A dog named Pickle chased the ball. So the founders named it “Pickleball.” I doubt if they had any idea it would become this big. Goggle it, if it hasn’t gotten to your area yet. It is coming.
Soon. Particularly if you live in a retirement area, or where it is warm, or near the beach. One facility in Florida features 104 courts specifically for Pickleball. They are packed, dawn to dusk.
As a “tennis person” I hear the grumbles. Much like the football people were (some still are) about soccer. Takes their people, business, fans.
I recently convinced our retirement community to line off two tennis courts with Pickleball boundaries. Easy, inexpensive. I can hear play from my kitchen window at those courts. Pickleballs make a louder sound. I’m hearing that sound a lot recently. I went there last week when I heard them playing. I inadvertently heard one player tell another, “…that’s the old coach who got them to line these courts!”
Funny what you become. At Elon University I convinced the school to dye a campus lake that was, well, just brown. At first they called the new color “tidy bowl”. Soon it was praised. Did the same thing at Wofford College, simply mentioning the weak beer-colored entrance lake there to then Athletics Director, Danny Morrison.
“The man who dyed the lakes”. “The man who brought us Pickleball!” Positive up to now?
Forty years ago as the director of a local junior tennis tournament I backed my van over the trophies. Coincidental, but girls only. Little skirts and breasts everywhere. Still today some middle aged woman is apt to bark at me: You are the guy who ran over our trophies! Male chauvinist pig was popular among 12 years old then.
When I moved to that town there were 5 tennis courts in the town. Twenty years later there were seventy four. At one point there were forty ranked juniors from that village. Now there are none. During that time Cary, NC featured no ranked juniors. Now there are nearly 100. What a community tennis effort by that city.
My tenure at Elon in Alamance County in NC was blessed with the new friendship of Jim Toney. There are “tennis angels”, living and dead. Jim just changed courts. Over twenty years there were some 3 million dollars worth of tennis facilities built throughout the county. From schools to clubs, indoor and out. Good job, Toney.
The University’s tennis center, The Jimmy Powell Tennis Center, became the blue print for a dozen new arenas in the southeast. And dictated that they were built in a much more attractive and functional way. A man leaves his mark. Or, in the words of the great philosopher, Pogo, “…it happened during my administration.”
An established church my friends help found, just closed. They got down to eleven members, one who still worked. Churches are struggling. Country clubs, and golf courses. The kids have had to move away to get jobs. Sunday fried chicken after church? Civic clubs, and on and on.
Things change. I fear for tennis. High schools and juniors striving for excellence. “I can play tennis on a video game and not have to run”, Oh yeah?
Tennis shored itself with the development of the league players; frankly, led by women. Golf can’t seem to understand that development of women and children’s play may be the only wise business choice. A “fun” course, or modified easier course, a course for women that the average woman can enjoy without listening to the dying throng gripe about them spending being “in the way.”
“Adapt or perish” true today? Is hard work passe for the masses.
The truth is tennis IS a lifetime game. For many. My friend had a tee shirt that said,”…if you ain’t got a limp you ain’t done nothing”. Lot of old time tennis people have kept the bone doctors hopping. The reasons for this new tennis-like game’s success are manifold: Easy to learn, inexpensive, no lessons needed, kids learn to play in 30 minutes, courts are easy to build. But the best of all is the value to the AARP crowd. Older people can stay active much longer. The workout is strenuous, but restricted movement will yield longevity that doesn’t cause the joint damage of tennis, jogging, and other activities.

Here’s a thought for young turks who want to work and make some money. Any condo developer will put a minimum of two tennis courts on his property. Has to. Why? Because the competition has as least two.
You ride by them daily. And no one is playing on them. Owners don’t keep them up. How about this: Learn how to line a Pickleball court on those two virgin courts. Go from hell to Dixie convincing owners to stripe them. Put some pickleball rackets and balls (they are inexpensive) and leave them at the courts. Get some volunteers who know how to play on your courts at prime times and watch. “If you build it they will come”.
Burn all the health books. Diet and Exercise, nuff said. Tennis? Fine, but don’t knock anything that keeps you going.
One of many conversations with Mr. Toney ended with him looking me in the eye and saying, DON’T YOU QUIT.


Just returned from the North Carolina Tennis Foundation’s TENNIS WEEKEND in Pinehurst.
I was shunned twice for mentioning pickleball. Tennis people are somewhat skeptical about pickleball.
When soccer exploded upon the American scene in the 70’s the football people reacted much the same way:”Soccer is taking away some of our best kids!” Russell Rawlings said soccer was football without linemen!
I had never seen or been to THE VILLAGES in mid-Florida. On a recent trip to Bradenton we stopped in to view the
“mecca of pickleball”. I think a new approach by the tennis people may be worth studying. Having observed attempts to teach tennis in public school physical education classes, maybe a switch to pickleball might be wiser. It is so much easier to learn (save the scoring system*). And, while the pickleball people will argue that their
game can stand on its own merits, perhaps there would be a “carryover” from mastery of pickleball to the more complex and expensive tennis process. And attract some audiences that shun tennis no matter how hard we try?
The easiest part of this is adaptation of existing facilities. Courts are the same size as a badminton court (44″ x  20″), needing only boundary lines on existing high school, recreation, or whatever tennis court. While these lines (and the different sound of the ball), bother the purists, these quickly become unnoticed.
A prediction, or a suggestion: This is already happening. Real estate often features two tennis courts that are for condominium villages. Most of these were built by an owner who, to compete, added two courts. Lonely and often in the front of the housing, most dwell out front, unused and unmaintained.
Why not line these courts for pickleball. Put out some rackets and balls in a container and watch what happens.
One last thought: Many tennis courts have been “left to seed”. A two court abandoned asphalt pad can be laid out to house 6 pickleball courts.

