Industry Leaders Gather For TIA Board Update

Tennis industry leaders gathered Sept. 2 for the annual TIA Board meeting, held at the Grand Hyatt in New York City. TIA President Jon Muir outlined key strategies for industry growth, all geared toward increasing the number of frequent tennis consumers and players: 10 and Under Tennis, PlayTennis.com, Awareness and Education, Retail Efforts and National Consumer Promotions, Technology Tools & Resources, and growing and repositioning existing initiatives.

The TIA's research partner, Sports Marketing Surveys, updated the board on trends and stats. The first half of 2011 proved to be challenging for the tennis industry as it has for the sporting goods industry and U.S. economy overall. Concerns over a “double-dip” recession, high unemployment rates, and consumer confidence continue to impact all segments of the tennis industry.

Higher than average precipitation across major tennis regions in the U.S. in the spring and a warmer than normal summer may also have contributed to the shift in tennis consumer playing and buying habits. Manufacturer shipments in racquets, balls and strings were down in the first half of 2011 vs. 2010–racquets were down 9%, balls were down 1.3% and strings, which outperformed all other categories in 2010, were down 3% in the first half of 2011. One bright spot was the increase in transition ball shipments, up 93% in units from the first half of 2010, due to the large investment by the USTA and the industry in 10 and Under Tennis.

Other research presented included the TIA’s Court Activity Monitor (CAM), which measures tennis participation at tennis facilities across the U.S. According to the early season CAM for 2011, there was growth in all the components used to monitor court activity–new players, league play, total court usage, and tournament play–which is a positive sign in terms of participation and revenue for facilities.

SGMA President Tom Cove told the board lean management continues to reap positive dividends for the sporting goods industry overall, however, leaner management has been a contributing factor at the retail level for lower wholesale shipments. But Cove also said there are signs the tennis industry is still well positioned for growth. Play at tennis facilities does not appear to be impacted as heavily by the economy as golf and other traditional sports, which have experienced declines in participation over the past decade. Golf, for instance, experienced a 4.3% decline in rounds played through the first half of 2011.

Kurt Kamperman, the USTA’s chief executive of Community Tennis, updated the board on a partnership with Nickelodeon that will begin in February and a new deal with Borden Dairy that will include 10 and Under Tennis on more than 100 million milk cartons in 2012. Other speakers included Melissa Pine of the WTA (on behalf of TIA Board member and WTA CEO Stacey Allaster), ATP Tour Vice President Linda Clark, and USTA President and Chairman of the Board Jon Vegosen. Muir and TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer also introduced two new TIA reports, the TIA Strategic Overview and the annual State of the Industry. (For more on the TIA Board meeting, visit TennisIndustry.org/news.)

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