Tennis Prose



Tennis Coach Explains Concerns About Pickleball Growth

By Bunner Smith

(Note: Bunner Smith is a longtime Florida tennis coach, former college player and opponent of Bjorn Borg at the Orange Bowl.)

I’ve been watching a lot of Pickleball lately ( not so much that I search it out , but because it’s everywhere on the net ) It seems like almost every point is nearly the same … That is one of the reasons it’s so popular… There is very little variety in the structure of each point . The physical effort is minimal , there are shots and hard shots and some lobs , but for the most part , hit the ball till somebody misses , and learn to keep the score… It makes it fun for less mobile adults and it’s easy to hit the ball … requires minimal skill to enjoy the game … almost anybody can play … It’s such a simple game … The very good players ( many crossed over from tennis ) make it pretty fast , like ping pong on a larger scale … They have great reflexes and touch … but almost every point is very similar… That’s the allure of Pickleball … simple and requires much less skill and running than tennis… and almost anybody can enjoy it …

But , as a sport … tennis requires so much more physicality and skill … that’s both the best and worst of it … to get good enough to enjoy it requires skills and commitment… Lessons are almost mandatory …all players that compete have coaches and spend a lot of $$$ on equipment and training … PB … very little financial investment to play and enjoy it , I’ve never seen a lesson and all the players I know have never spent a dime with a pro … it’s cheap and fun … Tennis is in deep sh*t … We had better get to the masses in schools at an early age to teach tennis basics , or we will lose more and more courts to PB …

I don’t have a problem with the game of Pickleball … I have a problem with tennis ! … Tennis is missing the opportunity to get millions of young school children exposed to it with free programs at schools and rec center courts … There is room for both sports …Tennis has to get aggressive and try new ways to increase free play … Maybe even get a few PB players to play … I have been teaching next to the PB players and see it played every day … I actually am playing a little and it’s easy for a tennis player to pick it up … It’s fun … not much running and no real hard work … That’s why so many people play … simplicity …


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