Tennis is easily one of the most athletic and under appreciated sports in the US today. Combining skill, speed, and endurance the sport also receives minimal love in The Hobby outside the sex appeal of Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharipova. However, one manufacturer has tried to change that by providing niche collectors a product category all their own. Albeit not the first, Ace Authentic, has done it better than it's predecessor NetPro, combining all the appeal of modern trading cards with the glitz of match worn memorabilia and autographs, Ace Authentic has delivered a steady line of collectibles to the market since 2005.
I interviewed their owner, live at the 2005 National for their debut and had the pleasure of reviewing a few of their products in the past. One of the nice things about an under-appreciated sport like tennis is that their products are extremely affordable and loaded. Case in point, the all new 2009 Ace Tennis Inaugural Edition Game, Set, Match Tennis Hobby Box contains; This loaded product contains (1) US Open Autographed card, (1) US Open Match-Used Memorabilia card, (1) One Match Point Autographed Card and (1) Match Used US Open or Wimbledon Ball OR (1) Autographed Tennis Ball PER BOX at a price of $50 MSRP. Key players included in the product are Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Mark Philippoussis, Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Maria Sharapova, Monica Seles, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.
For TTM (through the mail) autograph collectors, they make (2) factory sets that can be found for less than $20 dollars. The Heroes and Legends box set featuring the best of today's stars and retired greats and the 2005 Ace Authentic Debut set. Both of which can be ordered factory direct. I have had great TTM success with tennis players including many hotties for my Sports Divas collection including, Maria, Anna and Jennifer Capriati.
Roger Federer is THE Tiger Woods of tennis and a solid investment. Anything autographed by him is a solid pick-up and will have resale value in the future, particularly due to the global reach of the secondary marketplace through venues like eBay. Imagine a match-used autographed ball from the US Open or Wimbledon?!? Very affordable in the scheme of things and an impressive collectible for sure.
A gallery belows shows some images from current and past Ace Authentic products. We all hate sticker autographs and it is unfortunate that Ace uses them because they really do detract from the card designs. It would seem to me that if you are trying to exploit a niche like tennis, that you would learn from the mistakes of the big boys and do it the right way. At LEAST they don't use stickers on the balls. :)