Tennis is a popular recreational sport among Americans of all ages. Both private and public tennis courts exist, indoors as well as outdoors. More than 20 million Americans play recreational tennis. The United States Tennis Association (USTA) is the national governing body for tennis and counts more than 700,000 members. The association maintains a rating system for players to match them with other players of equivalent skill level. The USTA also organizes singles and doubles tennis tournaments for men and women, young people and seniors, wheelchair players and other sub-groups. The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) administers college and university tennis, holding various championship series in both men’s and women’s categories.
Because tennis requires skill, tennis clubs, resorts and other facilities offer instruction. Serious amateur tennis players may well attend a “tennis camp” for several days or a week, in order to improve their game. Youth tennis programs, including summer camps, are popular. The United States Professional Tennis Association, with over 13,000 members, promotes tennis teaching throughout the country and certifies tennis professionals on a number of levels.
In the world of competitive professional tennis, while only one of the four major “grand slam” tennis tournaments occurs in the United States, that tournament, the last of the four, is massive. Through July and August of each year, ten tournaments for both male and female players take place at various sites in the United States as part of the Olympus U.S. Open Series. At the end of August and beginning of September, the U.S. Open in New York City hosts 700,000 fans over a span of 13 days and now awards more than $20,000,000 in prize money to the players. The United States also hosts three of the year’s nine ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments, considered the second echelon just below the four “slams.” These are the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, Florida, and the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters and Women’s Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. Top international and American tennis stars compete in all these tournaments. All four international grand slam tournaments attract detailed coverage by American media and television. These top tennis events draw a relatively affluent viewership.
During the 1980s and 1990s, American professional tennis players dominated the game in both men’s and women’s categories, but today the stars of the game are better distributed among the many smaller countries, especially in Europe. That said, many international players live and train in the United States, especially in warm climate regions like Florida and Southern California, and the American system of professional tennis training and coaching is strong.
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