HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., July 28, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Tennis is the only traditional participation sport to be ranked in the Top 10 in terms of participation growth, out of nearly 120 sports and activities surveyed in the recently released Physical Activity Council (PAC) 2014 Participation Report. In the U.S., tennis grew by 658,000 players, or 4%, in the last year, to bring total tennis participation to 17.68 million players, according to PAC data.
Tennis ranked No. 10 on the PAC list for participant growth. The nine sports that saw participation increases greater than 658,000 in 2013 are, starting from No. 1: walking for fitness, swimming for fitness, running/jogging, bicycling on a non-paved surface, aerobics (high-impact), backpacking overnight, bicycling on a paved surface, yoga, and trail running. "It's interesting to note that tennis is the only 'traditional' sport on the PAC Top 10 list," says Greg Mason, president of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA).
"The majority of sports and activities on this list are fitness-based, and tennis fits nicely into the fitness arena," Mason adds. "More and more people continue to realize the great workout they can get on the tennis court, while still having a lot of fun. In fact, the growth this industry has seen in the Cardio Tennis program over the last nine years speaks to the desire for more people to use tennis as a way to improve their health and fitness." Cardio Tennis, which was created in 2005, now has 1.5 million participants, according to PAC research.
Also adding to tennis's overall growth in participation is the explosion in the number of youngsters playing tennis over the last few years, spearheaded by the USTA's Youth Tennis initiative targeting kids ages 10 and under. "This evolution in Youth Tennis is making the game easier for kids and allows for much faster play opportunities," says Dave Haggerty, chairman of the board, CEO and president of the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA).
According to PAC research, in 2013, more than 2 million players between the ages of 6 and 12 took to the courts, an increase of 4.8% over 2012.
The shorter courts and lower-pressure tennis balls used for Youth Tennis, however, have also been migrating to the adult tennis population, adds Kurt Kamperman, chief executive of Community Tennis for the USTA. "We're seeing more and more adults who enjoy playing tennis on shorter, 36-foot and 60-foot courts with red, orange or green tennis balls. They're enjoying the longer rallies, along with all the social and fitness benefits of the game."
TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer says the tennis industry's unified efforts on many initiatives, programs, and promotions, including Youth Tennis and Cardio Tennis, have been bearing fruit when it comes to increasing overall participation. "A key collaborative effort by this industry is the unbranded website PlayTennis.com, designed as a 'one-stop portal' for consumers who want to get into the game or play more tennis," she adds. The site has valuable information and searches to find places to play, partners, coaches, programs, retailers, and more.
A new promotion that launched this past May, and will be conducted again throughout September during the US Open, is "Try Tennis for Free." Run through the PlayTennis.com website, the promotion is designed to bring new and returning players into the sport and is for players of all ages and skill levels. Try Tennis for Free is supported by the two main tennis-teaching organizations in the U.S.—the Professional Tennis Registry and the U.S. Professional Tennis Association. Free sessions for consumers can vary depending on the location, as each individual facility or certified professional can choose the best introductory session or program they feel will encourage new and returning players to step onto the court.
"It's great to see our collective industry efforts to grow tennis taking hold," Mason says. "We're excited about the future direction of our sport as we continue to work with industry stakeholders and the USTA to bring tennis—and all its great benefits—to more people, of all ages."
About the TIA
The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, is THE unifying force in the tennis industry whose mission is to promote the growth and economic vitality of tennis by working closely with the USTA and industry partners to develop and implement initiatives to increase tennis participation and improve the health of industry businesses. Core TIA activities include producing more than 70 research reports annually on participation and consumer/trade research, in addition to Grow the Game Initiatives such as PlayTennis.com, 10 and Under Tennis, the GrowingTennis System™, Tennis Welcome Centers, Cardio Tennis, Careers in Tennis and Tennis Tune-Up Campaign. Visit TennisIndustry.org or call 866-686-3036.
PlayTennis.com is a non-branded one-stop portal of tennis information for potential and current players to get and stay involved with the sport. On the site consumers can find people to play with, search for places to play, find local programs and events in their area, connect with a tennis coach for lessons, search for retailers, read gear reviews, and more.
TIA Board of Directors
adidas: David Malinowski
America Sports Builders Assoc.: Fred Stringfellow
ATP World Tour: Linda Clark
Babolat: Eric Babolat
Dunlop Sports Group: Kai Nitsche
ESPN: Jason Bernstein
HEAD Penn Racquet Sports: Greg Mason (President)
IHRSA: Meredith Poppler
International Management Group: Kevin Callanan
International Tennis Federation: Dave Miley
International Tennis Hall of Fame: Mark Stenning
Mylan World TeamTennis: Ilana Kloss
Prince Sports: Mike Ballardie
Professional Tennis Registry: Dan Santorum
Sports & Fitness Industry Association: Tom Cove
Tennis Channel: David Egdes
Tennis Magazine: Jeff Williams
U.S. Professional Tennis Association: John Embree
U.S. Racquet Stringers Association: David Bone
U.S. Tennis Association: Kurt Kamperman
Wilson Sporting Goods: Jon Muir
WTA Tennis: Stacey Allaster
Peter Francesconi 843.473.4497
Tennis Industry Association
NOT AVAILABLE, South Carolina, UNITED STATES
Peter Francesconi 843.473.4497