28,000,000 - According to a survey conducted for the USTA and the Tennis Industry Association by Taylor Research and Consulting, tennis participation increased by 4 percent in 2012, topping 28 million players for the first time since 2009.
1,500 - Over the past calendar year, more than 1,500 supervised Kids' Tennis Clubs have been established in the United States, with the goal to give young children the opportunity to be introduced to the game and play from the very first swing of the racquet.
612 - Andy Roddick departed the sport of professional tennis at the age of 30 with 612 career ATP victories, second only to Roger Federer’s 871 from the pool of active players.
Venus Williams and the Washington Kastles are bearing down on the record for consecutive all-sports wins.
6 - David Wagner, a six-time US Open champion, now owns six Paralympic medals after claiming a gold and a silver in London at the 2012 Paralympic Games.
By Nicholas J. Walz, USTA.com
As we turn the calendar to 2013, here are some of the important figures that defined the past 12 months and made 2012 one of the most interesting and influential years in the history of American tennis:
28,000,000 – According to a survey conducted for the USTA and the Tennis Industry Association by Taylor Research and Consulting, tennis participation increased by 4 percent in 2012, topping 28 million players for the first time since 2009. Additionally, the greatest increase in participation was among youngsters ages 6-11, a 13 -percent increase from 2011. The survey, conducted by phone, included observations from more than 7,500 individuals—making it one of the largest annual surveys in any sport.
710,803 – Total attendance for the 2012 US Open, a two-week total that topped the 700,000 threshold for the fifth time in the Open’s 131-year history. Fans who couldn’t make the trip to New York City enjoyed the action on television, as the tournament was broadcasted to 180 countries. In the U.S., fans could also enjoy live streaming of play at USOpen.org and through the 2012 US Open mobile app for the iPad, iPhone and Android devices.
400,000 – In the aftermath of one of the largest natural disasters in U.S. history, the USTA made donations of goods and money to Hurricane Sandy relief efforts totaling more than $400,000. Clothing, bottled water and other beverages and needed supplies, such as shampoos and soap, were collected from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center and the USTA’s White Plains corporate headquarters and loaded on 16 pallets for delivery to the hardest-hit areas in the borough of Queens, the home of the US Open Tennis Championships.
1,500 – Over the past calendar year, more than 1,500 supervised Kids’ Tennis Clubs have been established in the United States, with the goal to give young children the opportunity to be introduced to the game and play from the very first swing of the racquet. Kids’ Tennis Clubs provide a low-in-stress, high-in-fun recreational environment that can be set up anywhere – on a blacktop, gymnasium floor, conference room or even a grassy playground – with easy games and fast-paced activities to keep children moving and involved in the action.
612 – Andy Roddick departed the sport of professional tennis at the age of 30 with 612 career ATP victories, second only to Roger Federer’s 871 from the pool of active players. The 2003 US Open champion finished with 32 ATP tournament titles in 12 years as a pro, including wins this past summer in Eastbourne in June and at the BB&T Atlanta Open in July. In an announcement made on his 30th birthday, Roddick declared his intention to retire after the 2012 US Open. He then embarked on a run to the round of 16 in his home Slam before falling at the hands of another former Open titlist, Juan Martin del Potro.
350 – Children enrolled at the Arise Academy in New Orleans who arrived at school after the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January to find a totally refurbished playground complete with two freshly painted 36-foot 10 and Under Tennis courts, a 60-foot 10 and Under Tennis court, two foursquare surfaces and a basketball court. The labor was provided by USTA national staff as part its "Day of Service" to conclude the 2012 Community Tennis Development Workshop, in conjunction with HandsOn New Orleans.
A charter school in the city’s famed Ninth Ward, Arise Academy partners with the A’s and Aces National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter to teach tennis as part of the daily curriculum. The blend of academics and team-building athletic activity is designed to keep at-risk children focused, healthy and off the streets.
190 – Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic was the winner of the 2012 Emirates Airline US Open Series, with 190 total points in the Series Bonus Challenge standings. The current No. 8 player in the world and former Wimbledon champion emerged victorious on the strength of tournament victories at the Rogers Cup in Montreal and the New Haven Open at Yale in New Haven, Conn. The North American summer series annually features 10 ATP and WTA events and the top talents in the game.
