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Athletic DNA Launches Clothing Line with Juniors in Mind

When facing global sports apparel and shoe giants like Nike and Adidas, how does a small startup hope to have an impact?

For Athletic DNA, a new Seattle-based company, the answer is simple: focus on tennis, and start where the sport starts - in the juniors.

"The big clothing brands of the world don't pay attention to tennis," says Evan Zeder, manager of Sales and Sponsorship for the company. "It's just been lost in the mix of other sports. And that's why we decided to go into clothing. We want something that's different, and shows respect to tennis and these kids."

"Tennis is no longer short shorts and country club. It's a tough sport, it's an athlete's sport," says Zeder, who travels to major junior tournaments throughout the United States while scouting for the company.

"You have to work your butt off to be a great tennis player. I think the kids recognize that and we recognize that, but I don't think there's anyone out there showing them the appreciation we think they deserve."

Zeder and other principals of the company speak from experience. Zeder and co-founder Mike Calkins, manager of Player Relations for the company, played college tennis at the University of Illinois, winning the NCAA team title in 2003. CEO and co-founder Dan Willman, a New Zealand Davis Cup representative, played at the University of Idaho and on the professional circuit. He later established the Central Park Tennis Club High Performance Program in suburban Seattle. Co-founder Karl Wiersholm is an avid athlete and tennis fan whose son is a nationally-ranked junior.

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Page updated on Tuesday, September 02, 2014
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