Tennis is for everyone. Whether you’re an armchair enthusiast, one of the country’s regular active players, or the kind that picks up a racket once a year in June, it occupies a special place in our summer sporting calendar.
With such enormous affection and interest comes huge potential for growth, which the LTA - the National Governing Body for tennis in Great Britain - is set to realise, ushering in a new era for the sport in Britain.
Its ultimate aim? Streamlined digital services to attract a new generation of fans and players – and millions more of us enjoying tennis’ physical and mental health benefits in communities all over the UK.
Opening up tennis is about encouraging anyone of any age, background or level of fitness to pick up a racket.
Director of Digital and Major Events, LTA
Tennis Opened Up
“One of the barriers to playing tennis is it can be hard to find a court, a coach or someone to play with,” said the LTA’s Director of Digital and Major Events, Chris Pollard.
“We want to make booking a tennis court as simple as ordering a takeaway," Chris continued. “We want communication between coaches, parents, schools, volunteers and players to be seamless.”
In a world where ordering concert tickets and booking a holiday are seen as easier to do online than engage in sport, the LTA’s ambition meets a clear need for sports organisations to design digital experiences to the level found in other sectors.
While 70 per cent of customers expect digital services to be streamlined, Sport England research found that only 34 per cent of people say it’s easy to book sport or fitness classes online.
Game for disruption
The LTA’s ambition makes it a digital-disruption pioneer for the sports industry.
“Tennis is a sport with a fantastic history,” said Mark Lillie, Deloitte’s global technology strategy and transformation leader. “And now, with Padel - a form of tennis played in an enclosed space - being introduced, an even more exciting future.
“We’re so pleased to be the digital transformation partner of the LTA, working side by side, to ensure that more people - from players, fans and coaches to all of the volunteers involved in tennis - can enjoy the benefits of the game in the future and have an engaging digital experience.
“As we emerge from the pandemic, the potential for tech to embed tennis further in communities as they rebuild presents a huge opportunity.”
Mark continued: “We know how quickly people can adapt to new apps and embed what they offer into their daily lives when they meet a specific need.”
The programme we have in place will update the ways all players take part in matches and coaching – and even how fans watch at home and at events.
“That’s the LTA’s ultimate vision for tennis,” Mark concluded. “Our job is to support them to make that happen.”
Through close collaboration with the LTA and its members, we’re helping to create new platforms to support tennis’ growth for decades to come that are open and accessible to everyone.
Activity to date includes:
- The Advantage platform
Re-launched in 2021 and now a mobile-first tool, Advantage allows anyone to sign up for access to the LTA’s exclusive content, partner benefits and priority ticket purchase opportunities. Players can also get their World Tennis Number – which, like a golf handicap, helps those at a similar level to connect and play.
- Reaching one million fans by 2022
Through developments to the LTA website, we’re helping the LTA to build its fan database to one million fans by 2022, adding over 100,000 Advantage users who can engage directly with the LTA and its exclusive content.
- A more personalised online experience
For delivery in early 2022, changes to the LTA’s website will provide users with a more personalised, customer-first digital experience. The website, refreshed with a new visual identity, will focus on inspiring participation and showcasing the best of the LTA’s initiatives.
Coaching the coaches
As we’ve found during the pandemic, when the physical world stops, the digital world steps in – and helping its people to return stronger is an essential part of the LTA’s ambition.
Coaches are a vital part of the mission to open up and promote tennis all over the UK. As most operate as self-employed or small businesses, empowering them with digital skills could have a huge impact in local areas.
“Adding to our professional skills programme, Deloitte has run a pilot programme in which they’ve coached tennis coaches in the digital and business skills they specialise in - like digital marketing and business resilience,” said the LTA’s Merlin Van de Braam, head of coach development and support.
Over five months and more than 200 sessions, coaches and mentors alike have seen the benefits of combining business and tennis know-how. Future plans include a national programme featuring ‘How To’ guides in key subjects like stakeholder communications, financial planning, digital marketing and one-to-one mentoring opportunities.