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Tennis Still on Top in 2009 Sporting Goods Manufacturers Report

August 3, 2009 07:00 AM
The recently-released 2009 Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) Sports & Fitness Participation report reveals that tennis participation in the U.S. continues to grow by leaps and bounds.

According to the report, tennis participation in 2008 increased 9.6%, for a total increase of 43% over the last eight years, with tennis retaining the title of fastest-growing traditional sport over the last eight years.

The USTA reports that approximately 27 million Americans played tennis in 2008, making for the largest growth period since the popular John McEnroe/Chris Evert/Jimmy Connors era, with 6 million people trying tennis for the first time last year. First-time numbers are expected to grow even further in 2009 with the introduction of QuickStart Tennis programs across the U.S., which allow children to learn the game with smaller courts, child-size racquets, and foam or decompressed balls.

"By all measures, 2003-2008 has been the five best consecutive years in tennis since the last 1970s," says USTA Florida Executive Director Doug Booth.

In Florida it has been no different, with new or renovated facilities of late in Long Boat Key ($4.5 million new facility), Palm Coast, Plant City, Sarasota, Pensacola, Gainesville's Jonesville Park Tennis Center, Lake County's North Lake Community Park, and at the University of Florida (indoor) and Florida State (indoor).

Public tennis facilities, private clubs and parents/USTA volunteers across the U.S. are starting QuickStart programs for children, with a number of clubs installing permanent QuickStart-sized courts for instruction. QuickStart can be seen in action at http://consumers.quickstarttennis.com/

Even in challenging economic times, people continue to take to tennis courts in droves, especially during the U.S. summer hardcourt season when fans are spurred on by the US Open Series of tournaments on television, leading to the US Open at the end of August.

"Everyone has tennis shoes," says Kurt Kamperman, the USTA's CEO of community tennis, speaking to the Associated Press. "It helps that there are low-cost, no-cost public courts in almost every city, and you don't need a lot of equipment to get started."

For more statistical info, visit the website of the Tennis Industry Association at www.tennisindustry.org






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