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Tennis Participation, ‘Play Occasions’ Increase in the U.S.

The number of people playing tennis in the U.S. and the number of tennis “play occasions” increased in 2015, according to the latest

figures released by the TIA and USTA, which were part of the Physical Activity Council (PAC) Annual Participation Study.

In addition, the PAC study shows tennis is the only traditional participation sport to see an increase in overall participation over the last eight years — up 6 percent since 2007. All other traditional participation sports — soccer, basketball, baseball, football, volleyball, golf, fishing and racquetball — saw declines in that time period. The PAC study is the largest single-source independent sports participation survey in the U.S., measuring participation in more than 120 sports and activities.

For 2015, total tennis players numbered 17.96 million, which is a .3 percent increase from 2014, according to the PAC study. “Core” tennis players — those who play 10 or more times a year — increased .5 percent to 9.96 million. The number of tennis “play occasions” also increased in 2015, both overall and for core players. Overall play occasions were up .8 percent to 446.4 million; core players accounted for 418.3 million of those play occasions.

Last year, there were 2.07 million new tennis players, which is a 3.8 percent increase compared to 2014. Another 2.2 million players “returned” to the game in 2015, which is a 14.8 percent increase. The total for combined new and returning players in 2015 is a 9.2 percent increase from 2014. In addition, 14.75 million Americans who are non-players are interested in playing tennis, and another 12.8 million who may not have played in the past year “consider themselves” tennis players.

Youth participation saw slight declines for ages 6 to 12, with participation at 2.11 million, a 1.1 percent drop from 2014, and for ages 13 to 17, which fell 5.5 percent, also to 2.11 million players, while overall "core" youth participation rose in 2015 by 5 percent.

Of particular note is the Cardio Tennis program, which in 2015 alone grew 12.6 percent in participation, to 1.82 million players. Cardio Tennis, which was developed in 2005, was first measured by the PAC study in 2008 and has grown 119 percent in participation in the past seven years.

Also noteworthy is increasing tennis participation among Hispanics in the U.S., which has been a priority for the USTA. In 2015, Hispanic tennis players jumped 12.2 percent, to 1.79 million players. Participation among Asians in the U.S. increased 5.6 percent in 2015 to 1.98 million. However, African-American players declined by 1.7 percent to 1.9 million, and Caucasian participation dropped .8 percent to 11.89 million.

Ninth Annual TIA Forum Set for Aug. 29 in NYC

The ninth annual TIA Tennis Forum will be held on Monday morning, Aug. 29 — the first day of play at the 2016 US Open — at the Grand Hyatt New York City (42nd Street and Lexington Avenue).

At the Forum, which is free to attend, tennis industry executives will present the latest news about the state of the industry, including participation research, equipment sales data, Youth Tennis, and updates from the USTA. The Forum also will outline ways to better define and boost the economic growth and impact of the tennis industry, and ways to distribute clear, consistent messaging of health, fitness and reasons to play tennis.

The Forum also will honor the 2016 inductee(s) into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.

The morning will include a “Tennis Tech Fair,” which will highlight the latest products, trends and interactive resources in the sport. Attendees also will receive information on the 2016 State of the Tennis Industry report.

Terry Ward, Tennis Machines Joins String ‘n Swing Tennis

String ‘n Swing Tennis, with tennis retail stores in Memphis and Nashville, is adding a new store in the St. Louis suburb of Frontenac. It has also added a new investor, Terry Ward of St. Louis. In addition, String ‘n Swing Tennis has purchased the assets of Tennis Machines, Sales and Service of St. Louis.

Tennis Machines, Sales and Service traces its roots to the early manufacture of tennis stringing machines, dating back to the early 1930s. The new String ‘n Swing Tennis location will also house the St. Louis Tennis Hall of Fame. Founded in 1972, String ‘n Swing Tennis carries tennis equipment, apparel, stringing machines, court equipment and accessories from manufacturers all over the world.

Reyes, Fish to Work with USTA Player Development

Gil Reyes, Andre Agassi’s longtime strength and conditioning trainer, will begin working with USTA Player Development as a “master strength and conditioning coach,” while former world No. 7 Mardy Fish will continue his work with Player Development as an “expert consultant” for Men’s Tennis, coaching and advising men in the Top 100.

Reyes will host select groups of American junior, collegiate and professional men’s and women’s players for strength and conditioning training camps at his Las Vegas facility. Widely known for training Agassi throughout his career, Reyes has also worked with Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, Grigor Dimitrov and Sania Mirza.

Fish began working with Player Development in the off-season at the USTA Training Center–West in Carson, Calif., and will focus on coaching and advising Top 100 men.

