USTA to alter sales, marketing staff
Harlan Stone, the U.S. Tennis Association’s chief business and marketing officer, is changing his responsibilities at the tennis governing body to solely overseeing sales efforts. After this year’s U.S. Open in September, Stone no longer will be in charge of the organization’s marketing and communications.
In a tersely worded statement, the USTA said that Stone, who was at the end of his contract, had re-signed through 2014 with the organization as chief business officer, for which he will still sell corporate sponsorships and television.
However, while Stone retains a USTA executive title, he is launching SJX Partners, a New Canaan, Conn.-based property representation firm, with longtime Velocity/Team Epic employee Jeff Jonas, who recently left the firm. Among the first clients of SJX Partners is the USTA, along with Cirque du Soleil, the Dew Tour and Alli Sports, which operates the Dew Tour. So far, the agency has five employees, Stone said.
Stone said that his USTA contract was up and he “simply wanted to concentrate on my strength, which is making deals … and now so much of our marketing efforts are focused on the 10-and-under level [for grassroots tennis growth], that calling me the CMO was a bit of a misnomer.”
As part of the reshuffling, managing director of marketing Sue Hunt, who had reported to Stone, will report to Kurt Kamperman, CEO of community tennis. Lew Sherr, managing director of corporate sponsorships, will take a more active role in day-to-day affairs, the USTA said.
It’s uncertain whether or when the USTA will name a new CMO.
With his new firm, Stone returns to the agency world, in which he spent much of his career, working in senior executive positions for the likes of Momentum, Octagon, Velocity and his own sports marketing shop, Stone Sports. Stone was also with The New York Times Magazine Group as head of Golf Digest/Tennis Sports and CEO of Internet startup mysportsguru.com.
He was hired at the USTA in 2009 as chief marketing officer after an exodus of top executive talent. His hire, orchestrated by Smith, was the first high-profile replacement for a string of top executives who have departed the USTA since late 2008.
A year later, he was promoted to chief marketing and business officer with the departure of Pierce O’Neil, and all business reports came into Stone, other than digital.
On the sales side, he will be looking for a replacement for Olympus, in its last year as U.S. Open and U.S. Open Series sponsor.
Staff writer Daniel Kaplan contributed to this report.