When I first started playing tennis at the age of five, getting admitted to a tennis class was considered a privilege. Convincing the trainer in your capabilities was critical, but not the only way to get in - in some cases you needed to leverage your “connections” to guarantee you a spot.
Fast-forward 30+ years and it seems that little has changed when it comes to democratizing tennis. If anything, tennis is still often perceived as an “exclusive” sport, where relevant connections get you time on the court, and obedience to strict club rules is often a must.
Have you tried to book a court through a popular booking app here in Zurich? The large majority of courts are marked as “club members only”, which could mean “no membership – no game”. And becoming a club member is not an easy task... you would need one or, in some cases, several referrals from existing members to get accepted. And if you are the lucky chosen one, then don’t forget to follow the strict dress code rules as otherwise it may cost you a spot. And that’s the land of Roger Federer and Stan.
Member referrals, high fees, strict dress-codes, and lack of court supply for the general public – all to project the unnecessary exclusivity, have led to tennis becoming less popular among the consumers, with the number of tennis players in Europe down 5% in 2018 vs 2015.
Sometimes tennis may feel like an ivy league school – available only to a few, and you should feel privileged to be part of it. In my vision, tennis shouldn’t be about that. It should be about fun playing this game, it should be about spending time together with your community, about enjoying it and not competing. It's about being you and not being forced to pretend. Luckily, there are signs in the air that things slowly start changing...And you can be part of this change.
Let’s make it fun again! Let’s democratize tennis!