Poor Marketing no wonder tennis is dying in the US.

Robert F

Hall of Fame
I live in the suburbs of Chicago. Belong to a local tennis club and most of my buddies play tennis.
Despite that none of us were aware that professional tennis has returned to Chicago until about 1 week before the Chicago 250 WTA tournament. Dang, there was even a 125 the week before at the same site.

Googling, it was hard to find information on the tournament and the WTA website was useless.
I had one friend go out to the 250 after learning about it from me. He said it was fairly empty, no expo booths, no food. What the heck?

I follow tennis via the TNNS Live App and as I was reviewing the US Open Schedule, I found out at the end of September there is another WTA event in Chicago. The Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. It's a 500, that's a big deal to have something like that back in Chicago. We've been hungry for tennis.
No real information on the WTA site about the tournament outside of the dates and that it is in Chicago.
I'm guessing it is at the same venue as the 250, the XS Tennis Village which I believe has backing/support from Kamau Murray. There website has no information either.
But it's a guess since I can't find anything out about the 500.

We are about a month out and no one in the burbs has really heard about any of these tournaments.
My girls were at their high school tennis tournament today, when I mentioned this to several of the coaches and parents, they had no clue. Plus half of them didn't even know what the XS Tennis Village is. I'm glad to spread the word
I want professional tennis to stay in Chicago and hope there is a better way to market these events.

Shouldn't the WTA have a direct website to the tournament site, or a direct link to buying tickets?
I'd think with the tournaments being newer, every club around me should have gotten fliers and sent out emails. I got nothing.
Wilson is head quartered in Chicago, wouldn't they want to have a booth at the events?
Doesn't having food at the event help you earn money?
To get the event to launch well in its first year--give clubs and tennis teams either free or discounted tickets to help pack the stadiums.

I guess the point of my rant is to spread awareness of the event and hope this drifts to someone important to really make sure the word gets out there.
 

Swingmaster

Hall of Fame
Interesting that they're having another event. Maybe they shouldn't have competed with Cleveland's event this week. As for the marketing, I guess America likes the big, recognizable names. Maybe they're holding out for Coco or Osaka to join the 500 draw so they can put one on some billboards.
 

Sephiroth

Hall of Fame
If you ain't Nike + big name you're toast

at least that's what someone who I know told me how it goes in the US lol

No Nadal, Serena, Federer's off to Uniqlo...hard to market. Only Osaka can for the WTA
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
Svitolina was doing some events in Chicago in the lead up to the tournament, at least according to her Instagram. She seemed to have a decent following due to the (large?) Ukrainian population there. It did seem the Cleveland tournament was better run, albeit with less notable players
 

ND-13

Hall of Fame
The Chicago court had only had stands on one side on the sides.

The Laver Cup was a great look, hope the 500 is indoors
 

tennis24x7

Professional
I live in the suburbs of Chicago. Belong to a local tennis club and most of my buddies play tennis.
Despite that none of us were aware that professional tennis has returned to Chicago until about 1 week before the Chicago 250 WTA tournament. Dang, there was even a 125 the week before at the same site.

Googling, it was hard to find information on the tournament and the WTA website was useless.
I had one friend go out to the 250 after learning about it from me. He said it was fairly empty, no expo booths, no food. What the heck?

I follow tennis via the TNNS Live App and as I was reviewing the US Open Schedule, I found out at the end of September there is another WTA event in Chicago. The Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. It's a 500, that's a big deal to have something like that back in Chicago. We've been hungry for tennis.
No real information on the WTA site about the tournament outside of the dates and that it is in Chicago.
I'm guessing it is at the same venue as the 250, the XS Tennis Village which I believe has backing/support from Kamau Murray. There website has no information either.
But it's a guess since I can't find anything out about the 500.

We are about a month out and no one in the burbs has really heard about any of these tournaments.
My girls were at their high school tennis tournament today, when I mentioned this to several of the coaches and parents, they had no clue. Plus half of them didn't even know what the XS Tennis Village is. I'm glad to spread the word
I want professional tennis to stay in Chicago and hope there is a better way to market these events.

