“I’m at a loss for words” – Fans rage after Tennis court is converted for Pickleball

Pickleball (Twitter)

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Tennis fans are outraged by the increasing popularity of Pickleball – here’s everything you need to know

Pickleball is not only receiving considerable coverage on Tennis TV over the past few months, but it also seems to be displacing Tennis from its place on the ground. This has certainly not gone down well with the Tennis fans. Fans have taken to social to vent their disappointment and frustration. It is worth noting that Tennis TV, which is meant to exclusively cover ATP and WTA events are making space for Pickleball events.

Pickleball is a racquet or paddle sport that originated by blending aspects from various other racquet sports. In this game, either two or four players employ sturdy paddles to volley a perforated hollow polymer ball across a net. The ball resembles a Wiffle ball, featuring 26–40 round holes. The court used for pickleball bears similarities to that of badminton, while the net is akin to that of tennis, and the paddles used are reminiscent of those used in table tennis.

It has gained visibility on television, particularly through the broadcasts of the Professional Pickleball Association’s U.S. Opens in 2021 and 2022 on CBS Sports. However, the sport is now enjoying more consistent coverage, courtesy of the Tennis Channel. In the ongoing PPA season, certain events are accessible through the network’s website or app, while others are divided between these online platforms and the traditional linear television channel.

Pickleball (Twitter)

Why are Tennis fans outraged by Pickleball?

Tennis enthusiasts have expressed their disappointment due to the decreasing coverage of tennis matches on the Tennis Channel in recent years. While the Tennis Channel has long been known as the ‘Home of Tennis,’ it has started to share airtime with professional pickleball matches.

This shift is partly because pickleball has been surging in popularity in the United States, drawing sizable crowds to its pro tournaments and leading to an increase in pickleball courts across the country. Consequently, Tennis Channel has acquired exclusive broadcasting rights for pickleball on their platform. In a significant move in 2021, the Tennis Channel aired its inaugural live pickleball tournament, the Orlando Cup, held in Orlando, Florida.

Pickleball in action (USA Today)

Even though the Tennis Channel’s primary focus has traditionally been on covering ATP and WTA tournaments, they recognized the financial potential of pickleball and didn’t want to miss out on it. John MacDonald, the senior vice president of content programming at Tennis Channel, noted that the “unprecedented growth” of pickleball had been on their radar for some time. This was evident in their official announcement of the partnership with the PPA. As pickleball’s popularity continues to surge, some tennis enthusiasts are starting to view it as a potential competitor to tennis.

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