Q&A with New TIA President Jon Muir

Jon Muir, the worldwide general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports, began a two-year term as president of the TIA on Jan. 1. Muir grew up in Southern California and has been a lifetime USTA member since his junior tennis playing days and went on to play high school and college varsity tennis. Muir, who is a certified professional by both the USPTA and PTR, began his tennis career as a private tennis coach working mainly with junior players. He joined Wilson over 11 years ago as a Territory Sales Manager and has had various positions in Wilson management, where he was promoted to his current position in 2006.

Q: What are your priorities as you begin your term?

A: The TIA needs to continue to focus on the growth of tennis from a business and economic perspective. Sustaining our growth and continually improving our infrastructure are vital. We must further define and communicate our initiatives to ensure we continue to work closely with both the USTA and all of our partners throughout the industry. It’s important to maintain the momentum we have collectively worked towards the past few years.

Another major area is in technology, especially in how it can address our 24/7 society today and improve our efficiencies for capturing and retaining new players. The TIA along with the USTA are taking a lead role in this area, helping potential tennis consumers easily find places to play and programs in their area. We will place a big emphasis towards online enrollment access for all facilities and programs with our focus on communicating and enhancing the tools that have already been developed. Integrating these tools and technology can help retailers and facilities manage their business more efficiently and profitably.

Q: What are some of the key issues facing the industry?

A: Given the current economic conditions, we need to ensure we are balancing the reality of our short-term challenges with longer term opportunities for our sport and industry to expand to even higher levels in the years ahead. As an association, we need to work better in general with our tennis retailers, including communication and continuing to provide tools that can directly support their business day to day.

We also need to begin a concerted effort to develop a clearer career path in tennis in all areas (teaching professionals, associations, manufacturers, etc.) that will support the future opportunities and growth of our industry. Lastly, I think we need to continually challenge ourselves to ensure we are staying focused on what really will make the difference in our industry and in our sport longer term.

Q: Where do you see growth opportunities for the sport?

A: We need to improve awareness that tennis is relatively inexpensive to play and truly is a lifetime sport. If we look at all sports, there are very few where the majority base of players can continue to play and excel even further after high school or college. Our challenge is to help accelerate the younger base of new and continuing players prior to high school.

The QuickStart Tennis format is beginning to show early success and get real traction at this key time. Expanding the awareness of this approach and format for entry-level players is a huge opportunity to not just get more kids in the 6 to 10 age range into our sport (and their families), but also an opportunity to increase revenue per court and revenue overall coming into our industry. If we can get more kids started and staying in our sport, our core serious player base will continue to grow in the years ahead.

Q: What do you think is important in terms of keeping everyone — manufacturers, teaching pros, retailers, etc. — focused on growing the brand of tennis?

A: Having strong research that shows our joint efforts are making a difference. No other sport pulls together both in our research and efforts like our industry. We need to maintain open and direct communication with everyone to maintain a clear focus on the growth of tennis and economic vitality of our sport. In working together, we will continue the success we have already experienced.

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