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Industry News – April 2024

Spring Forum

Over 70 delegates attended the TIA UK’s Spring Forum in April, representing operators, suppliers and organisations involved in tennis, padel and pickleball. The Tennis and Padel Business Forum – Creating Communities – gave an  opportunity for the 3 activities to consider how they could work together to help deliver environments to support ‘active wellness’ within local communities.

Spring Forum

David Minton of Leisure Database talked about the importance of sporting and other activity in addressing ‘loneliness’ within society and Marc Hughes of Wolverhampton Tennis Club explained how the club has created a supporting environment from social interaction through to performance.

Tracy Lynch of Har-Tru gave an interesting overview of the growth and profitability of pickleball in the USA and Tom Murray and Sophie Couthoys of the LTA discussed the impact of padel and the future challenges to development.

Excellent insight was provided by Shuabe Shabudin of Pinsent Masons on ‘employment essentials’ for tennis and padel venues and Iain Lancaster (LTA), Dominique Gonsalves and Désirée Fields (Pinsent Masons) looked at the impact of sustainability and how inaction could impact sponsorships and business relationships.

Following the event, TIA plans to undertake a business survey in co-operation with the  LTA and padel companies to obtain further economic insight with the aim of assisting further development of both padel and pickleball.

Some of the slide presentations from the event will be available for downloading from the TIA UK website shortly.

Operator Members gain in strength

Several tennis venues have recently joined the TIA as Operator Members.

Wrexham Tennis Centre is a Community Indoor Centre operated by Wrexham Tennis Centre Limited, a Charitable Company Limited by Guarantee.  It is one of the largest tennis facilities in the UK and plays host to international events. It currently has 7 indoor and 11 outdoor acrylic courts.

The Centre is preparing for a full facelift including works to the roof, courts, lighting, public areas, café, & changing facilities and the re-development will also include new Padel courts, the first in North Wales.

Atlantic Racquet Centre in Bideford North Devon  is a volunteer led community business and charity focused on improving the health & wellbeing of all local people. The centre offers court & gym hire,  memberships and coaching across 10 tennis courts, 3 badminton courts, 2 table tennis tables and new gym & fitness facilities have recently been added.

Parks Sports (formerly Will to Win) manages sports facilities in London parks and at other venues in West London. Formerly Will to Win and established over 25 years ago, Park Sports recently became an employee owned trust (EOT). It has six sports venues under contract with the Royal Parks with facilities including floodlit tennis, padel and pickleball courts, football pitches, netball courts, lawn bowls and table tennis.

In return for operating the sports facilities at Hyde Park, The Regent’s Park and Greenwich Park, a significant proportion of annual income is shared with The Royal Parks, to help  care for London’s parkland. The company also operates leisure and sports facilities in Chiswick, on behalf of Hounslow Borough Council, and at Lammas and Pitshanger Parks on behalf of Ealing Borough Council.

Annual General Meeting

The TIA UK AGM takes place on Thursday July 5th at The National Tennis Centre, Roehampton. Details and papers for the AGM will be sent to all members in June. There is an opportunity for TIA members to obtain ground passes for Wimbledon following the AGM and details will be sent to members shortly.    

LTA Parks Programme gets 5-year boost from Barclays

The LTA has announced a new five-year partnership with Barclays that aims to get 150,000 people playing tennis more regularly, building on its ongoing ambition to get half a million more people playing tennis in parks across Britain.

Barclays Free Park Tennis is the first of three initiatives the partnership will launch.

Rolling out across the nation in 100 public parks by the end of 2024, free one-hour volunteer-led tennis sessions will take place on either Saturday or Sunday at 10:00 at public parks throughout England, Scotland and Wales, allowing the public to enjoy the benefits of tennis, whether their goals are improving their health, meeting new people, or simply trying out a new sport this summer.

The sessions will be run by LTA-trained volunteers (Barclays Activators) from the local community – with all tennis equipment provided. So far, 175 volunteers have already received training for the role, with recruitment for new Barclays Activators currently ongoing.

Barclays Free Park Tennis follows the recent £30million UK Government and LTA Tennis Foundation investment, delivered by the LTA, which is bringing thousands of existing park tennis courts in poor or unplayable condition back to life, with a particular focus on areas of high social deprivation. Through this investment, significant progress has already been made towards delivering half a million more tennis players in parks across Britain.

Alongside Barclays Free Park Tennis, Barclays will also become the lead partner of Barclays Big Tennis Weekends – free tennis open days hosted by park, club or community tennis venues throughout the year – and Barclays Local Tennis Leagues – friendly, competitive mixed singles and doubles leagues for adults taking place at local parks.

(Source LTA News)

Grand Slams present latest plan for tennis shakeup with premier tour

The four Grand Slam tournaments have “gone on the offensive in the battle for the future of tennis,” presenting their “strongest plan yet to reform the current structure of professional tennis,” according to Matthew Futterman of THE ATHLETIC. The plan, presented to the ATP and WTA in London and to players and agents in Madrid, consists of a “premium tour anchored in the four Grand Slams and more top-level combined events.” It would “capitalize on the lucrative media rights” of the Australian, French and U.S. Opens, alongside Wimbledon, and those of the other top Masters tournaments.

The Slams said that the plans “will vastly increase pay for men and women more quickly than the ATP and WTA can achieve, focus the season around 15 events in a premium tour and extend an off-season that has shrunk to just a few weeks for the top players.” Futterman noted ATP and WTA leaders, who have long viewed the collective plan from the Grand Slams as a “threat to their relevance and perhaps their existence, are not enthusiastic about this latest idea.”

Nobody involved in the process “expects any changes to occur before 2026,” and the “tenuous and combative nature of the talks between the Grand Slam officials and the tours could prevent any change from occurring at all.” The Grand Slams have committed for the first time to “include a portion of their media and sponsorship rights,” deciding that the “only way to ensure that they maintain their strength is through further investment in the overall management of the sport”