182 – Combination of original instructional videos and articles introduced by PlayTennis.com, the new social network site built for tennis players of all backgrounds and ability levels – from beginners to regular players – to arrange friendly matches, exchange advice, learn about the sport and get out and play. PlayTennis.com not only serves as a medium to find partners and programs that are right for you, but also delivers the latest equipment reviews and tips to take any tennis game to the next level.
72 – University of Southern California standout Steve Johnson finished his college career in the spring of 2012 with 72 consecutive victories, finishing the 2011-12 season at 32-0. Johnson won back-to-back NCAA singles championships in 2011 and 2012 and helped lead the Trojans to four straight NCAA team championships in his four years at USC.
52 – American Brian Baker rose to his highest professional ranking ever at No. 52 in the world in October – jumping up 700 spots from where he stood while watching the 2011 US Open on television. The 26-year-old emerged from debilitating hip and shoulder injuries – which required multiple surgeries – to enjoy a career rebirth by winning two USTA Pro Circuit Futures titles, a Challenger event in Savannah, Ga., and by reaching his first-ever ATP final in Nice, France. That set up a second-round appearance at Roland Garros and a fourth-round run at Wimbledon. Baker’s journey finally brought him back to the US Open after a seven-year hiatus to defeat Czech Jan Hajek, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, in the first round.
"I think just being older and knowing how easy the game was taken away from me, it's very easy to appreciate it a lot," said Baker after the match. "I don't take anything for granted."
49 – In the 49th year of Fed Cup competition, the United States found itself as a country in an unenviable and unfamiliar position, relegated to World Group II at the start of 2012. A pair dominant 5-0 sweeps of opponents Belarus and Ukraine, however, vaulted Captain Mary Joe Fernandez’s squad back into the World Group in time for the competition’s golden anniversary in 2013. The U.S. travels to Rimini, Italy, for its first tie of the New Year this upcoming February 9-10.
42 – Weeks on the Billboard Top 100 chart in 2012 for "Call Me Maybe," the hit pop track from Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day headliner Carly Rae Jepsen. The 27-year-old Canadian songstress teamed with fellow acts The Wanted, Owl City, Rachel Crow of "The X Factor," Matthew Morrison of "Glee" and many more to entertain the crowd in Queens on the Saturday before the start of play at the US Open. An annual tradition, Kids’ Day has kicked off the Open each year since 1993 in honor of the late Arthur Ashe, the first US Open men’s champion of the Open era.
40 – In May, 40 members of the USTA and USTA Serves Board of Directors, the Advocacy and Public Affairs Committee, the Tennis and Higher Education Task Force and the NJTL network visited the headquarters of the U.S. Department of Defense, The Pentagon. The purpose of the visit was to meet with various military officials and to spread the word about USTA Military Outreach, whose efforts supported more than 100,000 U.S. Armed Forces active-duty members, veterans and their loved ones in its first year in 2011.
32 – Consecutive wins by the 2012 World TeamTennis (WTT) champions, the Washington Kastles, after claiming their second WTT title in as many years with a 20-19 win over the Sacramento Capitals in September. The streak of victories is the second- longest undefeated string in U.S. professional sports history, one shy of the NBA’s Los Angeles Lakers and their 33 straight wins during the 1971-72 regular season. The coed professional tennis league kicks off its 38th year beginning in July 2013 with a chance for the Kastles, led by the Serena and Venus Williams, to eclipse the Lakers’ mark.
17 – Roger Federer won Wimbledon in July, dispatching defending champion Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and then eventual US Open champion Andy Murray for his record 17th Grand Slam crown. Federer’s seventh Wimbledon victory forged a tie with ITF Hall of Famer Pete Sampras for career gentlemen’s singles titles at the All-England Club.
Also, we’d be remiss not to mention that there are regional sections that represent the USTA, all of which continue to build and develop tennis across the country.
