A picture is worth a thousand words...
By Jim Reffkin

March 2005

Tucson Arizona has the Tennis Channel! Finally, after a good deal of public support from our tennis community, Comcast has delivered this elusive product to many of our Tucson viewers.

Even though Cox, our other local cable provider, is not providing the service, this is still huge for Southern Arizona tennis. And even though the production you now see is a little "rough edged" it is still a tremendous step in the right direction. In the current gigantic marketplace of playing or watching an athletic event, tennis is finally making headway in establishing our place on the most powerful entertainment medium in the world. Even though our fledgling Tennis Channel may be in only scattered areas of the country, lets celebrate that it finally made it to parts of Arizona.

As most everyone in Sports Marketing knows, the power of television is essential to the growth of our game, particularly now, when we are losing more and more players to our competition. Just think how often we watch an athletic event. Television is continuously not only showing live major sporting events but "sports talk" programming as well, a sub culture of its own making. It's been proven, sports, then sex, is talked about more often at the office water cooler than any other topic. Think about it, sports bars have multiple screens with unlimited exposure to athletic event entertainment - tennis has been crushed by the marketing machine of our rivals.

Interesting enough, I recently saw the motion picture "Wimbledon" and was pleasantly surprised how entertaining it was. I had always been jealous of the baseball movies like those screen classics, "The Natural" with Robert Redford and "Major League" with Charlie Sheen and Tom Berringer. Could it be that Hollywood has discovered Tennis like it discovered baseball, is there now an appeal in producing major motion pictures using tennis as a setting for romance and adventure?

I doubt it, but it certainly is encouraging to see the Tennis Channel carrying the banner to spearhead the industry's campaign to "grow the game." But lets try and remember, every sport must have entertainment value and be adaptable to television programming and viewing.

As a Tennis Director of a major tennis facility, I always look forward to summer when the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open become dominant entertainment on television and in the newspapers. During the months of June, July and September, relatively speaking, the amount of network television coverage of these tournaments is huge. With this exposure, tennis facilities have the opportunity to market tennis instruction, programs and activities to the consumer.

At this time of the year, have you ever noticed how much more activity occurs at your club? I certainly have. I see a direct correlation between the amount of tennis coverage and the increase in lessons and court activity.

The television coverage from these major events, serve as a great kick-off for both summer camps and adult clinics. After Wimbledon, comes our own U.S. Open, which hits the viewing screens the same time college football season begins. This is a reminder for your club members to quit sitting on the couch and start running on the tennis court. Without this annual prime time tennis on television, our market share of the recreation dollar would be weak indeed.

The message is loud and clear, visual media exposure is essential for the expansion of product and service. So holy smokes, lets not miss this opportunity. We now have national exposure, so lets secure local television coverage, lets contact local stations and promote tennis at our respective clubs, centers and resorts. Let us listen to the marketing professionals - A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words!

Special Note: Metropolitan Phoenix is lobbying Cox to offer the Tennis Channel, please call Tony Maldonado - Marketing at 623-594-0505.