New players need new gear

Dave Emkey | May 11, 2020

If you’re a tennis retailer, you’re probably looking at your inventory thinking that you have no other choice than to offer some crazy sales when customers are allowed back into your store. The spring season and first-quarter launches have been languishing on your racks and shelves, and you might still have some summer product that you had to take in but couldn’t move during this second quarter. So now, you’re likely canceling some futures for Q3 and Q4. 


If you’re nervous about this situation, and maybe also wondering what you’re going to do, you are far from alone. But you might be able to turn this whole situation into an opportunity. 

There has been a lot of speculation, along with some evidence (including a spike in sales of racquets under $50), that tennis will see newcomers to the game. People are desperate to be social and at this point, active, and tennis offers both, with social distancing and with cardio benefits. Many people appear to be realizing this and are willing to give tennis a try.


Players just trying out the game are going to want product at the right price. They will be looking into the pre-strung racquet market and at frames at lower price points. They’ll also be looking for shoes at the right price, most likely under $100. Plus, they’ll need tennis balls, and with play guidelines recommending each player use their own can, tennis balls may be a key item to stock.


Think about what they’ll need as a “starter kit” and put an aggressive price to it. Make sure, though, that the price you ask makes sense for them and still helps you turn some of the older merchandise from your shop into cash. 


Aside from your usual or repeat customers, you’re after a new consumer, so you’ll need to tailor your marketing strategy. One approach could be to utilize and market recommendations on playing tennis safely. This helps people feel more confident that tennis can be a great new outlet for them.




Dave Emkey is a longtime business development executive in the tennis industry.

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