of the material on the face, as well as the uniform application of adhesive between the core and face can affect trueness of flight and spin control.  A poorly designed paddle can send shock to your arm. 

Thin handles.  Tennis rackets traditionally had large handles, and it wasn't until new space age materials allowed the tennis companies to expand the sweet spot, that smaller handle sizes came into vogue.  The smaller the sweet spot, or the more you hit the pickleball off center, the more twisting of the paddle at impact.  As it twists, it puts the ball in an unintended flight pattern. That is why I have beefed up my handle, to reduce twisting on off-center hits. And when you have thirty pounds of potatoes stuffed in your clothing, you frequently don't get off the mark quickly enough to hit a true on-center volley. 

Materials:  A good test is to drop a quarter onto your current paddle and compare it to the same test with a performance paddle.  A quarter for your thoughts?  The loud noise resulting from the quarter dropping on a cheaper paddle at impact is the same shock that runs into your elbow and shoulder creating pain in your elbow, arm, or shoulder. Ten hours of that a week will eventually wear on your arm. 

The word "Composite" comes from the adhesion of two facings onto a core.  People say to me frequently, "Is this Graphite, or a Composite?"  A Composite can have, or not have, graphite facing.  It might be called a Graphite Composite, or a Fiber Composite.  The various cores joined up with the various facings in different materials account for the multitude of paddles out there.  Insist on a Polymer core which was designed specifically for pickleball to reduce noise. The side benefit is a more controlled shot because dwell time of the ball on the paddle is longer.  

If your flavor is "Graphite", then Insist on Fiber Carbon which is from the higher performance spectrum of graphite.  Understand that graphite gives you more "Pop", more Power.  The trade off is normally accuracy, but that can be improved somewhat by a Polymer Core. 

If your flavor is "Fiber", then make sure your paddle has fiber that has been enhanced for spin.  The trade-off for power is control, and as you improve you learn that Pickleball is more of a control game than power game.   

Paddle Face Design.  The one other ingredient is the shape which dictates to a certain degree Sweet Spot and the effective Swing Weight of a paddle. The sweet spot Is not just North and South, but East West.  For the same reason you don't want too thin a handle, you want a paddle with a big sweet spot to hit that ever illusive pickleball that dances around as it slows.   

Pickleball Paddle Companies.  I selected Pro-Lite because they have such a good presence among the professional men and women players. Having once been responsible for recruiting the top world class tennis players, I was drawn to Pro-Lite because I know first hand how meaningful the comments are from these players about playability.  Quality and performance stem directly from them.   I introduced the Chris Evert Autograph tennis racket which was the first  designed for women. I gave some of the design considerations we faced with that to Pro-Lite who has now introduced the Groove, the first paddle designed for women. 

I normally keep a bag full of demo Pro-Lites for you to try, so give me a yell. Normally, I have a Pro-Lite shirt and cap to help you identify me.

Bay Colony. "Just pickleballing in the rain, what a wonderful feeling to pickleball in the rain"

Pickleball Paddle Construction & Materials

Call 410-641-7052

October 7, Friday, 3:30, Vaughn will do a pickleball product clinic at Ocean Pines spiced with some of my tennis stories from the 1970s.


It is September 10,  1973,  finals day at the US Open in tennis. Jan Kodes is to play John Newcomb.


Jan played with Wilson tennis rackets and the Victor gut I gave him which I marked with the famous red W dye.  The morning before the finals of the US Open, he made a deal with VS, a French gut company, and they put their string in and put VS on the strings. Wilson sends me around the world to tournaments to make sure the red w is on the strings when a billion people around the world watch the finals.  As he starts his practice routine about an hour before the match, the VS gut started to fray on his favorite racket which was perfectly strung. I get word that Jan wants me at the practice court where he subsequently  tells me his confession. He asks if I will restring all of his other rackets with Victor just like he likes them, but patch up his favorite that has the VS on the strings. I agree, have it patched, and then do the work on an artist to turn VS into a W. Newk wins in five sets.  When I return to Wilson, I get accolades but one of the marketing guys makes a comment that I must have been drinking beer when I applied the red W to his strings. 


The Pickleball Product Clinic.  It is about paddle construction, materials, and benefits of various constructions. 

Vaughn Baker will be doing a special pickleball paddle construction clinic at Ocean Pines at 3:30 PM at the community house at Ocean Pines. The date, Friday, October 7.

