The Changing Tennis Landscape
Our upcoming series will take a hard look at what’s good and bad in this industry, and how we can make things better for everyone.
In the coming months, RSI will be running a series of articles on the state of the tennis industry. We want to look at all areas of this business and try to understand what’s good, what’s bad, what needs to be improved and, importantly, how we as an industry can go about making this business better for everyone.
Our goal is to bring out the issues that matter to you and directly affect you and your business. A lot is changing in this industry, and we plan to examine the shifting landscape and what it means for manufacturers, retailers, teaching pros, facilities, players, court construction, tournaments, pro tours, and more. And we hope to shed some light on ways this industry may be able to “move the needle” so that everyone benefits.
There’s no question that this past year has been tough. You hear it from nearly everybody in this business; you see it when manufacturers lay off staff or “restructure,” when tennis retailers are forced to close their doors because they can’t make ends meet, when court contractors struggle to find work. Certainly the overall economy plays a major role in this. But is that the only reason?
The bright spot, of course, is that according to recent research, more people are playing tennis now than at any other point in the last 20 years. But that itself raises even more questions: How can participation be up, yet companies and retailers that support this industry seem to be withering away? Shouldn’t increased tennis participation translate into more business for everybody? Where is the disconnect, and how can we fix it?
In our State of the Industry series, we want to examine both our strengths and our weaknesses then try to figure out how we as an industry can capitalize on what’s good, fix what’s bad, and be on a path toward long-term, sustained growth.
There are questions in every area that we, as an industry, need to address honestly and dispassionately. For instance, how do manufacturers and retailers come to terms with pricing policies, closeouts and online sales? Are manufacturers cranking out too many SKUs? Are product life cycles hurting retailers? What is the ripple effect when a local retailer is forced to close? Who is serving tennis retailers?
And what about teaching pros? Are two competing professional teaching organizations helping or hurting this industry? Are they affecting the “quality” of teaching pros out there? How are they affecting relationships with other groups in this industry? Should the USTA start its own certification program?
How do we increase the number of frequent tennis players? What are the ramifications of an increase in league play and a decline in tournament play? How are flex leagues and other social tennis formats changing recreational tennis? Is QuickStart Tennis the long-term industry cure-all some think it is? Why do pro tournaments seem to be having trouble attracting sponsors? How can we generate more business for court contractors? Is a changing media landscape affecting how we communicate to consumers?
There are, of course, a lot more questions we hope to examine. And, as this series progresses, we hope to hear from you, too, about your opinions and what you think is important. Now is the time for all of us to be open and honest about this industry.