USTA to Invest in 10 and Under Tennis

December 14, 2010

Over the next three years, the USTA plans to invest $5 million dollars in 100 markets to foster the growth of 10 and under tennis. The money will go towards marketing, training, courts, competition, schools, and equipment. The $5 million dollars will also be matched by USTA sections, district and/or state associations, as well as local associations. The average investment per market has been estimated at $50,000.

“There is nothing we can think of that is more central or more important at this time to growing participation, developing players, creating fans, etc. than this 10 and under initiative, says Scott Schultz, Managing Director, Recreational Tennis at the USTA. “If we are successful, every stakeholder in tennis wins — clubs, pros, manufacturers, events, tennis publications … everyone.”

This new 10 and under tennis initiative will allow for more kids on a practice court, translating into higher revenue for clubs, coaches, and supervisors. In the 5-8 age group, there are some programs that are currently using six (36-foot) courts positioned sideways on one 78-foot court, with six kids per court. With up to 36 kids on one practice court, that can mean higher revenue for court time, per hour.

Some organizations have already begun to implement this system in competition on a smaller scale, setting up 2-4 courts on 36-foot courts. “For clubs and coaches that run these types of events, it is very beneficial, says Schultz, who also leads the 45-person team at USTA for 10 and under tennis. “You can get more kids per court competition, and since the scoring is much shorter than 2 out of 3 sets, the events don’t take as long.” According to Schultz, the 8 and under competition using the new ITF rule changes have already begun, using 36-foot courts, using a red foam ball. The new rules for 10 and under competition for USTA-sanctioned events won’t officially go into effect until 2012.