Baker follows Frank Creamer's one hour newbie Beginner clinic from 2:30 to 3:30.  It will be fun for Baker to return to Ocean Pines as he was the first tennis pro there.  There is no charge for Frank's beginner  "Newbie" clinics or the product clinic.  

The whole idea is to explain the playability differences between different constructions to help pickleball players select their next paddles. 

To drive home the importance of product differences, Baker will bring some prototype tennis rackets from the 70s and several used by Jimmy Connors. 

You can call the OP Community Center at 410-641-7052 for more info. 

With Pete Rayner practicing in slow motion

Short video playing Pickleball with a GoPro strapped on my cap.

The story behind the Jimmy Connors Jr. T2000

Jimmy Connors

There can be a number of reasons that a company like a Spalding or Wilson Sporting Goods might introduce a new product.  Sales might request a price point, marketing might identify an underserved consumer group, or Engineering might create new technology, etc. 


But I was involved in one of the strangest new product introductions. As I was trying to figure out how Wilson Sporting Goods should go to the European market,  I made a sales call on the large department store chain in Spain, Corte Ingles, and presented Wilson’s new World Class aluminum racquet.  There wasn’t anything special about the World Class but it gave me an opportunity to get in front of the top executives and listen to what they wanted in a tennis racket.  Because I represented the American leader in tennis rackets, and our distributor was a heavyweight in Spain,  the president of the entire department store chain agreed to see me. 


After the cat & mouse game of presenting the product, and the tennis buyer asking the obligatory questions, the president politely said, “Thank you Mr. Baker, but we Spaniards are a small people and need smaller racquets.”  Immediately I said, “Then you need to have the Jimmy Connors Junior T-2000” and asked permission to use the telephone on the president’s desk.  I called our factory manager, a fellow who had built NFL Footballs, Wilson Baseball Gloves, Wilson Basketballs, and Wilson Golf Clubs.  “Ray, how many Junior Jimmy Connors racquets do you have?” Of course, his response was “What are you talking about Baker?” 


Fortunately, I was not on a speaker phone, and with questioning like, “you know, the 26 inch racquet with the green and orange head cover …. Ray said, “Baker, confirm that you are building this racket as we speak.”  The call ended with something like “he found them, but we can’t sell you more than a 1000 because the others are promised.”  And with that, Wilson gained the first major distribution foothold for the factory on continental Europe

Marketing - Pickleballs to Tennis Balls

Pickleballs do not come in a container, and at these prices, the manufacturers certainly could afford a container.  When I say this, I am sure the reader reflects on three tennis balls in a pressurized can for just a little more than one pickleball.  The tennis ball can actually cost more than the three tennis balls that it contained.  But tennis balls did not always come in cans, but in boxes and here is an interesting story for marketing folks.


I introduced canned tennis balls to Europe.  I’m sure you thought tennis balls came in cans since at least Henry VIII.  Tennis balls in Europe were traditionally produced in the early spring and then boxed for that season’s consumption.  Boxed balls were obviously cheaper to produce, and the European producers quietly paid large endorsement fees to the European Tennis Federations who subsequently required that they be used in all sanctioned tennis events events. It was always about the money, never the players. 


So I arrived in Europe with the mandate to sell canned Wilson Balls and performance tennis rackets.  I made myself known to the European tennis federation officials and they convened a meeting..  No doubt they had a prior meeting because when I was invited into their meeting room the good ole boys tried to run over me with a road grader.  Wilson had little presence in Europe but still was the largest tennis company in terms of sales in the world.  In very stilted English, their leader said,  “Herr Baker, this is what you are going to pay to sell tennis balls, and this is what you are going to pay to sell tennis rackets.”  The cost per ball for their approval was significant, perhaps the equivalent of $1.50 per ball, which ultimately would have to be paid by the German tennis player.  It wasn’t to be discussed, it wasn’t to be negotiated, it was to be accepted.  The board had spoken. 


But too many horses had been traded over the twelve generations my people had lived on the Eastern Shore, so I just sat there and looked in succession at each one of the half dozen preening tennis officials.  I said nothing for the longest time, and then looked at their leader, “Boys, Wilson is not going to play by your rules.”  I started to get up, and they must have thought it was a negotiating ploy. His English suddenly improved, and he inferred we could of course discuss the number.  I said something like, “We are so far apart, and I can see you care nothing for the European tennis players.  We at Wilson do, and that probably accounts for our success.  I politely shook the hand of each person and left the room, never to return. 


