Industry Gathering Points
March 1 was a busy day for tennis. The BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup was held in New York’s Madison Square Garden that evening, and earlier in the day, the TIA had a board meeting at a hotel across the street from MSG.
TIA board members heard about new research that the industry is doing, and Jolyn de Boer, the TIA’s executive director, addressed the challenges and realities each segment of the industry faces, along with specific action being taken. She also updated members on three task forces formed a year ago to address pressing issues in this industry: Economic Growth, Frequent Player Growth, and Communications/Positioning. Each task force can point to some progress and action on specific items they’ve worked on. But the work continues.
Special guests at the meeting included USTA Chairman and President Lucy Garvin, USTA Executive Director Gordon Smith, and ITF Executive Director for Tennis Development Dave Miley. Garvin gave a brief update on recent moves within the USTA to bring together Professional Tennis and Community Tennis assets, and also spoke about the long-range plan to update the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Miley went through “Play & Stay,” the ITF’s version of QuickStart Tennis, and said a proposed ITF rule change for 2012 will mandate the use of transition balls for ITF-sanctioned 10-and-under events.
The next morning, there was a smaller meeting with a few manufacturers and retailers about retailer concerns. One of the areas the TIA wants to focus on and help to improve is the state of tennis retail in the U.S. This meeting was a solid step toward increased dialogue and possible creation of a retailer panel.
The BNP Paribas Showdown on the night of March 1 was a fun event, with Kim Clijsters, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Ana Ivanovic. (Ivanovic was a replacement for Serena Williams, who pulled out due to injury.) The no-ad scoring format kept things moving and made the timing of the event much more predictable. The two semifinals were one set each, while the final (Williams beat Clijsters) was best of three no-ad sets.
Jerry Solomon, president of StarGames, which presented the Showdown, hopes that in the future, the event can be expanded into a bigger showpiece and focal point for the sport and the industry. He envisions all sorts of activities surrounding the event. (Like last year, this year’s Showdown coincided with the USTA’s Tennis Night in America and Youth Registration into summer tennis programs.)
This industry needs these types of exhibitions and events that are able to show tennis its best — while also linking to the grassroots game. But also, as an industry, we need these types of gathering points. When players, teaching pros, manufacturers, retailers, court builders, media, pro tours and associations get together like this, we all benefit.
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.