‘Discovery Challenge’ Presents Innovative Solutions for Growing Tennis

September 10, 2019

NEW YORK, N.Y. (Sept. 10, 2019) — This year’s TIA Tennis Forum, held in New York on the opening day of the US Open, included a unique Tennis Industry “Discovery Challenge,” a collaborative effort designed to foster creative ideas and innovative thinking to grow the game and business of tennis.

The Discovery Challenge, sponsored by the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), aimed to provide answers and suggestions to pressing industry challenges of how to increase tennis engagement (consider and try the sport) and how to increase tennis participation (play and stay in tennis). The TIA worked with IdeaConnection, one of the world’s leading Open Innovation service companies, to develop the Discovery Challenge.

From July 17 to Aug. 1, nearly 500 people from the U.S. and around the world participated in nearly 3,000 discussions on how to increase tennis participation, engagement and retention. Participants submitted ideas in six categories: Increasing Viewership, Marketing and Promotions, On-Court Activities, Technology Solutions, Wellness and Fitness, and Outside the Box. The team at IdeaConnection identified key ideas and also awarded $100 prizes to 10 discussion contributors for their ideas and participation. A panel of industry experts voted on a $1,000 Grand Prize winner, which was announced at the TIA Tennis Forum on Aug. 26.

The winning idea—for a tennis crowdfunding platform—was sent in by Ruth-Ellen Alcendor of Paris, France, in the Outside the Box category. Alcendor suggested creating a platform where “individuals, associations, clubs, organizations and other entities will be able to submit their projects for all things tennis, from gear to tournaments.” Examples include requests to build tennis courts locally, requests to buy new equipment, sponsorship for talented young players, and requests to send club members to tournaments.

“We were thrilled to see the hundreds of great ideas on how to increase tennis participation, engagement and retention,” said TIA Executive Director Jolyn de Boer. “For our industry, the data and insights we received through this process are extremely enlightening and intriguing, and we are sharing these hundreds of suggestions and comments with our industry partners to explore and potentially incorporate.”

The panel of judges included Stacey Allaster, USTA chief executive of Professional Tennis; SFIA Executive Director Tom Cove; Nielsen Sports executive Andrew LaFiosca; and Dr. Stuart Miller of the International Tennis Federation. TIA also worked with Carlos Salum, the president of Salum International Resources, and Lena Belogolova, chief behavior officer at EasyKnock and a former Facebook leader, to design the Discovery Challenge. Salum and Belogolova presented the winning ideas in front of about 250 industry leaders, executives and tennis providers at the Tennis Forum.

In addition to the Discovery Challenge, the Tennis Forum included the latest news and research about the state of the tennis industry, business insights and updates on grow-the-game initiatives, along with the induction of tennis legend Arthur Ashe and apparel pioneers Cheryl Singer and Andy Varat into the Tennis Industry Hall of Fame.

For more information on the TIA, the Tennis Forum and the Discovery Challenge, visit