Grand Slams Are ‘Star-Struck’
I fully agree with Peter Francesconi’s “Our Serve” column in the June issue regarding "A Tennis Balancing Act." I, too, fear that the scale is tipping too far in the direction of prize money for the top players at Grand Slam tournaments at the expense of recreational tennis.
He’s correct in raising the question: “Will the top pros stop playing the Grand Slams if they only win $2 million, vs. $2.5 million?” The extra million dollars could go a long way if spread at the community level.
The organizations that run the Grand Slam tournaments are star-struck. They should be struck by the fact that more money should be spent to help grow the sport.
Publisher-Editor, Florida Tennis magazine
Improving Long-Term Prospects
I read the "Distress Signals" Our Serve in the July issue with great interest. The long-term prospects for tennis both inside and outside the USTA depend on how effectively we accomplish five musts. First, we must strive to make tennis more diverse and inclusive. As the demographics in the U.S. change, so too must tennis.
Second, we must dedicate ourselves to facilitating positive and memorable experiences so people will want to spend time and money on tennis. Improving customer service and offering programs that are consistently of the highest quality are crucial.
Third, we must continue pushing 10 and Under Tennis. Our future champions and best promoters of the sport will come from this group. Fourth, we must recruit players who are between about 12 and 16 years old. While less likely to become champions than the under-10 crowd, older kids are more likely to have a healthy perspective on tennis and become our long-term frequent players and volunteers.
Fifth, green dot ball play must eventually become the standard for beginners and intermediates who are 11 and over. Countless people try tennis and conclude tennis is not for them because it is too hard to sustain a rally with yellow balls. If these players were to use green dot balls instead, it could enhance the quality of their tennis experiences and inspire them to play more often.
Together, by pursuing these five musts, we have the potential to elevate tennis participation and industry revenue to heights we have never seen.
Tennis Service Representative (Alabama), USTA Southern
Emphasizing Health & Fitness
I recently read the “Tennis … For Your Life!” opinion column in the May issue of RSI (“Our Serve”), which made me realize how correct Peter Francesconi is that we don’t market tennis for its health aspects nearly enough.
When you realize the fitness business is the fastest growing “sport type” business and that social media is the hottest social trend through our obsession with our pads and phones, you have to wonder why tennis isn’t booming. Working out on a machine has to be the most boring and antisocial time we spend. Tennis has the social networking we seem to crave and is one of the best exercise activities to help us stay in shape.
It doesn’t make sense not to add the benefit of competition and skill development in a lifelong sport like tennis when you step back and take a look at your time spent working out. Those machines you’re using every day won’t give you the lifelong relationships of a good tennis foursome.
It’s time to dump the boring routine and get out and play tennis. It will reward you for years to come and keep the weight down.
Director of Business Development, Har-Tru Sports