15 – Taylor Townsend, at age 15, became the first American since 1989 to win an Australian Open girls’ singles championship with a three-set win over fourth-seeded Yulia Putintseva of Russia, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, and she also added the girls’ doubles title (with fellow American Gabrielle Andrews) to become the first American girl to sweep the singles and doubles at a Grand Slam since Lindsay Davenport at the 1992 US Open. . Having turned "sweet 16" in April, Townsend added girls’ doubles wins at Wimbledon (with Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard) and the US Open (with Andrews), as well as an Easter Bowl 18s singles title, en route to finishing 2012 with another superlative: The Atlanta native became the first U.S. female junior in 30 years to finish No. 1 in the world in the year-end ITF World Junior Rankings.
13 – The University of Western Washington qualified for the USTA Tennis on Campus National Championship for a 13th consecutive year, played this past April at the Cary Tennis Park in Cary, N.C. In doing so, Western Washington became the sole team out of the 619 accredited colleges across the nation currently under the TOC umbrella to qualify for every National Championship since the event’s inception in 2000. To afford the travel costs each season, the small state school out of Bellingham, Wash., engages in year-round fundraising and volunteer work with community service organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.
"We are so proud of Western Washington for coming to nationals for all 13 years of our existence," said Glenn Arrington, USTA National Manager, Tennis on Campus. "It’s a tribute to the strength of their club leadership and the commitment to their program – they work extremely hard to both finance these trips and field a competitive team. I’m blown away that they’ve been able to qualify as consistently as they have."
12 – Bob and Mike Bryan continued to break all-time doubles records in 2012, seizing their 12th Grand Slam title as a duo at the US Open – for their fourth US Open trophy, tying the Open era mark – to surpass Aussies Mark Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge for the most major titles in men’s doubles in the Open era. Earlier in the summer, the Bryans also won their first gold medal as a team at the 2012 Olympics in London, completing the career "Golden Slam," having captured Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open men’s doubles titles along with Olympic gold.
9 – 2012 introduced a terrific opportunity for fans to enjoy USTA Pro Circuit action via the world wide web, as nine men’s Challenger events from New York to Vancouver to Southern California were streamed live as they happened on USTA.com, featuring some of the best up-and-coming professional talents in tennis. Plans are in place to continue streaming for the 2013 with an eye to expand to women’s events as well.
6 – For the sixth -consecutive Paralympic Games, Wheelchair Tennis competition brought the elite players in the game together this past September in London for the men’s, women’s and quad events. The No. 1-ranked quad player in the world, David Wagner, enjoyed a successful stint across the pond by winning both a gold medal (in doubles with longtime partner Nick Taylor) and a silver (in singles) for Team USA to make it six career Paralympic medals in all – -- three gold, two silver and one bronze.
Also a six-time US Open champion, the 38-year-old pride of Hillsboro, Ore. will return to Flushing Meadows in 2013 to defend both 2011 quad singles and doubles crowns when wheelchair play returns from a one-year hiatus due to the Paralympics running concurrent to the Open.
5 – The United States Davis Cup team netted one of its biggest victories in recent years with a 5-0 statement victory in the World Group first round over Switzerland in Fribourg, denying the legendary Federer and fellow Top 20 player Stanislas Wawrinka any chance to celebrate on their home clay. John Isner stood tallest (pun intended) of the Americans, defeating Federer for the first time in singles in his career, 4-6 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2, to give the U.S. a stout 2-0 advantage heading into the Day 2 doubles rubber.
What’s more, it was a tie played without the combination of Bob and Mike Bryan, with Bob remaining stateside for the birth of his first child. Mardy Fish stepped in to tandem with Mike Bryan and rebounded from a set down to clinch the match and the tie, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The team would go on to defeat France and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on the road later in the spring before succumbing to Spain in the World Group semifinals.
