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An estimated 71 million Americans have tried tennis but ultimately left due to a poor introductory experience. In an effort to reverse these numbers and reach the goal of 30 million recreational players in the United States by the year 2010, the tennis industry has kicked off the largest national campaign ever designed to increase tennis participation.

The national program is an unprecedented combined effort by every part of the tennis industry, including tennis facilities, manufacturers, teaching organizations, tennis associations, retailers and media. It involves designating and branding thousands of “Tennis Welcome Centers” across the country to encourage people to learn tennis and to channel them into programs where they can enjoy all the benefits of the sport.

In the first phase of the initiative, tennis facilities across the country will be encouraged to join the nationwide marketing campaign and become official Tennis Welcome Centers. Through the website www.partners.TennisWelcomeCenter.com, facilities that meet certain basic requirements will be designated Tennis Welcome Centers and benefit from the multifaceted promotional campaign.

The website is currently active and anyone meeting the following basic requirements are encouraged to go online and register.

Basic Requirements to become a Tennis Welcome Center

  • Tennis program must be open to the public with published telephone number available.
  • An affordable Introductory Multi-Session Tennis Program offered year round or "in-season."
  • The "Social Experience" should be stressed in addition to instruction: social events, round-robins, leagues, etc.
  • Tennis Instructors should have experience and understand how to teach beginners.
  • At least one certified teaching professional on staff (preferred).
  • Display Tennis Welcome Center banner (to be supplied).
  • Must be willing to put effort into your own local marketing campaign.

Tennis Welcome Center applications also will be available through many other industry partners and through the local, state and USTA Southern Section offices. The goal is to have 3,000 facilities across the U.S. designated as Tennis Welcome Centers by the spring 2004. Facilities will have wide latitude in their programming.

The second phase, to begin in spring 2004, will encourage consumers to “Learn to play tennis… Fast” by visiting a Tennis Welcome Center in their area.

The consumer website — www.TennisWelcomeCenter.com — will invite new and returning tennis players to enter their zip code to find a tennis facility near them offering introductory instructional programs for beginners and those coming back into the game.

Consumer awareness will be created by promotions supported by tennis industry partners. Tennis Welcome Center promotions will appear on 25 million cans of tennis balls, on tags for more than 2.5 million pre-strung racquets, in one-million boxes of tennis shoes, on more than 1,000 banners and two-million fliers in sporting goods stores, on ticket stubs for pro events, and in advertising through tennis and general media, including in 2004 US Open TV ads and over 500 TV ads on the Tennis Channel. In addition, there will be tie-ins to other markets and websites, along with email blasts to millions of non-tennis players.

“The commitment and enthusiasm of the industry partners to this campaign has been overwhelming,” says Jim Baugh, president of the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), which will coordinate and manage the industry side of the Tennis Welcome Center program.

“We’re working closely with everyone in the industry,” adds Kurt Kamperman, the chief executive of Community Tennis for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). “It’s critical that we promote our sport and not concentrate on individual brand names. There will be a new marketing reach by all groups in the industry to promote our shared brand — ‘TENNIS.’”

“Increasing participation in the sport is the number one priority of the USTA,” Lee Hamilton, USTA executive director and chief operating officer said. “The support of a united tennis industry is certain to help us toward our goal of 30 million players by 2010.”

The Tennis Welcome Center program and the stepped-up marketing of the brand of tennis follows analysis of landmark research on the sport. Recent groundbreaking research by the industry and the USTA indicated that while more than 70 million players have tried tennis, many quickly dropped out due to a poor introductory experience.

“Consumers will find that our network of Tennis Welcome Centers will make it easy for them to enter the game and to continue playing in a fun, social atmosphere,” says Baugh. “Key to the campaign’s promise will be its flexibility. Facilities won’t need to change their existing programming, yet they’ll benefit tremendously by all the industry resources that have combined to help grow the sport.”

For more information, visit www.partners.TennisWelcomeCenter.com or contact the Tennis Industry Association at 843-686-3036.

 

 
 
 
 
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