Tennis Prose



Tennis Concern: Need For Younger Audiences

As the post Federer, Nadal, Serena and Djokovic Era fast approaches, there is a major area of concern for the tennis industry.

A colleague friend who works in tennis sent me this message:

“Just got back from a seminar for EuroSport commentators. The average age globally for tennis viewers is 62. Recruiting a younger audience is a big issue. The majority of tennis fans picked up the interest in the 70/80’s.”

Professional tennis is in urgent need to attracting younger fans and audiences. But how to do it?

Easier said than done of course. But there are magnetizing personalities in the ATP that I have personally witnessed thrill kids like Muhammad Ali or any other all time superstar in sports history. His name is Nick Kyrgios.

Kyrgios is the kind of guy who kids love and who loves kids. I saw him at US Open hold court after a practice on Armstrong Stadium, he had those kids laughing, smiling, glowing like only few can do. After the episode, I asked one of the kids what he was saying and the kid said, “Nick said whoever can mispronounce my name the best gets a racquet.” Even I had to chuckle at the unique silliness of that.

I’ve seen Nick have that special effect on kids also at Miami Open, Delray Beach, and Citi Open. He may not be the best example as a hard worker and diligent professional athlete, but kids love him everywhere. And his charismatic personality and electric playing style make him one of the best and most powerful ambassadors for tennis today. The ATP must make it a priority to find a way to maximize Kyrgios because he has the potential to tap tennis into the vitally important youth demographic.

But Kyrgios does not only appeal to the young. Everybody remembers his stunt at Citi Open asking the adult woman in the front row where he should serve the next point en route to winning the title. Nick’s charisma has no boundaries as he thrills and excites and brings smiles and joy to people of all ages.

Kyrgios is currently training very hard in Australia and even if he does somehow get himself into top shape and win the 2022 Australian Open, one man can’t carry the sport into the future generations. He needs help. Tennis needs more personalities and characters that connect with the young like Nick.

Players like Ruud, Rublev, Khachanov, Opelka, Musetti, Sinner, Paul, Fritz, etc. are all great but they don’t get people buzzing and talking. They don’t sell tickets. Tennis itself sells tickets. But the sport needs more ticket selling attractions, real “stars.”

You know the old saying, “People are gonna talk, might as well give ’em something to talk about.” Nick gives people something to talk about.

Andre, Jimbo, McEnroe, Borg gave them something to talk about. Seles and Graf and the Williams sisters gave them something to talk about.

Hitting amazing forehands and backhands alone is not what creates stars or gets people talking and buzzing. Stars have that extra X factor, charisma, controversy tendency, unique appearance, unique story, ability to speak their mind and not be a script-reading cliche machine.

Emma Raducanu, Coco Gauff and Leylah Annie Fernandez are three young attractions who could uplift the WTA into a new era of popularity. Of course the addition of a little hostility, grudge, rivalry and controversy there would surely help spice things up.

2022 will be an important year in the evolution of the ATP and WTA, and how each can find, develop and market certain players who can connect to the under 25 demographic may determine a large part of the future of pro tennis.

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  • Sam · December 7, 2021 at 4:53 pm

    Professional tennis is in urgent need to attracting younger fans and audiences. But how to do it?

    That’s easy—free pizza!! 😆

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 7, 2021 at 5:54 pm

    Tesla and Socrates had nothing on you Sam )

  • catherine · December 8, 2021 at 9:45 am

    AO entries – absent Serena, Andreescu, present Djokovic (so far), but expect a few dropouts as the date draws nearer.

    This time last year Raducanu was starting to swot for her A levels. Now she’s in the top 20 in Melbourne.

    Kerber has entered,she will celebrate her 34th birthday in Oz. No word on her coach, or if she’s bothering with one. I’m sure she’ll be cheering on Emma with Torben Beltz in the stands.

  • catherine · December 8, 2021 at 10:27 am

    Oh – and what’s Emma done to upset Alex McPherson and the WTA ? Not a mention of her in 2021’s ‘Most Impactful Matches’ – wasn’t it an impact to attract record breaking TV audiences to the US Open ? Here were Raducanu and Fernandez, leaders of the young cohort Scoop’s been looking for, inspirational players surely, and not a word. Maybe it’s being saved for later….

    I’ve watched that match point over and over – it’ll never grow old.

  • Scoop Malinowski · December 8, 2021 at 10:42 am

    Maybe they don’t want to overexpose Emma and Leylah. Some stars get so big and popular they don’t have to be promoted at all… Federer, Ali, Tyson… Tyson boxed a fake exhibition a year ago vs Roy Jones which generated so much revenue, Tyson earned approximately $16m for the exercise. Some stars just sell without any effort.



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