Shouldn't the WTA have a direct website to the tournament site, or a direct link to buying tickets?
I'd think with the tournaments being newer, every club around me should have gotten fliers and sent out emails. I got nothing.
Wilson is head quartered in Chicago, wouldn't they want to have a booth at the events?
Doesn't having food at the event help you earn money?
To get the event to launch well in its first year--give clubs and tennis teams either free or discounted tickets to help pack the stadiums.

I guess the point of my rant is to spread awareness of the event and hope this drifts to someone important to really make sure the word gets out there.
Oh the horror of giving discount tickets to grow the sport. that is so not the way the USTA flails. They are just happy to collect the money from ESPN for the viewing rights.
 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
I’ve always wondered if it was true that tennis was much more popular in the US in the seventies than it is today. I finally found a couple of links that seem to indicate that this was indeed true. About 30-33 million played tennis in the Seventies when the population was lower compared to 21 million people in 2020 when tennis had a lot of year-over-year growth.


 

PMF

Semi-Pro
I live in the suburbs of Chicago. Belong to a local tennis club and most of my buddies play tennis.
Despite that none of us were aware that professional tennis has returned to Chicago until about 1 week before the Chicago 250 WTA tournament. Dang, there was even a 125 the week before at the same site.

Googling, it was hard to find information on the tournament and the WTA website was useless.
I had one friend go out to the 250 after learning about it from me. He said it was fairly empty, no expo booths, no food. What the heck?

I follow tennis via the TNNS Live App and as I was reviewing the US Open Schedule, I found out at the end of September there is another WTA event in Chicago. The Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. It's a 500, that's a big deal to have something like that back in Chicago. We've been hungry for tennis.
No real information on the WTA site about the tournament outside of the dates and that it is in Chicago.
I'm guessing it is at the same venue as the 250, the XS Tennis Village which I believe has backing/support from Kamau Murray. There website has no information either.
But it's a guess since I can't find anything out about the 500.

We are about a month out and no one in the burbs has really heard about any of these tournaments.
My girls were at their high school tennis tournament today, when I mentioned this to several of the coaches and parents, they had no clue. Plus half of them didn't even know what the XS Tennis Village is. I'm glad to spread the word
I want professional tennis to stay in Chicago and hope there is a better way to market these events.

Shouldn't the WTA have a direct website to the tournament site, or a direct link to buying tickets?
I'd think with the tournaments being newer, every club around me should have gotten fliers and sent out emails. I got nothing.
Wilson is head quartered in Chicago, wouldn't they want to have a booth at the events?
Doesn't having food at the event help you earn money?
To get the event to launch well in its first year--give clubs and tennis teams either free or discounted tickets to help pack the stadiums.

I guess the point of my rant is to spread awareness of the event and hope this drifts to someone important to really make sure the word gets out there.

Yeah, I was surprised to see some of these new tournaments suddenly appear on cable TV. It could have been more widely communicated, but I am still glad I saw some of it. Hopefully, the WTA and ATP will start marketing more of their players too.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
I noticed Chicago 250 while waiting for Tennis Channel website to load. Not advertised locally at all.

Where are you near Chicago? Northwestern U has huge tennis facility, but even their website makes it impossible to find any fall/winter meets to attend. And, again, it's not advertised locally at all.
NW suburbs of Chicago. I'm also a NU grad. I need to take my daughters to some of the Wildcat's tennis matches.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
To add to my whining, driving into a soccer tournament in Schaumburg on the highway was a video billboard. What was it advertising? Daymond John from Sharktank--he'll be at Elmhurst college giving a speech. Good his name and Elmhurst college and I have no issue finding a link to give them money for tickets.

Struggling how the WTA and the event runners themselves made it so hard to get access and awareness out for their event.
I want them to do well and fear that this will go away if demand doesn't grow. But you can't grow demand if the customer doesn't know about the event.

Probably the biggest drive came from Svitolina's social media.
 

Kylee

New User
Echo what Robert F states - The two events were listed on WTA web site a month before the event, but there was no details (web site, players, ticket purchase....) until the week before. There was zero advertising on Tennis Channel, or any local network. The location is close to downtown, but not the best neighborhood. Went there on Friday, and there were ~20 cars parked at the location.

