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Tennis Participation Up 43 Percent

March 18, 2009 08:00 AM
According to data just released by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), tennis is the fastest growing sport in America among individual traditional sports with an increase in participation of 43 percent from 2000 to 2008. According to the SGMA, tennis was one of only six sports to experience participation growth exceeding 40 percent from 2000 through 2008. Tennis is well ahead of other traditional sports like baseball, ice hockey, gymnastics and football, all of which suffered a decline in participation during the past eight years. In the last year alone (through December 31, 2008), tennis experienced a 9.6 percent growth in participation.

The SGMA study is the latest in a series of reports and studies that have cited the extraordinary growth for tennis. In December, the Taylor Research Group (TRG) reported that tennis participation reached a record high of 27 million players in 2008, more than any other period in the past 15 years. Sales of tennis racquets and balls have both also increased significantly, most notably, an 88% increase in the sale of youth racquets from 2003 through 2008, according to the TRG report.

“The SGMA study is a clear validation of all the hard work and commitment that our industry has put into the sport,” said Jon Muir, president of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), and General Manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “We’ve focused not only on reinforcing our already strong base, but at the same time, we’ve developed new, innovative programs to bring players, of all ages and skill levels, into the game.”

“From programs like QuickStart Tennis that makes it easy for young players to get into the sport and begin a developmental pathway; to high school and college programs like USTA’s No-Cut and Tennis on Campus, which keeps them in the game; to the innovative and fitness based Cardio Tennis, which combines tennis with a healthy and fun work-out curriculum, the tennis industry is at the forefront of engaging and retaining players,” added Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “We’ve tried to make tennis as accessible as possible at the grassroots levels, which we’ll continue to do, by promoting initiatives to grow youth and adult participation in order to keep this momentum going.”

“Together with the USTA, the TIA has also established more than 2600 Tennis Welcome Centers across the country, and provides an online Growing Tennis System that lets consumers find places to play, partners with comparable skill level and other programs that all serve to enhance their overall tennis experience,” adds Muir.

The TIA, USTA and many other industry partners have been united since 1993 in a joint effort to support “Grow The Game” activities, a strategy to increase tennis participation on several levels.

Tennis Participation vs. Economy
“We are especially pleased that interest in tennis has been able to withstand this soft economy,” added Jolyn de Boer, TIA Executive Director. “We’ve charted the various economic indicators against industry shipments and participation numbers from 2003. We’ve clearly seen that tennis has experienced a level of growth unmatched among other major sports and participation doesn’t seem as impacted by a down economy.”

In addition to the rise in tennis participation, charting industry shipments over this same five year period showed shipments of adult racquets are up 30%, while shipments for youth racquets increased a remarkable 88% from 2003 thru 2008. Furthermore, tennis ball shipments for the same time period were up over 16%, continuing to demonstrate an increasing attraction to the sport. Muir adds: “While no industry can escape the current impact of the nation’s economic challenges, we will use the current report provided by the SGMA study and our own TIA/USTA Participation research to focus on creating even more players and consumers for our sport.”

Sports and Fitness Activities with the Highest Growth Rates Since 2000
(age 6 and above; U.S. residents; source: SGMA)

Rank/Sport2008 ParticipationGrowth Rate Since 2000
1. Pilates Training8,886,000471%
2. Elliptical Motion Trainer25,284,000243%
3. Lacrosse1,127,000117%
4. Stretching36,288,00047%
5. Tennis18,558,00043%
6. Spinning6,693,00042%
7. Table Tennis17,201,00035%
8. Paintball4,857,00034%
9. Treadmill49,371,00032%
10. Running/Jogging41,130,00031%

About the TIA
The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, is THE unifying force in the tennis industry bringing together competitive companies to work collectively to promote and grow the sport. The TIA works closely with the USTA and industry partners to develop and implement initiatives to increase tennis participation. Core TIA activities include Participation Research, Consumer and Trade Research and the Growing Tennis System. For more information, please visit TennisIndustry.org or GrowingTennis.com.

About the USTA
The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. A not-for-profit organization with more than 725,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.

About the SGMA
SGMA, the trade association of leading industry sports and fitness brands, enhances industry vitality and fosters sports and fitness participation through research, thought leadership, product promotion and public policy. SGMA produces the industry leading National Health-through-Fitness Day on Capitol Hill as well as representing the industry on trade and consumer issues. More information about SGMA membership and SGMA's Sports Research Partnership can be found at www.sgma.com.




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