The Tennis Show and TIA Tennis Forum Generate Traffic, Excitement for the Sport

Video Courtesy of Tennis Channel

NEW YORK, NY (Sept. 5, 2012) — The tennis industry came together in New York City, just days before the US Open tennis tournament began, for The Tennis Show 2012, a one-day celebration of the "sport of opportunity."

Hundreds of tennis providers, tennis teaching pros, coaches, facility managers, retailers, media and industry supporters attended The Tennis Show, held on Aug. 24 at the Grand Hyatt New York. It was the first industry-sponsored tennis show since 2000.

"The activity at the show and the excitement for tennis and the industry that the event generated is something we plan on continuing—and growing—at The Tennis Show in 2013, and beyond," said Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA).

Presented by the TIA, in conjunction with the U.S. Tennis Association's annual Tennis Teachers Conference, The Tennis Show 2012 featured an exhibitor show, demo court, and the TIA Tennis Forum, along with the induction ceremony of legendary coach Nick Bollettieri into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.

Attendees had opportunities to network with colleagues and see the latest in tennis products and services from a variety of businesses, manufacturers and organizations. On the full-size demo court, participants hit with racquets from Babolat, Dunlop, Gamma, HEAD/Penn, Prince and Wilson. Some of the demo court sessions incorporated the popular Cardio Tennis drills and action.

The TIA Tennis Forum included a "State of the Tennis Industry" report, an update on Youth Tennis and other key initiatives to grow the game, and the induction ceremony for Bollettieri into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.

USTA Chairman of the Board and President Jon Vegosen welcomed attendees to the Tennis Show and Forum. "The theme for my term has been 'Tennis—The Sport of Opportunity,' and it's gratifying for me to see how the Tennis Industry Association continues to provide opportunities for all tennis providers," Vegosen said. "The TIA plays an important role in our success, with its goals of increasing frequent tennis players and tennis consumers, undertaking key research and market intelligence, and helping to increase awareness and advocacy for our sport."

TIA President Jon Muir reported on the state of the tennis industry, updating the audience on TIA efforts. While 6.8 million new players tried tennis in 2011, Muir said, "the sport is still suffering from a 'leaky bucket'"—tennis is losing as many participants as it gains, so participation remains relatively flat. A bright spot, however, is that "play occasions" increased slightly for frequent players (who play 21 or more times a year), the first such increase since 2008.

In other positive news for the industry, the first half of 2012 saw an increase in tennis ball shipments in both units and dollars, Muir said. Also, premium tennis racquets sold at pro and specialty retailers increased in both units and dollars. Shipments of red, orange, and green tennis balls, used in 10 and Under Tennis, continue to outpace last year, too.

"One of the TIA's main goals is to increase the number of frequent tennis players, which drive 70% of all spending in the tennis industry," Muir said. Currently, there are nearly 5 million frequent players in the U.S. The TIA's goal is to increase that to 10 million by 2020, adding $3.9 billion to the total tennis economy, which at the end of 2011 was valued at$5.4 billion.

Muir also pointed to key TIA initiatives, including promoting the new website playtennis.com as a single portal for consumers to find "all things tennis"; continuing to promote and support youth tennis and the 10 and Under Tennis initiative; working with retailers to create a Retail Division of the TIA; among other focuses to grow and strengthen the industry.

Kurt Kamperman, the USTA's chief executive of Community Tennis, updated the industry audience on the key 10 and Under Tennis initiative. "We're continuing to market beyond the tennis industry itself," he said, noting ongoing plans with the Nickelodeon television network. "We're also trying to position tennis as the ideal sport in fighting childhood obesity."

So far, 80,000 youngsters ages 10 and under have joined the USTA. The USTA also is promoting Kids Tennis Clubs and Play Days. One challenge Kamperman mentioned is "getting facilities and teaching pros to do the whole 10 and Under Tennis program, not just parts of it." But a major success has been more than 8,600 shorter courts have been built or lined for youth tennis in the U.S.—"more than the rest of the world combined," he said.

Tennis coaching legend Nick Bollettieri, who recently turned 81 years old, was inducted into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame and honored for his significant impact on tennis. One of the world's most famous coaches, Bollettieri was introduced by former student and former pro tour player Brad Gilbert, who now is a tennis commentator on TV.

A coach, businessman, motivator and educator, Bollettieri has worked with players of all age ranges and skill levels, coaching 10 world No. 1 players—Andre Agassi, Boris Becker, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis, Jelena Jankovic, Marcelo Rios, Monica Seles, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams and Venus Williams.

He started the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy in 1978, and in the process, he developed a style and method of coaching and training that has revolutionized tennis instruction. The Bradenton, Fla., academy was thefirst major tennis boarding school, and it changed the way tennis was taught at the elite junior level.

"I am thrilled to be honored by the tennis industry," Bollettieri said. "I've dedicated my life to helping players of all ages and abilities enjoy the sport of tennis. It's quite an honor to be recognized by this industry." Bollettieri also reiterated his support for the key 10 and Under Tennis initiative as the best way to develop tennis among youngsters. The hundreds of tennis industry leaders, teaching pros, manufacturers, and retailers at the TIA Forum gave Bollettieri a prolonged standing ovation.

Bollettieri joins previous Tennis Industry Hall of Fame inductees Howard Head (2008), Dennis Van der Meer (2008), Alan Schwartz (2009), and Billie Jean King (2010). Plaques of Tennis Industry Hall of Fame inductees are on permanent display at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Plans are in the works for "The Tennis Show 2013," including possibly increasing the number of exhibitors and creating other related events. "We were very pleased by the response we received this year for The Tennis Show," said de Boer. "To see how positive the attendees and exhibitors were was truly gratifying. We have a lot to celebrate in this sport and industry, and we're very pleased that The Tennis Show is helping to bring out that excitement."

For more information about this year's show, and to find out more about next year's show, check TennisShow.com or the TIA's website, TennisInustry.org.