Tennis Australia (TA) has announced a groundbreaking plan to introduce pickleball, America's fastest-growing sport, at tennis clubs across the country. While the initiative aims to combat the rise of the modified version of tennis, it may ruffle the feathers of traditionalists. This strategic move comes just weeks after tennis star Nick Kyrgios, along with Naomi Osaka and NFL star Patrick Mahomes, invested in the newly formed Miami Pickleball Club for the upcoming Major League Pickleball competition.
Pickleball has experienced unprecedented growth in the United States, and Laneway Paddle Co is here to take you through what this actually means.
The Number’s Don’t Lie
Stuart Duguid, Kyrgios' agent and part-owner of the Miami Pickleball Club, explains, "Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US by far... those numbers don't lie… [it] has tremendous upside at the current valuation. It's also going to be a lot of fun with so many cool and creative people involved”. When talking about Kyrigiois’ involvement, Duguid simply said “I think Nick is a disruptor by nature, so it makes a lot of sense for him."
Pickleball and Tennis Australia
Tennis Australia's plan to introduce pickleball at clubs aims to boost participation numbers, particularly among ageing players. The smaller court size of pickleball offers a more accessible option for players looking to stay engaged in the sport. Additionally, TA recognizes the influence of renowned athletes like LeBron James, Kevin Durant, and Tom Brady, who have all invested in Major League Pickleball, on the younger generation's interest in the sport.
TA Chief Tennis Officer Tom Larner states, "There are a number of clubs throughout Australia who, based on some members or word of mouth, want to play pickleball... It gives additional revenue opportunities and more people down at tennis clubs."
By embracing pickleball, tennis clubs can cater to a wider demographic and utilise tennis courts during quieter periods to accommodate different forms of the sport. Larner also suggests exploring new facilities that incorporate a combination of tennis courts and multipurpose courts, opening up opportunities for growth and development.
The Future of Pickleball in Australia
The rising popularity of pickleball has already influenced professional tennis players. Former world No.11, Sam Querrey, will represent the Washington DC Pickleball team in the upcoming Major League Pickleball season. Furthermore, there are rumours of a current top 10 male player considering prioritising pickleball over competing in the Australian Open.
Stuart Duguid adds, "I can definitely see more ATP and WTA players trying their hand at pickleball... It's great for someone who is either physically struggling with the rigours of the tour but still has world-class touch and feel, or for those with young families who want to take a step back from the crazy tennis tour scheduling demands."
While pickleball and paddle tennis may not surpass traditional tennis in popularity, they can certainly stand as separate sports and industries.
Tennis Australia's initiative aligns with the changing landscape of sports and offers exciting possibilities for both pickleball and tennis. As the sport continues to grow, Laneway Paddle Co, an Australian born brand, is dedicated to providing luxury paddles that elevate the pickleball experience. Join us in embracing the evolving sports scene and experiencing the thrill of pickleball.