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A SERVE OF ALL THINGS TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2011
According to Wimbledon records, some of the youngest ever Wimbledon competitors began their careers at the tender age of just fourteen years old (Endnote 4). The ABS 2009-10 survey of Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation found that playing tennis was quite popular in the youngest age group with 6% of 15 to 17 year olds playing tennis. The participation rates across all other age groups remained fairly similar with a decline in participation rates for those aged 55 to 64 years (3%), and 65 years and over (2%). When comparing changes to participation in tennis by people in different age groups between 2005-06 and 2009-10, the survey results show that there was a significant decrease in participation levels by people aged 25 to 34 years (6% to 4%), while the participation rates of people aged 45 to 54 years did not change, remaining at 5%. The participation rates were generally quite low for people aged 65 years and over compared with other age groups in both time periods.
Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams are just two of the big names in tennis who may be viewed as role models due to their dedication to the game and high level of skill, inspiring many children to play tennis. Tennis Australia believes that it is critical for children to be exposed to the fun, health, and social benefits of tennis at an early age (Endnote 5). The ABS survey of Children's Participation in Cultural and Leisure Activities (cat. no. 4901.0) (CPCLA) collects information on children who are aged 5 to14 years who participated in cultural activities and organised sports outside of school hours during the 12 months prior to interview, and on participation in selected leisure activities outside of school hours during the most recent two school weeks prior to interview.
A time series on children's participation in tennis during the years 2000 to 2009 showed that across this time span, children aged 9 to 11 years had higher participation rates in tennis in comparison with those aged 5 to 8 years and 12 to 14 years. Interestingly, the only age group that had an increase in participation rates between the years 2000 and 2003 were those children aged 9 to 11 years whilst the other age groups showed a slight downward trend throughout this time period. Results show that there has been a small increase in tennis participation across all age groups from the year 2006 to 2009.
INVOLVEMENT IN PLAYING AND NON-PLAYING ROLES
People don't necessarily have to be involved in tennis as a player; there are many other roles that are critical to ensuring that tennis can be played in a safe environment and for the players to reach their optimum potential. The ABS survey of Involvement in Organised Sport and Physical Recreation (cat. no. 6285.0), collects information on people's involvement in playing and non-playing roles, but does not collect data on individual sports. Looking at overall involvement in non-playing roles does paint a picture of their importance.
In 2010, 5% of people were involved in both playing and non-playing roles, and 4% were involved in non-playing roles only. Involvement in non-playing roles only peaked slightly for those aged between 35 to 44 years, and 45 to 54 years, which could be related to parents taking on a particular role within a sporting team of which their child is a part.
With the current Wimbledon event, many will be making their contribution to the event in their non-playing roles including coaches or instructors, referees or umpires, committee members, scorers or timekeepers, and providers of medical support. Four percent of people involved in sport were coaches, instructors or teachers, whilst 3% were committee members or administrators, as were scorers or timekeepers. This shows that there are a broad range of responsibilities involved in sport; with the current Wimbledon event, there is no doubt that there would have been a range of roles available, enabling people to participate in tennis through a variety of different ways.
People's access to tennis facilities may be limited and depends on where they live. Public courts may be a long way away, or a fee may be payable to use them. Not everyone has the space in their own backyard to accommodate a full-size court either. Tennis Australia has incorporated into their strategic plan the need to promote tennis and accommodate growth in membership numbers (Endnote 5), and can offer funding and support to enable clubs and sporting associations to improve or maintain existing facilities, as well as the development of new facilities (Endnote 6). Out of the people who lived in Australian major cities who played sport, 7% participated in tennis compared with 5% of people who lived in inner regional areas. There was no significant difference between those people who played tennis that lived in major cities, and those who lived in outer regional and remote areas.
The results of the 2009-10 Participation in Sport and Physical Recreation survey indicate that the following states and territories were not included in the following remoteness of area categories. Although there may be people living in these areas who did participate in tennis, they are so few in number that they were not represented in this survey.
