Like it or not, pickleball is here to stay. Tennis stars are letting their opinions be known on where they stand on this booming Sport.
Fighting Among Themselves
Recently, Rennae Stubbs, a decorated women’s doubles champion from Australia, took a direct shot at pickleball when she tweeted:
Nick Kyrgios, also a tennis star from Australia and quite accomplished in his own right, quickly clapped back in defense of the investment in professional pickleball, sighting the likes of Lebron James and Kevin Durant, two basketball superstars, to bolster his position on the merits of pickleball.
Let’s break down Stubbs’ statement in a little more detail.
Money To Be Made
Without a doubt, the interest and trajectory of pickleball is skyrocketing. In this CNBC news story, the prediction for continued growth is astronomical.
- Averaging growth of 11.5% over the last five years
- Over 4.8 million active participants in the sport
- Anticipated participation levels expected to increase to 40 million by 2030
Ms. Stubbs might want to take off her tennis visor and put on a business hat because it doesn’t take a Harvard MBA to understand that if those growth predictions are anywhere close to accurate, there is plenty of money to be made.
Regardless of interest, the sport will attract investors simply for opportunity alone. Lebron would invest in anything where he believed the growth would be 8x over the next seven years, and so will her peer tennis stars, like Serena Williams.
An Interesting Spectator Sport?
A legitimate question is whether there is an interest in watching vs. playing the sport. Ms. Stubbs suggests she finds the whole sport of pickleball to be as exciting as watching paint dry, and her point might resonate with more than a few.
Given its fledgling point in its evolution, the TV coverage, formats, various leagues, and developing commentators make it clunky to watch. With that the case, there is no shortage of people waiting to fill the stands to watch these events in person.
Then again, they are not playing in Wimbledon or Rolland-Garros. The day they fill USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for a championship match will be a day the sport can claim to experience some equality. Until such time, pickleball lovers will have to concede that watching the sport is still a work in progress.
(15 All Ms. Stubbs)
The Game Goes On
Even more decorated, Martina Navratilova tweeted back in May about her feelings about pickleball. It seems to be in alignment with Rennae Stubbs. Navratilova Tweeted:
This was in response to an ongoing fight within her homeowner’s association. Ms. Navratilova objected to converting subdivision tennis courts into pickleball courts instead. She has no interest in aiding and abetting the pickleball scoundrels threatening to invade her community!
(15-30 Ms. Stubbs)
This past weekend, ABC televised the Bubly Team Championships from Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. The event had professional pickleball players teaming up with pro tennis players in what was dubbed “…one of the most fun events on a court today.” by SI.
It sure seems like a vote of confidence to the sport when you have Jack Sock, John Isner, Sam Querrey, and Donald Young playing alongside the best pickleball players in the world.
Only Winners, No Losers
As pointed out by my colleague, Leland Orfield, both sports stand to gain by pickleball’s popularity. Proven by the professional co-player event this weekend, tennis should continue to lean into pickleball.
Not only is there money to be made, but tennis players typically make excellent pickleball players. Should they opt to participate, it can only elevate both games by improving pickleball and continuing to shine a light on the more refined sport of tennis.
If Ms. Stubbs tried pickleball, she’d like it. She might not admit it, but she’d like it. Don’t hate. Play!
We are sorry that this post was not useful for you!
Let us improve this post!
Tell us how we can improve this post?