NEW YORK, N.Y. (Aug. 7, 2018) — Tennis players, and the tennis industry, can thank both the late Vic Braden and Jim Fromuth for helping to improve their games and grow this sport.
Braden, whose tennis academies, books and videos brought tennis to the masses, and Fromuth, the founder of a tennis equipment distribution company, both have had a hand in millions of players enjoying the game over the last four decades.
Both men will be inducted into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame on Aug. 27, during the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) Tennis Forum at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. (Visit TennisIndustry.org for more information on the Tennis Forum, which is free to attend.)
Braden, who passed away in 2014 at age 85, became a tennis professional after graduating from Kalamazoo College in 1951. He obtained a master's degree in psychology from Cal State, joined Jack Kramer’s professional tennis tour, then co-founded The Jack Kramer Club, where he served as head tennis pro.
In 1974, Braden opened a tennis academy at Coto de Caza, Calif., where he pioneered a scientific approach to the game that involved studying film of top players to analyze the physiology and biomechanics of the sport. He also studied the psychology of tennis.
Braden’s best-known pupil was Tracy Austin, whom he coached since she was age 3. But his “bread and butter” was teaching the techniques of elite athletes to the less accomplished. He wrote eight books, starred in instructional videos, and had his own PBS television series, called “Tennis for the Future.” During the tennis boom in the 1970s, Braden helped lead charge, with his motto: “Laugh and win.” He was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 2017.
Braden will be honored during the Tennis Forum by John Embree, CEO of the U.S. Professional Tennis Association. “Vic was ahead of his time when it came to biomechanics and research,” Embree says. “He and Dr. Gideon Ariel were pioneers when it came to the use of high-speed cameras and studies on the physics of tennis. While he was known for his humor and quick wit as a coach, I don’t think Vic gets enough credit for the work he did to understand stroke mechanics and how technique influenced outcome. It would not be a stretch to say that Vic started the videography revolution and the use of analytics in tennis.”
Fromuth co-founded the Fromuth company, which started as an art-supply shop, with his father in 1972 in Reading, Pa.. A high school and college tennis player, Fromuth brought the sport into the company and committed to large tennis equipment inventories. The company has been dedicated to national distribution to tennis and racquet sports pro shops and independent retailers ever since.
“I like people, and that’s what we’re all about,” says Fromuth, who is currently treasurer and operations manager. “I think the secret to dealing with people is to put yourself in their shoes. If I can understand what you need and what your challenges are, then it’s my job to come up with solutions.” Fromuth will be introduced at the Tennis forum by Pat Shields, the CEO of Fromuth Tennis.
“Jim is one of the truly good guys in the business, and the ultimate professional,” says Greg Mason, president of Head USA Racquet Sports. “He’s smart and a very strategic thinker—he takes the time to think through all of the options before making a move, and that allows him to maximize every opportunity. He really has the racquet sports pro shop in mind. It’s rare that I have a conversation with him where we don’t talk about what can be done to help the small independent retailer. That’s always his priority.”
The Tennis Industry Hall of Fame was started in 2008 to honor inventors, founders, innovators and contributors who have made a significant impact on the sport of tennis, from the 1960s to the present. Current inductees are: Howard Head (2008), Dennis Van der Meer (2008), Alan Schwartz (2009), Billie Jean King (2010), Nick Bollettieri (2011), Howard Gill Jr. (2013), Walter Montenegro (2013), Sheldon Westervelt (2013), Jim Baugh (2014), Peter Burwash (2015), Eugene Scott (2016), Eve Kraft (2016) and David Haggerty (2017). Tennis Industry Hall of Fame inductees are recognized with their names displayed on a plaque at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.
The TIA Tennis Forum will be Aug. 27, from 8 to 9:30 a.m., at the Grand Hyatt New York in Manhattan, which is the first day of play at the 2018 US Open. In addition to the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame, the Tennis Forum will include the latest news and research about the state of the tennis industry, business insights and updates on grow-the-game initiatives, including the USTA’s Net Generation. The forum also takes place during the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference/USPTA World Conference. Visit TennisIndustry.org/forum to register, which is free.