I had anticipated how this might play out, and considered my options. All Europeans, at least those with the disposable income to vacation, vacationed in the south of Europe.  That summer, I made a point of visiting all the better tennis facilities and making sure our distributors sold them the new Wilson canned tennis ball. The Wilson product was far superior to the boxed European balls, especially by August when the European ball had been around hot store rooms for four or five months.  The Wilson ball fresh when it was opened, and it was significantly less to buy than the inferior ball for sanctioned events players had to buy.  Irate tennis players returned from the south of Italy, France, and Italy and demanded the canned balls, and the chairman of the tennis ball committee slipped away into the shadows. They have been playing with canned tennis balls ever since. Those balls, late in August, on red clay, were, in my opinion, the reason for different styles of play in those years.  The better product always wins, but it took the European consumer to demand canned tennis balls, which they can get from any retail location today.


But I do vividly remember going to the Tennis Club of Monte-Carlo.  The club had hosted several celebrity tournaments which were filmed and presented  in America, and in those shows they called it the best tennis club in the entire world.  I walked around the club, and it was indeed beautiful looking out across the Mediterranean Sea.  Their were plenty of courts and they were well maintained, and the pro shop was well kept and had some of the latest tennis racket technology.  After checking everything out, I asked to meet the manager who was quite gracious when he learned I was the (non-arrogant) muckety-muck from Wilson.  He invited me into his office and ordered a coffee to share with him, then we spoke.  I explained how very much I liked his club, the location, the groundskeeping, the shop, and that I agreed that it was “almost the best tennis club in the world”.  He corrected me immediately and said the claim was that they were the best club in the world.  I looked at him and said, quite seriously, “How can it be the best club in the world if it doesn’t have the latest state of the art tennis ball?”  He quickly replied that that was but an oversight that would be rectified. I laughed and said, “Then, it will no doubt be the best tennis court in the world.”  His success with the new caned ball was so great that the entire wall of the pro shop was stacked with Wilson tennis balls the next time I visited. 


Photo of the wonderful story about Marion in this week's Coastal Point.

Rick Bell teaching the patience required in a dink to people who moved here to get out of the "Fast Lane".

Jimmy Parker - Ties all time record .... 125 National titles

Jimmy Parker

There was a "Draft" before there was "No Draft".  Some of us volunteered.  Jimmy Parker and I were both volunteers, and fortunately spent several years at Langley AFB.  Jimmy was a C-130 pilot and I was in the F106 outfit. When possible we had a chance to practice. The first year I met Jimmy, he had just beaten the top player in the country, Stan Smith.  Smith would go on to become World Champion. Unlike many of the top players who were aloof, Jimmy was always the polite fellow next door type.
Think about his record. He just won his 125 National Tennis Championship.  Not 125 tournaments, not 125 wins, but 125 titles!  So it is with pride I insert this recent press release:
Jimmy Parker, world-renowned tennis legend, USPTA Master Professional, and pro emeritus at Santa Fe Tennis and Swim Club in Santa Fe, recently tied retired professional tennis player Bob Sherman’s all-time record of 125 USTA National Championships. The victory came when Parker and his son, Christopher, won the finals of the Super Senior Father/Son National Championship in Cherry Hill, NJ, against number one seeds Michael and Andrew Stewart, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5. 
Recovering from major knee surgery, Jimmy was not ready to play in the USTA National Indoor Singles Championships. Instead, his impressive come-from-behind win transpired at the Super Senior Father/Son National Championships. When fully healed, Jimmy hopes to take the court at the 2016 USTA Men's 70 Grass Court Championships in August, and the USTA Men’s 70 National Clay Court Championships in October, where he will have the opportunity to secure a 126th win, which would give him exclusive possession of the all-time record. 

The rest of the Chris Evert Autograph story:

Chris Evert

Neil, the “third shot”  and “wind” specialist from that wonderful Ocean Pines complex, where incidentally I was the first tennis pro, asked me the status of the Chris Evert racket after I hit and did a complete flip over the net.  Neil, never ask me a tennis story unless you are ready to lean back and have a beer with me.  The first ever Chris Evert racket cracked badly! That racket was taken to O’Hare airport by one of the Wilson engineers and flown in a first class seat from Chicago to Miami where I met it at 2 AM.  I drove up to Fort Lauderdale and slept in my car until the tv crew arrived at 5 AM.  We still had a half day of shooting remaining,  so Chris had to use her Billie Jean King Autograph in most of the remaining filming, and the editors had their work cut out for them. Chris later gave me one of her Wilson advisory photographs with the following comments, “Thanks for breaking my first ever Chris Evert Autograph.”  There was no mention of her head, or why my voice was suddenly higher. 

