49 European national tennis federations have participated in a survey devised to provide a snapshot of the concerns faced by Tennis Europe’s member nations.
The survey was conducted in early 2020, just before the COVID pandemic, and reflects the opinions of Presidents and General Secretaries.
Tennis Europe CEO Thomas Hammerl shared the findings with delegates at the recent Annual General Meeting. We asked him how the results can be interpreted for the benefit of these member nations.
What were the motivations behind the European Tennis Survey?
We believe in the value of data and in supporting our member nations with recommendations, best practice examples and guidance for their work. We also feel very strongly that as a result of a fragmented tennis ecosystem, the extremely important work done by volunteers and executives at national associations is often overlooked and undervalued. These are the reasons for the survey, which was carried out by our research partner, Sports Marketing Surveys*.
What are the main concerns of national tennis federations?
The daily activities that are performed by the staff of the national federations range from grass roots level all the way up to the professional tours. And Tennis Europe is arguably the most diverse of all ITF regional associations, including Grand Slam nations like France and Great Britain and also tiny states such as Andorra or Liechtenstein. But the one thing all national federations have in common is the drive to elevate participation in the sport. According to our respondents, the three most effective tools to encourage participation in tennis clubs are:
- Initiatives by clubs and local coaches (65%)
- National tennis hero (57%)
- Tennis on TV (55%)
What were the most important findings of the survey?
In times of Social Media and e-Sports, it is important to know the main obstacles for choosing tennis and starting the sport. The three main challenges for the sport are:
- Availability indoor courts (65%)
- Popularity of other sports (56%)
- Cost of court hire (38%)
Of the programs carried out by national federations, which are seen to have the greatest impact on the sport?
The three initiatives with the greatest impact are:
- Tennis programs for kids aged 10 & Under (88%)
- Promoting tennis in Schools (82%)
- Free beginners’ lessons in local clubs (55%
How do national tennis federations in Europe get their money?
The ITF and Tennis Europe have very good support programs in place to develop member nations. The income from Davis Cup by Rakuten and Billie Jean King Cup ties was also mentioned, but the three income sources of the highest importance are:
- Government support (39%)
- Sponsorship (23%)
- Membership Fees (13%)
How has sponsorship changed in recent years?
The ways in which sponsors want to co-operate, and in which federations can service them and offer them exposure in return, are constantly evolving:
- Social media has become the most important part of activation (44%)
- Sponsors monitor the return on investment more than ever (42%)
- Sponsors want more for less money (27%)
What types of brands are most likely to sponsor tennis federations in Europe?
- Sports equipment companies (52%)
- Banking (46%)
- Automotive (40%)
What role does marketing play at tennis federations?
More than half of our member nations have national marketing campaigns to increase tennis participation, so marketing plays a big role in their daily work. These campaigns are aimed at:
- Tennis players of all ages (55%)
- Children under 10 years (45%)
- Teenagers (17%)
This survey was conducted just before the main effects of the COVID-19 pandemic were felt. How do you expect the situation to have changed in recent months?
Inevitably, all nations suffer financially in times like these, but we think that there is room for optimism in the long term. It is universally agreed that tennis is one of the few sports that can be played safely right now, and many countries are reporting increased demand for courts and equipment in response. That’s one of the reasons our new President and Board of Management will act to unite European tennis and work together for our common goals.
* Sports Marketing Surveys has been Tennis Europe's official partner for almost two decades and regularly undertakes research on behalf of the European tennis family, including the triennial 'European Tennis Report' and the 'Next Generation' player analysis.