Please update your profile

Your Safe Play Approval Expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Safe Play Approval has expired!

Your Admin status expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Organization Admin is expired!

Your Membership Expires in $(daysToExpire) days!

Your Membership has expired!

Please complete your account creation
This is the membership endpoints html.
PB Error Codes
getcategories
getproducts
accesstoken
catalogId
catalogVersionId
categoryId
viewCart
deleteCart
addToCart
retrieveMembersDetails
getMemberInfo
unlinkMember
submitNewMemberInfo
updateCustomerDetails
traditionalUpdateCustomerDetails
paymentDetails
createOrganization
addFacility
addVoucher
removeVoucher
validateAddress
setDefaultPayment
getOrganization
orders
organizationSuggestion
facilitySuggestion
deleteCard
signInByUaid
recoveryEmail
customerEmailUpdate
traditionalLogin
signInByProfile
updateSignInProfile
addCard
addEcheck
removeEcheck
setDefaultPaymentInfo
unsubscribe
editFacility
unlinkFacility
editOrganization
duplicateCustomerValidation
getSection
refreshToken

Silver linings: The growth of tennis in 2020

Peter Francesconi | March 01, 2021

As we begin our second year dealing with the coronavirus and its impact on our lives and on our businesses, we get some good news about the state of our sport. It seems that in 2020, while Americans have been locked down, forced to curtail most activities and told to keep a very tight circle of family and friends, the sport of tennis has actually been growing.

 

The USTA released the news in mid-February, under the headline “U.S. Tennis Participation Surges in 2020.” And it truly did “surge”—a rather unprecedented 22 percent increase in overall participation from a year earlier, which translates into about 4 million more players—bringing total tennis participation for 2020 to 21.64 million players.


Significantly, 6.78 million of the total tennis participants last year are considered new and returning players—the 2.96 million new players in 2020 is a 44 percent increase over new players in 2019; while the 3.82 million Americans who returned to the sport is a 40 percent increase.

 

These great numbers come to us from the Physical Activity Council (PAC), which monitors more than 120 sports and activities in the U.S. for its annual Participation Study.

 

But the numbers also come to us as a result of this tragic and challenging pandemic. We all know that tennis has incredible health benefits, but the very nature of the sport means it’s the perfect social-distancing activity. Americans, cooped up in their homes for months, have realized this, and despite the pandemic, they’ve been flocking to tennis courts across the country for health, fitness and fun. It helps, of course, that the USTA was able to offer financial assistance to facilities along with recommendations and guidelines for playing safely.

 

A year ago, many of us in the industry were thinking the pandemic would be devastating for tennis equipment sales. In fact, 2020 second-quarter racquet shipments from manufacturers to retailers were down by more than 100,000 from Q2 2019.

 

But equipment sales, too, have rebounded, with a fourth-quarter sales surge that, according to Sports Marketing Surveys, has offset coronavirus losses earlier in 2020, resulting in annual increases in U.S. tennis racquet and ball sales. In total, across all of 2020, racquets enjoyed a 21 percent boost in shipment units to retailers compared to 2019, while ball shipments achieved single-digit growth.

 

All of this is great news for the sport, of course. But I can’t help but think it’s tinged with sadness. Would these increases, especially in participation, have been possible had it not been for the pandemic that kept us all at home? The reality is, probably not. We’ve been trying to grow tennis participation for decades, with mixed results—certainly nothing near a 4-million-person increase in participation in one year, which we’ve managed to achieve during this pandemic.

 

We need to capitalize on this momentum surrounding participation with effective programs, initiatives and advocacy that capture the local, grassroots nature of this sport. We owe it to tennis, we owe it to our businesses—and we owe it to all who have been suffering through this pandemic.

 

--------

 

Peter Francesconi is the editor of Racquet Sports Industry magazine.

Have a question?

Submit a question for discussion on the Tennis Industry United Blog and Podcast

Related Posts
  • As we power through this pandemic and try to keep things together in the tennis industry, it's important to reflect on the idea of gratitude. Read More
  • Tennis Industry United features insightful and informative interviews with industry insiders and business professionals—all aimed at better connecting the tennis community and educating all those affected by the many challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More
  • The Tennis Industry United Webinars feature a variety of experts offering practical advice and important insights on managing your business, providing for your people, and dealing with the many challenges faced by the industry during the COVID-19 pandemic. Read More