The growing popularity of racket sports gets full court press while winning the hearts and minds of players across multiple generations — from baby boomers to school-aged kids. Gen Z, the largest group of players lobs nearly 23 percent in participation, compared to millennials, at 19 percent, according to a
2022 report published by Statistia.
Racket Sports Surge
What gives with the resurgence of racket sports, you ask? Paddle sports like tennis, racquetball, pickleball and padel (a cross between tennis and squash) brings out fierce competitors and the games entertain spectators who eagerly watch players dance across the court to lob the winning shot.
It’s no exaggeration to say sports fans have recently rekindled their love affair with racket sports in part from the pandemic, suggests Kendall Chitambar, director of tennis with Rocky Mountain Tennis Center. Undoubtedly, it’s no coincidence that recent lockdowns and required social distancing helped paddle sports thrive during a time when most recreational sports were benched.
“Team sports were shut down during the pandemic much longer than tennis and pickleball,” Chitambar said. “Racket sports naturally have more space between players, with 80 feet between you and your opponent in tennis, and 40 feet in pickleball.” Adding that it’s half the distance on a doubles team.
Consider racket sports as a social distancing match made in heaven, given the CDC social distancing guidelines for COVID, he added. After being cooped up for too long, sports enthusiasts were on the prowl for a gathering place to hit balls and score wins — so they traded basketballs and hockey pucks for tennis balls and rackets.
Families on the Court
Racket sports attract families interested in finding new ways to recreate together —
and it’s no different than how families use ski trips to connect, have fun and stay active, Chitambar said. School PE programs expose kids to tennis, which usually ignites their parents’ love for the game. Eventually, the whole family finds court time as a cherished way to bond, he added.
“There are many health benefits in tennis. It’s great for kids because the footwork is a good cross trainer for sports like basketball, football and soccer,” Chitambar.
Top 3 Pro Tennis Tips
- Maintain control of yourself mentally and emotionally
- Stay on your toes and move at all times
- Always keep eyes on the ball, at contact and after hitting the ball
Summer Camps Boost Skills
Rocky Mountain Tennis Center offers week-long summer camps for kids of all ages. Summer camps begin the day after Memorial Day — through Aug 4. Youngsters between 4 to 7 years old can take the art and tennis lesson combo. Programs for older kids primarily focus on skill development. Registration starts Feb 20.
> Visit rmtenniscenter.com or call 303.449.5033 for more info.
By Elise Oberliesen, Raised in the Rockies