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Here’s What Tennis Should Learn from Pickleball by Steve Bellamy, TC Founder

Carlos Alcaraz during the Tennis Plays For Peace event at the 2022 US Open, in Flushing, NY. Photo credit: Mike Lawrence/USTA

By Steve Bellamy

To all my tennis loving friends moaning about pickleball taking over tennis courts… I’m a tennis guy to the core. I’ve put rackets in thousands of hands. I’ve fed balls until my arm felt like it was going to fall off.

To this day I still help people in tennis. I’ve done most of what you can do in the sport. I also sat in hundreds of hours of meetings with the alphabet communities of volunteers and overpaid executives not doing anything to grow the sport they were exploiting.

In my mind, the reality is that tennis needed pickleball. And at some point in time, tennis needs to stop bitching and start marketing all the wonderful aspects of the game.

And the reality is that pickleball is going to save some tennis courts. Case in point, if you have a 6-court facility in a major DMA that is barely squeaking along, but when they convert 3 of the tennis courts to pickleball courts and the place quadruples in revenue, pickleball just saved 3 tennis courts by keeping the condos or the strip mall off of that land. Feel free to chop wood in the comments.

This is a video taken this Saturday at a 3-court club on the Santa Monica Promenade called Picklepop. It’s at 4:30PM. The promenade is deader than a doornail and there are a whopping 70 people at a 3-court facility at a time period when most tennis clubs are empty after the 8 AM to Noon morning rush.

Tennis should be embracing pickleball, learning from pickleball and should be making every effort to create some value out of all of the buzz that pickleball has created. PS. Does anyone know what the very first broadcast rights agreement that The Tennis Channel signed was? #pickleball@thekitchenpickleball

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Steve Bellamy, for sharing your thoughts and experiences and practical solutions to problems, which we don’t always see in our sport. Steve Bellamy is the visionary founder of Tennis Channel, who has devoted much of his life to our sport. The point Steve is making is it’s better to have tennis courts shared with pickleball. Instead of ripping the tennis courts out for condos which was happening here the last 20 years.