4 – The fourth annual edition of Tennis Night in America was highlighted by a double main event exhibition inside Madison Square Garden. The BNP Paribas Showdown featured former US Open champion Maria Sharapova defeating former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the opening contest, followed by Andy Roddick besting Roger Federer, 7-5, 7-6 (7), in his MSG debut in front of 18,000-plus fans, who also witnessed a 10 and Under Tennis demonstration led by former pro and current USTA Vice President Katrina Adams. More than 1,400 facilities hosted youth tennis events featuring 10 and Under Tennis throughout March as part of the build-up to Tennis Night, ranging from program registration to Kids’ Tennis Clubs and Play Days.
3 – Venus Williams returned to the game of tennis after months of recovering from the effects of Sjögren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease that forced the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion to retire from the 2011 US Open and to miss the 2012 Australian Open completely.
Yet, when Venus returned to action as a wild card at Miami’s Sony Ericsson Open in March – the third month of the year – Venus rallied to beat then-world No. 3 Petra Kvitova to reach the third round, her first victory over a Top 3 opponent in three years (when she defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova in Doha in 2009). Despite a tough setback in the first round of Wimbledon to Russian Elena Vesnina, Williams rallied later in the summer in a return to the All-England Club for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, where she and sister Serena represented the United States and captured their third gold medal as a team in women’s doubles. At No. 24 in the WTA rankings, Williams is the third-highest ranked American heading into 2013 – a far rosier career outlook than 12 months ago.
2 – Kudos to the Austin Tennis Academy (ATA) out of USTA Texas, which sent two teams: a 14 & Under and an 18 & Under squad, both in the Advanced division, to the 12th annual USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Championships in South Carolina in October. Given that only 512 players out of more than 100,000 active Jr. Team Tennis players make it to Nationals, the first-place finishes for both ATA "Dream Teams" cemented the capital of Texas as the city to beat when the tournaments return to the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center in Cayce, S.C., in 2013.
And finally …
1 – 2012 was a year of firsts in several respects relating the world of tennis:
Brian Battistone, former ATP doubles player and wielder of a custom-designed two-handed racquet, qualified for direct entry into the 2012 US Open mixed doubles draw for the first time in his career by winning the US Open Nationals Playoffs Mixed Doubles Championship with partner Nicole Melichar. The duo won the right to represent USTA Southwest with a sectional qualifying tournament victory in May, advancing to the Mixed Doubles Championship in New Haven in August. In its third year of existence, the US Open National Playoffs once again afforded the opportunity to any individual to play their way into either the US Open main draw in mixed doubles or US Open Qualifying Tournament in men’s singles and women’s singles.
Djokovic finished the year ranked No. 1 in the world rankings for the second consecutive year, becoming the first player besides Federer to achieve the feat in a decade, when Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt did so in 2001-02. Djokovic also won the first Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s points title of his career, finishing atop the standings with 170 points after winning the Rogers Cup in Toronto and reaching the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
Speaking of back-to-backs: 17-year-old wild card Samantha Crawford defeated Estonia’s Anett Kontaveit, 7-5, 6-3, to win her first junior Grand Slam title at the 2012 US Open. Along with another Atlanta product, Grace Min, who won in 2011, it’s the first time two Americans have won the girls’ singles draw in consecutive years in New York since Meilen Tu and Tara Snyder did so in 1994 and 1995, respectively. Crawford was also the first wild card to win the event since fellow American CoCo Vandeweghe was victorious in 2008.
You may have heard about this: Andy Murray won his first Grand Slam title of his career at the 2012 US Open, knocking off defending champion Novak Djokovic, 7-6 (10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2, in a four-hour, 54- minute contest that ranks as the longest Open final ever in terms of time duration. With the win, several additional firsts were realized: Murray now stands as the only British male to win a Grand Slam title in the Open era, and the first since 1936, when Fred Perry won his final US Open crown. He is also the only man to win Olympic gold and the US Open singles title in the same year.
Serena Williams continues to set the standard for female athletes with a tremendous 2012 campaign. On the strength of 58 WTA tour wins – her most ever in a single year – and titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, Williams was tabbed as the 2012 WTA Player of the Year in early December. Another career first for Williams was her gold medal in singles at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. Williams also raised her career earnings to just under $42,000,000, first all-time among women athletes. The only challenge seemingly remaining for the 31-year-old is getting back to the world No. 1., perhaps in 2013.