First Advisor

Gray, Dianna P.

Second Advisor

Morse, Alan

Document Type


Date Created



The purpose of this study was to examine motivations used by tennis fans in identifying with professional tennis players and thereby developing fan loyalty and support. No prior work has focused on fan motivations toward individual players in an individual sport. This non-experimental study design used an online survey technique to solicit responses from adult tennis fans through a variety of tennis organizations, tennis clubs, tennis training facilities, and tennis websites and blogs. Surveys responses were solicited from January through February 2017. Of the original 460 total respondents, 28% (n = 101) reported having no favorite professional tennis player and were excluded from the analysis. The remaining sample (n = 359) was uniformly divided by gender (male fans = 49.5% and female fans = 50.5%). A favorite male professional tennis player was reported by 98.5% of tennis fans and a favorite female professional tennis player was reported by 56.8% of tennis fans. Fan status was divided between player and spectator (93.3% of respondents, n = 335) or spectator only (6.7% of respondent, n =24). Experience for player and spectator fans was M = 26.5 years (SD = 15.2) and for spectator only fans was 26.9 years (SD = 14.8). Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) validated the proposed eight-factor motivation model for the intended purpose in this study. Principle components analysis (PCA) revealed two components accounting for 57.6% of the total variance: Component 1 (43% of total variance) revealed highest loadings for professional athlete reputation, behavior, personality, philanthropy, and athlete as a hero. Component 2 (14.6% of total variance) revealed highest loadings for athlete physical attractiveness and vicarious identity. Physical attractiveness of male professional tennis players and female professional tennis players was a significant motivation (p = .0005) for both male tennis fans and female tennis fans. Fans identifying as player and spectator (78% of total) ranked player skills, behavior, reputation, and personality as the top four motivations (based on ranking of mean scores) toward both male and female professional tennis players. Male professional tennis player behavior (p = .022), reputation (p = .035), and philanthropy (p = .033) were significant motivations based on fan experience and the importance of each appeared to increase with increasing fan experience. Male professional tennis player skills were significant (p = .010), did not trend with fan experience, but appeared most important to those fans with the most experience. In contrast, female professional player as a hero (p = .015) was a significant motivation based on fan experience, but was least important among those fans with the most experience. These findings add to the basic literature concerning fan motivations and may be used by promoters of major tennis events to increase fan attendance and to enhance the fan experience and loyalty. Professional tennis players may also consider these findings as a guide by which they may enhance or repair their standing with tennis fans.


Attachmment, Fan Motivation, Individual Athlete Sports, Motives, Tennis Players


174 pages

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