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We are allowing anonymous Letters to the Editor because we understand your position and have experienced USTA backlash to dissenting voices ourselves. Please be aware whenever a letter is signed with The Commish it's always a tennis director, a teaching professional, a vendor or a USTA insider who is in fear of retribution. Thank you. We look forward to the day when everyone can voice their opinion freely and without fear.

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CRITICISING TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS

November 19, 2022

Rich, 


I usually don’t write this kind of letter, but I couldn’t help but notice your one-sided sarcastic article concerning an incident that allegedly occurred this season. Quick question, did you bother to call an SCTA league staff member, or even the local league coordinator to see if these accusations are true. I think we both know the answer to that. 


You talk about a lack of customer service or training in regards to our staff, yet you have no basis for the ridicule. I have had the distinct privilege of watching Maria and her team blossom over these nearly 2 years I have been in office. The staff has instituted new protocols at all of our sectional events to touch and give exceptional service to each and every participant. I’ve personally gone to some of our events and couldn’t be happier with the atmosphere that our incredible team fosters. Fun, laughter, camaraderie and fair competition. What more can you ask. As a point of reference there were 15,000 adult league players this year. A record over 3,000 of those are new league players. These numbers surpass the pre Covid 2019 numbers. This staff deserves kudos, not your petty criticism.


We did meet when I first became President of USTA  So Cal, primarily because I respected what you have accomplished with Tennis Club Business. Not only did we talk about your concerns, but we talked about how we all need to be strong tennis advocates. Our board of 23 directors who are all passionate volunteers and love our great sport and our So Cal staff of 25 wake up each day bringing tennis to Southern Californians. From Professional events to entry level events. From seniors to juniors and all the kids in our NJTL chapters. 


Rich, you just put out a Adult League Player Survey. Each of your questions asks for a negative answer, and if there is not an adverse response you ask people to respond and I quote either NONE, or NO. Does that sound like someone who is fairly advocating for their sport? You mentioned a “conflict of interest” in your article. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t you the creator of your own Conga Adult League? Can you understand how your constant criticism of our growing leagues might be construed as a huge “conflict of interest” based on your platform. With that said let me be clear, we support any effort that affords players a safe play opportunity. It’s a win for everyone. 


In conclusion we (USTA SO CAL) are far from perfect, but our staff works there tails off to bring tennis programs to our incredibly diverse player base. These people don’t ask for anything, but to see the joy on the faces of the people whose lives they have affected. 


We have a chance these next two years to potentially do something special to advocate for our great sport. Our staff and board have already made that commitment. The rest is up to you. 

Bob Hochstadter 
President USTA Southern California

(Editor's note: Check out the December 1-Question Survey asking you what you think of our reporting)

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DANGEROUS PICKLEBALL HYPE

October 23, 2022

Rich,

 

Now that retired pro Sam Querry is considering a new career as a future world-class pickleball pro, that adds another high-profile gain for that sport. Along with other players who will defect in their prime skillset like Rubin, tennis will have an exodus of tour players. 

 

The tennis industry is at the crossroads to develop a New Game that attracts the recreational skilled player and kids to a playful sport. Everyday PB is highlighted in the media with something positive, whereas tennis gets negative press... imo. It's now Simona Halep's accusations. Our tennis sport had the yearlong Novak issues, Osaka's issues, Kyrios issues, Peng Shui issues and Wimbledon's no-points issues. Who am I leaving off within the tennis crisis scene? 

 

Federer gave us so much joy and admiration during the Laver Cup, including the entire event of quality matches. Somehow our sport needs an upbeat boost and maybe the USA men players will be that stimulus that we need in that area throughout America. If Tiafoe, Fritz, Gauf and others are the winning future, then good for them and our fanbase.

 

Again, I get concerned about our overall future and its everyday play on the public courts...wish I had the answers.

Leo Estopare

Deuce Something 

Wichita, KS 

Rich,

 

Here we go again with national press for PB. The PB train has left the station and before it gets too far down the track, our Tennis Associations need to jump aboard and slam on the brakes. Our fanbase needs to “come together and unify" and get back on the tennis courts…just rally again by hitting the ball back and forth.