* Unfortunately pickleball also adapted a scoring system much like badminton. And, while this idea can be applied to colleges, I would go ahead and grant
a degree to any college student who can master the scoring.


***Wouldn’t it be wise to use pickleball as a lead-up, or carryover game that will ultimately benefit tennis?
***Line school tennis courts for pickleball. Tennis purists will howl about the lines, but we are not talking about Wimbledon.  Almost all GYMS have multiple game lines. No one notices. Ps–while tennis nets are a tiny bit higher, who cares.
***Pickleball has a funny name (after a dog), yet its players swear by the CARDIO benefits.
***PICKLEBALL IS FUN—IMMEDIATELY. Most youngsters aren’t sold on “Tennis is a lifetime game.” Or, it’s good for your health. Fun is the HOOK.
***Don’t some Pilot programs merit a try? This is bigger than tennis or pickleball. Obesity, health, video games, mental health, and again–fun.
Rather than fight the “tsunami” and be overrun, why not ride the wave? USTA AND PICKLEBALL leaders should join forces.
The Outcome? In the long run what are the possibilities? 1. Both games will benefit 2. Each will have their own people.
3. Both games will benefit the players. 4. Some people who would not have played either will have some fun.



Enclosed are two documents that describe the growth of pickleball.
The intent of this effort is to join the efforts and opportunities of tennis and pickleball to the mutual benefit of both games. More importantly is the personal belief that cooperation will yield substantial health benefits to American children.
Evidence of the “tsunami” of pickleball is in the enclosures. All parties should be aware of the potential to ride the wave to better health.
Historically the patrons of American tennis have been, and still are, the UNITED STATES TENNIS ASSOCIATION (USTA). And most of their efforts are youth directed.
Currently the USTA has launched a new youth program.
The purpose of this letter is to open the minds of both games leaders to the unique and growing value in incorporating pickleball into youth programs through both organizations, and specifically through the school systems.
Why pickleball? It is FUN. It is easy to learn. It is inexpensive. It yields great cardiovascular benefits. It causes less long range joint injury. The courts need only to be lined on existing tennis courts (many currently unused or mis-used).
While this is simply a suggestion from a citizen with no “skin in the game’, it seems a “no –brainer” to invest a little effort to a moment that has come with little downside and tremendous possibilities for both games.

Our three tennis courts need to be resurfaced. Left in their current state (no surface covering) soon the asphalt will crack, the cracks will widen and the courts will be ruined.
Suggestion 1. Resurface the courts.
2. Line all three courts for tennis and pickleball. Pickleball dimensions fit inside a tennis court (120×80), and are identical to badminton dimensions (44×20), Gyms with badminton courts are ready for play. Note: Tennis purists will howl that the pickleball lines on a tennis court confuse the tennis players. This lasts little time and can be refuted by multi-use lines in almost any gym.
3. Assume the best. Incorporate pickleball into the curriculum. Use it in the Physical Education program. IT WILL BE THE BEST LEADUP, OR CARRYOVER GAME TO TENNIS EVER TRIED (why? See virtues listed in all articles, but remember FUN as the hook. Youngsters aren’t impressed by “lifetime game”. Or “health benefits.” They don’t want to pay $30.- for USTA mandatory membership. They often can’t afford the time, expenses, and cultural roadblocks to be a tennis player. Is this not true? Is it not worth lining a few courts to prove it?



Ps—further comments can be found at:




I heard a rumor that the USTA tried to buy the rights to pickleball.  No deal.

  1. Try again.  Why?
  2. Pickleball has sold itself already.
  3. The USTA has never sold a leadup game that can match pickleball’s potential.
  4. Pickleball can add 8 million USTA memberships over the next few years.
  5. How many kids like the Williams sisters didn’t have a father who made that effort? Minority kids, as well as poor kids can gain access to this game.  And it will erase the feeling that “…that game is too rich for me (or mine).”
  6. The issue bigger than pickleball, the USTA, or tennis, is the health of our youngsters. Public education should include embrace pickleball by lining school tennis courts for pickleball, and including it in the physical education curriculum.
  7. My guess is the links between pickleball and tennis and not only many new players, but some very talented players,will emerge.


I started writing this blog in 2008. Topics range from the easter bunny to Bob Dylan. “Hits” or visits to the site are recorded. The last pickleball article (187) had a daily total that was three times more hits than any one single day. There was still the fear that pickleball will damage tennis.
NEWS FLASH: Tennis and pickleball should not fight each other. They have a mutual enemy, video games!