Five Ques­tions

A Ten­nis Ware­house exec weighs in on hot trends and con­sumer con­nec­tions.

Footwear News - - CONTENTS - By Jen­nie Bell

1 How would you de­scribe the state of the ten­nis busi­ness?

“In gen­eral, ten­nis par­tic­i­pa­tion by the numbers is up. How­ever, last I read, it’s up in the ca­sual or once-ina-while player, whereas the core player, who makes up roughly 90 percent of the pur­chases, has been a lit­tle stag­nant. That’s some­thing we hope can grow as we move for­ward. The other thing is, we’d like to see the ju­niors be­come more rel­e­vant in par­tic­i­pa­tion and be able to grow the in­ter­est in the game.”

2 What does the mar­ket need in or­der to ex­pand?

“We need to get the ju­niors — but also every­one — more in­ter­ested in the game. So­cial me­dia has been a huge thing over the past sev­eral years in get­ting those who are in­ter­ested in the game more en­gaged. For the av­er­age con­sumer, who might play ten­nis here or there, it gets them ac­quainted with the play­ers and al­lows them to see some of the per­son­al­i­ties. So then, hope­fully, they’ll grav­i­tate to­ward [the sport] and give it a go. Because once they get onto the court, they’ll re­al­ize this is a good sport, any­body can play, and it doesn’t take a lot to get out there.”

3 Which footwear brands are your strong­est per­form­ers?

“From a brand stand­point, Adi­das, Nike and Asics lead the pack, in no par­tic­u­lar or­der. They have the strong­est pres­ence in the mar­ket, for sure. And then you have some upand-com­ers. New Bal­ance has made a strong showing over the last year or two.”

4 Are there any trends dom­i­nat­ing the mar­ket?

“Over the past six years, the trend in footwear in gen­eral is to a lightweight speed shoe that screams per­for­mance. In the U.S., we’re mostly hard courts, and for the core player, who plays a lot, they tend to wear out a lot of shoes. So for a long time, you needed a shoe that was go­ing to hold up, and we had th­ese dura­bil­ity-guar­an­teed shoes — and we still do. But now the ten­nis con­sumer is grav­i­tat­ing to­ward some­thing that’s go­ing to help them get an ad­van­tage over their op­po­nent. It’s about a fast, lightweight of­fer­ing that of­fers sup­port and per­for­mance, and gives them — maybe it’s more of a men­tal edge — but it makes them feel like they’re do­ing just a lit­tle bit ex­tra.”

5 What are you ex­cited about for fall ’18 or spring ’19?

“For fall, we just launched with Asics their Gel So­lu­tion Speed Flyte Foam, which has been an­tic­i­pated for some time. We got a chance to test it — we have a play test team here — and it has tested very well. We’re very ex­cited about that and the di­rec­tion it’s go­ing. Also, the Adi­das Uber Sonic 3 is due to come out this au­tumn. We just started look­ing at spring ’19. I won’t men­tion any brands, but I’m ex­cited for what I’m see­ing. It caters to the lightweight trends, and I like where things are go­ing in terms of both style and color.”

Adi­das UberSonic 3

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