 

Easy and comfortable strokes to enjoy the feel & touch of ball on strings…no elaborate spins and power like the pros but just friendly placement for a playful game of tennis among friends and/or family. This is what tennis needs again, in my experienced opinion. A leisure game for exercise and health whether at the park or club…lets get our game back in the limelight. Good for pickleball but not at the expense of tennis.

 

Rich, I hope you agree.

 

Leo Estopare

Deuce Something 

Wichita, KS 

October 30, 2022

Dear Rich 

I‘ve been involved w  tennis and jazz guitar a lotta yrs and continue a daily quest for both to be highly developed! I truly respect anyone attempting either, but for me..again. For me, the pickleballers are the 

“Air guitarists” of the tennis world!

 

I’m glad they’re having fun but really?

 

Best,

Eddie Pasternak

USPTA Elite Pro

Oakland, CA

November 3, 2022

Re: Pickleball claim to have 40 million players by 2030

Starting with the current number (4.8 million players, 35,000 courts), in order to reach 40 million players by 2030, you’ll need the equivalent of:

 

9,115 football fields, or

94 Malls of America, or

4 London Heathrow Airports, or

3.5 LAXs, or

Almost the entire Manhattan, or

Half of Hilton Head Island

 

I am not including space needed for common areas, parking, sidewalks, bathrooms, etc., etc., etc. So maybe you would need to double the amount of real estate needed.

 

At a consistent 30.35% growth rate, these is what the participation numbers would look like:

2022 - 4,800,000 = 30.35%

2023 - 6,256,675

2024 - 8,155,412

2025 - 10,630,367

2026 - 13,856,406

2027 - 18,061,464

2028 - 23,542,648

2029 - 30,687,227

2030 - 40,000,000

 

I am 100% bullish on pickleball. I AM ALL IN , but 40 million by 2030 is not realistic. Maybe I am wrong. The DUPR engineer that calculated 40 million probably works in their marketing department LOL.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

November 1, 2022

Hey Rich,

 

You nailed it on Pickleball. It is great for clubs and parks and pros and consumers, but don’t take away tennis courts. I have been a Chicago Tennis District Board member for the past two years, we recognize pickleball is good for our member clubs and PD’s, just like Platform, Padel and any other racket sport that keeps people moving and out on the court. However, we are already limited on indoor court space to serve tennis players in the Fall / Winter, so as clubs and PD’s plan for the future, let’s build dedicated PB courts and create programming around them. Platform found a good formula with leagues, competition and social. Pickle is on its way, but it doesn’t have to be at the expense of tennis. Frankly, it should be a feeder system into tennis!! I saw some stats that 30% of players who try Pickle will cross over to tennis. We also are flipping the script and encouraging pros to use PB courts to teach beginners / juniors!

 

If you want my vote, tennis (leaders) and our community, should forge our own path and not be anti-PB, but pro-tennis and other racket sports, for obvious health, social and competitive reasons. Let’s do more to promote Cardio Tennis and create more events where you eliminate serving, and continue to push tennis in schools and PD’s … but don’t take our courts!

 

All the best,

Brian Dillman

November 17, 2022

Re: Universal Tennis is officially adding pickleball

Rich,

Laughable.

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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VANISHING TENNIS VIEWERSHIP

November 3, 2022

I had the tv on during some of the WTA matches yesterday - top 8 women in the world.  There were plenty of seats available.

 

Later the women's doubles came on. They were excellent players and the match was competitive.  Most likely there were more workers there than spectators.

 

I understand that it was pool play on a week day but the play was excellent.

 

Why don't people want to watch tennis that is not a singles finals match in the Grand Slams?

