Tennis Participation and ‘Play Occasions’ Increase in the U.S in 2015

Tennis also is the only traditional participation sport to see an increase in overall participation over the last eight years.

The number of people playing tennis in the U.S. and the number of tennis “play occasions” increased in 2015, according to the latest figures released by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and U.S. Tennis Association (USTA), which were part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC) Annual Participation Study.

In addition, the PAC study shows that tennis is the only traditional participation sport to see an increase in overall participation over the last eight years—increasing 6% since 2007. All other traditional participation sports—soccer, basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, golf, fishing and racquetball—saw declines in that time period. The PAC study is the largest single-source independent sports participation survey in the U.S., measuring participation in more than 120 sports and activities.

For 2015, total tennis players numbered 17.96 million, which is a .3% increase from 2014, according to the PAC study. “Core” tennis players—those who play 10 or more times a year—increased .5% to 9.96 million. The number of tennis “play occasions” also increased in 2015, both overall and for core players. Overall play occasions were up .8% to 446.4 million; core players accounted for 418.3 million of those play occasions.

Last year, there were 2.07 million new tennis players, which is a 3.8% increase compared to 2014. Another 2.2 million players “returned” to the game in 2015, which is a 14.8% increase. The total for combined new and returning players in 2015 is a 9.2% increase from 2014.

In addition, 14.75 million Americans who are non-players are interested in playing tennis, and another 12.8 million who may not have played in the past year “consider themselves” tennis players.

Youth participation, however, saw slight declines for ages 6 to 12, with participation at 2.11 million, a 1.1% drop from 2014, and for ages 13 to 17, which fell 5.5%, also to 2.11 million players, while overall "core" youth participation rose in 2015 by 5%.

Of particular note is the Cardio Tennis program, which in 2015 alone grew 12.6% in participation, to 1.82 million players. Cardio Tennis, which was developed in 2005, was first measured by the PAC study in 2008 and has grown 119% in participation in the past seven years.

Also noteworthy is increasing tennis participation among Hispanics in the U.S., which has been a priority for the USTA. In 2015, Hispanic tennis players jumped 12.2%, to 1.79 million players. Participation among Asians in the U.S. increased 5.6% in 2015 to 1.98 million. However, African-American players declined by 1.7% to 1.9 million, and Caucasian participation dropped .8% to 11.89 million.