Tennis has often been perceived as an elitist sport for several reasons.
- Cost - Tennis can be an expensive sport to play. It requires access to courts, equipment (racquets, balls, shoes, etc.), coaching, and sometimes club memberships. The cost of these can be prohibitive for many people, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds.
- Culture - Tennis has historically been associated with affluent communities and member-only clubs. This association has created a perception of exclusivity and elitism around the sport. Events like Wimbledon and the US Open, with their high ticket prices and luxurious amenities, further contribute to this image.
- Limited Accessibility - Tennis facilities are not as readily available in many areas compared to other sports like football. This lack of accessibility can make it difficult for individuals from less privileged backgrounds to participate in the sport.
- Image and Media Representation - The image of tennis players, especially at the professional level, often reflects wealth, glamour, and privilege. While this may not be true for all players, the media portrayal of tennis can reinforce the perception of elitism.
- Historical Context - Tennis has roots in aristocratic leisure activities, which have historically excluded people from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. While the sport has evolved significantly since then, aspects of its elitist origins still linger in its culture and practices.
I feel like today, a lot of the barriers around the sport are still there but are being tackled a lot better. So what is being done at Stony Stratford Tennis Club to make tennis a sport for all?
The club is a not-for-profit organization, which is run by volunteers. Any profits made are reinvested into the club for the benefit of the members. The club is in a great position as it is self-sufficient and the membership fees allows it to survive without reliance on grants or funding, but with funding and grants, we can do more.
We offer anyone who wants to join the club the opportunity to come and play in club sessions 3 times before signing up. Unfortunately we don’t hire courts out by the hour but we do allow non-members to come to the club with a member up to 3 times at a cost of £5/adult or £2.50/junior. The membership model is much better for the club so it has the finances to maintain and improve its costly facilities but at only £68/year for a junior and £218/year for an adult, this represents unbelievable value to be able to play anytime at the club. But members can also play at club sessions all year round with balls, floodlights and indoor courts available for free plus the juniors have a coach running the session. I must also highlight how cheap our indoor courts are! At only £5/h off peak and £8/h peak, this is incredible value as there is a lack of indoor courts in North Buckinghamshire and the average cost to hire an indoor court is £25/h.
Rackets can start at around £20 and sports clothing and shoes are fine to get started. If you compare this to the cost of football boots and shin pads, tennis equipment can easily be affordable.
Since I have been at the club, 14 years ago, I have seen a massive cultural shift. I grew up in Aylesbury and started on park courts before joining a club. I’ve always aspired to bring that inclusive element to anywhere I have been and I know that our club represents many different people and cultures that come together for the love of tennis. Club nights are booming, court occupancy is at its highest and club membership numbers are at a record high.
I think the LTA has done a good job in trying to promote tennis at grassroots and inclusivity but on a local level, Team Stony Tennis has been leading the way. We are going into schools, attending local festivals, investing in Facebook adverts and more, to give more people the opportunity to get involved, which is showing in the numbers within the program.
As you can see, there are a lot of efforts being made by Team Stony Tennis and the club within the community to address the perceived elitist issues and make the sport more inclusive.
Please feel free to forward this email onto anyone you feel would benefit from understanding more about the club and the opportunities so we can break down barriers and make tennis accessible to a wider range of people.
Click here for a Free Session - www.ssltc.co.uk/free-session
Click here for more information on club membership - www.ssltc.co.uk/membership
Director of Tennis