by Kevin Craig
Juan Martin del Potro to Return in Delray Beach
The 2009 US Open champion has announced via YouTube that he will be returning to the ATP World Tour in February at the Delray Beach Open. Del Potro has been limited to playing in only six tournaments since 2014 began, only two of which came in 2015. The Argentine was forced to go through his third procedure on his oft-injured left wrist early in 2015, and began training again in the fall. Del Potro now feels that he is ready to return to the highest level of the game, and will take a wild card into the Delray Beach Open, which begins on February 15th.
Rod Laver Cup to Begin in 2017
The New York Times has announced that a new men’s team event will begin in 2017, as the best European tennis players will get to team up to take on the best tennis players from the rest of the world. Inspired by the Ryder Cup in golf in which the best United States golfers take on the best European golfers, Team8, the organizers of the event, are hoping to create a similar competitive environment in which the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray can team up instead of battling each other. The proposed format would see the top four players from each region directly qualify and be joined by two captain’s picks, creating teams of six. Each day would see three singles matches played, followed by one doubles match for three days, adding up to 12 matches in all. If the tournament is tied 6-6 at the end of the 12 matches, one final doubles match would be played to decide the winner, according to Christopher Clarey with the New York Times. Team8 is the agency that represents Federer, who has been the biggest supporter and possibly even creator of this idea. The plan is for the event to take place annually in September, after the US Open, but the event will run into some opposition as the event will be ran by one specific agency while other players work with their own, separate agencies, to go along with the fact that it would add on extra matches to the already busy schedule of the top players. According to the report, the event would pay out prize money to the participants, but not appearance fees.
Americas Expected to Continue Leading Global Tennis Racquet Market
In a report completed by Technavio, “the market outlook and growth prospects of the global tennis racquet market for 2016-2020” were analyzed, concluding that the Americas are expected to continue leading the market throughout the forecast period, according to Business Wire. In 2015, the Americas dominated the global market with just under 50 percent of the market share, and are expected to increase past 50 percent in 2020, at an estimated 51.21 percent market share. Some of the causes of this include the increased promotion for healthy lifestyles, as well as the level of popularity in the region, according to Vijay Sirathi, a lead research analyst for Technavio. The United States are a major player in this, due to the consistently rising number of players in the country. According to the report, new innovations like the Wilson Pro Staff series, which aims to help players improve performance, are keeping people playing tennis longer, having a positive impact on the market. Other countries like the United Kingdom, France, and Australia are all helping to improve the market as well, with the success of Andy Murray and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga increasing the popularity of tennis in their respective countries, while Australia continues to use modified forms of tennis to increase the popularity of the sport.
Tennis Canada Announces Launch of Tennis Canada Winter Fest
Tennis Canada is encouraging Canadians to go outside on February 15th to play tennis in the snow as part of their new grassroots campaign, Tennis Canada Winter Fest, in an attempt to increase participation in the sport, Tennis Canada announced. The organization hopes to see Canadian citizens sharing their experiences on social media like Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook with pictures of them playing tennis while bundled up in the cold winter weather. By using the hashtag #wintertennis, participants will have the opportunity to win prizes, including signed memorabilia and Winter Fest merchandise. Kelly Murumets, president and CEO of Tennis Canada, claimed that 2016 “has already been such a phenomenal year for Canadian tennis” and believes “it is the perfect time to celebrate our sports and stimulate participation and conversation surrounding tennis,” announced in the press release. Thanks to the success of Milos Raonic, Vasek Pospisil, and Eugenie Bouchard in recent years, tennis has grown significantly in Canada. The overall tennis participation in Canada has increased more than 20 percent since 2008, according to The Sports Campus, including an increase in participation amongst kids under 12 years of age.
Australian Open Massively Increases Hotel Occupancy in Melbourne
According to Tempo.Co, a 16.3 percent increase in hotel occupancy rate was seen during the 2016 Australian Open. The research was done by global data research company STR, and announced their findings less than a week after the final match of the Australian Open. Not only did the occupancy rate increase to an average of 90.4 percent in Melbourne, but the average daily rate also increased by 36.3 percent to approximately AU$238, slightly over $170, according to STR.
Orange County Breakers to Rejoin World Team Tennis
According to Orange County Business, the Orange County Breakers will return to World Team Tennis action in 2016, with a new home at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. The club has hosted many major events in the past, including a Davis Cup tie and “several pro exhibitions,” according to the New York Times. After having been in the league from 2003 to 2011 and playing on campus at the University of California-Irvine, the team now has their own permanent stadium, properly named Breakers Stadium. The 2004 World Team Tennis Champions will be coached by Rick Leach, a former world No. 1 doubles player. Season tickets for the Breakers are now on sale, with their roster to be set on March 25th.
USTA Florida to Give $50 Gift Cards to Hosts of Play Day Events
In an attempt to increase participation in World Tennis Day, the USTA is giving out $50 Amazon.com gift cards to the first 2,000 organizations that register to host an event in Florida. According to USTA Florida, the Play Day event “can be for any age, while also promoting tennis as an activity for the entire family.” World Tennis Day will kick off with the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on March 8th. The event will be broadcast on ESPN2 and will run Youth Tennis advertising to attract parents and their children to begin participating in more events.