Radio plays Print at Sea Colony in Pickleball

Bob Steele, WGMD, 92.7

The Pickleball community turned out in force to participate in the first Sea Colony Tennis Resort Pickleball Exhibition and Beginner's Clinics.  Sea Colony is one of the top ten tennis resorts in America, so we were honored to be invited to hold our exhibition. The highlight event of the exhibition was the competition between Coastal Point represented by Tripp Colonell and WGMD represented by Bob Steele. Steele teamed with Bill Smallbrook and Colonell with Rick Bell, both multiple Gold Medal Winners.  Who won?  The American people won because we have free press and responsible organizations like WGMD and Coastal Point. Support them, they support the Pickleball community. Photos by R. Chris Clark.

Chocolate or Vanilla

Pro-Lite - An entire product line

Composite Pickleball Paddles

So you have a composite paddle. What is a composite?  Composites allow the manufacturers to make paddles lighter, more maneuverable, with more ball control, and reduced shock.  Think of it this way.  Composites are like ice cream. Some are better than others, some are filled with air, while others have the real ingredients.  There are definite advantages and disadvantages to each type of composite facing.  The trick is getting the flavor and quality you like.

If composites are like ice cream, then the type core is like the cone that holds ice cream. It is the core that allows incredible strength to weight ratios.  Different cores influence control, vibration, noise, and longevity. Nomex, a specialized honeycomb paper, aluminum honeycomb, or the new polymer honeycomb especially developed  for Pickleball paddles all react differently in how they influence playability. 

This is the reason the more established companies, like Pro-Lite,  offer a range of paddles, for differing player styles. Appreciating these differences is why you want to participate in a clinic with different paddles. 

The latest technology features the very best carbon fiber adhered to much denser polymer cores. Of course, sloppy workmanship sandwiching the composite facing to the core is another factor. Pro-Lite offers five year "no dead zone" guarantees.

Chocolate or Vanilla?  Contact us to request a Triple Demo..

"Son, you are a good athlete, get a job in sports."


My father told me it would be good to become an executive in the sporting goods industry.  He suggested I find a non stressful job where I could continue to play a lot of tennis. Here are excerpts from three months of my 1982 travel diary just as written except for where I added italic to explain in more detail:  (If in a hurry, drop to Apr 26.)


Jan 25. A 1:20 flight to JFK for a 5:30 to Germany. Met Mal XXX at airport and he joined me. After arrival, I rented a car and we drove to Eindhoven, Holland and got a hotel. I rented a Fiat Panda which would not go above 40 miles per hour on the slightest hill, and meanwhile cars on the autobahn flashed past well in excess of 100 miles an hour.

Jan 26. Met Wil Van Megan at his office, and we visited MIFA aluminum factory.

Jan 27. Toured several of the Reitorn factories. They could make rackets in one factory, head covers in another, hang tags in a third, and ball machines Ina fourth. 

Jan 28. Dropped Mal off at Amsterdam Airport, and got a hotel. A fellow named Huub picked me up and took me to his offices. He handled Slazenger and interested in American sport socks.

Jan 29. I realized I had left an entire drawer of clothing back in Eindhoven so drove back to hotel and had a hard time convincing housekeeping that the clothes in the room were mine. I drove to Düsseldorf in Germany and got lost in the city central with so many one way streets but finally found my hotel.

Jan 30. I drove to Leverkusen and met a young man at his tennis shop to see his stringing operation. Afterwards, I made cold calls on several other shops. I have been ill for sixteen days with this cold/ flu just dragging myself from meeting to meeting.

Jan 31. I drove to Frankfurt and then in and around the city central trying to find a hotel. Ernst and Eva Ressner came over to hotel to chat. Afterwards, I had dinner alone in an ordinary restaurant 

Feb 1: I visited some shops in Frankfurt and then drove to Wiesbaden where I met John Denard after visiting several more tennis shops. Great disappointment that my German distributor, Lorenz Kainbacker, is not gaining more Prince distribution. Afterwards I drove to Offenbach to see a luggage distributor about Hartmann luggage. Once again, I got lost returning to Frankfurt. 

