Column: 59 years later, still a tennis classic

TENNIS magazine, which was first printed Aug. 16, 1954, and covers news from the tennis world, is owned by the Miller Publishing Group and has been since Robert Miller, former executive at Time, bought it from The New York Times Company in 1997 along with three other sporting magazines.

The Times purchased it in 1967 and I was unfortunately not able to trace from whom. So anyone who might know the answer to that question, I'd be very curious - as well as seeing early copies of the magazine if anyone in the area might have any.

It's known that the magazine "World Tennis" was first published by Gladys Heldman in May 1953. She was a former star amateur player who promoted the game, especially for women. Why two similar magazines started up within a year of each other is another good question and one I'd also bet there's a good answer to.

In June 2000, Miller brought on a new partner, George Mackin, and one of their first endeavors was to add former tennis great Chris Evert as publisher (March 2001) where she also contributes a column called "Chrissie's Page." Pete Sampras, also a former No. 1 for years, in 2003 was brought on as a part owner and special consultant for the magazine.

What used to be a monthly magazine is now down to eight annual issues, and circulates with a hard copy subscription to more than 600,000 members. Part of this success is that each person who is a United States Tennis Association (USTA) member receives a subscription, which costs $44 per year. Digital subscriptions are also available for purchase and have been for the past 10 years. They have added an online daily update of tennis information known as Tennis.com that rounds out today's quick reporting of minute-by-minute tennis news.

In 2005 George and Bob led a group to buy out IMG's interest in the Pacific Life Tennis Tournament at Indian Wells, which was later sold to current owner Larry Ellison for $100 million in 2009. Their endeavor saved what is now known as the fifth largest attended major tournament in the world from being sold and sent out of this country. A nice little feather in their hats, not to mention profitable for themselves and their well-known partners, one of them being Billie Jean King.

The ups and downs of running a profitable publishing business isn't for the meek or mild, and the changes that take place sometimes call for drastic measures, one of which took place in 2010 with an elimination of four of nine full-time editorial staffers. The current editors now work with many freelancers to handle a bit more of the load.

The managing editor is Scott Graming, creative director is Ian Knowles and there are well-known senior writers Peter Bodo and Stephen Tignor.

The contributing and instruction editors are a "who's who" of the tennis world: Paul Annacone, Christopher Clarey, Joel Drucker, Cliff Drysdale, Brad Gilbert, Billie Jean King, Douglas Robson, Cindy Shmerter, Allen St. John, L. Jon Wertheim, Tracy Austin, Nick Bollittieri, Peter Burwash, John Evert, Allen Fox, Rick Macci, Stan Smith, Dennis Van der Meer and John Yandell.

The direction the tennis world goes has a lot to do with the information that TENNIS puts out. The top players' bios with their recent wins and losses, the up and comers introduced to the masses, instruction, equipment, rules, new innovations, past history, rankings, health and fitness, destinations, humor and the mental side of tennis sanity round out what this iconic magazine has become.

Here's looking forward to the next 59 years with TENNIS!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@q.com.