This article presents a snap shot of the tennis racquet (racket) market. It provides the basic numbers and major players in the industry and includes basic information on the manufacturing process.
Growth of the tennis market
The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has reported extraordinary growth for tennis participation, citing 9.6% growth in 2008, and 43% from 2000 to 2008. In December 2008 tennis participation in the US was 27 million players, the highest for 15 years. Sales of balls and tennis racquets have also been increasing, most notably the sale of youth racquets increased by 88% from 2003 through 2008.
Over this same five year period, shipments of adult racquets rose 30%, and tennis ball shipments rose by 16%.
Size of the market for tennis racquets
According to Composites World, the Tennis Industry Association reported slower growth than the SGMA, with participation up 10% over the past five years. They also said that equipment rates have lagged behind participation rates. Nevertheless, tennis racquets make up 81 percent of the total unit deliveries for raquet sports, and almost 93 percent of its total composites demand. Demand for racquets in the U.S. increased from 3.6 million units in 2004 to roughly 4.1 million units in 2006, due to the increasing popularity and media coverage of North American tennis. For 2007 the demand is estimated to have been 4.2 million units.
The major players in the tennis racquet market, based on 2006 sales figures, are:
- Wilson – $151 million (3.4 million units, 36% market share)
- Head - $110 million (2.4 milllion units, 25% market share)
Retail pricing for tennis racquets and balls
According to Kevin Kempmin or Head/Penn Racquet Sports, “The seven top-selling racquets on the market all retail for between $170 and $200, and I believe most companies shoot for that range”. Head’s Prestige racquet has been priced at $199 for the past ten years.
There is upward price pressure due to rising labor costs in China, and a doubling of the price of carbon fiber due in part to an increase in demand from the aircraft industry.
Source: “Feeling the Impact: Rising tennis costs” By Paul Wachter
Raw materials used in tennis racquet manufacturing
Aluminum racquets are made of alloy. One such alloy contains 2% silicon and traces of magnesium, copper, and chromium. Another alloy contains 10% zinc, with magnesium, copper, and chromium.
Composite racquets consist of layers of graphite and fiberglass, and/or layers containing boron, kevlar or ceramic particles.
The racquet also contains leather or synthetic material for the handle grip. The strings are nylon or gut. Nylon is the most common string material, although a few professionals still use gut, which is made from twisted cow or sheep intestine.
You can learn more about tennis racquet manufacture at Madehow.com
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