Feb 2: I changed travel plans and decided to fly to Paris and stayed at the Mayfair. Weather was great and Paris beautiful. I was having an early dinner near the Arc de Triumph and the restaurant employees treat me terribly. I noted a painting on the wall of the Arc just after it was built, and the entire area was just fields. Buy land! 

Feb 3: I visited Maurice Attal in the morning who is a distributor of various sports products. We had lunch and it is here I got food poisoning. My stomach was on fire. I went to hotel and tried to sleep it off.

Feb 4: I felt slightly better in morning so decided to visit Christian Cavelli, my Prince distributor and we worked together all day discussing next steps of the brand in France. Afterwards, I stopped by the ATP Association of Tennis Professionals offices to say hello to Paul Sevlich who heads up Europe. 

Feb 5: I have had it with first the flu and then food poisoning for three weeks and decide at 11:45 AM to return home. Rush rush but I made it to my flight with eight minutes to spare. It was an OK flight home.


Feb 22. I flew to Boston and then changed planes for England. Jim Noyes of Etonic golf shoes was on my flight do we sat together and talked crossing the Atlantic. 

Feb 23. Arrived in London quite tired. Willie Boone met me and drove me to the Capital Hotel. I took a quick shower and we visited Lillywhites, then lunch, and then to visit the buyer at Harrods. I took a nap at 4PM and then dinner at Alexander's at 8PM with Willie and Steve Adams that night. (Steve was my Prince distributor in the UK.   Willie was his salesman. Willie grew up next door to Lady Diana Spencer, and dated her older sister. Willie is a damn good tennis player, and world champion in Rackets, which is played indoors on marble courts (only 20 in world) with rules similar to squash on a bigger, faster court. He is highly regarded in the UK tennis world, was educated at Etons, and speaks with that aristocratic accent. When he was 47, Willie won his sixth Rackets World Championship, and if you saw this game played you would be stunned a man could compete at this level at age 47.

Feb 24. Got up early and took a run in Hyde Park. Took a taxi to the ad agency to review plans for Prince in England with Steve Adams. From there we visited Cobra Sports, then back to Harrods to discuss marketing Prince at Harrods during Wimbledon. Back to the Capital Hotel and dinner with Roger Goodwin and Mike Palmer.

Feb 25. Up at 5:30 to chat with Prince, and then a taxi to airport where fog had created havoc. Girls behind the desks seemed to delight in giving bad news about delayed flights. My 10 AM flight finally got out at 2PM, and count my luck stars because only four flights even got out. Arrived Munich at 5PM.

ISPO. Dinner with Nic the Greek to discuss Prince.

Feb 26. ISPO. The days are too busy to record. (My strategy was to have a undersized booth which are crowded and hectic as opposed to the typical large and quiet European booth. It created exactly the kind of buzz I wanted.) Dinner that night with Wil Van Megan and Werner Zurcher.

Feb 27. ISPO. Andy Murray flew in from USA and I picked him up and took him to ISPO. After a busy day, we took a taxi to dine with a Swiss lady that Prince had contracted to do a marketing study. Not much came from that.

Feb 28. ISPO. This was the last day. The show was generally considered to be dead with the exception of Prince which was very busy. :)

Mar 1. I met with the Prince lawyer, and then Andy and I drove to Austria. Our hotel was currently set-up for a Richard Burton movie being filmed there. 

Mar 2. We drove to the Austrian office, and I got lost finding it. We then headed back to Germany, ate at a little Bavarian restaurant, and then on to Munich. 

Mar 3. Andy returned to USA, and I flew to Zurich in the morning where I had lunch with Werner Zurcher after visiting his offices. Late in afternoon, I flew to Gothenburg, Sweden arriving at 11 PM. Tom Wallen met my flight and drove me to hotel where we had a beer and dinner. (Tom had played junior tennis, attended college in the USA, had a retail tennis shop, and was trying to start a distribution company. I saw he was talented and could be an asset to the tennis industry. I mentored him and gave him responsibility by letting him lead on our strategy in Scandanavia. He would go on to become a successful pro tennis promoter.)

Mar 4. I worked with Tom Wallen all day brainstorming a strategy for Scandinavia.

