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Reasons for Optimism

Dear TIA UK News reader,

Whatever your interest in tennis, 2013 has certainly been one of the most memorable in the history of this amazing sport. All those involved in the tennis industry have felt the opposing effects of a modestly recovering economy and one of the great British sporting successes of recent years.

July 7th 2013 will long be remembered as the day when Andy Murray removed the huge burden of history from the shoulders of British men’s tennis and became Wimbledon champion. Seventy-seven years of hurt and angst removed in one glorious match with Andy ensuring his place in British Tennis history forever. Fast forward to December 15th and Andy becomes the landslide winner of Sports Personality of the year becoming the fourth tennis player (after Ann Jones, Virginia Wade and Greg Rusedski) to win the coveted title. However Andy didn’t just win the title – he won by a landslide polling 56% of the total vote which left him more than a third of a million votes ahead of his nearest rival – the British and Irish Lions hero, Leigh Halfpenny.

Let’s also give due credit to Leon Smith’s Davis Cup team, who in April battled back from 0-2 to a magnificent 3-2 victory against Russia in Coventry before defeating Croatia away to set up a great tie against the USA on the clay of San Diego. Meanwhile, despite a challenging year Laura Robson and Heather Watson continue to be outstanding British ambassadors of the game with their great play matched by engaging personalities.

However, against this backdrop of unprecedented success on court the Tennis Industry has had to contend with a difficult economic climate. HM Treasury figures published on January 16th 2013 predicted a very modest growth for the year (an average GDP growth forecast of 0.9%) and a huge current account deficit of £45.7bn. The constant caution of politicians and business leaders in respect of the economy no doubt reflected a more widespread feeling in the country, and as we know in so many fields of life it is often the more intangible factors such as these which determine success or otherwise. Little wonder then that consumers were thinking twice about whether or not to buy a new car, join their local tennis club or order new kit and rackets for themselves.

On a positive note, the Government’s forecasts for 2014, published on December 18th 2013, show a more optimistic outlook with a growth forecast for next year of 2.5% albeit with a current account deficit of £48.4bn. Could this, together with 2013’s on court success be the springboard for British Tennis to fight back, increasing participation and invigorating our industry? This is a key question that the TIA will pose at our first Tennis Summit on April 9th next year. For more information email Gilly English.

I believe the answer will be “YES” and that we have good grounds for optimism. Our on-court success will be supported from January 6th by a new CEO at the LTA, Michael Downey, who has already declared his interest in partnership, facilities and participation (particularly with the very young). At the TIA we have seen increased interest at the end of the year allied to a growth in membership which I believe reflects a more optimistic outlook and the fact that we offer an ever-expanding and comprehensive list of benefits for our members which reduce their costs and give them more opportunities to do business.

As we reflect on a glorious year for British Tennis let us also recognise the positive signs of a continued recovery and I strongly believe that if we approach 2014 with the optimism it deserves then a successful outlook will become a self-fulfilling prophesy. To everyone involved in this wonderful sport of ours I wish you a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year.

With best wishes


Brett Watson
Executive Director
Tennis Industry Association UK