Aside from how it was organized, Chicago might have too many sport teams for tennis to thrive..... (Bulls, Sky, Bears, Cubs, Sox, Blackhawks, Fire, Red Stars). Would love to see more professional tennis in Chicago!
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
I’ve always wondered if it was true that tennis was much more popular in the US in the seventies than it is today. I finally found a couple of links that seem to indicate that this was indeed true.
I was a child in the 1980's and I know that tennis was HUGE in the States then. I had to routinely wait 2 hours for an open tennis court at a local High School or park, and the weekends were impossible. Sometimes you could wait all Saturday and no courts would open up. Nowadays all the tennis courts are empty 90% of the time. But you had Mac and Connors and then Agassi came along in 1987-88.
 
D

Deleted member 771911

Guest
Tennis has always been hopeless at marketing. Tends to lazily rely on age old reputations and Marketing 101 from a 1970s text book
 

skip1969

G.O.A.T.
I guess the point of my rant is to spread awareness of the event and hope this drifts to someone important to really make sure the word gets out there.
I'm with you. I knew nothing about it until I saw it on Tennis Channel. I don't live in Chicago anymore, but I remember seeing the Virginia Slims of Chicago at UIC back in the day. (God, I'm dating myself). I was so surprised they were holding a WTA event in Chicago that, like you, I just started googling.

You're right, the website sucked. I mean, it was lacking in practical info that you'd want to see about a tourney. There social media sites went up in July, one lousy month before the event. That's hardly time enough to drum up enthusiasm. And their social media is super lame. Nothing but schedules and a few announcements of (unknown) players committing to play. I'd never even heard about the "Chicago Tennis Festival."

I mean, it shouldn't be hard to drum up interest in an event that is being held right before the biggest tennis event in the country. Everyone is already hyped for the USO. But these guys really dropped the ball.

I guess the whole thing is run by a foundation to help underprivileged kids, hence the location of the event, but for a debut, they laid an egg.

Oh, and their logo sucks, too.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
Maybe they aren't targeting the typical tennis crowd anymore and trying to grow with youth instead of the 60 plus crowd.
Maybe that's why they aren't using web sites. Maybe social media is the way they get the younger generation involved....but maybe the older generation still has the money. Need them to show up to help grow the event.

In a debut phase, if they don't have a real stadium, might be wise to have two locations. Get somewhere with a stadium for marquee matchups and then the local campus for everyone else. Make a lot of money and then build a stadium on site.
Or do what they did in Miami--convert a stadium.
 

BGod

G.O.A.T.
I’ve always wondered if it was true that tennis was much more popular in the US in the seventies than it is today. I finally found a couple of links that seem to indicate that this was indeed true. About 30-33 million played tennis in the Seventies when the population was lower compared to 21 million people in 2020 when tennis had a lot of year-over-year growth.

There's no question it's way less popular. In no order just a few factors:

1. Gaming and online entertainment has greatly reduced physical exercise.
2. Basketball, Soccer & new X sports have made gains at sports like tennis expense.
3. Saturated sports media market and branding

It is what it is. Not coming back to that degree.
 

SonnyT

Legend
Obesity rate in US is 42%, and is increasing in every single country in the world, much thanks to US style fast food.

Tennis is not rec'ed for the physically unfit.
 

skip1969

G.O.A.T.
None of my Chicagoland tennis peeps went or took their kids to the "Chicago Tennis Festival." So there's that for anecdotal info . . .
 

Jason Swerve

Hall of Fame
I’ve always wondered if it was true that tennis was much more popular in the US in the seventies than it is today. I finally found a couple of links that seem to indicate that this was indeed true. About 30-33 million played tennis in the Seventies when the population was lower compared to 21 million people in 2020 when tennis had a lot of year-over-year growth.


Most certainly true, and a bigger shame when considering the barrier to entry is now lower than ever.

