John McEnroe feeds fuel to the fire of the age-old tennis versus pickleball debate. On a recent episode of The Pat McAfee Show, McEnroe compared pickleball to being “the poor man’s arena football.”
McEnroe will be competing alongside fellow tennis superstars Michael Chang, Andy Roddick, and Andrei Agassi in this weekend’s Pickleball Slam event. The four tennis legends will be battling it out for a $1 million cash prize this upcoming Sunday, April 2 at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL.
DUPR-ranked amateur pickleball players also have the chance at playing with the tennis legends by competing in a doubles tournament starting March 31 with the finals taking place on April 1. In addition to getting a chance at playing with the pros, tournament winners will also receive a $10,000 cash prize.
McEnroe is known for his highly competitive spirit while on the court. His passion for the game and the outbursts he’s had while playing have earned him the title of “Superbrat,” and he absolutely brought that energy to The Pat McAfee Show on March 23 last week, where he addressed the ongoing tennis versus pickleball debate.
Right out of the gates while talking about the Pickleball Slam, McEnroe states, “This pickleball thing is crazy, I don’t get it. Hopefully [the Pickleball Slam] will be fun, and hopefully it will bring some interest to the sport that I do really care about which is tennis.”
McAfee responded by bringing up how big pro pickleball has become. Pickleball now has fully developed leagues, pro athletes, merchandise, and equipment brands. McEnroe then jokingly made the comparison that if tennis is the NFL, then pickleball is the poor man’s arena football.
“Unfortunately, what you can do with the ball is limited, it’s plastic. You’ve got little racquets like you’re playing racquetball or squash … Why they call it the kitchen or why its called pickleball, I have no idea. It doesn’t sound particularly cool to me.”John McEnroe
McAfee went on to talk about how pickleball is on the rise as the fastest-growing sport in the nation, but it still has yet to achieve the level of prestige that tennis has.
To this, McEnroe responded, “If that happens then there’s an apocalypse. Just keep that in mind. Because if we even get close to that, then we’ve got some serious problems … Pickleball doubles is played way more than singles. Why is that? The courts are already third the size of tennis, and now they’re playing doubles. I mean is it so you can sit in a chair while you’re at it?”
Of course, the tone of the McAfee show is highly comedic and can be sarcastic at times, so most of McEnroe’s comments were said in a lighthearted manner. However, it’s clear that McEnroe is incredibly passionate about tennis, the sport that he’s spent his life mastering.
McEnroe is considered to be one of the greatest tennis players of all time. Most notably, he’s won seven Grand Slam singles titles, consisting of four US Open and three Wimbledon titles. If his pickleball game is anything like his tennis prowess, get ready for some wildly entertaining matches at the Pickleball Slam!
While McEnroe might be dominant on the tennis court, he’s got some serious competition in the upcoming event. Andre Agassi is already talking smack about McEnroe’s game and thinks he’ll be ready to take McEnroe down.
The Pickleball Slam will be televised live on ESPN on April 2nd, starting at 12pm ET. If you’re interested in seeing the action in person, be sure to check out the Pickleball Slam website for ticketing information.
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