Hooking the 50-Plus Market
The “Our Serve” column in the July issue, “Fishing in Profitable Waters,” really hits home. While the 10 and Under Tennis initiative has proven to be a great investment by the USTA, growing adult tennis participation has been challenging. Short-court forms of racquet sports, such as pickleball and platform tennis, have been experiencing faster rates of growth throughout the country.
My view is that both of these short-court games have an intrinsic social value that tennis is not providing to the same degree. As you say, more marketing work on the 50-plus market might result in more widespread tennis play and increased social presence, which is very important to the baby-boomer market.
Tennis Priorities Co.
Once again, Pete Francesconi gently points us in the right directions: Continue youth promotions and increase promotions for the 50-plus market!
With few exceptions, most parents and children seem to really enjoy competitive tennis, especially at higher skill levels. We all want this for more children, but we will have to decide if it’s worth the effort and money required to provide such to less financially fortunate families due to the inherent high cost of training and travel involved with competitive tennis.
I believe people aged 50-plus are trying to take better care of themselves as they approach retirement. Modified tennis (using shorter courts and racquets, and low-compression balls) is the perfect sport for new players, former players, players with injuries, and families. It’s accessible, affordable, fun, social, time-friendly, much more attractive to new players, and allows former players to keep competing.
It’s all about Red, Orange, and Green balls — they’re the new “yellow” when it comes to getting people of all ages into this great sport! I can’t wait to hear what some of my longtime colleagues have to say about this, especially those who are still questioning why we modified 10 and Under Tennis.
On a separate point, I was surprised to see in recent TIA research (“2016 State of the Industry”) that African-American tennis players made up only 10 percent of all “core” players. We are making inroads in Hispanic participation, but given the many recent African-American tennis stars, I feel that percentage should be much higher.
Director of Programs & Player Development
I really related to “Fishing in Profitable Waters” and couldn’t agree more. It brought to mind work being done by USTA New England’s Maine Tennis Service Rep, Eric Driscoll, developing a play method that fits everyone, anywhere and anytime. We just need to give these programs better marketing to get them out there and offered as an alternative to yellow-ball, full-court tennis.
Maine has several successful pilots in the works; we just need visibility! Who do we recruit? Is there a USTA database of 50-plus players, or families, that we can unlock so we can offer them an opportunity to try out our programs?
Maine Tennis Association
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