The USTA today announced a comprehensive suite of programs to support the tennis industry, which is battling the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This announcement is the second phase of ongoing efforts that the USTA is developing in concert with the American tennis industry. The overarching goal of these efforts is to provide immediate relief, spur the industry’s recovery, and help the industry rebuild when the crisis passes.
On March 23, the USTA announced the creation of Tennis Industry United, a collaboration of the USTA, TIA, USPTA, PTR, ITA, major endemic media partners and others, that is assessing overall industry needs and making recommendations for those industry sectors that need immediate relief. The initial goal of the first phase was to provide help for the front lines of the sport including tennis facilities, tennis professionals, grassroots tennis programs and the hundreds of tournaments, college and high school matches, and league matches cancelled or suspended since the onset of the pandemic. On March 26, through the collaborative efforts of the Tennis Industry United partnership group, the USTA published the industry resource guide at http://www.tennisindustryunited.com. This resource guide is continually updated to provide the most current information regarding governmental assistance and other resources available to those in the industry.
“We recognized helping tennis facilities, community tennis programs, and teaching professionals navigate the multitude of government grants and loans was of immediate importance,” said Mike Dowse, CEO and Executive Director of the USTA. “The foundation of our sport begins with these stakeholders and we need to ensure they can weather the storm and remain viable as the storm recedes. This is all about ‘relief, recovery and rebuild’ for our industry.”
For the second phase of support, the USTA, along with its partners, will begin offering specific economic assistance packages, increased support to navigate government assistance for facilities and coaches, access to industry leaders, daily educational webinars and in-the-moment phone support to help individuals emotionally impacted from COVID-19. The extent of this future support will be determined by the financial performance of the 2020 US Open and the impact that the current pandemic has on the event. The USTA’s plans to stage the tournament remain ongoing, and all decisions regarding the US Open will be guided by federal and local governmental agencies and the health and safety of the players, fans, partners, and the broader tennis community.
Nevertheless, the USTA is taking immediate actions to cut costs for the eventual deployment of financial resources to support the tennis industry in the U.S. Immediate first steps include identifying more than $20 million in savings by instituting salary reductions of USTA management, eliminating programs in marketing, Player Development and operations, and deferring all non-essential capital projects.
The following outlines a summary of the support and assistance currently provided or now in development to assist the U.S. tennis industry:
- USTA Facility Grants: USTA facility grants are being developed to support facilities in need of financial support to reopen. This funding, expected to reach more than $5 million in total, will come from both USTA National and the USTA Sectional offices. Funding criteria, award levels, and the application process are being finalized and will be available on or before May 1.
- Certified Tennis Professional Membership Grants: The USTA is working with the USPTA and PTR to ensure that certified tennis professionals are able to renew their annual membership dues moving into 2021. This will allow these critical tennis providers to maintain their liability insurance, be Safe Play compliant, and continue to have access to educational opportunities. The organizations will be collaborating on this plan over the coming weeks. Grants are expected to exceed $2.5 million.
- The USTA Foundation will provide $5 million in operating grants to grassroots tennis and education organizations supporting underserved communities through the National Junior Tennis and Learning network.
- Access to legal expertise with links to identify and claim government support through the CARES Act at http://www.tennisindustryunited.com.
- The hosting of all tennis offerings from key organizations within the tennis industry on one central site to enable ease of access of key offerings available at http://www.tennisindustryunited.com.
- FREE access to online continuing professional development for facility owners and managers and tennis professionals at http://www.tennisindustryunited.com.
- FREE phone support to help the tennis industry cope with the emotional impact of COVID-19 through the USTA’s health provider, Aetna. Those needing to utilize this service can call 1-833-327-AETNA and reference the USTA.
- A dedicated email address, email@example.com, has been created for those in the industry to submit specific queries regarding available COVID-19 support.
- Daily updates and guidance by leading experts will be made available on http://www.tennisindustryunited.com that will give specific information about key steps to take to navigate the pandemic.
- The USTA will provide a free website builder tool with marketing and content resources that allows turnkey solutions for communication tools for facilities and pros.
- The USTA National office has recommitted as its top priority the continuation of the “grow the game” funding commitments of $35 million to community tennis programming in 2020 and 2021. These funds are distributed through the 17 USTA Sections to get the money closer to grassroots decision-makers and fund grassroots tennis programs at parks, schools, NJTLs, and a variety of other local efforts. Tennis providers are encouraged to connect with their local USTA offices to explore Section, District and State offerings.
The above equates to a commitment of more than $50 million in spending towards grassroots tennis and will engage the entire U.S. tennis ecosystem.
“With phase one and phase two, the priority has been to start the process of ensuring that the foundation of our sport remains in place and is viable in the future,” added Dowse. “We now quickly are taking a look at the broader tennis ecosystem and are working with our colleagues within the Grand Slams, the ITF, the ATP and the WTA Tour to determine how to provide help for lower-ranked professional tennis players who are facing tournament cancellations and financial hardship.” In the coming weeks, the USTA and its industry partners, will continue to monitor the impact of COVID-19 on the U.S. tennis marketplace. Moving forward, the USTA will continue to aggregate all industry resources to aid in recovery while collaborating with all industry partners to develop and deliver programs to help rebuild tennis in the United States.