Mar 5. Tom Wallen I continued discussing Scandinavia in the morning and then flew to Stockholm for a Dolfin meeting. That evening we attended the Russia Sweden Davis Cup. I saw my old friend Shamile Tarpischev, coach of the Russians. I sat with the famous tennis coach, Percy Rosberg. Percy taught Bjorn Borg, as well as Tom Wallen. At the moment, Percy was teaching Mats Wilander and we were watching him play his Davis Cup match. With a great deal of respect, I told Percy that Jimmy Conners would chew up Mats. A stunned Percy asked why, and I pointed out hat Mats was hitting the ball too shallow and into the hitting zone of JC. The lights went on in Percy's eyes, and the next time I watched Mats, he was hitting much deeper. 

Mar 6. I had an 8AM breakfast with Shamile to discuss some of the Russians using Prince. At 10AM, I realized I had a 11AM flight at the airport which was a healthy distance from Stockholm and Kjell Johansson speeded me to the airport and charmed the folks there into getting me on the flight with seconds to spare. (Kjell had a win and three runner-ups on the European Circuit and turned pro two years after.) thanks to Kjell I was able to make my connection in London and then return home after a tiring two week trip.


Apr 12. Flew to Europe. Things were confused because I was to leave at 1PM, but took the 5:40 to NY for a 7:30. Nicole warmed my heart today. She gave me a nice hug before she went to school, and then after school when she discovered I was still home. I did sleep some on this flight.

Apr 13 Arrived in Milan and drove to Biella where I worked with Prince distributor until 6PM. Drove back to Milan and finally in bed at 9PM. 

Apr 14. Worked the entire day in Milan with Jerry Stabile and Giancarlo Dossena. We dinned at Alfios.

Apr 15. We worked shops in Milan all day. Stopped to visit the salesman's rooftop apartment which is frequently rented by movie companies. That night we drove to his ancient farm house in country side for an all mushroom dinner. The farm house was redone and has wine cellar, stables with horses, and a great wood shop. He gave me a Roman tile about two thousand years old. (Later learned this fellow’s wife was the daughter of some major Italian Don.).

Apr 16. Up early to fly to Rome. Took a taxi to the Embassy Tennis Club where played Max Dean (Massimo Righi) , the original spaghetti cowboy. We made calls rest of the day and had dinner at a restaurant near the catacombs. 

Apr 17. Jerry Stabile met me at 11:30AM for our 10AM, and we rushed to the tennis club where we were demonstrating the Prince. We discussed strategy when we could and that night at hotel I brought my notes up to date and organized plan of our Italian strategy. Ate at hotel.

Apr 18. The boys tried to get me to run the marathon, but I slept in. I did my own run, then took a taxi to the Forum where I walked around for three hours. Then I went to the Vatican and walked through St. Peter's Cathedral. Came back to hotel, packed, and took taxi to airport. After some major confusion over my ticket, flew to Madrid and then a taxi to the Palace Hotel.

Apr 19. I visited Arthuro Penalver to discuss Prince in Canaries. Afterwards, he saw my Solar products and immediately placed an order, I returned to the Palace to await Julio Lopez. He didn't call until 6PM because Terrorists blew up the phone company. Julio asked me to fly to Valencia but I couldn't get a flight. 

Nite: Basque terrorists were attacking the military, police, and government buildings. It looked like a war zone with Spanish soldiers armed with machine guns. Outside the Senate, just across from the Palace Hotel were eight bus loads of soldiers positioned around the senate.

Apr 20. Early AM, visited Mr. Banker as at Devon who placed an order for Hartmann, Dolfin, and Softouch. I sent the order via telex from his office. I returned to hotel because I had an afternoon meeting at the offices of the tennis magazine of Spain. The fellow didn't show up and when I called, he told me he had too much work, more than he thought when he made appointment. I returned to hotel because I have a 10PM flight to Valencia. Went to airport at 8PM and flight was uneventful except bus from airport was packed like sardines. Julio, his partner Franco, and the Spanish tennis player Tony Munoz met me. Off to dinner.

Apr 21. Julio booked me at a hotel in Castelleon, north of Valencia where folks from Valencia had summer homes. Hotels here are cheap as I paid $60 for two nights plus another room one night for Munoz. But real tacky. Hard to imagine Charlton Heston stayed here entire time they were shooting film Ed Cid. 

During the day, discussions about how to market brand in Spain with the exception of several sets with Franco. 

