As the end of the 2-year term of the current Adult Competition Committee approaches, I wanted to provide some highlights and share some areas we recommend be considered by future Committees and leaders in the adult competition area.
Part of the Committee’s Charge is to grow adult participation at all levels of competitive play and we are proud of the excellent start to the USTA’s NTRP National Championships. Our research indicated that there were over 50,000 4.0+ USTA League singles players who do not play USTA adult tournaments or other competitive events. Considering the existing 80,000 players presently playing USTA adult tournaments and events, this could be a very large market for us. In its first year, the NTRP National Championships attracted over 1,200 unique participants and became one of the top 3 attended adult tournaments in any category! With the addition of 3.0 and 5.0 NTRP levels in 2019 (5.0 offered for 18 and Over only), we expect to see even more players turn out next year.
The Committee is energized by the number of players participating in the NTRP National Championships and encourages the incoming Committee to continue to address the evolving landscape of adult tournament play. About 2/3 of all adult tournament play is now level-based. Let’s continue to find ways to incorporate and expand level-based play principles in our events - even within age group products. Some considerations:
We have implemented a grass-roots tournament product called Team-Up events. These events are level-based, are typically played over a two-hour period, and include a social component. They are an excellent way to provide new tournament players with a friendly, organized and high energy experience.
In December 2018, the inaugural College Alumni Tennis Classic will be held at the USTA National Campus. We hope to reconnect former college players and offer tennis events that are suited to their lifestyle while also providing a fun and competitive tennis experience. I ask the NSWTA and NSMTA to promote the event and suggest your members consider playing. For more information please refer to usta.com/alumniclassic.
In 2018, we began a process of assessing our tournament calendar and event portfolio with the idea of creating a better event experience for players. This included combining some tournaments to create larger events and increasing the energy and sense of “community” with the players. The early results are positive in this regard and we continue to look at other opportunities in this area.
With an eye to the future, we have developed a list of recommendations for future Committees or leaders in the Adult Competition area to consider. Some considerations include:
These items and many others are in the suggestion and idea stage and any action in this regard would be subject to the decisions of future Committees and/or Adult Competition leaders.
The USTA is embarking on a multi-year/multi-phase upgrade to tennis tournament management and other related systems that are in place today. The initial plans were presented at the USTA Semi-Annual Meeting and Conference in New York. The scope includes multiple levels of tournament management and operations within the adult and junior tennis markets. More information will be shared by the USTA as the project moves forward.
Our top adult players continue to turn in strong performances at the International level with many high finishes in the recent World Championships. These players and many others are examples of how tennis can be a sport for an entire lifetime.
For the first time in many years, we experienced increases in participation in some of our adult tennis areas. Many challenges remain but I am encouraged by the outreach, support and enthusiasm from USTA Leadership, Committee members, Section and National USTA staff and many others with regards to the direction being pursued.
Lastly, I want to thank the USTA Adult Competition Committee, liaisons and our wonderful staff colleagues for their support and teamwork during the past two years. I look to the future with optimism and the belief that even better days are ahead.
USTA Adult Competition Committee
I want to start by thanking Mas Kimball of the National Senior Men’s Tennis Association and Pam Simons of the National Senior Women’s Tennis Association for inviting me to provide an update regarding the USTA Adult Competition Committee. I am pleased to share some highlights of our Committee’s current goals and initiatives.
As you are aware, for many years we have been battling headwinds from a participation standpoint across a number of our adult tournament events. A few years ago, the charge (responsibility) of the USTA Adult Competition Committee was adjusted with significant emphasis placed on turning this trend around – as well as focusing its efforts across all levels of adult competitive play – from grass-roots through our national championship events.
Several strategies have been put into action across a number of areas of our adult competitive landscape, and I’m excited with their progress and potential. Here is a snapshot:
As you can see, we are very busy and have a lot to consider. I am excited with the progress we’ve made in several areas and look forward to building on that momentum.