Inner regional: Excludes Northern Territory and the Australian Capital Territory.
Outer regional and remote: Outer regional excludes the Australian Capital Territory, and remote excludes both Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory.
REGULARITY OF PARTICIPATION/NUMBER OF HOURS SPENT PLAYING OR TRAINING
Despite the fact that tennis can often be viewed as a seasonal sport, almost half of the people who played tennis (44%) participated more than twice a week, which is significantly higher than the 7% of people who only occasionally participated in tennis. These figures work in favour of Tennis Australia's mission to achieve a modest increase in the frequency of play to at least once a week (Endnote 5).
The categories used for determining the regularity of participation are formulated by the frequency of participation in the activity.
Infrequent - part year participation: participated from 13-52 times and participated in from one to eleven months.
Infrequent - full year participation: participated from 13-52 times and participated in each month.
Frequent - part year participation: participated 53 times or more and participated in from one to eleven months.
Once or twice a week participation: participated from 53-104 times and participated in each month.
More than twice a week participation: participated from 105 times or more and participated in each month.
Tennis legend Pete Sampras devoted his career in tennis to "achieving greatness and not letting go of this" which is likely to have been reinforced through childhood training and exposure to playing and training for tennis matches (Endnote 7). Data released from the 2009 CPCLA showed that 35% of the children who participated in tennis did so for 2 hours or less in the two weeks prior to interview, followed by 29% who did so for 5 to 9 hours. Out of the girls who played/trained in tennis, 44% did so for 2 hours or less in the two weeks prior to interview in comparison with only 29% of boys. There were more boys than girls who played/trained in tennis for 5 to 9 hours in the two weeks prior to interview (33% and 23% respectively).
ORGANISED AND NON-ORGANISED PARTICIPATION
With tennis being a sport that is advertised/promoted so regularly on television, including live broadcast in Australia of tennis events such as Wimbledon and the Australian Open, this may influence people's participation in tennis, whether it be part of a club, or as a form of general physical activity and leisure. In 2009-10, 61% of people participated in non-organised tennis which is significantly higher than those who were involved in organised tennis (31%), and those who participated in both organised and non-organised tennis (8%).
Players from over 60 countries are competing at the 2011 Wimbledon event (Endnote 8). Tennis rated as one of the top 10 sports attended by spectators in Australia in 2009-10 as summarised in the ABS 2009-10 survey of Spectator Attendance at Sporting Events (cat. no. 4174.0). This survey collects data about the characteristics of persons aged 15 years and over who attended sporting events as spectators (excluding junior and school sport).
In 2009-10, the attendance rate for tennis was 2%. Out of the people who attended tennis as a spectator in 2009-10, 22% of spectators were aged 15 to 24 years. Attendance rates were quite similar across all other age groups.
Tennis can be played in a formal or informal setting, as part of a club or just for leisure, indoors and outdoors, and at any time of the year. More importantly, participation and involvement in tennis does not have to be purely for competition. We presented information about the variety of roles associated with tennis that people can be a part of without competing. It is important that these roles are available to benefit all people involved. Let's acknowledge what people have served up in bringing Wimbledon to life!
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1. Hub pages. Tennis - Wimbledon. Accessed on 9th May, 2011.
2. Wimbledon. Championships History - The beginning. Accessed on 9th May, 2011.
3. Wimbledon. Prize Money at Wimbledon (1968 - 2011). Accessed on 9th May, 2011.
4. Wimbledon. Records and Statistics. Accessed on 9th May, 2011.
5. Tennis: Tennis Australia. Accessed on 8th March, 2011.
6. Tennis Australia: Management, Development. Accessed on 28th April, 2011
7. Wimbledon - Player profiles. Accessed on 21st March, 2011.
8. Wimbledon: Spectators. Accessed on 22nd March, 2011.
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