September 11th, 2019

Tennis Industry Challenges, Opportunities Presented at TIA Forum

General News

Nearly 250 tennis leaders, industry executives and tennis providers came together on the first day of play at the US Open for the 12th annual Tennis Industry Association (TIA) Tennis Forum, held at the Grand Hyatt New York.

The Tennis Forum has an annual mission to bring together top industry leaders to share the latest news and research about the state of the tennis and sports industries.

TIA President Jeff Williams noted some of the challenges the industry faces, including flat participation and lackluster equipment sales. He then introduced USTA President and Chairman of the Board Patrick Galbraith, who provided updates on the USTA and US Open.

Galbraith was followed by Tom Cove, the CEO and president of the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, who discussed the state of sports participation and retail sales in the U.S., including how the latest round of tariffs on imports from China could affect the industry.

“All eyes are on consumer price increases and the overall impact on the economy,” Cove noted, adding that most companies currently are “grinding it out” and holding their head above water, while companies that are struggling now will likely be in a non-sustainable position in the long term.

In terms of overall sports participation, Cove note a continued rise in total “casual” players at the expense of total “core” players — a change which is also reflected in tennis participation. “One of our biggest challenges is converting casual players to core players,” Cove said.

Among the fastest-growing sports based on participation over the last three years (of about 120 different sports and activities), Cardio Tennis ranked No. 1 at 11.3% growth, followed by pickleball at No. 2 with 9.7% growth.

Inactivity continues to be an issue in the U.S., with 82.1 million Americans saying they don’t participate in any form of activity or sports, according to the latest study by the Physical Activity Council.

Other statistics presented included:

A continuing “alarming” decline in total tennis play occasions — from 2009-18, total play occasions declined 21.8% to 384 million;
“Avid” tennis players declined 31.4% in that time period, and were down 6.8% from 2017-18;
Tennis ball shipments to retailers were down 19.2% from 2009-18, according to TIA data;
2018 data shows that while total tennis players in public parks has remained fairly steady since 2014, play occasions have dropped by approximately 32%;
Dollar sales for racquets continues to increase, attributed to the increase in the number of racquets now in the $200-250 range;
Tennis retention remains flat.

(USTA’s Craig Morris provides Net Generation update at 12th Annual TIA Tennis Forum)

The USTA’s Chief Executive of Community Tennis Craig Morris provided an update on the Net Generation initiative, designed to bring more youngsters into the sport. Among the stats he presented, Morris said there are now more than 3,000 school partnerships, impacting more than 2.1 million children. Future steps include continuing to enhance the focus on recruitment and introducing kids to tennis, along with providing value to parents, youth players and tennis providers.

The forum produced a number of other statistics and presenters, to read more go to