The Battle between tennis and pickleball R1

I have been a tennis player for years. My brother and I used to spend weekends on the local high school courts. We got more exercise by chasing balls than actually playing points. Over the years my husband and I joined a club, took some lessons, and eventually got enough skill to play some USTA leagues. As our kids got older we taught them how to hit with green dot balls, paid for more lessons and eventually the entire family was able to go out and enjoy a sport …together.

Tennis has brought us friendships, exercise and the ability to play a sport as an adult.

Now there’s pickleball. We have played a few times and have enjoyed it a lot! I feel it’s time to purchase some paddles and balls and look at joining some groups and maybe even play a tournament. Our teenage children have played and enjoyed the social aspect of being close to the net and having intense volley wars. Once again, a sport our family can play and continue to be active…together.

But there is a battle taking place off the courts.

As we talk to coaches and pros around the country there seems to be some discontent between the two sports. For some, they are being “made” to adapt to this new sport and become certified to teach. We have heard some are delighted and on rainy days they find themselves on the indoor pickleball court. But for some, it’s a genuine dislike that is taking away their court space and their bottom line.

For most players, we have found dedication to training, excitement for the competition – no matter their age or ball they play. So why this battle? Why do we have to choose sides and root for one sport over the other? Why can’t we just play both? I have heard the best and worst from both sides…

Pickleball is taking over my tennis courts….
Tennis is too hard to play as I get older…
Pickleball is so loud and I can’t concentrate on my tennis game…
Our members want to play pickleball for several hours a day and we just don’t have enough courts…
Tennis is becoming too expensive to play with fees, balls and restringing racquets…
Pickleball is not even an Olympic sport …
I can’t make the same money giving pickleball lessons….
I can’t play pickleball on clay…..

We can’t deny that the two sports need to nurture each other. Both are keeping older adults moving and younger children active. As a culture, we spend more and more time watching television, subscription-based shows and let’s not forget how much time we spend with our face on the phone each day scrolling through what others are up too. We need an activity! We need all sports. We met a family at the World Pickleball Open in Port St Lucie Florida just this past week. The mom told me the story of how she started playing pickleball after her son started playing after his girlfriend started playing after her parents started playing! Sports teach us confidence, teamwork and not just for us but for families to spend time together.

I don’t think we are throwing a right punch to tennis nor do I think we need to just kick pickleball out of the ring for being aggressive. I am hoping that in the months and years to come we can meet up on one court or the other or in some cases maybe it’s the same court.