RELATED: 2013 USTA.com Year in Review home
By E.J. Crawford, USTA.com
The year in youth tennis got off to an excellent start: a 2012 study by the Taylor Research Group found that tennis participation in the U.S. was at its highest level in three years and that the biggest increase in play, at 13 percent, was among kids ages 6 to 11.
Things only got better from there.
Buoyed by the success of 10 and Under Tennis, the sport continued to thrive among its youngest population, attracting a new generation of lifelong fans and lifetime players.
During the year, youth tennis was showcased in a number of high-profile stops: an exhibition during Tennis Night in America at Madison Square Garden in New York City, an appearance at the White House Easter Egg Roll, the annual youth tennis extravaganza that is Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day at the US Open, an encore at the US Open to kick off National Childhood Obesity Awareness month, and a prime location at Nickelodeon’s annual Worldwide Day of Play.
Interspersed, many milestones were achieved. In March, the 10,000th youth court was completed, at Tamiami Park in Miami, a landmark event in a four-year-long program that has seen nearly 10 youth courts constructed every day. In total, more than 13,000 youth courts will have been built, restructured or refurbished in that time span, including nearly 3,500 in 2013 alone.
Moreover, the number of registered youth tennis facilities is now approaching 3,000, the total number of Play Days for 2013 exceeded 4,000 and more than 25,000 participants played in USTA Jr. Team Tennis. In addition, more than 1,400 free tennis events were held in September in support of Nickelodeon’s Worldwide Day of Play and National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and Schools Tennis continued to shine, with more than 2,600 PE programs impacting more than 1 million kids and more than 2,000 Kids’ Tennis Clubs drawing more than 130,000 participants.
To foster this continued growth, the USTA over the next three years (2014-16) has committed to install at least 5,000 new kid-sized courts; train at least 15,000 new youth coaches, trainers and volunteers; and engage at least 300,000 kids in after-school and summer programs.
More kids, more courts, more tennis. It’s a winning formula for a winning program: youth tennis.
For more on youth tennis, and to find the right equipment and a program near you, visit YouthTennis.com.