The Commish

Everywhere, USA

Pronouns: They/Them

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ONE QUESTION SURVEY FOR NOVEMBER 2022

QUESTION

Are you teaching Pickleball? (Tell us in the Comments WHY or WHY NOT)

RESPONSES

  • My answer is yes. Why? Forced to if I wanted to teach. Otherwise, I’d have to deal with another competitive pro for teaching time. I would hazard a guess that many are in the same situation, particularly if you are an older pro. I would also guess there are a lot of pros, like myself, who can’t breathe a word of it for fear of losing their job. We/they are being forced to “go along to get along.”So maybe a question in the future is how many are teaching pickleball because they have to if they want to teach? How many are making lots of dollars doing it? I find that after a clinic or lesson, many are off and running. They just want to play. Many learn from Youtube and/or others on the court bypassing a clinic or lesson altogether. I don’t see it being a huge money stream for pros in the future. 

  • I have more folks wanting to learn pickleball than tennis.

  • Tennis is too popular at our club currently so no urgency to invest in pickleball. Unsure of how to make money at it and is it worth the investment? Sense there will be over-saturation of courts in the near future.

  • Pickle Ball is an adversary to tennis and should be treated as such. They have a manifesto on how to change tennis courts to pickleball with part of that having influencers working in park and rec programs influencing the decision makers. Tennis pros should promote one game which is tennis and not a sport that is a parasite to that game.

  • Money

  • I am a tennis professional and enjoy teaching and playing tennis. If we as tennis pros/coaches did a better job helping recreational players integrate into doubles-oriented events including clinics, supervised round robins and match play, and league tennis, more of these players would enjoy tennis more through the social game of doubles. It seems too many isolate with privates. It is hard to promote and grow tennis with a schedule of one-person lessons. Clinics reach more people and provide more opportunities to enjoy the sport.

  • older tennis clients are asking for help

  • I believe both sports can coexist. Tennis gives the baseline pickleball game. Pickleball helps you become more confident at a tennis player’s net game. Pickleball teaches patience and point development which also helps a tennis player’s game. I think pickleball also would be a huge benefit for young players to learn about all the shots that are used with a continental grip.

  • The idea is to get people playing the game as quickly as possible and I like that! It is getting people active and having fun.

  • Not interested in straying away from Tennis, my love and passion!

  • F___K NO!

  • I'm not teaching glorified ping pong so it can kill tennis.

  • Busy enough with tennis programming.

  • I did get certified to teach pickleball but the culture is for players to show each other how to play and keep score. It's not a long-term, sustainable revenue source like coaching tennis is. Pickleballers claim their sport is sophisticated, but it's more cat-and-mouse checkers than chess

  • Because I am a tennis teaching pro and support the sport of tennis and not a fad.

  • It is very rewarding to be able to teach people that I’ve never even played a single sport how to play pickleball

  • One cannot get stuck in the past. If the club offers it, go full steam ahead and make the most of the new opportunity;

  • I have to because my club put the courts on the tennis courts. My members demanded programming and instruction. Overall, it has been a flop and I can't monetize it.

  • It’s fun and people want to play.

  • The rapid growth of Pickleball has a benefit in the Midwest indoor business. We are able to sell open tennis courts at off times and sell permanently court time. We created a pickleball membership that gives access to the club. Pickleball tournaments produce profits by the mere number of participants entering the events

  • No interest in Pickleball after almost 60 yrs of tennis

  • Hell no! I’m sick of seeing PB take over tennis courts. Why are the USPTA and USTA helping grow these sports? Last time I checked their acronym has the word TENNIS not PB, not Padel and definitely not the shoved down our throats term “racquet sports”. We are tennis and we need to stand for tennis. Since when are our associations in the business of growing other racquet sports? As a TENNIS professional, I certainly did NOT sign up for that…..

  • I do not believe Pickleball to be a sport, nor do I believe PB shares the same values, integrity, or etiquette as tennis. It has little value as an inclusive recreation long-term, and culturally this recreation does not foster community. The players have an agenda that is anti-tennis so why would any self-respecting coach seek to grow a recreation that seeks to destroy tennis? What’s more, it has a background in crypto, and is marketed by one of America's most notorious right-wing political publicity whores, Michelle Malkin, according to Rennae Stubbs on her Sept. 23rd 2022 podcast “BJK, Title IX and the war on Pickleball.” She and Andy Roddick are not fans, to say the least. ENJOY! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-racquet-magazine-podcast/id1393881115?i=1000580425636

  • I have been a touring tennis professional and high-performance coach for 42 years. I will leave Pickleball to the pros that wish to teach that. Just not my thing.

