Tennis Growth Aces the Competition

What's not to love about tennis?

Not only is it a challenging game that sharpens the mind as it shapes the body, it's also the fastest-growing sport in the U.S.

There aren't many sports activities that test every part of your body. Basketball and soccer are good for your legs and your aerobic health. Weightlifting makes you stronger. Football, lacrosse and ice hockey test your strength and physical fitness.

Tennis takes care of everything.

It requires quickness and agility to get to the ball, core strength to get power into your shots, stamina to be able to play at a high level for an extended period and mental toughness to stay one step ahead of your opponent.

And if these health benefits aren't enough to get your pulse racing, tennis has recently been rated as the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. among traditional sports.

According to data released by the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA), tennis experienced an increase in participation of 43 percent from 2000 to 2008.

This puts tennis well ahead of other traditional sports like baseball, ice hockey, gymnastics and football, all of which suffered a decline in participation during the past eight years.? In 2008 alone, tennis participation grew by 9.6 percent.

"Our goal is to make the game more accessible to all players by broadening our reach through parks and schools," said Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive of Community Tennis for the USTA. "We are expanding the reach of the sport through a variety of programs to bring more tennis to more people in more ways than ever before."

The SGMA study is the latest in a series of reports and studies that have cited the extraordinary growth of tennis.? In December of 2008, the Taylor Research Group reported that tennis participation reached a record high of 27 million players, higher than any other period in the past 15 years.

"There are very few sports where kids and adults can go anywhere in the country and meet other players and immediately begin playing in a league or other local program, build friendships and really contribute to a lifestyle that includes ongoing sports activity," said Jon Muir, President of the Tennis Industry Association.

From programs like QuickStart and Cardio Tennis, to the USTA's No-Cut high school program, Tennis on Campus and Flex Leagues, "the tennis industry is at the forefront of engaging and retaining players," Muir added.

So what does this news mean for players? For those looking to get started or for experienced players who've been in the game for some time, there are more ways than ever to play tennis.
"As tennis grows, players benefit from more public tennis facilities being built and renovated to keep up with demand," said Kamperman. The growth of tennis also means "the development of new programs to bring tennis to more people including the development of USTA Flex Leagues to compliment our existing USTA Leagues program, and the launch of our Jr. Team Tennis for our younger players."

With more people playing tennis, the public demand for facilities will make way for industry initiatives to meet this demand, making it easier for players to find courts and opponents to test their skills.

"As tennis participation continues to increase, the awareness and accessibility of not just courts and programs, but other players at all levels also directly contributes to fueling the enjoyment and ongoing play options for all players," said Muir.
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