2023 National Tennis Month: A smashing success
Hundreds of tennis events took place throughout the country in May in celebration of National Tennis Month, as tennis providers in all 17 USTA Sections stepped up to help spread the word about tennis and grow the sport in their communities. Each year, NTM has been gaining ground, with more of a reach into the grassroots, providing a natural promotion to help get more people playing the sport for a lifetime.
For 2023, many USTA Sections provided grants to help support programs and events held during the month of May. The USTA Southern Section, for instance, supported 340 National Tennis Month events this year, hosted by CTAs, NJTLs, public facilities and park & recreation organizations. The USTA Midwest Section served more than 3,300 players during NTM, including hosting more than 200 free or low-cost events from 75 organizations for kids and adults of all ages, abilities and backgrounds. In the USTA Missouri Valley Section, the North American Indian Tennis Association event set a new participation record, with 125 players in the tournament and 100 kids taking part in a USTA-sponsored children’s clinic.
Across the country, more than 100 states and cities/towns issued official “proclamations” declaring May as National Tennis Month, as many tennis organizations realized the publicity value in a declared “month” for tennis. A proclamation declaring NTM in the City of Newport, R.I., was presented at a ceremony at the International Hall of Fame, which included the city’s mayor and the state’s lieutenant governor.
Social media also played a big role in promoting tennis and National Tennis Month, with the hashtags #NationalTennisMonth and #NTM shared extensively. Many sections also had social media campaigns in the works specifically for NTM, including USTA New England, which celebrated the health and wellness benefits of the sport through dozens of posts.
Throughout the country, National Tennis Month also received extensive local TV coverage, often with local reporters taking part in activities on court.
Many sections also connected with retailers to help promote National Tennis Month, and on a national level, apparel brand Athleta supported in-store messaging for NTM and provided a coupon that could be used for tennis apparel. Other tennis and sports retail chains have expressed an interest in tying into future NTM promotions, too.
The overall idea is for National Tennis Month to give every tennis provider—including teaching pros/coaches, facilities, park & recs, CTAs, NJTLs, retailers and more—an annual platform to bring new players into local programs, inspire lapsed players to re-engage with the sport, and energize existing players to play more and buy more.
An important focus is on the “local” aspect of these promotions. Programming and events are left up to whatever local tennis providers decide would be best for their own communities.
“National Tennis Month in May is a great time to celebrate our sport,” USTA Chairman of the Board and President Brian Hainline said. “We want to continue the remarkable momentum we’ve seen in tennis participation while promoting tennis as the healthiest sport on this planet—a social and fun sport for all ages and at all levels of the game.”
A key to promoting National Tennis Month has been the website USTA.com/NTM, which was set up by the USTA’s national marketing staff. The site contains all types of marketing materials, artwork, press releases, programming ideas and other assets to help promote NTM, but also that can be used throughout the year to promote the sport.
The site also contains sample proclamations that can be filled out easily and sent to state and local governments, to officially declare May as National Tennis Month.
The USTA also sponsored a sweepstakes to win tickets to the 2023 US Open or a US Open merchandise “swag bag” worth $100. Organizations that shared a National Tennis Month program success story could submit entries for tickets, while those that received a city or state proclamation could enter to win a tennis prize pack. There were 10 winners for US Open tickets and 47 swag bag winners.* One winner received four tickets to a US Open suite, while the rest won two grounds passes.
“Three years ago, the USTA’s volunteer Advocacy Committee resurrected National Tennis Month and the entire USTA National Delivery Council (comprised of the Advocacy, Adaptive, CTA and Public Park committees) joined together to spread the enthusiasm,” said industry veteran Greg Lappin, who is the chair of the USTA’s Delivery Council.
“USTA staff at the national and section levels then mobilized to create many tools, resources and best practices. It’s been an incredible, successful joint effort by volunteers and staff—truly the USTA at its best!”
“Plan for [the 2024] National Tennis Month now and encourage those in your community to do the same,” Hainline said. “Let’s keep the great momentum of growth in tennis participation going while socializing the health benefits of tennis—THE model sport.”
*Names available upon request.