An interesting article in The Guardian claims that British girls are suddenly clamoring to tennis thanks to the inspiring efforts of a couple of professional British tennis women.
According to the article, participation in tennis among UK teenage girls has increased 17% this year. And the author attributes this astounding growth rate to the successes of Laura Robson and Heather Watson.
A couple of commenters have posted messages on the article that deserve attention:
Does the explanation for this rise have to be gendered? I wasn’t aware of this trend, but if someone had told me about it, my first reaction would have been to attribute it to the British player who won Olympic gold and the first major by a British player in 70-od years in 2012 – not two decent young players who are doing quite well for their age but have been nowhere near winning anything serious (except an Olympic silver on the coattails of the aforementioned player….) ~posted by elflojo84
The important question is: where are these girls coming from? If they’re coming from the traditional tennis-playing middle class, then Tennis hasn’t really ventured very far. There need to be more clubs in urban areas, to at least offer young people from working class backgrounds the opportunity. Unless your peers are playing, you’re unlikely to stick with it. ~posted by Pagey
Both make excellent points and pose excellent questions. One might be able to argue that the women pro players are the primary influence, as it is primarily the teenage girls who are flocking to the sport. But is that really true? The article makes no mention whether teenage boys are also taking up tennis in greater numbers in the UK.
And I too would be curious to know in which neighborhoods these teenagers who are turning to tennis in the UK reside. Are they mostly upper-class and upper-middle class kids? Or is tennis spreading to lower income communities throughout the British isles?
All in all, it’s an interesting story and demonstrates once again that successful pro players can really have an influence on the popularity of the sport in their country.
And depending on how/if The Guardian reacts to these comments, this particular article might also be an abject lesson in why newspapers continue to struggle and blogs continue to grow. Hint: it’s all about writing with your readers nowadays, not at them.
What do you think … about any of the varied and miscellaneous topics in this post? :p