Halfway Through 2013: A Snapshot of TIA Efforts

For the first half of 2013 the TIA has been focused on industry efforts to grow the game and the business of tennis. Under the direction of TIA President Greg Mason—whose two-year term commenced at the beginning of 2013—and our board of directors, we continue to focus our efforts on our four key strategic platforms:

  • Frequent Player Growth
  • Providing the industry with leading research and market intelligence
  • Communications and positions for the industry
  • Unifying the industry under one brand - TENNIS.

According to data released in the State of the Industry report in April of this year, the total tennis economy for 2012 was valued at $5.57 billion, a 3% increase over 2011. The annual State of the Industry synthesizes the more than 70 reports and surveys conducted by the TIA every year.The growth is largely being driven by an increase in sponsorship revenue and ticket sales for the pro tour events.

Since frequent players are the key drivers of the overall tennis economy, our goal remains to help drive growth in frequent play so that by 2015 the industry realizes its goal of 7.5 million frequent players and by 2020, 10 million frequent players. Reaching 10 million frequent players will add an estimated $3.9 billion to the tennis economy. 

PlayTennis.com
One of our key efforts to not only increase frequent play, but also to bring more players into the game, is PlayTennis.com. At the beginning of 2013 the TIA was reassigned management of the PlayTennis.com website and all of the promotional efforts associated with this industry-supported initiative. In May, the TIA re-launched PlayTennis.com in a new beta format with a new interface aimed at improving the overall user experience and making it even easier for consumers to find out more about how and where to get into the game. We are currently working with our various industry partners on developing promotional efforts through traditional media as well as social media channels to elevate PlayTennis.com as the "hub" of all things tennis.  Our potential reach for the PlayTennis.com message can easily approach 100 million consumers through the support of the TIA members and we appreciate all of the support they have all shown this initiative.

We have also been working diligently to ensure the most up to date information is available for consumers in PlayTennis.com searches by conducting a tennis facility and retail "census." Beginning in February the TIA contacted thousands of tennis facilities and retailers to encourage them to input and/or update their information in the GrowingTennis System, one of the key data sources of searches on the PlayTennis.com website.

"Playtennis.com is a long-term piece of the TIA’s portfolio. It’s a great example of what we can do when we combine energies with other groups to enhance frequent play—which is target No. 1 for the TIA," says Mason.

Tennis Tune-Up Campaign
With the re-launch of PlayTennis.com came the announcement of a new industry supported campaign, the "Tennis Tune-Up,” which stemmed from ideas gathered from tennis retailers and industry partners at meetings held in New York City in March. The campaign is currently being driven through PlayTennis.com and encourages consumers to visit an "expert" to "tune-up" their equipment and their game, with a key focus on the importance of having racquets restrung more frequently.  This campaign will gather strength and momentum to support the retail community as we will expand the reach to more consumers over the Summer months.

Cardio Tennis
In addition to a complete rebuild of PlayTennis.com, the TIA also launched an all-new website for CardioTennis.com in early June. Again, the aim was to improve the overall consumer experience on the site while also enhancing the accessibility of tools and resources available to Cardio Tennis providers across the country and internationally.

The Cardio Tennis program has continued its growth both in the U.S. and internationally through the first half of 2013. The most recent data from the Physical Activity Council places total Cardio Tennis participation at more than 1.4 million players in the U.S. alone. Over 200 tennis coaches have been trained so far this year to deliver Cardio Tennis, through courses held throughout the country and in conjunction with events such as the PTR International Tennis Symposium. Currently, about 15 training courses are scheduled for the remainder of 2013, including one in September in Orlando during the USPTA World Conference.

Earlier this year, The Cardio Tennis team was restructured into three levels—“Speakers,” “Trainers,” and “Master Trainers”—to best deliver enhanced training. Also, Cardio Tennis became the first tennis-oriented program to receive continuing education accreditation by the National Academy of Sports Medicine. And the partnership between Cardio Tennis and leading fitness products and programs provider TRX continues to move forward, as TRX has now added “TRX Cardio Tennis” training courses to its Professional Education menu.

"Cardio Tennis continues to bridge the gap between tennis and fitness," says TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer, "and we will continue to support this program as a way to get more people into the game and as consumer interest in the program grows in the U.S. and abroad."

Retailer Efforts
Supporting and helping tennis retailers grow their businesses has remained a key focus for the TIA in the first half of this year. In addition to the “Tennis Tune-Up” campaign, other efforts are under way to enhance and improve the retail landscape. The Retail Division is beginning to gain traction as membership is growing and we continue to promote the division as a platform for tennis retailers to have a "voice" within the industry.

In June, retailers across the country received postcards outlining the thousands of dollars of benefits available to them as members of the Retail Division. In addition, manufacturer sales representatives have agreed to promote the Retail Division to their accounts as a way to not only be involved in the industry, but also to realize cost-saving opportunities for their business as well as accessibility to tools and educational resources.

For instance, the TIA has worked with Preferred Card Services to offer discounted credit-card processing rates to tennis retailers. Additionally, the TIA released a TIA Retail Tips Booklet in March, which is a compilation of nearly two dozen "tips" to help tennis retailers improve their business. To further provide retailers with an opportunity to expand their operational knowledge of the tennis retail trade, the TIA is currently developing a Tennis Retailer Certification Course, which will consist of eight "modules." Upon successful completion of these modules, tennis retailers will be designated as a "TIA Certified Specialty Tennis Retailer."

Ongoing Goals
During the TIA Board Meeting in March in Weston, FL, the TIA further established its goals for the remainder of 2013, including:

  • The successful relaunch of PlayTennis.com, which will continue to be a work in progress as we move from the beta format to the full-scale launch later in the year.
  • Remaining the key research source for the industry. We're looking to expand our research with a Global State of the Industry Report, which could measure manufacturers' distribution in nations from Europe, North and South America, Asia, and Australia, and will track racquets, balls and strings. By tracking global marketplace performance, we can identify the impact of industry-supported initiatives on product demand, and provide top-line market intelligence to enhance tennis' mainstream appeal.
  • Continuing to work collaboratively with all of our industry partners to support the growth of youth tennis. In January and February, more than 1 million youth tennis hang-cards on youth racquets began to hit the shelves of mass merchants, sporting goods stores, and tennis retail shops across the U.S. The TIA coordinated the development and distribution of these hang-cards, in conjunction with the USTA and manufacturers, in an effort to help educate both consumers and retailers on youth tennis equipment specifications and drive them to YouthTennis.com, where parents can find play opportunities for their children.
  • Data from our research reports has indicated that the first quarter was challenging for the industry, as poor weather patterns and changing economic conditions continue to impact consumer purchases. Despite fluctuating participation trends among traditional sports, tennis continues to lead the pack in long-term participation growth, which is up 31% from 2000 to 2012, according to the U.S. Sports, Fitness and Recreation Participation Report recently released by the Physical Activity Council. The fact that ball shipments in Q1 were consistent with the much warmer 2012 Spring shipments is a confidence builder as it indicates play occasions are remaining stable.  We will continue to monitor the position of the industry through our research and collectively, with our partners, make decisions necessary to continue to move this industry ahead.

    We look forward to the remainder of 2013 and working together to grow the game and economic vitality of our sport. For more information on TIA efforts and research, visit www.tennisindustry.org, email us at info@tennisindustry.org or call (866) 686-3036.