Our Serve: Tennis for America
The US Open is a time for pro tennis to take center stage, for the world’s best to come together at the world’s biggest tournament, in front of the world’s biggest tennis crowd, for the world’s biggest purse.
But the US Open isn’t all about the pros. In fact, for all of us in the tennis business, the US Open probably has more day-to-day relevance not in how it influences and promotes pro tennis, but in how it influences recreational tennis in the U.S.
I think too few people realize what the US Open does for grassroots tennis in this country, to the tune of tens of millions of dollars every year. That money supports this entire industry — it supports all of our businesses.
Yes, the US Open is big business: Published estimates are that it generates more than $200 million in revenue each year and around $100 million in profits. (Ticket revenue is estimated to be $80 million; sponsorships about $60 million. And let’s not forget the $420 million boost it gives to the New York economy over the two weeks.)
More than $48 million of USTA money is earmarked for grassroots tennis this year, and most of that money, the USTA told me recently, comes from the US Open. That money goes to build and expand public tennis courts, provide equipment, support junior and adult programming, fund scholarships and grants, promote this sport, and more. It filters to all levels of the industry — CTAs, NJTLs, schools, teaching pros, facilities, retailers, manufacturers, media, organizations, etc. — and importantly, is used to grow participation, including the 10 and Under Tennis initiative.
The US Open also supports the grassroots by serving as a gathering place for the industry. During the Open, the TIA holds its Tennis Forum to talk about the state of the industry (this year, it’s on Saturday, Aug. 27, at 5:30 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt New York, as part of The Tennis Show). It also is where the long-running USTA Tennis Teachers Conference is held (Aug. 27-30). And every year, the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting takes place there (Sept. 3-7), bringing together hundreds of volunteers to share ideas about growing this sport.
So when all of us in the industry, and consumers, buy tickets to the Open, buy merchandise, watch the action on TV, and encourage our members and customers to do the same, we’re not just supporting the pros who play the event, we’re helping to support grassroots tennis, too.
And that makes the US Open, indeed, “Tennis For America.”
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.