Tennis Canada reports growth in youth participation in new survey
TORONTO — Tennis Canada's mission to get a racket into the hands of more recreational players is working.
A new study commissioned by Tennis Canada and released on Monday shows that the sport has nearly reached pre-pandemic levels of participation. According to the survey, nearly five million Canadians played tennis in the past year, with participation among youth between the ages of six and 17 growing 11 per cent.
"It's an exciting time for tennis in Canada," said Tennis Canada CEO Gavin Ziv. "Having growth in the sport is so fantastic especially coming off tough, tough times for everybody with COVID.
"Getting back into recreation, getting back into sport is so important."
Young people are leading the charge on to the courts.
There was a 10 per cent increase in interest in tennis for young Canadians between 2022 and 2023. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians under the age of 12 played tennis last year and even more indicated they are likely to continue in the next 12 months.
Thirty-one per cent of Canadians over the age of 12 told the survey that they will 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 per cent preparing to enrol their children in tennis programming next year, up from 23 per cent in 2022.
Ziv believes that young people are getting into tennis because of all the Canadians succeeding at the professional level.
"We're lucky with Canadian tennis that we have such great inspiration now happening in our sport with high performance success with our top players around the world," said Ziv, who became the national sport organization's CEO in September. "When you have Team Canada win the Billie Jean King Cup this past year, the team event, a year after the guys winning the Davis Cup.
"That inspiration really does fuel the sport and people see that and they get interested in it."
The study was conducted by YouGov Canada among 1,493 Canadians over the age of 12 between Oct. 12-23, 2023. It was carried out online in English and French.
Tennis ranked as the fourth most popular sport in terms of interest in Canada and fifth for participation, according to the survey.
The survey found that hockey, soccer and basketball were more popular in terms of interest. Soccer, basketball, golf and hockey outranked tennis in terms of participation.
"That's all great news, we need to make sure that we have the infrastructure to help deliver on that interest in the sport," said Ziv, adding that means working with provincial and territorial federations. "They're the ones working with the clubs and the parks and recreation departments, getting that opportunity for kids to play is really important."
Ziv said that adding more year-round facilities, with bubbles and domes covering the courts, has added 26 more courts across the country in the past year
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 29, 2024.