World Tennis Fitness Conference Set for July

The World Tennis Fitness Conference will be held July 30-31 at Life University in Marietta, Ga., presented by the International Tennis Performance Association (iTPA). The conference chair is Dr. Mark Kovacs, iTPA founder. The conference is for tennis coaches, strength and conditioning coaches, physical trainers, certified athletic trainers, physical therapists, chiropractors, physicians, healthcare providers and tennis enthusiasts interested in learning the latest tennis-specific fitness education. In addition to Kovacs, speakers include Dr. Ben Kibler, Gil Reyes, Robby Ginepri, Dr. Paul Lubbers, Lane Evans, Page Love and Allistair McCaw.

Registration is $170 for iTPA members and $199 for non-members. Visit itpa-tennis.org.

PowerShares Series Kicks Off 10th Year

The PowerShares Series, a tennis circuit for champion players over the age of 30, kicked off its 10th anniversary season on April 8 in Chicago. Each event features two one-set semifinal matches and a one-set championship match. For the second straight year, players will make their own line calls, with the assistance of electronic line-calling.

Players for 2016 include Andre Agassi, James Blake, Jim Courier, Mardy Fish, John McEnroe and 2015 champion Andy Roddick. Upcoming stops are: July 17 — Newport, R.I.; Aug. 21 — Winston-Salem, N.C.; Aug. 25, 26 — New Haven, Conn.; Nov. 4 — Portland, Ore.; Nov. 5 — Denver; Dec. 1 — Orlando, Fla.; and Dec. 3, New York City. For tickets and information, visit PowerSharesSeries.com.

ITA Partners With ZebraWeb.org

ZebraWeb.org will serve as the digital platform for all Intercollegiate Tennis Association officials and will be the online hub for communications, training, education and certification. ZebraWeb.org works with over 20 sports, including collegiate Olympic and professional sports.

“ZebraWeb.org has the infrastructure in place to allow our officials to access all of the tools they need to succeed,” says ITA CEO Timothy Russell. “We’re confident this collaboration will be fruitful for ITA officials for years to come.”

ZebraWeb.org will allow the ITA to track all the details about an official (experience, tenure, certification, personal information), and allows officials to update their records. Meeting attendance, dues and training collateral can also be managed, and it will allow the ITA to offer the capabilities to perform online testing and online meetings.

ITA Announces Move to Ariz.; Elects New Board of Directors

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association, the governing body of college tennis, will move its headquarters to the campus of Arizona State University in Tempe, from its longtime home in Princeton, N.J. In a statement, the ITA said the move is “a strategic alliance that will leverage the resources of a research-based university to grow the sport of tennis locally, nationally and globally.” The ITA said it will work with Sun Devil Athletics to expand community outreach and accessibility, develop research-based initiatives, and create a new collegiate tennis model centered on advancing the sport.

The organization announced a new board of directors to serve a two-year term beginning July 1. The ITA board chairman is Jon Vegosen (top) of Chicago, a former USTA president. Also on the board is the ITA’s CEO, Dr. Timothy Russell (bottom) of Phoenix.

ITA Member Coaches are Betsy Kuhle, retired head women’s tennis coach at Western Michigan University; Geoff Mcdonald of Vanderbilt University; David Roditi, head coach at Texas Christian University; Bryan Shelton, men’s head coach at the University of Florida; Alison Swain, women’s head coach at Williams; and Vince Westbrook, men’s head coach at the University of Tulsa.

University administrators on the ITA board are: Dr. Charles M. Ambrose, president of the University of Central Missouri; Rick Dickson, director of athletics at Tulane; and Dr. Karin Lee, senior associate athletic director at Ball State University. Other executives on the new ITA board are: William Dutton, partner at Skyline Asset Management; Harold Edwards, president and CEO of Limoneira Co.; Barbara Georgescu, retired ad executive with Young & Rubicam; Neel Grover, founder and CEO of Indi.com and chairman of Bluefly.com and The SWI Group; Dr. Mark Kovacs, a performance physiologist, researcher, author, coach, and professor; and Sean S. Mayo, former top bond broker for JP Morgan.

Short Sets

USTA, Foundation Take Part in White House Easter Egg Roll

President Obama took to the tennis court on March 28 for the annual White House Easter Egg Roll on the South Lawn. It was the seventh straight year that the USTA and the USTA Foundation have been involved in the event. The USTA offered families and kids of all ages and skill levels the opportunity to try tennis in support of the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative.

Spinfire Launches in U.S. and Canada

Spinfire of Melbourne, Australia, has announced the formation of Spinfire USA Inc., the exclusive North American distributor of the Spinfire Pro line of tennis ball machines and accessories and Spinfire stringing machines in the U.S. and Canada.

“We are excited to be able to further increase product availability, brand awareness and product support and service for Spinfire in the U.S. and Canada,” says Spinfire USA President Leon Rudanycz.

Among the company’s products is the Spinfire Pro 2 ball machine, developed in Australia and introduced into the U.S. more than four years ago. One of the innovative features of the Spinfire Pro 2 is its internal oscillation, which allows the machine to throw balls in different directions without the machine itself moving. The machine also now offers an external portable battery, as well as an internal battery or AC power.