Regardless, the popularity of the sport starts from the top. Who are the American stars today compared to in the '70s? There are none in their prime. Even if Serena wins a miracle slam, she'll pack it up, and the American train will continue to derail. The fans of Osaka are far fewer, and most don't play tennis in the same way or see her as American in the same way. It's a far-cry from when Serena and Venus, Davenport, Agassi, Sampras, Ashe, McEnroe and the like were abundant.

All in all, however, the star power is generally lower. To illustrate, Hingis was 3-4X as popular with American fans in '97 (at 16) than Osaka is now, in terms of viewing power. A part of this admittedly lies with social media's centralization, making most dedicated player fanbases and forums extinct and ruining the close sense of community many of these people had. The rest is that the new blood is boring if they aren't steadily complaining about something.
 

Sunny014

Legend
Grand Slam titles by country

Open Era
52 United States (13 players)
27 Spain (7 players)
25 Sweden (4 players)
23 Switzerland (2 players)
20 Australia (7 players)
20 Serbia (1 player)
7 Germany (2 players)
6 Argentina (3 players)
4 Russia (2 players)
3 Brazil (1 player), Great Britain (1 player)
2 Austria (2 players), Croatia (2 players), Romania (1 player)

All-time
  • Not complete – 465 titles out of 473.
143→ United States
100 Australia
31 Spain
26 Sweden
10 Germany
4 Russia
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
.....
You're right, the website sucked. I mean, it was lacking in practical info that you'd want to see about a tourney. There social media sites went up in July, one lousy month before the event. That's hardly time enough to drum up enthusiasm. And their social media is super lame. Nothing but schedules and a few announcements of (unknown) players committing to play. I'd never even heard about the "Chicago Tennis Festival."

I mean, it shouldn't be hard to drum up interest in an event that is being held right before the biggest tennis event in the country. Everyone is already hyped for the USO. But these guys really dropped the ball.

I guess the whole thing is run by a foundation to help underprivileged kids, hence the location of the event, but for a debut, they laid an egg.....

Most people don't realize how little money is available for these type of events as well as how much of the staffing labor is a result of volunteers. Often times these volunteers simply don't possess the skills needed to take the event beyond what is currently being done or the time, or both.

The sad truth is, outside of the tennis world, few pay attention to these events. I've been a volunteer at the USTA Boys Nationals for over a decade now. We've had a great volunteer community and ample resources what with K College and Western (Mich U) support. Still, it's a struggle to get the local community involved with the tournament. Growing up in Kzoo, I knew there was a tournament every year but little about the importance or prestige of it. It wasn't until I started playing tennis that I actually took notice of it enough to learn about it.

A good example of a sport that often does market, is social network savy, does bring in knowledgable people to promote themselves is baseball. I've seen many double or triple A clubs fall and some that do well. In Kzoo I believe they've been through three different minor league baseball teams, heavily marketed, and they often can't give tickets away. Yet, 50 miles north in Grand Rapids the Whitecaps have been a successful mainstay for decades.

Now, come back to these tennis events amongst a population, that as another poster pointed out, by and large doesn't play tennis nearly as much anymore, and it's not surprising how little these tennis events have going for them. It's easy to criticize when you know little about the behind the scenes efforts or availability of resources. They usually are literally doing the best they can with what they have.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
I can see how locally it may rely on volunteers, but shouldn't the WTA at the very least have some basic info on the website. Seems pretty elementary to have a link to the event and ticket purchases.
 

