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U.S. Tennis Participation Tops 30 million People!

November 18, 2009 08:42 PM


WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. – The USTA and TIA recently announced that tennis participation in the United States topped 30 million players for the first time in more than two decades. The annual phone survey of 6,000 Americans showed that tennis participation grew in all age groups under the age of 50 and within all ethnicities. With 30.1 million people hitting the courts, tennis participation has grown 12% over 2008 and climbed 25% since 2003. The survey is conducted annually by the Taylor Research Group on behalf of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and the USTA.


New players comprised 7.1 million of the total, and the majority of tennis players consider themselves "regular players" (14.8 million). Though 15 of the 17 USTA sections were affected by record rainfall in the spring, total play occasions surpassed 560 million for only the second time in more than 20 years. The greatest percentage growth in participation was in players 12-17 which grew from 15.7% of the total participants in 2008 to 20.5% of the participants in 2009.

"The USTA continues to work closely with the entire tennis industry to grow our game, and we are extremely gratified that our collective efforts have generated such strong growth," said Lucy S. Garvin, USTA President and Chairman of the Board. "We continue to strive to make tennis easier to learn and more fun to play, and this commitment has led to millions of more Americans playing the game. I am proud of our network of sections, states/districts, and community programs who have worked so hard to increase participation."

"Over the past several years, we’ve strived to make the game more accessible, particularly at parks and schools across the country," said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "Combine this with the health benefits of tennis, and you get surging interest in the sport."

"The TIA (industry) and the USTA have been focused on growing participation since the mid 90s and this is the result of a consistent and sustained effort that is now paying dividends," said TIA President Jon Muir. "Our ongoing challenge is to continue to build our frequent player base, the economic lifeline for the sport."

The TIA/USTA survey results include:

  • Total participation broke the 30 million mark in 2009 (a 12% increase to 30.1 million, against 26.9 million in 2008).
  • New players reached 7.1 million (up 19.5% from 5.9 million in 2008).
  • Regular Players, those playing 4 to 20 times per year, increased 26% to 14.8 million players in 2009.
  • Participation in 2009 is up in every major ethnic group, but especially among African Americans ( 19%) and Hispanics ( 32%)
  • Age groups comprising the greatest percentage of players are:
    • 12-17 years at 20.5% of the total (more than 6 million players)
    • 18-24 years at18.4% of the total (more than 5.5 million players)
    • 6-11 years at 16.25% of the total (4.9 million players)
  • Tennis is doing a better job at retention with continuing players up 6.3% to 16 million
  • Former players rejoining to the game is up for the third year in a row, with nearly 7 million coming back to tennis

The TIA/USTA results compare favorably to other recent research released from industry organizations over the past 12 months. In the 2009 Sports and Fitness Participation Report conducted by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), results showed tennis was the only traditional sport to enjoy growth in grassroots participation.

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About the USTA

The USTA is the national governing body for the sport of tennis in the U.S. and the leader in promoting and developing the growth of tennis at every level -- from local communities to the highest level of the professional game. It owns and operates the US Open, the highest attended annual sporting event in the world, and launched the Olympus US Open Series linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. A not-for-profit organization with more than 725,000 members, it invests 100% of its proceeds in growing the game. In addition, it owns the 94 Pro Circuit events throughout the U.S., and selects the teams for the Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Games.

For more information on the USTA, log on to usta.com.

About the TIA

The Tennis Industry Association, the not-for-profit trade association for tennis, is THE unifying force in the tennis industry bringing together competitive companies to work collectively to promote and grow the sport. The TIA works closely with the USTA and industry partners to develop and implement initiatives to increase tennis participation. Core TIA activities include Participation Research, Consumer and Trade Research and the Growing Tennis System. For more information, please visit TennisIndustry.org or GrowingTennis.com.