Your Serve: Building a Solid Game
The TIA president reflects on key industry highlights of 2011, and points to focus areas to support industry growth in the New Year.
By Jon Muir
2011 has been a challenging year, as the tennis industry continued to feel the effects of the overall economy and consumers continued to evaluate their discretionary spending. But 2011 also marked a turning point in several respects, as the TIA established clearer strategic platforms and areas of focus to support future growth. In addition, the USTA’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative began to take hold and lay the groundwork for bringing in future consumers.
While there is much we can discuss when we reflect on 2011, we wanted to take this opportunity to touch on some key highlights and updates.
Growth of Tennis
Over the past year, the TIA completed several new studies in support of our strategic objectives and established clearer economic goals to ensure we maintain accountability for all stakeholders to support industry growth. A key goal moving forward is, obviously, increasing the frequent player base. The new “TIA State of the Industry” report values our industry size at $5.6 billion. Growing the number of frequent players from the current 4.8 million to our goal of 10 million by 2020 will boost the tennis economy an estimated $3.9 billion — benefitting all segments and stakeholders.
A critical building block is the USTA’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative. Along with the USTA’s substantial investment, the TIA is playing a key role to align this opportunity across our industry, including efforts to drive opportunities for retailers, facilities and manufacturers.
The TIA is happy to have initiated a new platform — PlayTennis.com — that also supports a pathway for new and existing players to become long-term consumers. A brand-neutral site with a simple message, PlayTennis.com will be a central “hub” to help consumers easily find programs, places to play, certified instructors and other information. The USTA has also made a substantial investment to develop PlayTennis.com, and we look forward to the re-launch of the site in 2012.
The TIA continues to position tennis as a healthy activity and pathway to an active lifestyle. The TIA’s Cardio Tennis program is at 1,800 sites, and in five years has more than 1.5 million players. CardioTennis.com has been re-launched on a new platform, helping providers fill classes and add even more value to their programs.
The TIA has always focused on technology to help grow the game and increase participation. We continue to transition some of our ancillary websites to our main portal, TennisIndustry.org — the primary source of all trade-based information.
Our database now lists more than 16,000 facilities and 26,000 industry contacts. More than 299,000 players have registered via the TennisConnect platform. Nearly 2 million court reservations were made online via our systems in 2011, and each month, nearly 5 million consumer queries are made on search data. The TIA-managed CareersInTennis.com is one of the industry’s largest online job boards, receiving over 30,000 job views in 2011.
In keeping with USTA President Jon Vegosen’s theme “Tennis, The Sport of Opportunity,” the TIA continues to focus on increasing awareness and advocacy, as we worked to expand and better align our communications network to share information, allow for stronger engagement from several areas of the industry, and further promote opportunities.
In 2011, we updated our newsletter approach and also developed a series of webinars. We worked to maintain consistent email blasts, increased our use of social media, and established a new alliance with tennis writers. With our strategic platforms and objectives, we also clarified our positioning in several areas and aligned our approach to clearer metrics. Although Hurricane Irene forced the cancellation of the inaugural "Tennis Show" as an industry gathering, plans are in the works for the 2012 event.
Source for Tennis Research
An important TIA service is to provide market research to the industry and its partners, which we do with more than 70 research reports and surveys annually. We have also established a new “State of the Industry” report to “tell the story” of the industry in one easier to read report that we will publish every March.
As the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, the TIA is dedicated to promoting the growth of tennis and economic vitality of our sport. Importantly, 100% of the TIA’s resources goes to supporting this mission.
While the TIA made good progress in 2011 behind our mission, our larger achievements were in laying the groundwork for areas that we feel will support stronger, more sustainable growth in the years ahead. As we look to 2012, our focus areas will be:
- Increasing frequent play.
- Promoting the consumer portal PlayTennis.com.
- Supporting growth in the youth market with 10 and Under Tennis.
- Supporting and further developing tools for retailers, facilities, certified tennis instructors, and others across our industry’s provider network.
- Creating more awareness for tennis as a healthy lifestyle choice and promoting the reasons to play and stay in our sport.
Thank you for your continuing support, and best wishes for a prosperous New Year.
Jon Muir is the president of the Tennis Industry Association and the global general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. Visit TennisIndustry.org for more information.
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About the Author
Jon Muir is general manager at Wilson Racket Sports Worldwide, and President of the Tennis Industry Association.