. . .it would be a good investment, right now! It’s always fun to report good news, and I’m happy to pass along this article from Play Tennis Florida. (I guess it could always be a PR stunt, given that the numbers come from the USTA, but I choose to be the bright eyed optimist in this case.)
Here’s the good news:
U.S. Tennis Participation on a 15 Year High
Posted on December 11, 2008
The USTA and TIA announced today that tennis participation throughout the United States continued its growth on every measurable level in 2008, with more players (nearly 26.9 million) taking to the court this year than at any time in the past 15 years, according to the annual research survey conducted for the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and the USTA by the Taylor Research Group.
The TIA/USTA study showed total player participation in 2008 grew by more than 7% from the previous year (25.1 million), continuing a trend that has shown a nearly 12% increase over the five-year period beginning in 2003 (24 million).
In addition, total play occasions increased by more than 13% to 603 million over the past year, up from 533 million in 2007 and a jump of close to 33% from five years ago (454 million).
“Tennis is stronger and healthier than it has been in decades,” said Jane Brown Grimes, USTA President and Chairman of the Board. “It’s great to see that the collective efforts of the USTA and our industry partners over the past five years are producing such great results.”
“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,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA.
“By almost every key metric and based on the trends the sport remains poised for growth in the coming years,” said Dave Haggerty, President of the Tennis Industry Association.
The TIA/USTA study also determined:
The percentage of frequent players (i.e. those who played 21 times or more during the year) rose to 5.62 million, up 7% from 2007 (5.25 million) and an increase of more than 23% from 2003 (4.56 million).
The sport is retaining the players it has, as the number of continuing players is up 9% to 15.1 million from 13.9 million last year. A continuing player is defined as one who has played for more than a year.
The percentage of new players rose 3%, to 5.91 million.
Additionally tennis ball unit sales, another important barometer of play frequency, have increased more than 15% since 2003 and are up again by almost 3% through the third quarter of 2008.
The TIA/USTA results compare favorably to other recent research released from industry organizations over the past 12 months. In the 2008 Sports and Fitness Participation Report conducted by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), results showed tennis had achieved growth of 30.6% in total participants from 2000 through 2007, making it the fastest-growing traditional sport in the country over that time period.