mtommer

Hall of Fame
I can see how locally it may rely on volunteers, but shouldn't the WTA at the very least have some basic info on the website. Seems pretty elementary to have a link to the event and ticket purchases.
Good questions. If we delve deeper, what would be needed to facilitate these basics? To start, you'd at least have to have a facilitator from the WTA to coordinate all the smaller events as well as a web team large enough to handle the work load. Do they have it? I really don't know. As far as tickets go, often local businesses donate the printing etc. in exchange for "free" advertising and such. How would the WTA be able to manage online ticket sales for a mostly offline event, while making sure local support staff/volunteers are properly trained for these things? I guess my point is only that there's a lot more logistics that goes into events where "simple" things aren't nearly as simple as they seem. But that said, perhaps it could be easier. Like I said, I really don't know for sure.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
Good questions. If we delve deeper, what would be needed to facilitate these basics? To start, you'd at least have to have a facilitator from the WTA to coordinate all the smaller events as well as a web team large enough to handle the work load. Do they have it? I really don't know. As far as tickets go, often local businesses donate the printing etc. in exchange for "free" advertising and such. How would the WTA be able to manage online ticket sales for a mostly offline event, while making sure local support staff/volunteers are properly trained for these things? I guess my point is only that there's a lot more logistics that goes into events where "simple" things aren't nearly as simple as they seem. But that said, perhaps it could be easier. Like I said, I really don't know for sure.
I would think the WTA would be big enough to have someone in charge of marketing or web development. But it is an assumption. Scary if they don't.
I'm not asking for much at least list the venue on the WTA site.
I get that being an issue for 125's and below, but Chicago is having a 500, the third highest type of tennis tournament.


Heck they have a timer "24 days until the tournament."
Yeah I have less than 24 days to figure out where it is and how to get tickets.

Google searching does list XS Tennis as the location.

Searching for tickets I finally found:


Now why would the 500 event be part of the 125? Confusing.
Unfortunately, we are less than a month out and tickets are not for sale yet???

The listed player field on the site is pretty good. Might have to go if they let you buy tickets.
 

Moose Malloy

G.O.A.T.
I live in the suburbs of Chicago. Belong to a local tennis club and most of my buddies play tennis.
Despite that none of us were aware that professional tennis has returned to Chicago until about 1 week before the Chicago 250 WTA tournament. Dang, there was even a 125 the week before at the same site.

Googling, it was hard to find information on the tournament and the WTA website was useless.
I had one friend go out to the 250 after learning about it from me. He said it was fairly empty, no expo booths, no food. What the heck?

I follow tennis via the TNNS Live App and as I was reviewing the US Open Schedule, I found out at the end of September there is another WTA event in Chicago. The Chicago Fall Tennis Classic. It's a 500, that's a big deal to have something like that back in Chicago. We've been hungry for tennis.
No real information on the WTA site about the tournament outside of the dates and that it is in Chicago.
I'm guessing it is at the same venue as the 250, the XS Tennis Village which I believe has backing/support from Kamau Murray. There website has no information either.
But it's a guess since I can't find anything out about the 500.

We are about a month out and no one in the burbs has really heard about any of these tournaments.
My girls were at their high school tennis tournament today, when I mentioned this to several of the coaches and parents, they had no clue. Plus half of them didn't even know what the XS Tennis Village is. I'm glad to spread the word
I want professional tennis to stay in Chicago and hope there is a better way to market these events.

Shouldn't the WTA have a direct website to the tournament site, or a direct link to buying tickets?
I'd think with the tournaments being newer, every club around me should have gotten fliers and sent out emails. I got nothing.
Wilson is head quartered in Chicago, wouldn't they want to have a booth at the events?
Doesn't having food at the event help you earn money?
To get the event to launch well in its first year--give clubs and tennis teams either free or discounted tickets to help pack the stadiums.

I guess the point of my rant is to spread awareness of the event and hope this drifts to someone important to really make sure the word gets out there.

It's a shame you and the tennis fans of Chicago missed a chance to see Emma up close a few weeks before she won the USO! She played the finals there, guessing it gave her quite bit of confidence.

 

ScottleeSV

Hall of Fame
I think she's down for the qualifiers of the forthcoming Chicago 500, but I'm guessing she will be upgraded to a WC for the main draw. Either that or she'll pull out. Playing that tourny wouldn't give her much time to soak up the US Open win and also get a rest.
 

Moon Shooter

Hall of Fame
Was anyone else puzzled to see the US open advertising during the US open? I mean we were all already aware of the event and actually watching it, so why interrupt the event to advertise for it?
 

Defcon

Hall of Fame
Americans don't appreciate talent and generally don't like individual sports, its all about team sports where you can get drunk and cheer for the team. The tennis players who got big here did so purely based on their personal appeal and marketing - there are tons of skilled world class athletes in many sports who will never be popular in the US.

