Our Serve: An Active March
A lot has been happening recently in this industry. One of the biggest things was the Future of Tennis Summit, put on by the Tennis Industry Association in Indian Wells, Calif., in March, during the BNP Paribas Open.
The TIA has brought the industry together before — every year, at the US Open, the TIA holds a Tennis Forum or other industry gathering, along with a board of directors meeting that usually is open to the public. Among other things, the TIA uses those meetings to talk about the most current industry research and initiatives.
But the inaugural Future of Tennis Summit was different. It brought together top leaders from all segments of the industry, along with executives outside of tennis who helped provide insight into what the industry can do to increase participation and play frequency and become more relevant to people’s lives.
While the two days of the Summit had a lot going on (there were 16 sessions, more than two dozen speakers and panelists, and opportunities to network for the nearly 175 attendees), the meeting provided a start to overall discussions about how this sport needs to get more players, more fans and more tennis consumers. It also was designed to show how interconnected we all are in this industry — no one segment or organization can operate as an “island” in tennis. (See page 28 for more on the Summit.)
Later that week, the focus shifted to the USTA Annual Meeting in San Diego, where the overall message was on “game changers,” such as:
- Membership Innovation: Due to declining membership over the last few years, the USTA will analyze and test different membership models to remain relevant and offer value to constituents.
- Adult Product Line: The USTA will test new adult formats for both individual and team play to increase participation and attract more under-40 players.
- The “Youth Imperative”: Attracting and retaining more youth, especially 10 and under players, by offering a pathway of age- and skill-appropriate individual and team opportunities.
Then in early April, the TIA offered its first Tennis Owners & Managers Conference, which was held in Charleston, S.C., during the women’s Family Circle Cup tournament. The conference, scheduled to take place as this issue went to press, had a lineup of experts in management and programming designed to provide practical information that facilities can implement to remain competitive and profitable.
A lot of people and organizations in tennis are very concerned about the future of this sport. I hope we continue to hold meetings like the Future of Tennis Summit. Down the road, I’d like to see these meetings focus even more on specific areas, such as the importance of the health and fitness message in getting more people to play, how to better reach consumers through technology, how to reduce barriers to playing tennis, etc.
We’ve gotten the ball rolling, now let’s help it gain momentum.
Peter Francesconi, Editorial Director
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About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.