‘Tennis Night in America’ Serves Up a Winner

March 3, 2009

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — The USTA announced today that more than 700 tennis facilities, recreation departments and community centers across the U.S. took part in last night’s first-ever national youth registration initiative for spring and summer tennis programs—many in spite of unexpectedly heavy snow and winter weather—attracting tens of thousands of kids and parents to take part in the inaugural celebration of “Tennis Night in America.”

Tennis Night in America also included the ”BNP Paribas Showdown for the Billie Jean King Cup” at New York’s Madison Square Garden. The Showdown featured four of the top women’s players in the world—10-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, two-time defending Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, reigning French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and 2008 year-end No. 1 Jelena Jankovic—competing in a single-elimination tournament for the inaugural Billie Jean King Cup before a live national TV audience on HBO. The tournament was captured by Serena Williams in a straight-set victory over her sister Venus.

National Youth Registration Night events were created to give young players and their families around the country a day all their own to sign up for spring and summer programming including team tennis play. Facilities and clubs across the country, in cooperation with HBO, also offered live viewing parties for the Showdown.

Dozens of other youth registration events throughout the Northeast and South, areas hit hard by severe winter weather yesterday, are being rescheduled for the near future.

“We were excited about the possibilities of what Tennis Night in America could be, but last night truly exceeded our expectations.” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “The enthusiasm we saw and heard from kids, parents and fans throughout our 17 sections was a wonderful testament to the resurgence our sport has been experiencing at every level.”

The initiatives of Tennis Night in America come in the midst of tremendous sustained growth for tennis throughout the decade.

U.S. participation in the sport has grown more than any other traditional sport since 2000; according to the annual research survey conducted for the Tennis Industry Association and the USTA by the Taylor Research Group, nearly 26.9 million people played tennis in 2008, the highest number of participants in 15 years. That marked a 7 percent increase over the prior year and an increase of more than 30 percent since 2000. In addition, the number of new tennis players increased by 3 percent last year to more than 5.9 million.

“We look forward to maintaining the momentum of this great event throughout the rest of the year,” said Kamperman, “as well as making TNIA an annual event for years to come.”