People are also fat couch potatoes who think they can all play golf, hence golf is such a huge thing here when its not even a sport, or baseball players with pot bellies.

Its a shallow country. Williams sisters regardless of results, wouldn't have been so popular without the media and ESPN showing endless replays over mens matches. A foreign player has to be good looking and marketable since no one here understands or plays the sport - just look at the USO crowd, total trash.

The days of the 80s/90s tennis stars from US are over because no parent now is going to make their kids into tennis robots, there are more lucrative sports. Hell the kid probably wants to be an insta influencer or social media moron first.
 

Tshooter

G.O.A.T.
Obesity rate in US is 42%, and is increasing in every single country in the world, much thanks to US style fast food.

Tennis is not rec'ed for the physically unfit.

US could dominate MLE for the foreseeable future. :unsure:

 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
The new San Diego ATP Open is at the end of this month, and only I have been spreading the news. I don't see any flyers at my club or emails to USTA and club members in the area. It is ridiculous.
 

JustBob

Hall of Fame
Pickleball is where the growth is, tennis is way too much work lol.
A lot of my old 4.5, 5.0 pals are so broken down they can't play singles at all.

I'm 66, I still play singles but I'm obviously nowhere near the level I used to be when I played competitively. Most people my age have switched to pickleball.
 

Ruark

Professional
I'm 66, I still play singles but I'm obviously nowhere near the level I used to be when I played competitively. Most people my age have switched to pickleball.

I wish you were near me. I'm 70, and play only singles. It's almost impossible to keep my game up, though. I don't know a living soul in my age bracket that plays tennis, and the ones I do see are playing pickleball. It's been over 2 years since I played a singles match. I used to be a 4.0, now I'm probably a 2.5. There's a small local senior men's league down the road, but they're doubles only, and even then, it's just hit-and-giggle. Sigh. Old age ain't for sissies.
 

JustBob

Hall of Fame
I wish you were near me. I'm 70, and play only singles. It's almost impossible to keep my game up, though. I don't know a living soul in my age bracket that plays tennis, and the ones I do see are playing pickleball. It's been over 2 years since I played a singles match. I used to be a 4.0, now I'm probably a 2.5. There's a small local senior men's league down the road, but they're doubles only, and even then, it's just hit-and-giggle. Sigh. Old age ain't for sissies.

Luckily I have a partner, also retired, who I've been playing with for 30+ years (we're in Montreal). We used to play together in leagues. I do know quite a few older players that still play, but most of them only play doubles. I'm not ready for pickleball yet but I did swap my road bike for an eBike this year. :)
 

Orkon

New User
[/QUOTE] I had one friend go out to the 250 after learning about it from me. He said it was fairly empty, no expo booths, no food. What the heck?
It's a shame you and the tennis fans of Chicago missed a chance to see Emma up close a few weeks before she won the USO! She played the finals there, guessing it gave her quite bit of confidence.
[/QUOTE]
I was there for the Tauson/Raducanu 125 final, and I didn't even have a ticket. I just walked through the entrance gate because no one was there to either take or sell tickets. So I walked up to the concession stand - which was selling popcorn and lemonade, nothing more - and asked them where I should buy a ticket. No one could tell me, so I just sat down in the stands (no seats, just benches, and built for only about 300 people or so) and enjoyed the match, which was terrific. Hopefully the 500 tournament is run a lot better than the 125, but I'm starting to wonder. I can't blame Emma for blowing off the 500, which she was originally scheduled for.
 

Robert F

Hall of Fame
I was able to go on Wednesday.
Perfect day. Saw tons of WTA pros up close (Muguruza, Jabeur, Bencic, Rogers, Hsieh, Mertens, Svitolina, Rybakina, Mirza) Practice courts, lots of singles matches and lots of doubles.
Best $50 I spent in tennis.

It is clear they are new to running events with a few hiccups--limited food selections. No real vendors.
But all the staff were nice and courteous.
I just wish they'd weed the red clay courts they have on campus.

I hope this continues to grow and keep Chicago Tennis Alive.
 
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