WHITE PLAINS, December 11, 2020 (USTA Press Release)
The USTA today announced the results of a series of financial and service-based commitments made at the start of the pandemic in an effort to bolster and support the tennis ecosystem in the United States. These included grants and services to facilities and teaching professionals to help these groups remain viable during this period. In addition, the USTA Foundation focused on a “Rally to Rebuild” campaign which would provide aid to National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) Chapters, as well as those youth participating in programming at these chapters, across the nation.
Facility Recovery Grants targeted tennis facilities in need of assistance in reopening following the various periods of shutdown or closing. In total, $4.5 million was awarded to more than 1,450 facilities across the country. These grants impacted close to 11,000 teaching pros who manage more than 17,500 courts. In addition to the grants, the USTA created recommendations and guidelines for facilities to best ensure tennis was offered in a way that most effectively mitigated risk.
Certified Tennis Professional Membership Grants were awarded to ensure that certified tennis professionals will be able to renew their membership fees in 2021, allowing these individuals to maintain liability insurance, remain Safe Play compliant and continue to have access to educational opportunities. In total, more than 9,500 coaches have been awarded this grant, with $2 million going directly to the USPTA and PTR to cover the dues fees for these professionals.
The USTA Foundation provided a series of grant, scholarship and aid packages to NJTL Chapters across the country. More than 110 chapters received $3.8 million in direct funding or services, while more than $1 million in clothing and equipment was provided to these organizations. Scholarships for players and college-bound student athletes were given to 100 individuals, totaling $500,000. Technical assistance and direct training was provided by the USTA Foundation, as well, helping chapters to navigate the process of applying for Paycheck Protection Program loans, resulting in more than 65 chapters being awarded nearly $10 million in government support.
“The tennis industry, like most industries and areas in this country, was hit incredibly hard by the fallout of COVID-19. The USTA recognized that keeping the tennis ecosystem alive, and putting it in a place to come out of the pandemic in a strong position, was the most important and pressing concern for the association,” said Mike Dowse, CEO and Executive Director, USTA. “Although many in the tennis community did face hardships, by properly and strategically providing financial and technical aid to our key constituents, we were able to effectively help providers, facilities and programs navigate these difficult times and continue to operate and deliver tennis at the local level. Tennis is the ideal social distancing sport, and we are seeing positive trends in the industry that show many individuals are turning to tennis at this time to stay active and healthy.”
Recent data and information surrounding racquet sales and participation demonstrate that the tennis industry has shown strength amid the pandemic. According to the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) Quarterly USA Wholesale Equipment Census, racquet sales in the entry-level category have seen significant growth in Q3 ’20 v Q3 ’19. The increase has occurred in both the youth and adult demographics, with shipments for youth racquets having seen an increase of 40.9% and shipments of adult racquets under $50 (entry-level) seeing an increase of 43.3%. For all price points, racquet shipments are up 37.7% in that same time period. In addition, the Physical Activity Council has reported that participation has increased to 10.08% of the U.S. population playing tennis in Q3 ’20 v 6.75% in Q3 ’19, an increase of 49.33%. This number falls in line with the increases in racquet unit shipments.