Tennis Industry magazine


Our Serve: Catching More Players

By Peter Francesconi

In the September/October issue, I wrote about how we in this industry have let ourselves be pulled away from what should be our main — and very simple — purpose: getting more people to play tennis. I received many supportive comments. (Unfortunately, I was unable to convince many of those who commented to put their name to their thoughts and send me a letter to the editor I can publish. But, that is a topic for another day …)

For those of us who have put our time, career, and life into this sport, we need to make sure increasing tennis participation is always front and center. For all the millions of dollars spent on programs, initiatives and marketing for tennis, the focus — and the result — must be growth of the sport at the grassroots level. To repeat what I said in the last issue: My business, as does yours, depends on this sport growing.

But one of the continuing challenges we have in trying to grow tennis is that we tend to overcomplicate things. Growing this sport isn’t rocket science, but it is all about being local. It’s great to have large national programs, but they need to be brought down to a local level, with support from and for local tennis providers.

And related to that, we still need to give people clear and simple reasons to play this game in the first place. There’s a small item in “Industry News” this month about doctors in Canada “prescribing” exercise to patients. I had suggested this years ago: We should be reaching out to doctors to get them to promote and prescribe tennis to their patients. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we must use health and fitness as a major reason to play. Plus, we should take a cue from the many nations who are effectively growing tennis in their countries using Cardio Tennis (a program we developed here!).

The newest industry-wide initiative announced during the US Open is “Rally the Family,” which will launch to consumers in the spring and is designed to position tennis as an activity families can do together. While plans are still being developed for Rally the Family, the idea is to “fish where the fish are” — attract those people who are most likely to play tennis.

Families are looking to have fun, engage with each other and be active. We know tennis can fit that bill.

Peter Francesconi, Editorial Director

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About the Author

Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.



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