10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Why Tennis is Struggling in America, While Pickleball is Thriving by Steve Bellamy

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons at The Villages

By Steve Bellamy

25 years ago, I started The Tennis Channel. I was a tennis pro who’d gotten a bunch of kids into colleges they wouldn’t have gotten into if not for their ability to tap a tennis ball. I realized the value of tennis and knew it needed a channel.

I had no money and didn’t think I’d get any tennis tournament rights, so I researched the ancillary racket sports. The only people who’d meet with me at first were on Baimbridge Island where I met two of the founders (grandparents at the time) of Pickleball.

It was raining so we went to a school gym and played on a makeshift court where their dog Mr. Pickles kept stealing our whiffle ball. I got them to sign a one-page contract for the TV rights to the US Open of Pickleball which didn’t exist at the time (I just made it up and they would have signed anything.) After that, I got the rights to The Clydesdale Open, a doubles tournament for teams weighing at least 425LBs who drank beer at the changeovers.

And third, I pitched the Nudist Colony Tennis Championships, but they didn’t buy into Stevie B’s dream. After I become somewhat substantial in tennis, I made an impassioned presentation to the tennis industry telling them that if we didn’t shrink the size of the tennis court (120 X 60) we were going to get killed by smaller court games.

Got laughed out of the room. I’ve dabbled in pickleball, but this weekend was the 1st time I really played, trying out the amazing new @calabasaspickleballclub . 7 courts, growing to 32 w/ every amenity. The staff is amazing, the setting idyllic, the members are wonderful, & the place was packed. HIGHLY recommend trying it if you’re in LA. I’m now hooked on pickle.

This is not an ‘I told you so’ as I don’t do those, and I want tennis to succeed. But the leaders of tennis are abominably failing the sport.

Billions of dollars are flooding into the pickle, and shortly padel… the enthusiasm has skyrocketed, and the leaders of tennis are doing nothing to stem the trend. Tennis is more artisan and 100% is the single best professionally played sport right now.

It doesn’t change the fact that pickleball is more fun. Feel free to argue in the comments. #pickleball #tennis

Editor’s Note: We were with Steve Bellamy’s at his launch launch party for his concept called “the tennis channel.” We were thrilled! Tennis having its own channel. Steve really gave every possible chance it needed to grow and flourish. But after awhile it became apparent. Tennis did not want his leadership. Nor did it want to be transparent and change with the times. We applaud Steve for all of his monumental efforts. And we thank him for what he accomplished.