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Tennis, anyone? Millions are saying yes.

Tennis is the only traditional participation sport to be ranked in the Top 10 in terms of 2014 participation growth out of nearly 120 sports and activities surveyed by the Physical Activity Council, McLean, Va. In the U.S., tennis grew by 658,000 players, or four percent, in the last year, to bring total tennis participation to 17,680,000 players.

Tennis ranked No. 10 on the PAC list. The nine sports that saw participation increases greater than 658,000 are, starting from No. 1: walking for fitness; swimming for fitness; running/ jogging; bicycling on a non-paved surface; aerobics (high-impact), backpacking overnight; bicycling on a paved surface; yoga; and trail running.

"The majority of sports and activities on this list are fitness-based, and tennis fits nicely into the fitness arena," notes Greg Mason, president of the Tennis Industry Association, Hilton Head Island, S.C. "More and more people continue to realize the great workout they can get on the tennis court, while still having a lot of fun. In fact, the growth this industry has seen in the Cardio Tennis program over the last nine years speaks to the desire for more people to use tennis as a way to improve their health and fitness."

Cardio Tennis--created in 2005--now has 1,500,000 participants. Also adding to tennis' overall growth in participation is the explosion in the number of youngsters playing the sport over the last few years, spearheaded by the United States Tennis Association's Youth Tennis initiative targeting kids ages 10 and under.

"This evolution in Youth Tennis is making the game much easier for kids and allows for much faster play opportunities," explains Dave Haggerty, chairman of the board, CEO, and president of the USTA, White Plains, N.Y.

According to PAC research, in 2014, more than 2,000,000 players between the ages of six and 12 have taken to the courts, an increase of 4.8% over 2013. The shorter courts and lower-pressure tennis balls used for Youth Tennis, however, also have been migrating to the adult tennis population, adds Kurt Kamperman, chief executive of Community Tennis for the USTA.

"We're seeing more and more adults who enjoy playing tennis on shorter, 36-foot by 60-foot courts [a regulation court is 36 x 78] with less-bounce red, orange, or green tennis balls. They're enjoying the longer rallies, along with all the social and fitness benefits of the game."

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Title Annotation:Sportscene
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 1, 2014
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