The company is looking to expand its dealer network. For more, visit spinfireusa.com. In the U.S. email info@spinfireusa.com, or call 888-244-0003; in Canada, contact info@spinfirecanada.com or 888-299-2021.

René Zondag Named New PBI President

Peter Burwash International has announced the promotion of René Zondag to serve as the tennis management company’s president. Company founder and chairman Peter Burwash will remain active in the growth and development of PBI and its employees.

“René’s contributions to our company over the last 19 years have been exceptional and there is no one more uniquely qualified to take on this position,” said Burwash. “He has been instrumental in PBI’s growth wherever he has served, exemplifying our core service standards, developing new PBI programs and enhancing our existing programs for our client facilities, guests and members.”

Zondag has most recently served as PBI’s vice president for the Middle East, Europe and Asia, overseeing the company’s programs, professionals and growth in these regions. In his new role, he will be in charge of PBI’s global growth and operations, including the company’s tennis programs at five-star resorts and clubs in 32 countries.

ESPN’s McKendry to Focus On Grand Slam Coverage

Longtime ESPN SportsCenter anchor Chris McKendry has reached a new agreement with the network that ends her time at SportsCenter but will place a focus on tennis. McKendry will continue to front ESPN’s start-to-finish coverage of the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open.

McKendry joined ESPN’s SportsCenter in 1996. “But when ESPN first assigned me to the Australian Open in 2010, I knew instantly that I was working on my future,” says McKendry, a tennis player at Drexel University. “I’ve decided the future is now.”

New Tennis Event Targets Miami’s Underserved Youth

Before the Miami Open this March, the city’s underserved youth were the recipients of The Big Serve, a first-time professional tennis play event and clinic that is planned to be an annual event. More than 400 kids participated at the Flamingo Center in Miami Beach, mingling with celebrities such as Olympic gold medalist Nicolas Massu, fellow tennis pro Alexander Peya, former Miami Heat star Alonzo Mourning, local favorite DJ Irie and Miami Beach Mayor Phillip Levine.

The event was organized by Jonathan Nussbaum and Flamingo Park Tennis Director Howie Orlin in partnership with USTA Florida. Student participants ages 6 to 14 were from the Overtown Youth Center, the DJ Irie Foundation, Wades’ World Foundation and the Orlin Foundation.

Using 13 courts with tennis teaching pros and volunteers, the children for two hours experienced tennis activities and games, a fitness station and a short pro exhibition. Each child received a racquet and red tennis ball, a T-shirt, and packs of Lace Clips. For more info, visit thebigserve.miami.

USRSA Adds Two New Certification Testers

The U.S. Racquet Stringers Association has added two new Certification Testers: Liam Nolen of Norwich, England, and Troy Russell of Toronto, Canada.

Nolen has been a USRSA member for more than 30 years and an MRT for more than 20 years. He served on the Wimbledon stringing team, including a stint as head stringer. In 2002 Nolen launched the United Kingdom Racquet Stringers Association (UKRSA), providing workshops on stringing and racquet service for tennis, squash and badminton throughout the U.K. He will now be offering the USRSA Certification Test in conjunction with UKRSA workshops and seminars.

Russell, an active player, has been a USRSA member for more than 25 years and an MRT for over 15 years. His family-owned business, Racquet Guys (formerly RCS Racquet Sports), serves all racquet sports in the Toronto metro area, servicing and selling racquets for tennis, racquetball, squash and badminton. Russell has several USRSA MRTs on staff.

People Watch

Eight Boys Named to USA National Junior Team

Eight top junior boys qualified for the 2016 Team USA National Junior Team, a training program designed to give a collection of America’s best young players, born in either 2000 or 2001, opportunities to train together during the summer and travel to play against top junior competition from around the world.

Players were invited to a playoff in April in Florida, based on tournament results and USTA and ITF rankings. USTA Player Development will provide the National Junior Team with training opportunities and coaching and travel assistance to select ITF junior tournaments throughout the summer.

The 2016 Boys’ USA National Junior Team is: Christian Alshon, Andrew Fenty, Michael Heller, Jaycer Lyeons, Govind Nanda, Adam Neff, Axel Nefve and Sangeet Sridhar.

USRSA Announces New CSs and MRTs

Certified Stringers

Drew Clifton — Dallas

Lee Rollins — Birmingham, Ala.

Master Racquet Technicians

Mike Baugh — Fort Myers, Fla.

Geoff Browne — Franklin, Tenn.

Cortiglia Debuts New Tennis Totes

Recently released from Cortiglia are two stylish tote bags suitable to go from the office to the court, and to the restaurant afterward. Detailed in turquoise, the Tiburon Tennis Tote (suggested retail $295) can hold two racquets, but also features a computer sleeve, jewelry pouch and two outside pockets for easy accessibility to cell phone or keys. The newest addition to the Cortiglia line is the Rendezvous Tennis Tote ($395), which is made in Italy and also holds two racquets. For more information, visit cortiglia.com.

 

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