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Tennis Players Migrating to Pickleball: How Interchangeability Has Changed the Game

Anna Leigh Waters hitting a pickleball
(Image credit: Kerry Pittenger) Pro Player Anna Leigh Waters

Whether you are playing tennis or pickleball, you may notice that both sports share certain similarities. From the tennis racket to the pickleball paddle, dual-trained players (of tennis and pickleball) witness how both sports compare, yet how their unique qualities are so distinguishable. For players like professional tennis star, Jack Sock, success on the tennis court seamlessly transfers to the pickleball arena. But how, and why?

There are several reasons – the similarities between tennis and pickleball allow skilled players to engage in both sports at comparable levels. Since learning how to play pickleball requires many skills already embedded in the game of tennis, experienced tennis players undeniably have a skill advantage when playing pickleball. Perhaps, this is why many tennis players have began training in pickleball. Going as far as competing in pickleball competitions, with some winning major titles.

One of the biggest championships this year featured four tennis legends – Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, and Michael Chang. All who faced off at the Inagural Pickleball Slam this past April at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. Like Jack Sock, these four tennis stars undeniably have admirable tennis careers respectively. Now, as hybrid pickleball-tennis players, these athletes are a force to be reckoned with on the courts.

Like the highly publicized match (at the Inagural Pickleball Slam on April 2, 2023 in Hollywood, Florida) between Agassi, McEnroe, Roddick, and Chang, Jack Sock’s recent match with pickleball champion, Anna Leigh Waters exemplifies why athletes of all sports backgrounds have become enthralled with reaching “champion status” within the world of pickleball. Simply stated, publicity around the sport has heightened many players’ notoriety, resulted in substantial monetary wins – like the Pickleball Slam which featured a $1 million grand prize – and shown their versatile athleticism.

Just as we saw during a recent match as pickleball pro, Anna Leigh Waters, and tennis all-star, Jack Sock, went neck-and-neck with Riley Newman and Allyce Jones during this year’s mixed doubles title at the PPA North Carolina Open. With both Waters and Sock securing a 3-11, 11-2, 11-3 win against Newman and Jones. Though, Waters captured a triple crown and the women’s singles and doubles titles at the event, the win was the first pickleball title for Sock. As his recent transition to the sport has surprised some, but brought promising talent nonetheless. With Jack Sock electrifying this year’s PPA North Carolina Open court alongside Anna Leigh Waters, many fans are left to wonder, what’s next?

Well, more than anything, for fans of Jack Sock and Anna Leigh Waters, this win captures the essence of what pickleball is all about – viewer satisfaction, player enjoyment, and fierce competition. All-in-all, the viewer ratings around pickleball is expanding because the excitement around it has been heightened. By star-athletes, young players, and hobbyists – all who ignite the fire on the court. So, stay tuned for the various matches being broadcasted from courts across the nation this summer. Featuring some of the youth’s greatest athletic talents and all of those who call the court (home). You can find where and when to watch in this article.

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About JoleneJ

Hi, everyone. My name is Jolene. I am a senior undergraduate STEM Entrepreneurship student. I have joined the Pickleball Portal team for the summer to bring notable stories and news in the pickleball world to the forefront. By creating weekly articles on everything you need to know about pickleball, I hope to bring out your inner bookworm. See you on the other side of the page!

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