In January, the TIA UK co-chaired a meeting between the LTA and the racket and ball brands. This was the first time the group had met since October 2016.
Attending the meeting were Paul Jepson and Peter Tuffrey (Yonex), Jon Ballardie and David Ruthven (Sports Brands Europe – Prince), Chris Phillips and Richard Heritage (Dunlop Sports), Aidan Graveson (Babolat), Jo Thomas-Kemp (Amer Sports – Wilson), Andy Catchpole (Head UK) and Louise Price (J Price of Bath).
Co-chairs were Rob Dearing (LTA Head of Development and Innovation) and Phil Sandilands (TIA UK). The new LTA Chief Executive Scott Lloyd and LTA Participation Director Alastair Marks joined the group during lunch for an informal chat.
Discussions centred around how best the brands and the industry could support the LTA’s Transforming British Tennis Together programme but also it was an opportunity to highlight issues of mutual interest or concern.
Issues discussed included a collective approach towards promoting the sport; industry support towards Great British Tennis Weekend events; equipment innovation and different tennis formats to get more people playing; guidance on racket selection and LTA supplier contracts.
As a result of the discussions, the TIA UK is progressing in tandem with the brands, various actions including a racket education resource for coaches, further thoughts on the feasibility of a National Tennis Show and the opportunities for the industry to exhibit at the National Coaches Conference in June.
Paul Burditt (LTA Head of Insight and Strategy) provided an excellent presentation to the industry group around new data on what was happening in the health and fitness sector and the impact on traditional sports, particularly tennis.
The annual meeting with the brands is a key part of the on-going and evolving working relationship between the industry (via the TIA UK) and the LTA to ‘grow the industry together’. A further meeting is planned around the Wimbledon fortnight.