Padel, although still dwarfed by tennis in terms of total playing population in the UK, has potential to continue growing fast. More players expect to play more of the sport than expect to maintain current levels of play. This chimes with success in Spain, Sweden and other mainland European markets, as well as with research from across the Atlantic that shows rapid growth rates boosting alternative forms of tennis, notably pickleball, the fastest growing sport in America.
A full breakdown of tennis and padel player numbers and demographics is available for immediate download from Sporting Insights’ online research store. The report costs £1,250 + VAT.
The tennis participation findings echo sales trends observed over recent years. In 2022, total racquet wholesale shipments into the UK retail channel were just over 400,000 racquets, down 6% on comparable figures from 2021. Although the total number of racquets remained strongly up on 2019, it should be remembered that 2019 represented the lowest racquet delivery levels in years, following a gradual decline between 2016 and 2019.
Ball sales add further evidence of participation challenges. UK tennis ball shipments in 2022 dropped to 864k dozen, down 3% against 2021 and 8% against pre-covid levels.
John Bushell, Managing Director of Sporting Insights, welcomed the release of the report. “This is an important new piece of research. The findings offer both reason for caution and room for hope, aligning with trends observed with deliveries into the various sales channels. Taken together, it does appear that the pandemic participation growth has not been fully maintained, and that there is a need for stakeholders and those trying to grow the sport to be focused on how to get those who were playing after 2020 to remain in or return to the sport.
Tennis has a number of natural advantages in the UK, not least the presence of The Wimbledon Championships which continue to inspire and attract millions, and it is important that outreach, initiatives, and facilities encourage as many people as possible to try the sport at all ages, especially if it can be targeted at those most interested in giving the sport a try.”
To find out more about the 2023 participation data, please contact Hannah.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tennis wholesale shipment data is sourced from the US TIA Tennis Shipment programme undertaken by Sports Marketing Surveys USA and supported by Sporting Insights.