Tennis RIP – Pickleball is the Sport

Tennis RIPRecently, Allie and I played tennis for the first time in over a year with our two best buds.

Our friends are excellent tennis players.  She has played highly successful competitive tennis for over sixty-five years.  He is a former 5.0 player whose 70+ team finished second in the USTA national team competition a few years ago.  These two characters are tough to beat. Nonetheless, Allie and I played well.

We lost the first set 6-3 but won the second set 7-5.  However, we will not be playing tennis any more.  Pickleball is our sport – Tennis RIP – pickleball is the sport.  Here is why.

In some ways, tennis is actually easier.  The ball bounces so high and flies so far that controlling the ball requires a slower, but perhaps more technical stroke than in pickleball.  Hitting a tennis ball well is a blast, but a tennis ball is more skittish, some ways harder to control.  Thus, the vast majority of tennis points are decided on unforced errors rather than winners or forced errors.  And tennis rallies are often only three or four shots long.

Next, even though the court seems enormous, anticipating one’s opponent’s next shot is easier in tennis.  We found ourselves shuffling rather than sprinting.  Consequently, we got less aerobic exercise in tennis than in pickleball.  Allie and I both did not break even a light sweat until halfway through the second set.

Most importantly, pickleball is just more fun and is a much faster, more creative sport.  The variety of shots and angles is much greater in pickleball than in tennis.  Pickleball dinking and volleying is much more prolonged, varies more dramatically in speed, and is starkly more interesting than tennis rallies.

Socially, there is so much more laughter in pickleball.  The games finish at lightning speed.   Lose four points in pickleball and the game is almost half lost.  Lose four points in tennis and only one game is lost!  And recreational play includes shifting partners frequently compared to tennis.

Somehow, tennis just seems so much more hidebound and ritualized.  The pattern of play has long time gaps between points for chasing down balls, getting positioned for the next point, and waiting for the much more tedious pre-service routines of each player.  Also, each servier gets two serves per point, thereby doubling the service routine and slowing down play considerably.  At amateur levels of play, darn few players get their first serves in, either

In contrast, pickleball’s one serve per point encourages a cautious, just-get-it-in approach.  Also, even in pickleball tournament play players get ten seconds per serve, not twenty as in tennis (or a full minute if you are Rafael Nadal).

So it is pickleball all the way and all the time for Allie and me. Tennis RIP…

Great insight Keith, what are YOUR thoughts about Tennis RIP? Leave your comment… JL

3 comments on “Tennis RIP – Pickleball is the Sport”

  1. Dear Nigel,

    Tennis doubles and pickleball doubles are both less interesting to watch than singles, but pickleball singles at the 5.0+ level is incredibly fast and complex, more so than tennis. Remember the Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal a few years back? Six and a half hours of two dudes swapping top spin forehands from the baseline. Talk about paint drying! I would direct you to the 2014 Tournament of Champions mixed gold medal final between Tim Nelson/Jennifer Lucore and Enrique Ruiz/Gigi Lemaster. The match had four vivid and starkly different personalities and pickleball styles fighting as individuals and as teams for four spectacular games, the last two of which are really superb. Jen and Tim fought off five match points in game three, gained a big lead in the fifteen point match decider, only to have Enrique and Gigi battle back ferociously and courageously before Tim and Jen won in overtime. The two alpha males duked it out verbally throughout the match, too.

  2. Give me a break – Tennis is easier than Pickleball? You’re having a laugh!! Why do you think Pickleball has gotten popular with the older crowd – its easy pick up and you don’t have to move. More creative??? I’ve watched high level doubles Pickleball – its basically like watching paint dry – guys hitting dinks all day!!

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