Apr 22. Got up for an early morning run and then Julio came past hotel to review yesterday's discussion and plan. I think I have eaten more Fish in the last two days that I had eaten in my whole life. After lunch, Franco took me to Pensacola to see an ancient fort and tower used by the Romans. 

At 7PM, took flight to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands. The man who was to meet me was a no show. I took a taxi to the Isabel Reine. The islands are tacky, but the folks at hotel were friendly.

Had success introducing Wilson canned tennis balls (when the various national tennis associations were demanding several dollars per can) in resorts in Spain as well as the Canary Islands. Want to explore this for Prince brand.

Apr 23. Got up early and got on hotel phone to find my contact but the phones don't work so well here. I took a taxi over to his address to find not an office complex but a apartment building. I found a small business across the street with the door open with a secretary. We could hardly communicate but she figured my problem and called him. Mr Paz, the sales director, walked over and took me to his office. The guy is a loser and I want to get out of there but got stuck in a long two hour lunch because the translator basically wanted to work on her English. I return to the hotel, then lay on the beach and jogged the water line.

The Canary Islands are on the equator. The original people were large, blond haired, blue eyed, people, and they were cave dwellers until about the year 1400 when the Spanish conquered and sold them. Some people still live in caves today. For years, the early navigators stopped here to re-supply and store water before sailing the Atlantic

Apr 24. I tried to run today but yesterday's run in the sand left my legs sore. I read at the pool all day. This was the first time in years that I just loafed.

Apr 25. Legs again too sore to exercise. I prepared for a noon meeting with another distributor who showed up at 1PM. Folks here are not too prompt. 

Apr 26. The phones and telex system on the Canary Islands was not working so I could not call ahead for my next meeting in Morocco. I took an early morning flight on a Spanish airline and we landed in the Sahara on a large military base. The base had tanks and half tracks positioned behind a rock wall, and surrounded by forces with tanks and guns pointed toward the base.

Oh what a trip. Mohammed the driver (tried to rob me and dump me in dessert. The only thing that saved me was street moxie and the business card of the fellow I was going to see who was a gun dealer.  I summoned all the French I could to get him to ask what I did. Then I used my fingers to signify a pistol. When he asked CIA?, I said NO, Chicago, Mob, Al Capone. I suppose I owe an apology to the mob but I was getting nervous when we were about 30 kilometers into desert heading away from my destination), black market taxi, walls painted to look like real stores, and they were hiding rubble behind them, chickens running on the roof, beautiful young French women sunbathing topless at hotel pool. Casablanca is a city of contrasts. Older Arabs wear robes and younger wear modern dress. Kids studying under street lamps because they did not have electricity in their homes. Wife and daughter not allowed to join us at dinner with my host, his brother-in-law defense minister, and the local CIA Station Chief who was supposed to be our interpreter but struggled with my Eastern Shore accent.   Servants make a $100 a month. Still, they are a friendly happy people. Amid all this poverty, ate at a fancy restaurant built by a Saudi Prince.

Apr 27. Last night, awoke at 4AM to the sound of loud speakers chanting morning prayers. It smelled like there was a fire so I rushed around the hotel to front desk, not able to communicate with anyone. It wasn't a fire, just morning breakfast. 

Worked with Menrod in the morning and Belgoma in afternoon. Took a walk in the market. These Arabs should teach salesmanship. In the evening, I had dinner with four officials in the African Tennis Association. 

Apr 28. I spent morning catching up notes at pool and then hit with an 18 year old kid which was arranged by my distributor.. My legs were still dead from running in the sand and I really had to work because this kid could hit the ball. As it turned out, his father was the #2 guy in the Moroccan Tennis Association. I returned for a nap to prepare for dinner at distributor’s home. They want to exchange their 12 year old daughter with my daughter Nicole for one month 

Apr 29. Went to Belgoma to review our discussions, then they took me to airport for my flight to Lisbon. Interesting - the flight loaded with poor workers going to Portugal to work all week. (When I left, poor workers from Portugal were going to work in Europe.) 

Took a taxi to hotel and Raul Calderia met me there for dinner. He is a partner with tennis legend Joao Lagos, my distributor in Portugal.

Apr 30. Beautiful weather. Worked with distributors trying to figure a way for them to capture this small poor market. Returned to hotel at 7:30 to find another distributor, with translator, who had heard I was in town and had waited for three hours. That night, dinner with a group of friends of Lagos and it was interesting. They were the children of families who had been robbed of land and wealth by the Socialist government. 

