In the quest to grow participation and build lifetime
players, the last few years saw the USTA gradually
awaken to a known, yet unexplored, territory:
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Teenagers and young adults.
The demographic traditionally has been a pothole in
the USTA memberships logs, but as the first
anniversary of new initiatives nears, it's on track to be
an HOV lane.
Preview: Students are tennis growth sector
USTA gives schools program extreme makeover
"The USTA Schools program has been
over 20 years, but has been completely revamped in
the last two," says Scott Schultz, the managing
director of USTA Rec Tennis. "We have refocused our
efforts, we're spending more money, and we're
Details are to come in an exclusive story on
April, but the reason for the effort is
simple: There was no set track to see kids grow from
in-school and after-school programming to high school
and college as a transition
adulthoood. There was no bridge from pre-teen to
"We couldn't agree more," says Jason Jamison, the
manager of school tennis. "We don't want to just get
kids excited about the game when they're in P.E.
class, we want to provide them with a pathway to
continue the sport through high school and
Word has it that momentum for this enlightened
thinking sparked during Alan Schwartz's presidency
(2003-2004). Kurt Kamperman, chief of community
tennis, and team turned the long-considered
conundrum into an opportunity.
In less than a year the community tennis clan
schools program by creating a new P.E. curriculum;
developed after-school initiatives; instituted a no-cut
coaching endeavor for high school tennis; customized
solutions with communities through outreach and
advocacy; and promoted club tennis at colleges.
The work isn't done--it's a process.
Coming in April: "Extreme Makeover: USTA
Schools Program" will uncover the 'why', 'how'
and 'what' behind the improvements and the results.
Tennis goes pop! Meet the "Prince of Tennis"
Cool evidence of tennis in mainstream culture
While big dollars are spent each year on scientific
research charting the growth (or not) of the game
through a variety of factors, there is experiential
evidence to the same conclusion. "Tennis goes pop!"
will feature sightings.
Seen on late-night cable...
"Prince of Tennis" is a Japanese anime
whose main character, Echizen Ryoma, is a high
school star. He is successful on court, but his biggest
battle is striking beyond the shadow of his father--a
former pro. The cartoon got its start in 2001, but
made its debut to American audiences on The
Cartoon Network on Dec. 23. Check it out:
- POT page on Anime News
- POT page on
- POT page on Tokyo TV (Japanese)
tennis-in-mainstream-culture sightings by emailing
Newsbits: K-Swiss chooses Kournikova
Both share tennis as 'claim to fame'
has added Anna Kournikova to represent the
brand, perhaps to
tie its street cred to its tennis roots. Or maybe to stay
on the tennis radar.
You may recall that the 41-year-old company, which
introduced the first all-leather tennis shoe, went into
ballistic growth mode in the late 1990s when
it jumped into streetwear; the stock tripled in 1999 alone. Since
that time, foreign sales have
continued to escalate and the U.S. market has
shrunk. In fact, the company anticipates a 30% drop in domestic sales for
The addition of the blond
bombshell--supported by TV and print ads--is likely
an attempt to
boost "soft" domestic
sales. It's no detraction from the company's street
cred, and could serve to expose that demographic to
The Kournikova announcement came one day after K-
Swiss announced a collaboration with South
Africa's "urban culture icon"
DJ Fresh. The deal is touted by Music Industry Online as "guaranteed
to make 2007 an epic year for each of these hip hop
If K-Swiss can be considered a 'hip hop heavyweight'
and retain its connection to tennis, the sport could
bridge a major gap.
The Kournikova deal seems a natural: Both she and
the brand share tennis as their claims to fame that
delivered them to a wider audience and dividends.
View behind-the-scenes photos from the TV
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'Til next time,