TORONTO – Tennis Canada's mission to put the racket in the hands of more recreational players has succeeded. A new study commissioned by Tennis Canada and published Monday shows the sport has almost reached pre-pandemic participation levels.
TORONTO – Tennis Canada's mission to put the racket in the hands of more recreational players has succeeded.
A new study commissioned by Tennis Canada and published Monday shows the sport has almost reached pre-pandemic participation levels. According to the survey, nearly five million Canadians played tennis last year, with participation among young people aged six to 17 increasing by 11 per cent.
“It's an exciting time for tennis in Canada,” said Gavin Ziff, CEO of Tennis Canada. “It's so great to have growth in the sport especially after the difficult times that everyone with coronavirus is going through.
“Getting back to entertainment, getting back into sports is very important.”
Young people are bringing this charge to the courts.
There has been a 10 per cent increase in interest in tennis among young Canadians between 2022 and 2023. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians under the age of 12 played tennis last year and an even greater number indicated they were likely to continue to do so over the next 12 months. .
31 per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 told the poll that they would definitely or probably play tennis in the next year, the highest rate since 2019.
Parents are also taking an interest in the sport, with 30% preparing to enroll their children in tennis programs next year, up from 23% in 2022.
Ziff believes young people are getting into tennis because of the success of all Canadians at the professional level.
“We are fortunate in Canadian tennis to have such great inspiration happening right now in our sport with great success performing with our best players around the world,” said Ziff, who became CEO of the national sports organization in September. “When you have Team Canada winning the Billie Jean King Cup last year, the team event, a year after the men won the Davis Cup.
“That inspiration really fuels the sport and people see that and care about it.”
The study was conducted by YouGov Canada among 1,493 Canadians over the age of 12 from October 12 to 23, 2023. It was conducted online in English and French.
Tennis ranked fourth among the most popular sports in terms of interest in Canada and fifth in terms of participation, according to the survey.
The survey found that hockey, soccer and basketball were the most popular in terms of interest. Soccer, basketball, golf and hockey outperformed tennis in terms of participation.
“This is all great news, we need to make sure we have the infrastructure to help drive this interest in the sport,” Ziv said, adding that this means working with provincial and territorial federations. “They're the ones who work with the clubs and parks and recreation departments, and having that opportunity for kids to play is really important.”
Adding more year-round facilities, with bubbles and domes covering the courts, added 26 more courts across the country in the past year, Ziff said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2024.
John Chidley-Hill, The Canadian Press