40By20 Exclusive: Q & A with Andy Kulback, LPRT Deputy Commissioner

40By20.com reached out to Andy Kulback, the Deputy Commissioner of the newly organized Ladies Professional Racquetball Tour (LPRT) to conduct an exclusive interview regarding the recent formation of the new governing body for women’s professional racquetball.  Here’s what Andy had to say:

Q: Welcome to 40By20 Deputy Commissioner! First question…Why a new organization-Why the new LPRT?

A: The membership decided it was time to move in a different direction and after much discussion it was obvious the best solution was the formation of a new governing body for women’s professional racquetball.  The membership believed that self-governing of their organization and tour would result in increased prize money and less expenses, as well as better control.  The Tier 1 tournaments on the women’s pro tour are largely made up of a collaboration of efforts by local pro’s, amateur players and racquetball clubs and facilities. The membership felt that controlling its own destiny was in the best interest of the players of women’s professional racquetball.

Q: What is the current and future status of the WPRO?

A: The WPRO has agreed to cooperate with the LPRT insofar as LPRT being the governing body of women’s professional racquetball and transitioning the ranking system, sponsors and tournament scheduling.  We are still working out some details of the agreement but we are optimistic that it will be a smooth transition.

Q: The 2012–2013 WPRO tour schedule currently shows approximately 10 Tier 1 stops.  Will these tournaments become LPRT sanctioned tournaments?

A: We are receiving very good cooperation from the WPRO and the individual tournament directors in transferring these events to official LPRT sanctioning.  Since the majority of our tournaments are local efforts by members of the LPRT in conjunction with local tournament directors and club owners, we anticipate a smooth transition.

Q: Have the top women’s pro players agreed to join the new LPRT?

A: Yes.  We have had very good responses from all of the women’s pro players and we look forward to an exciting season beginning with our first tournament next month in Dallas Texas.

Q: Have you identified a major sponsor or sponsors for the new tour?

A: As I’m sure everyone is aware, we are in a tough economy right now and major sponsorship is a real challenge for any organization.  We are in the process of engaging a few sponsors and we are optimistic that we will be successful in the near future.

Q: Okay now on to the tough questions. Have the existing WPRO sponsors, such as Ektelon, agreed to support the new LPRT?

A: We have had very good discussions with all of the existing sponsors and we appreciate all their support.

Q: Will WPRO Commissioner Gigi Rock be involved with the LPRT?

A: No, she will not be involved.

Q: What will the new leadership structure look like?

A: I will serve as the deputy commissioner with T.J. Baumbaugh serving as the president of LPRT, Inc. In the very near future we will form a board made up of members and others and we will begin a search for a new commissioner.

Q: Do you have any interest in the Commissioner position?

A: At this time no I do not.  The Commissioner position is very time-consuming with a lot of responsibility and I need to focus on my “day job”. I am happy to serve as the Deputy Commissioner and would like to remain involved with the leadership of the LPRT in that capacity.

Q: Speaking of last year, as you are aware there was brouhaha over the WPRO participation with the 3 Wallball Outdoor Championships event in Las Vegas.  Will the members of the LPRT be allowed to compete in the upcoming 3 Wallball Championships?

A: The LPRT welcomes discussion with the 3 Wallball organizers and we hope to come to a mutually beneficial understanding and agreement.  The LPRT is the governing body for women’s professional racquetball players and our goal is to promote and support the professional standards for our membership, which includes prize money and promotional opportunities.  The LPRT will work in earnest towards a mutual agreement that will allow players wishing to participate in a tournament like this the opportunity to do so.

Q: Has there been any direct communication between LPRT and the 3 Wallball organizers?

A: Not as of yet.  I hope to have a dialogue soon.

Q: What do you foresee as the biggest challenge for your new organization?

A: The biggest challenge is the most obvious and that is money.  Raising funds and acquiring sponsors is a big challenge for anyone right now.  We are fortunate that we have a lot of tournaments scheduled for this season and most of the prize money is coming from the local grassroots efforts of the individual clubs, club pros and local players and sponsors.

Q: Does LPRT plan on televising any of the upcoming tournaments?

A: We recognize that televising or streaming our events is important for our success.  We are confident that we will be able to televise several of our Tier 1 tournaments.

Q: Will the IRT Network be involved with televising any of the LPRT stops?

A: We hope to have an agreement with the IRT Network in the near future.

Q: is there anything you would like to pass on to our readers?

A:  I appreciate this opportunity to talk about the LPRT with you.  We have a tremendous group of players who dedicate a lot of their time and effort to this sport.  The players (and myself) appreciate all of the support we have received so far and we are looking for a successful 2012 – 2013 season.  If anyone is interested is supporting the LPRT or hosting an LPRT event, please contact me at andy@lprtour.com.

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