December 27th, 2017

USTA Adult Leagues, New Youth Programs Driving Tennis Revenue at Facilities

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Could your parks and recreation program benefit from an additional $15,000 in income per new adult USTA League team?

Or how about a new program to drive your youth participation?

Across the state of Florida, USTA League and USTA youth programs are providing city parks and recreation tennis with additional revenue streams. The U.S. tennis economy remains a juggernaut at approximately $6 billion with 18 million players.

Tennis is the only traditional participation sport to see an increase in overall participation over the last nine years, according to the Physical Activity Council (PAC) Annual Participation Study. New players, both adult and youth, continue to drive growth and profits for facilities.

“Simply put, these new players are cash cows,” said Jeff Sikes, marketing and communications director for the USTA Southwest Section. “Concentrating on bringing in 2.5 and beginner-level players is a sound strategy, and also developing programs and social leagues that bridge the gap between development and actual play.”

New or returning players also have an elevated interest in the sport, and a desire to take lessons, participate in programs and improve.

“USTA Section studies have shown that eight new players joining a USTA League program can translate to a $15,000 increase in revenue for that facility when considering new court fees, lesson fees, pro shop and concession sales,” said Marilyn Sherman, USTA League national promotions manager. “Added to that is the fact that they often encourage their spouses and children to also take up the sport.”


As we enter 2018, tennis facilities in Florida are registering for Net Generation, the USTA-backed initiative to connect children and schools to local tennis facilities. Net Generation is a new national youth tennis brand, for kids ages 5-18, and a way for tennis providers and facilities to promote their tennis programs, and for tennis consumers and players to find places to try, learn, play or compete.

“Across the board, tennis industry members are talking about the way USTA youth tennis has increased their income and made their businesses grow,” said Peter Francesconi of the Tennis Industry Association. Florida alone has seen more than a 300 percent gain over the last three years in unique tournament player participation in the USTA Florida 10 and Under Youth Tennis Tournament Pathway.

ORLANDO A CASE STUDY IN PARKS & REC. TENNIS SUCCESS

Until recently, Cindy Harkins oversaw tennis growth in the Orlando area that was nothing short of legendary.

The now-retired former park supervisor and program coordinator of tennis operations for Seminole County saw the region through the growth boom of the late 1970s. She established Red Bug Park, a few years later helped launch Sanlando Park, and other public areas totaling an additional 54 tennis courts in the county. But courts alone don’t equal growth.

Since 1975, Seminole County has provided tennis opportunities to approximately half a million junior and adult players. Establishing USTA leagues at all levels, she grew play from zero to more than 100 USTA League teams annually at three public parks.

“Tennis instructional programs for youth and adults, from beginner to advanced levels, grew exponentially,” said Harkins, who notes that programmatic needs have changed of late to address time-strapped families. “Programs for drop-in round robins and Cardio Tennis are larger than the instructional programs. The biggest impact to date has been the USTA youth tennis initiatives. It has been a game changer bringing hundreds of young players to the parks.”

Net Generation connects community tennis providers and local schools, providing additional revenue opportunities for facilities and continuing tennis education for children.

“I would recommend parks and recreation departments reaching out to USTA Florida to utilize the resources provided to assist in developing their adult and junior programs. There are great resources to meet basic agency accreditation requirements utilizing youth tennis, schools programs, special-needs programs, senior programs — everything an agency needs to provide for the community. Utilize USTA Florida for grant opportunities, and as a possible resource for facility or program management.”

For more information on incorporating adult play and USTA Leagues, contact Christine Ducey at ducey@ustaflorida.com. For more info on Net Generation contact Andy McFarland at mcfarland@ustaflorida.com or visit www.NetGeneration.com.

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of FRPA (Florida Recreation & Park Association) Journal

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