The Racket Wars

Tennis activists and allies protest pickleball’s growing popularity

Illustration by Chelsea Lovejoy

“Pickleball is like communism,” a sweatband-wearing tennis player says. “Everyone can play it and it’s taking over our courts in the blink of an eye. It’s a fake sport — very fake. I mean, a real sport relishes in the fact that not everyone can play it well and that you can experience a life-altering injury during a friendly game.” 

On a sunny weekend morning, a group of tennis players and allies gather around the final tennis court in south Eugene to raise awareness that their courts are being taken over by pickleball, one of the fastest growing sports in the U.S. 

Among the tennis players’ allies are some neighbors of Eugene’s pickleball courts, who say the noise of the sport is overwhelming. One anti-pickleball protester holding a sign with “No HB 2001 and no pickleball” says that the popular paddle sport is “too loud.”

“All I hear is laughing and the pop, pop, popping sound of the ball hitting the paddle,” the protester says. “If there’s one thing I can’t stand hearing, it’s the sound of people having a good time.”