What's up with Tennis quietness, and Pickleball noise

BJK asking for the Baron's  autograph. :)

Tennis has been quiet, probably since Henry VIII had Anne Boleyn's head removed while he was playing tennis.  Billie Jean King tried to change the noise thing with her World Team Tennis which is much more like a baseball game atmosphere.

But traditional tennis competition is quiet, so we should respect it.  Think of it this way. A tennis player is chopping onions in the kitchen thinking they are all alone, and then suddenly someone says their name. It startles them and they chop off their finger.  Meanwhile, tennis folks need to know and respect that pickleballers are making noise because they are just having fun.  Tennis players sholdn't complain about Pickleball noise, and pickleballers should not say a word about people with missing fingers. 

At Wimbledon watching my Wilson girls play: Bjk and Chris Evert. Both signed the photo for me.

The funny Wilson T-3000 story with Jimmy Connors

Connors with his manager Bill Riordan, wife Terry Riordan, and the bad boy of tennis, Ille Nastase

In 1974, when Jimmy Connors was playing with the Wilson T-2000, he won three majors: Australian, Wimbledon, and US Open.  Some of the boys from marketing, recent Harvard grads all, decided it was a good idea to create the T-3000, charge more for it, and get Jimmy to switch.   My boss, much wiser than me, assigned me as the T-3000 project manager.  First, engineering spent a small fortune developing the red throat brace, and then I took it to California to be play tested by top college players. During the play test, some local player came up and told me Wilson had a good idea. He went on to explain that he forced a quarter down the shaft of the T-2000 to gain the same playability enhancement, which was about 1/1,000,000 of what Wilson spent.  

Once all the expensive technicals were worked out and the prototypes produced, the Harvard boys thought I should now try to get Connors to endorse it.  My wise boss just smiled.  I found out where Jimmy was playing a tournament, down in Texas as I recall.  I jumped on a plane and off I went to track Jimmy down on a practice court where I asked him to try out this new and exciting, very expensive enhancement, that he didn't need.  Jimmy and I had a lot in common, and he was a real gentleman about it, but I could tell from his expression he was as excited about the T-3000 as two day old coffee. 

The Harvard boys made me swear I would ask Jimmy to switch.  I did, and then I really wanted to duck under the grandstand.  But he was a gentleman, but said very firmly, "Vaughn, I am the best in the world with my T-2000, why would you ever want to risk that by having me play with another racket?"  I completely agreed with him and could not possibly counter.  I thanked him, packed up the six or so prototypes, and left.  I called headquarters and probably sounded like a school yard kid when I said, "I told you so, I told you so..."


FBI photographs Baker trying to sell secrets to Soviet Union

I can't image whatever I said was that funny!

KGB photographed Baker with Olga, pulled her aside, and said, "Really?"

FBI photo taken of Vaughn Baker, better known as the Baron, trying to sell trade secrets to Olga Morozova, Soviet Womens Tennis Champion and 1974 French and Wimbledon Finalist. Baker later represented Pepsi as the Sponsor of the Eastern European Championships in Yugoslavia where Baker first met a couple kids named Lendl and Navaratilova. The major Domo from Moscow was a boring fellow who made Sergeant Schultz from Hogan's Heroes look skinny. 

But he didn't know that "I knew people."  While the rest of the world worried about a nuclear Armageddon I had not the slightest worry because I had the Soviet Premier on my personal "Free Equipment" list. My rationale was that the Soviet leader would not start war and threaten to give up his "Free Equipment" status. Well, would you?  This is just one of the reasons Baker's family calls him the Forest Gump of Tennis.

The Wilson Chris Evert Autograph Tennis Racket - Pt 1

Chris Evert commercial


One of the tennis racket introductions I managed was the Chris Evert Autograph, the first racket specifically designed for women.  The following photo was pulled from the footage of the Chris Evert Autograph tennis racket commercial, one of the first commercials for a woman's sport product.  Chris had just thrown the racket into the air just as she would have at Wimbledon, and then ran into the net to simulate shaking hands with her opponent.  The wind caught the racket and it was about to hit the top of her head.  I rushed out and batted it away from the top of her head.  Because it was the very first one ever produced, I was trying to catch it in the air before it hit the ground.  The tennis net suddenly stopped my forward progress, and my voice has been higher ever since. 

PBS WHYY about Pickleball at the Delaware Coast