Market Overview

The Business Of Tennis: Who's Taking Advantage?

The Business Of Tennis: Who's Taking Advantage?

NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan showed up for Roger Federer's first-round match at the U.S. Open August 26.

According to The Wall Street Journal, Jordan wasn’t there simply to cheer on a fellow superstar.

Jordan’s appearance was all about marketing and a desire by his major sponsor, Nike, Inc. (NYSE: NKE) to grab its share of the billions of dollars shoveled into the tennis-related economy each year.

By The Numbers

According to the Tennis Industry Association (TIA), 17.7 million participants helped put $5.6 billion into the U.S. tennis economy in 2013. Some, but not all, of that money helped pay for the more than three million tennis racquets and nearly 128 million tennis balls manufacturers produced last year.

TIA said the number of frequent players -- those who play 21 times or more per year -- grew five percent last year, to 5.5 million. It's estimated this group forked over more than $765 million on racquets, balls, shoes, clothing, and miscellaneous gear in 2013.

Related: Tennis A Top 10 Growth Sport


Most likely, Jordan was present at the U.S. Open to promote Federer’s new limited edition line of Nike tennis shoes, the NikeCourt Zoom Vapor AJ3s. The $200-per-pair shoes, which went on sale the day after Jordan's appearance, sold out in about an hour at  Manhattan's  Nike Lab store.

Nike’s lineup and sales of tennis gear pales in comparison to that of basketball and other sports, but the introduction of the new shoes clearly indicates the company sees potential in racquet sports.

In addition to a full lineup of shoes, Nike also manufacturers and sells tennis-related apparel and equipment, including backpacks, hats, armbands and other products.


Amer Sports Oyj (OTC: AGPDY) subsidiary, Wilson Sporting Goods, is one of the oldest names in tennis. Calling itself the “world’s leading manufacturer of ball sports equipment,” Wilson makes racquets, balls, apparel, gear, and shoes for tennis players of all skill levels.

Federer, the world’s highest-paid tennis pro, has been a fan of Wilson tennis racquets his entire career. Wilson’s $220 Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph model racquet was designed with help from Federer.

Related: Fast Money Traders Debate Dicks Sporting Goods


On the retail side, Dicks Sporting Goods Inc (NYSE: DKS) carries a full line of brand name tennis gear, including Babolat and Wilson racquets, Nike and Adidas (OTC: ADDYY) shoes and apparel, as well as equipment from most major manufacturers.

Although the company recently cut 400 golf-related positions in its stores and plans to reduce the amount of floor space dedicated to golf equipment, other sports, including tennis, were not affected.

At the time of this writing, Jim Probasco  had no position in any mentioned securities.


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