The end of Lineal Sponsorship after three years of commitment

After three years of supporting the game of platform tennis, including the commitment of tens of thousands of dollars in tournament prize money and raffle drawings, the Lineal Group announced that it would no longer be able to sponsor the Lineal Group Grand Prix Series. Several executive, as well as business, changes had occurred at the company and thus it became necessary to end its successful relationship with competitive paddle tennis.

Ginna Ohlmuller, Executive Director of the APTA, commented on the development: “The Lineal Group provided a real boost to the game of paddle tennis over the last three years and they were a pleasure to work with.”

Ohlmuller made special mention of Arnie Ditri1, head of Ditri Associates, and John Balch, Lineal’s senior marketing manager. “Mr. Ditri had a genuine interest in the game of paddle and committed substantial time and effort to help the game graduate to the next level and John gave up numerous weekends over years to attend the tournaments, as well as spending innumerable hours in the office organizing the financial details, in order to make the relationship a first class one.”

Balch made the following statement:

“The Lineal Group is grateful for the opportunity we have had to sponsor our ‘Grand Prix’ tournament series. For three seasons, these events have been a good means of increasing awareness of our furniture brands and, quite frankly, we had a lot of fun in that endeavor.”

Diane Tucker, who along with Robin Fulton, finished the 1994-1995 season at the top of the Lineal Group Championship Series, provided a view from the women’s tour:

“The Lineal Group brought the men’s and women’s games together, and I got to know a lot more players because of their sponsorship. There was an added level of excitement when there was money on the line. The players felt a little more pressure and had something a little higher to aim for.”

Source: Platform Tennis News, Fall 1995

Note 1: Arnold E Ditri was President and Chief Executive Officer of Hedstrom Corporation, a manufacturer and marketer of children’s leisure and activity products, from March 1993 to December 2000. He was non-executive Chairman of Hedstrom from January 2001 to July 2001. Mr. Ditri served as President of Ditri Associates, Inc. from 1981 until 1994, which company, with a number of financial partners, specialized in acquiring and building under-achieving companies with Mr. Ditri serving as Chief Executive Officer of the acquired companies.