Can Tennis & Pickleball be BFF’s?

The coexistence of pickleball and tennis is of paramount importance, for it brings together two diverse communities of players.  Like skiing and snowboarding, these two sports complement each other in a unique way, catering to different skill sets and preferences.  Being from Colorado, I remember quite well the battles that took place within the skiing community regarding the new cheeky upstart fad called snowboarding–a cross between skateboarding and surfing.  Snowboarding didn’t stay a fad for long as it numbers continued to grow year over year and the skiing community couldn’t write it off as a passing fad.  Snowboarding started in the late 60’s and early 70’s for those seeking something that was a counter culture to skiing, and it became a fun way to express their identity in a free flowing and changing environment.  Sound familiar?

Both tennis and pickleball have an element of strategic thinking and endurance, while embracing quick reflexes and movement.  However, the unique qualities of each sport attract a broad range of participants and provides numerous options for people to engage in the game that best suits their abilities and preferences.  That’s the beauty of both of these sports.  It doesn’t have to be one or the other as they are not mutually exclusive.  I would argue that pickleball has a more relaxed and social atmosphere than tennis, but there is also a growing competitive side that will keep expanding.  It didn’t take snowboarding too long to become an Olympic sport, and I see the same path for pickleball.

Pickleball  has been a wonderful complement to the tennis industry.  It has definitely brought new life to many tennis facilities as they have learned to embrace the pickleball community.  Tennis may even see new players coming through the pickleball route.   Through shared facilities, high-level programming, and a mutual appreciation for the unique attributes of each sport, tennis and pickleball can thrive together, promoting a dynamic sporting culture.  By embracing both sports, we create a vibrant tapestry of athleticism, where players of all ages and abilities can find their niche.  It is definitely the time to embrace this coexistence and continue working toward creating an energetic and lively environment that welcomes players of all backgrounds and abilities.

I do understand that the sound of “thud” coming off the paddle echoing through the air is like a war cry to the hard-core tennis enthusiasts.   For these tennis enthusiasts, it may take a little more time to embrace the world of pickleball.  My only advice to you all is to not wait too long as pickleball is a lot of fun!  So, let tennis and pickleball happily dance side by side on the courts, for their coexistence is a celebration of community, camaraderie, and the sheer joy of hitting things with a paddle or racket.


Mike MacDonnell 6/3/2023