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Tennis Legends to Play Pickleball for $1M

Sports

A pickleball lands just in bounds | Image by Nils9three/Pixabay

Tennis legends Andre Agassi, John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, and Michael Chang will face off in a $1 million pickleball match, per reports.

The tennis stars will compete in the Inaugural Pickleball Slam, which is scheduled on April 2 at the Hard Rock Live at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida. The event is organized by the event’s organizers, Horizon Sports & Experiences (HS&E).

The four stars, some of the most well-known players in tennis history, will find themselves on a smaller court to compete in the fast-growing sport of pickleball. 

Andre Agassi is an eight-time Grand Slam winner, while John McEnroe has won seven Grand Slam singles. Andy Roddick is a former world No. 1 and is the last American to win a Grand Slam. Michael Chang is the youngest man to win a Grand Slam title, capturing the 1989 French Open title when he was just 17

The tournament will feature two single matches, Roddick versus Chang and McEnroe versus Agassi. The tennis stars will then play in a finals double match, McEnroe and Chang versus Roddick and Agassi, to determine the split of the $1 million prize in a televised match.

David Levy, co-CEO of HS&E, said the event is a “convergence of culture and sport.”

“We look forward to bringing together four of America’s most iconic tennis legends for this groundbreaking competition, which heralds a new milestone for the fastest-growing sport in America,” he said. “Pickleball is nothing short of a cultural phenomenon — experiencing a meteoric rise across genders, age groups, geographies, and income levels.”

Miranda Forbes, the Futures Tour Director of the PPA, the world’s largest pickleball professional tour, weighed in as well.

“It’s crazy because McEnroe has never said anything positive about pickleball. We are seeing a lot of players that don’t have a chance to go pro switching over, and I think this will encourage more tennis players to cross over into pickleball,” Forbes told The Dallas Express. 

Pickleball is commonly referred to as a mix of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton. It is generally played as a doubles game, and the court is a quarter the size of a regulation tennis court. 

Already the fastest-growing sport in America before the pandemic, the sport was propelled to new heights as a safe, socially distanced form of exercise during COVID-19. USA Pickleball now estimates that 4.8 million Americans now play the sport. 

“We’re going to see way more growth in the next three years than what we’ve seen in the previous three years,” said Connor Pardoe, founder and commissioner of the Profession Pickleball Association. “It seems like every day, there’s something new and exciting and someone else that wants to get involved. It’s really hard to even predict three years out.”

As previously reported by The Dallas Express, Dallas area residents can try their hand at the sport, with pickleball restaurant and bar Chicken N Pickle opening its Grapevine location this week

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