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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Recycle Sunday - Pickleball vs Tennis - And the Winner is...

A blast from the past...

This week's Recycle Sunday article is timely in that it fits neatly between 2 articles about the tennis industry warming to pickleball. This article was originally published December 31, 2015.


Almost everywhere that pickleball players try to add lines to tennis courts, a battle ensues with the tennis community. But the evidence suggests that pickleball is winning the battle for popularity and thus winning the battle for courts. 

There are a variety of reasons pickleball is winning the popularity battle, but the single biggest factor is the aging of the baby boom generation. As this large demographic moves into retirement, they are looking to retain an active and social lifestyle. Pickleball is winning them over for 5 reasons:
  1. Pickleball is less about athleticism and more about strategy and placement.
  2. Pickleball is more social, with a smaller court enabling talk among players. Games are quicker allowing players to gather while waiting their turn.
  3. The pickleball is slower but still fast enough to have fast volley action.
  4. Pickleball rallies last longer due to the smaller court and slower ball.
  5. You don’t have to go so far to chase a ball. 

Here are some examples of pickleball vs tennis from around the country:

From Ogden, Utah:

..That match featured Linda Foster, of West Haven, and Sylvia Savage, Jan Mitchell and Pam Olsen, all of Ogden. The four women — sometimes joined by a few other friends — play tennis every Friday morning at Mount Ogden Park. It’s a ritual they’ve carried on for the last 25 years or so.

Unlike skiers and snowboarders, the women say tennis players and pickleballers get along just fine. Indeed, all of these tennis players — with the exception of Savage — also play pickleball.

“Jan and I were playing tennis here one day about four years ago, and John Gullo was over there on one of the pickleball courts,” Foster recalls. “He goes, ‘You wanna try pickleball?’ And we said, ‘What the heck.’ ”

They admit they were drawn to the sport almost instantly, although they point out that with a smaller racket and a different swing, playing pickleball can totally mess up your tennis game.

“It killed my tennis at the time,” Foster says. “I’ve tried to play pickleball, then went out and played tennis, and I couldn’t do it. So my advice would be don’t try to play both, one after the other, in the same day. But you’re probably OK if there’s a little time between the two sports.”

Olsen said she’d hate to have to choose between the two.

“I don’t have a preference on which one I play,” she said. “I love them both.”

All four women say they suspect pickleball has helped cause the demise of tennis in the area. Whereas, a few years ago, it was difficult to find an open tennis court, they pretty much have their choice of courts these days. They also say tennis involves a lot more running, so as they get older all figure they’ll transition to pickleball. In fact, Savage says most hardcore tennis players do think pickleball is sort of like a retirement plan for tennis players...

From Minnesota:

...Pickleball has seen even greater growth in Minnesota, as the Southwest Metro Pickleball Club, which boasts 209 members in just four years of operation, recently hosted a national tournament for 659 competitors.

“What’s happened is that the senior community that used to play racquet sports wants to continue to be active,” says Jerry Maas, one of the club’s six founding members. “But they can’t cover the amount of space you need to cover in tennis. So pickleball has become very desirable for them....

...Harrison Webster Jones Jr., known by everyone playing in the tournament as Sonny, believes pickleball is “just taking over” the leisure sport scene, especially for older folks.

“It is such a great game for seniors because it has all the competition of tennis, but not all its physical drawbacks,” Jones said. “You don’t run quite as far and it is easier on your joints. Pickleball has all the strategy of tennis, though — it’s a great game. Seniors love it.”...

The list could go on and on but I will end with the headline from the New York Times:

Game.  Set.  Match.  Pickleball is declared the winner.

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