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HSA Faculty Author Study on Benefits of Tennis for Adolescents

Buffalo, New York – March 4, 2013 – The United States Tennis Association Serves (USTA Serves), the charitable foundation of the U.S. Tennis Association, has issued the findings of the first nationwide study to analyze the educational, behavioral and health benefits for adolescents who participate in tennis. D’Youville faculty members, Dr. Lisa Rafalson, chair and assistant professor, Health Services Administration (HSA), and Dr. Donald F. Sabo, professor, HSA, along with Dr. Philip T. Veliz, a Research Fellow at the Institute for Research on Women and Gender at the University of Michigan authored the report.

The study, titled USTA Serves Special Report, More Than a Sport: Tennis, Education and Health, confirms the USTA belief in tennis as a sport of opportunity. It was conducted by the Women’ s Sports Foundation with 54,048 eighth to tenth graders surveyed including 4,278 tennis participants.

Key findings from the report include:

Tennis is a unique catalyst for educational advantage. “Tennis players spent more time doing homework and were more likely to report receiving “A” grades. 48 percent of students in the report have an ‘A’ average and 81 percent say they will attend college.”

Tennis players had significantly lower rates of suspension from school and other disciplinary measures than participants in other sports did and non-athletes did.

Educational advantages among tennis players occurred across all socioeconomic levels. Adolescent tennis players are well rounded with 82 percent volunteering in their communities. Tennis contributes to adolescent health. Players are less likely to be overweight or become obese.

Adolescent participation in tennis varies by race/ethnicity and gender, as well as across geographic regions. “Among all adolescent tennis players in the U.S., whites constituted 77 percent, Hispanics 14 percent and Blacks nine percent.”

“While most people may not be surprised to learn that the majority of adolescent tennis players score better than most other athletes (and all non-whites) on education and social behavior, what is less known is that those benefits also cross all socioeconomic levels in varying degrees,” said Deborah Slaner Larkin, executive director of USTA Serves. “Hopefully, this evidence-based research will encourage more educators, health policy makers and parents to promote tennis in physical education classes, as well as in school and community-based sports programs so that students across the country will reap these important education and health benefits.”

To date, USTA Serves has awarded more than $15 million in grants and scholarships to people and programs throughout the country in order to provide ‘at-risk’ and underserved youth with greater opportunities to realize success, according to the organization.

The full report is available on the USTA Serves website.


Dr. Lisa Rafalson at 716-829-7805, or

Dr. Donald F. Sabo at 716-812-3389, or