By EJ Crawford
USTA League launched 30 years ago with the goal of organizing and promoting more opportunities to play tennis for adults of all ages. In its earliest years, USTA League attracted 13,000 participants and, from there, began a steady growth that has made it what it is today—the world’s largest recreational tennis league.
In 2010, USTA League attracted a record 777,920 participants, a number that is up more than 100,000 in just the last four years and that reflects growth in participation, retention and frequency of play over 2009. In fact, 96 percent of USTA League players say that their matches are competitive (80 percent) or somewhat competitive (16 percent), 94 percent say they plan to play again in 2011, and 85 percent say they are very likely to recommend USTA League play to a friend. Those numbers add up to USTA League serving as one of the driving forces behind the USTA’s mission "To Promote and Develop the Growth of Tennis".
"USTA League is a true tennis success story," says David Schobel, the USTA’s Director of Competitive Play. "It has grown from humble beginnings to the largest and most successful recreational tennis league in the world, offering its participants a fun environment in which to compete and providing opportunities for millions of Americans to stick with tennis for a lifetime."
The success of USTA League is built on the concept of offering an unparalleled blend of competition and camaraderie, as well as a chance to compete for a national title. That unique mix has drawn wizened tennis veterans and newcomers to the sport in equal measure. And now there are more ways to play than ever before, with the introduction of Tri Level to the USTA League’s traditional menu of Adult, Senior, Super Senior and Mixed Doubles competition.
"League tennis is a crucial component to the ongoing growth of tennis in the United States," says Kurt Kamperman, Chief Executive, Community Tennis, USTA. "Playing in a competitive team environment is what drives people to try and improve their game and that keeps players coming back year after year."
To ensure that remains the case well into the future, USTA League is planning to add a series of online tools to make organizing and playing easier than ever before. Later this year USTA League will launch a mobile application for iPhones that will enable users to track league schedules, rosters and records, statistics and standings, and that will allow captains to report a score or find an NTRP rating.
Also in the works is an enhancement to Tennis Link that will enable captains to catalogue player availability and preference, build lineups for practices and matches, compile advanced statistics and put together enhanced match details including directions, weather, and food and beverage offerings.
As it looks ahead to its fourth decade, USTA League is aging gracefully, celebrating the history and tradition earned over 30 years while continuing to embrace the modern technology of today—and ensuring that USTA League participants have even more to look forward to in the years ahead.