‘Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge’ Attracts Influential Panel of Judges

October 17, 2018

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (Oct. 17, 2018) — A high-powered panel of judges will consider the entries in the fourth “Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge,” which promises to showcase some of the most brilliant new and innovative sports products and services designed to grow the sport and business of tennis and racquet sports with players, consumers and fans.

Presented by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), this unique competition will take place on Jan. 24, 2019, during the inaugural Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference (, held at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Fla.

Through Nov. 15, companies and individuals can complete a short Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge application at describing their new, innovative product, software or service. There is no charge to apply. On Thursday, Jan. 24, finalists from the online application process will have the opportunity to present their new product or service to the panel of judges—and in front of an audience of racquet sports industry leaders—in a “Shark Tank”-like competition.

Innovation Challenge finalists will receive media exposure through the TIA leading up to the Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference. The winner will receive $1,000, a national press release to thousands of news outlets with a potential reach to millions of consumers, coverage in Tennis Industry magazine, a one-year TIA membership, and additional exposure through industry marketing and social media channels.

(All entries also will be considered for a separate, special prize of $5,000 worth of consulting services from Enventys Partners, based on Enventys CEO Louis Foreman’s assessment of potential impact in the consumer market—see additional information below.)

The Innovation Challenge will again be moderated by Carlos Salum, who is president of Salum International Resources, a leadership performance strategy consultancy based in Charlotte, N.C. Salum, who organizes leadership events as founder of TheSircle Executive Club, also consults in sports technology with the SportsCouncil Silicon Valley, N3XT Sports and leAD Sports Accelerator. He also has coached professional tennis players, including Grand Slam champions Gabriela Sabatini and Sergi Bruguera.

Judges for the fourth edition of the Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge will include:

Stacey Allaster, USTA chief executive of professional tennis and former chairman and CEO of the WTA. After graduating from the University of Western Ontario, where she also earned a law degree, Allaster joined Tennis Canada and became tournament director of the Canadian Open in Toronto (now known as the Rogers Cup). She joined the WTA as president in 2006 and was promoted to chairman and CEO three years later. Among her many accomplishments was the WTA’s expansion into Asia. Allaster has been recognized as the Sports Media Canada Executive of the Year, the WISE Woman of the Year, a Sports Business Journal Gamechanger and one of the 10 most powerful women in sports by Forbes magazine. In 2015, she was commended by the International Tennis Hall of Fame for her contributions to the sport.

Mike Barrell, coach for more than 30 years and the director of evolve9, an international company that helps national tennis federations and providers design and implement tennis programs for children. Barrell has been a keynote speaker at three ITF Worldwide Conferences and presented at numerous USPTA World Conferences and PTR International Symposia, in addition to many other national conferences. A Level 5 LTA Coach, he is also an ITF Expert, visiting more than 60 countries, supporting the development of tennis on five continents. Through evolve9, Barrell recently has been involved in the development of Evolution Kids Tennis (now the National U10 program of Serbia and Bulgaria), Tennis Whizz and the Girls Tennis Network.

Walid Fattah, a prolific tennis entrepreneur based in Los Angeles, with extensive experience in the world of finance. Fattah co-founded a family of products under the name Kourts, specializing in mobile applications and tennis management systems. He worked for Credit Suisse for 19 years in the investment banking and private banking divisions. In his work for Credit Suisse, and combined with his passion for tennis, he has built solid relationships with many key actors in the tennis world.

Louis Foreman, the founder and chief executive of Enventys Partners, an integrated product design, engineering and marketing firm. He is also the founder of Edison Nation, and Edison Nation Medical. Over the past 30 years, Foreman has created nine successful start-ups and has been directly responsible for the creation of over 20 others. He is the inventor of products holding 10 U.S. Patents, and his firm is responsible for the development and filing of well over 700 more. A university adjunct professor, Foreman was the creator of the Emmy-Award-winning PBS TV show “Everyday Edisons.” He currently serves as chairman of the Board of Directors of the James Dyson Foundation, board member of the Intellectual Property Owners Association and New Dominion Bank, and is the past president of the Intellectual Property Owners Educational Foundation.

Mac Lackey, a Charlotte, N.C.-based entrepreneur who has built and sold five companies. Most recently he served as founder/CEO of KYCK (acquired by NBC Sports), Mountain Khakis (acquired by Remington), InternetSoccer Network (acquired by News Corp SKY), and various other ventures. Currently, Lackey is a co-founder and serves as chairman of ISL Futbol (representing legendary Football Club Barcelona’s schools in the U.S.) and a venture partner of, in addition to his role as an executive at SportsEngine (a division of NBC Sports).

Royce Wolfe, principal of Thru Traffic Marketing LLC, a marketing development, innovation and strategy consultancy specializing in sponsorship revenue generation, ethical branding and business practice. Wolfe was a former senior marketing and sales executive at Wells Fargo, Bank of America, the Olympic Games in Atlanta and the NBA. He has an MBA in marketing from New York University’s Stern School of Business and a master’s with distinction in Ethics and Applied Philosophy from the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Separately from the TIA’s Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge, the Enventys Partners prize of $5,000 in consulting services may be awarded to the Innovation Challenge submission Enventys chooses as having the potential to make an impact in the consumer market, based on the company’s own criteria. “This is an exciting challenge that I am honored to be a part of,” Foreman says. “I’m interested to see each new product that is not only innovative, but will disrupt the global tennis market in a way we’ve never seen before.” The focus of the Enventys consulting services will be product development and may not consider production costs, marketing and advertising.

The first Tennis Industry Innovation Challenge was held in March 2017 at the Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference in Orlando, Fla., and was won by Tennibot (, a robotic tennis ball collector. The second Challenge, held in August 2017 in New York City during the 2017 US Open, was won by In/Out (, a line-calling device that fits on any netpost. The third Challenge, held during the TOM Conference in April 2018 in Charleston, S.C., was won by Tweener Lighting (, a unique LED system that attaches to existing fencing around tennis and other sport courts.

The inaugural Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference spans Jan. 23-25, and will be co-located with the PGA Merchandise Show in Orlando. The multi-faceted tennis, racquet and paddle sports industry event will feature a hands-on product demo experience and opening welcome party at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona; a curated ONE2ONE buying event; Tennis Owners & Managers (TOM) Conference; and an exhibit pavilion of racquet, paddle and tennis vendors and organizations at the Orange County Convention Center.

The three-day Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference, organized by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and Reed Exhibitions, will bring together racquet sports professionals, industry leaders, emerging brands and bellwether brands all under one roof. It is targeted to all facets of the industry. To find out more or to register for the Racquet & Paddle Sports Conference, visit

For more information about the Innovation Challenge, email [email protected]. To register for the Challenge, visit