Tennis Business Forum hits the right note

TIA UK Forum

The fourth Business of Tennis Forum held on April 4th at The Queen’s Club was hailed a great success by delegates and organisers. The wide-ranging theme of ‘Tennis Economics’ reflected the variety of speakers and subjects relevant to the diverse audience attending the event.

The line-up of speakers was the strongest ever for the annual event organised by the Tennis Industry Association UK, that brings together companies, clubs and individuals with business interests in tennis.

The 2017 event was sponsored by the LTA and its support and endorsement was further strengthened by presentations from Paul Burditt, LTA Head of Insight and Strategy and James Mercer LTA Commercial Director.

Paul Burditt spoke about the work undertaken by the LTA to address the decline in tennis participation in certain age groups and the creation of a solid platform to move forward. He identified specific challenges for tennis with women and girls and that the sport needs to be relevant, visible and provide inspiration.

James Mercer highlighted the issues facing the governing body to attract commercial sponsorship to replace Aegon at the end of the year. He stated that it was a very commercially challenging landscape with many well-known sports organisations, events and programmes also seeking long-term sponsors within a similar timeframe. James stated that the LTA is principally seeking two separate sponsors; one for the Pre-Wimbledon event held at The Queen’s Club and another for all other LTA activities.

Barry Cawte, National Tennis Manager of Greenwich Leisure Limited, gave a detailed breakdown of the GLL involvement in tennis with an emphasis on the financial and tennis development success achieved at the indoor community tennis centres now managed by GLL. Of particular note is the fact that revenue per indoor court has increased from an average of £40,000 to £100,000, providing a strong financial sustainability for tennis in the nine tennis centres that are operated by GLL. 

Robert Bray, the Chief Executive Officer of the Edgbaston Priory Club gave a real insight into ‘Modernising the Traditional Tennis Club’.  The Club dates back to the birth of lawn tennis and has hosted a pre-Wimbledon grass court tournament since 1982. Robert highlighted some of the challenges over the Club’s massive £12m investment into new facilities to cater for international tennis and to provide members with state-of the-art facilities expected for one of the leading sports clubs in the country.  

Ed Willis of Sports Marketing Surveys Inc. gave a detailed assessment of the equipment market, together with insight on participation across Europe, comparing the performance of British Tennis against other counties.  

Oren Holtzman of new TIA UK member Teach Tennis International presented its unique digital coaching syllabus and how it has been received to assist player retention and enable increased income through its player pathway programme. He also highlighted some of the difficulties of bringing new products to the British tennis market.

The TTI presentation was filmed by TV company Twofour for a programme called ‘Give It a Year’ that follows 30 start-up companies (of which TTI is one) over 12 months to report on their progress and hopeful success. The programme is planned to be broadcast in early 2018.

The International Tennis Federation also filmed the 2017 event for its iCoach platform, a resource for players, parents, coaches and educators with particular relevance for business and management support for coaches.

The Forum was used to launch the new ‘Business of Tennis Innovation Awards’, supported by tennishead magazine. Jo Carter of tennishead stated that the Awards aim to recognise products and services that make the most positive impact to tennis in the UK.

The Innovation Awards will recognize and promote those people and companies who take risks; who show initiative, drive and determination; and who have the imagination to spot business opportunities that will fill gaps in the market. Further details on the Awards and how to apply can be found by clicking here.

Presentations from the Forum can be found on the Insight page

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