The United States Tennis Association (USTA) and Tennis Industry Association (TIA) announced today that U.S. tennis participation is the highest it’s been in 25 years, with over thirty-million Americans hitting the courts in 2009. This is a whopping 12% increase vs. 2008 and a 25% improvement since 2003 (the year Roger Federer won his first Wimbledon. . .coincidence?)
Here’s more from the official press-release:
The USTA and TIA announced today that tennis participation in the United States topped 30 million players for the first time in more than two decades. The annual phone survey of 6,000 Americans showed that tennis participation grew in all age groups under the age of 50 and within all ethnicities. With 30.1 million people hitting the courts, tennis participation has grown 12% over 2008 and climbed 25% since 2003. The survey is conducted annually by the Taylor Research Group on behalf of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and the USTA.
New players comprised 7.1 million of the total, and the majority of tennis players consider themselves “regular players” (14.8 million). Though 15 of the 17 USTA sections were affected by record rainfall in the spring, total play occasions surpassed 560 million for only the second time in more than 20 years. The greatest percentage growth in participation was in players 12-17 which grew from 15.7% of the total participants in 2008 to 20.5% of the participants in 2009.
The TIA/USTA survey results include:
Total participation broke the 30 million mark in 2009 (a 12% increase to 30.1 million, against 26.9 million in 2008).
New players reached 7.1 million (up 19.5% from 5.9 million in 2008).
Regular Players, those playing 4 to 20 times per year, increased 26% to 14.8 million players in 2009.
Participation in 2009 is up in every major ethnic group, but especially among African Americans (+19%) and Hispanics (+32%)
Age groups comprising the greatest percentage of players are:
- 12-17 years at 20.5% of the total (more than 6 million players)
- 18-24 years at18.4% of the total (more than 5.5 million players)
- 6-11 years at 16.25% of the total (4.9 million players)
Tennis is doing a better job at retention with continuing players up 6.3% to 16 million
Former players rejoining to the game is up for the third year in a row, with nearly 7 million coming back to tennis
The TIA/USTA results compare favorably to other recent research released from industry organizations over the past 12 months. In the 2009 Sports and Fitness Participation Report conducted by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), results showed tennis was the only traditional sport to enjoy growth in grassroots participation.
While it’s hard to put too much stock in a single survey, I’m thrilled to hear some good news about tennis in the States. I wonder what’s causing the uptick? Is it the USTA’s outreach efforts? Parents wanting their kids to be the next Serena and/or Maria? Roger’s hair? Nadal’s guns?
I credit Roger for reigniting my own passion for the game. Before he won Wimbledon in ’03, I was an on-again/off-again fan. As a kid I idolized Pete Sampras, but my interest waned during the early 2000s (Lleyton Hewitt just didn’t do it for me, I guess.) Watching Roger have so much fun on the tennis court inspired me to buy a racquet and give the game (another) try.