The Commish is not just one single person, it is a real and true thought experiment of many different entities. That's also why the Commish has no preferred pronouns and you
can call the Commish anything and anyway you want. Makes no difference to the Commish. The Commish lives in the minds of all tennis professionals, tennis players, tennis organizers, everyone with a clear and logical thought pocess.
USTA + PICKLEBALL
By The Commish
Yesterday, while watching the men's finals of the US Open on ESPN, I channel surfed a few channels to check on a few football scores. I passed by The Tennis Channel. What was on? The PPA Orlando Cup women's doubles championship match ... for PICKLEBALL! Where was this Pickleball match being played? ... on one of the stadium courts (closest to the main building) at the National Campus ... The Home of American TENNIS! The court was fully coated in two-tone blue and lined for Pickleball. It looked like it had been permanently converted from a stadium court for tennis to a stadium court for pickleball. Wow!
So, while the USTA was hosting the US Open, and at the very same time a player was attempting to win the first men's tennis Grand Slam since 1969, the headquarters of the USTA (and the Home of American Tennis) turned over its courts and hosted a championship event for Pickleball. And, it was all being televised on The Tennis Channel. (I understand The Tennis Channel broadcast 8 hours of Pickleball from the National Campus that day, at the same time the US Open women's doubles final and men's singles final were being played on another channel.)
The first thing a guest to the National Campus sees and hears when they walk from the parking lot to the main entrance is ... Pickleball (well, and Padel, too). At the Home of American Tennis, Pickleball is the first thing you see and hear ... not tennis. And, the first stadium tennis court has been converted to Pickleball, for a match broadcast on The Tennis Channel. The bank of permanent 36 and 60-foot courts (remember the USTA's "Quickstart" and "36/60" initiative?) were recently replaced with permanent Pickleball (and Padel) courts, too.
Question ... how does any of this help support and grow the game of TENNIS? How does building facilities for Pickleball, converting tennis courts to Pickleball courts, and promoting and televising Pickleball further the mission of the USTA, all at the National Campus? How does that grow the game of TENNIS ... increase TENNIS participation ... and promote TENNIS?
Why is the USTA so focused on and so supportive of a competing sport? The USTA is the national governing body for TENNIS, not Pickleball. Why is so much (or any) time and effort being taken away from promoting, supporting, and growing the game of tennis in favor of another sport? How does this make sense?
Rather than promote another sport, the USTA could create its own similar game. Tennis already has the courts (36/60 lines), the balls (red, orange, green), the equipment (the various shorter racquets) to create and promote a game that would be attractive to the same kinds of players who migrate to Pickleball. The infrastructure is in place to create another version of TENNIS ... there is no need to promote a different, competing sport that takes players away from the game of tennis.
How does any of this help support and grow the game of TENNIS?
Certainly, there is an explanation for why the USTA is so supportive of a competing sport/activity. Somebody at the USTA made a conscious decision to promote Pickleball like this. Is this part of a USTA staff pet project, or is this a sign of an overall shift in the USTA's overall mission? Possibly, if the USTA were to explain the reasoning behind so much support and promotion for Pickleball while diluting its time and resources growing tennis, skeptics might not be so skeptical.
The USTA and the National Campus should be for and about tennis, first and foremost. It is time for the USTA to refocus and return to TENNIS.
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