Tennis Participation Jumps 43% in nine years

March 29, 2010

WHITE PLAINS, NY — Tennis continues to hit winning shots with the American public. The latest data from the Physical Activity Council (PAC) shows participation in the sport grew by a huge 43% from 2000 through 2009, making tennis one of the fastest growing traditional participation sports in the U.S. for the past decade.


In PAC’s 2010 Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Participation Overview, tennis was one of only a few sports to show an increase in overall participation in the past nine years. Racquetball was up by 2% according to the study while most other traditional sports showed a decline in participation over that same period. The annual PAC study examines sports trends and participation for 117 sports.

The continued good news in tennis participation comes on the heels of an annual participation survey from the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) and U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) that shows overall tennis participation in the U.S. increased 12% in 2009 alone, bringing the total number of players in the country to 30.1 million. That’s the largest number of tennis players in the U.S. in 25 years.

“The PAC report, combined with the TIA/USTA participation study released at the end of 2009, is evidence that the hard work and dedication many throughout the industry have invested into growing our sport overall is paying off,” said Jon Muir, TIA president and worldwide general manager of Wilson Racquet Sports. “Ensuring that we continue to focus on improving our pathways into the sport for new players to develop into frequent players & consumers of tennis will further fuel our industry in the years ahead.”

“We are extremely pleased that tennis once again ranks as the fastest growing traditional sport in the United States,” said Lucy S. Garvin, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA. “The fact that tennis has seen such healthy growth over the past decade is a testament to the entire tennis industry. With teamwork and innovative programs, we have brought our sport to more people in more ways, and we expect to sustain this growth over the next ten years.”

“The entire tennis industry is focused on engaging and retaining players of all ages and abilities, making tennis as accessible as possible at the grassroots level,” said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. “With new equipment and teaching methods, the game is more fun and easier to learn then ever before. We are bringing tennis to where the players are and we now have more than 30 million Americans playing tennis.”

“We’re especially pleased that interest and participation in tennis has been able to withstand the challenges in this economy,” said Jolyn de Boer, executive director of the TIA, the tennis trade association that is the unifying force for companies, organizations and other groups within the industry. “This is also a credit to our joint effort with our partners, especially the USTA, in terms of launching programs designed to attract new players into the game, bring people back into tennis, and have current players playing more tennis, as well as the certified tennis teaching pros who deliver the programming.”

More and more consumers are realizing the health benefits that tennis provides, continued de Boer. “Cardio Tennis, which was first introduced just five years ago, increased 20% from 2008 and has now pushed past 1.177 million participating in tennis based cardio-vascular exercise.”

The USTA, TIA, and other industry partners have been united since 1995 in a joint effort to support “Grow the Game” activities to increase tennis participation on several levels. No other sport has focused so much attention on increasing participation numbers, especially among youth markets. Some of those recent initiatives include Tennis Welcome Centers, Cardio Tennis and QuickStart Tennis (for children 10 and under).

The Physical Activity Council is an unprecedented partnership in the sports industry composed of seven of the major governing bodies and trade associations, including the TIA and USTA. The goal of the partnership is to identify key trends in sports, fitness, and recreation participation in the U.S.

Overall results from PAC’s Sports, Fitness, and Recreation Participation Overview show just over 104 million Americans are frequently involved in a high- or medium-calorie burning activity. However, more than 92 million Americans are infrequent participants in some form of fitness, sports, or recreation. And nearly 65 million are not taking part in any form of exercise or activity at all.

The PAC study also shows a relationship between a physically active lifestyle and exposure to physical education classes in school. Children are more than three times likely to participate in team sports if they have PE classes in school than if they don’t have PE in school. Adults 21 and over are three times more likely to be super active as adults if they had PE in school.

“The purpose of this unique partnership is to create a single set of data that accurately measures national interest in fitness activities, competitive team sports, individual pursuits, and general recreation,” says PAC Chairman Tom Cove (president — Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association).