  • Because it sucks, and SpecTennis is a much better alternative.

  • We don't offer it and don't want it. We are plenty busy here with tennis to need to deal with all the noise that comes from pickleball.

  • Will be adding pickleball to our new club being built. Will bring in PB instructors.

  • If clients ask I will.

  • Our program is full with waitlists for tennis programming and we cannot address the demand for tennis let alone add Pickleball.

  • 1) Full w tennis lessons - 2) it's not something I find interesting

  • A service to our club membership who wish to play or learn to play

  • Yes, it’s an amenity to the club. I introduced pb to our membership in 2017. If I didn’t I feel like we would be behind the curve. Most of our members play when they are on vacation. Now they can play at their home club.

  • It’s a FAD !

  • No demand at the same as tennis hourly rate.

  • You have to adapt or die. Ask any dinosaur.

  • I teach part time on weekends and do not wish to waste tennis teaching hours getting players accustomed to an activity that they can pretty much pick up in 10minutes. Personally I cannot stand the pickleball noise so I would need the best of the best noise cancelling headphones to create a sound vacuum if I ever had to start relying on Pickleball income.

  • I think it is a direct competition to tennis.

  • I love seeing people smile and laugh. From an 86 year old grandmother and her 6, 7, and 10 year old grandsons. I could never have that much fun teaching either tennis or golf to the same group. And, she purchased over $400 of equipment, etc. They played all week, laughing and smiling every minute of every hour they played pickleball. I understand that six months later, they are still playing several times a week. Apparently, the grandsons beg to play everyday. Just like neighborhood kids used to beg to play basketball, softball, and/or football after school.

  • As Andy Roddick said when asked in a tweet - what is pickleball, he replied, “it’s like tennis w no learning curve, movement, spin, or speed”

  • We offer pickleball lessons at our club. the lessons are mostly beginner and intro to PB. Most tennis players feel they dont need PB lessons.

  • I offer lessons, and classes, and Pickleball 101 class, but mostly pickleballers that I have met just want to play, not take lessons.

  • added 4 courts to our tennis facility and there is a fair amount of demand, not from our tennis members, but from outside.

  • I believe if club coaches aren't teaching PB and getting trained in teaching it they will be out of a job very soon. Most job listings now are for Racquet Sports Directors, not tennis directors. We have to have multiple ways to create value for ourselves and our members.

  • Yes because I started playing three years ago and it is much easier on the body as well as easier for beginners to play. Finally different levels can play with each other. As an FYI I am a certified tennis coach for over 30 years and certified pickle coach for over three years and I love both sports just like I love both of my children!

  • We Cannot see a way to make money at it. People take a couple of lessons and off they go. Easy sport to pick up.

  • I'm not considering it as teaching/coaching but giving tips and suggestions for player improvement. Offering a comment or two that can enhance a player skills is my way of helping in a casual setting of play.

  • Hi teach Pickleball because I have a pickleball court in my backyard. I feel it is a valuable addition in our community for folks most of which can’t play tennis. Many of my students are seniors or folks that have never played a sport other than ping pong. They love this chance to learn a fun game.

  • It is trending and feel like I have to stay in the game. I believe they can help each other if the two sports work and respect each other

  • I don’t have time, too many tennis lessons.

  • Our club membership has grown because of our pickleball courts in the last 2 years- why not capitalize on that?

  • very popular sport and a lot of lessons

  • I enjoy the sport and appreciate that it helps bring more players into racket and paddle sports.

  • Pickleball is popular enough at multiple public facilities and our court usage is too high to warrant trying to promote Pickleball at our (private) Club. This may change of more members want regular Pickleball offerings.

  • Another source of income and my members are interested in learning the game. So why not.

  • It's the fastest growing sport in the country. It's a lot of fun. It's a way to cross-sell both tennis and pickleball.

  • I am a tennis coach. ;)

  • No one asks for it.

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