Tennis v Pickleball debate ramps up after ‘wild tweet’ prompts response from Nick Kyrgios, Andy Roddick

Andy Roddick was critical of a controversial tweet about pickleball
Andy Roddick was critical of a controversial pickleball tweet

The ongoing debate about the merits of tennis and pickleball shows no signs of slowing down after the likes of Nick Kyrgios, James Blake, and Andy Roddick responded to a ‘wild tweet’ by a leading pickleball player.

Christian Alshon – dubbed the ‘Tweener King’ – stoked the ire of multiple tennis players, including doubles great Rennae Stubbs, by claiming pickleball required “more skill” than tennis.

Once a promising collegiate tennis player, who held a remarkable 18-0 record while playing for the University of Chicago, Alshon switched to pickleball in 2021 and was a top ten player in less than two years.

And on Tuesday, the American controversially claimed that pickleball had made him a better athlete than tennis did.

He tweeted: “Pickleball has made me a much better athlete than Tennis ever did. Faster reaction time and speed are needed since the ball is only coming from 10 feet away. Point for point, pickleball requires more skill than tennis.”

Some in the tennis world have embraced pickleball, with a recent exhibition featuring Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, John McEnroe and Maria Sharapova, while the likes of Jack Sock and Eugenie Bouchard have played on the professional circuit.

But many have laughed off comparisons between the two sports, and Alshon received criticism from several notable figures after his post.

“Yeah. Let’s hide under the bed after this statement hahahaha bro get me the best pickleball player and compare his talent to Roger Federer. Wild tweet, wild thought. Delete right now…I love pickle. But you had too many tequilas,” replied Kyrgios.

Also criticising Alshon was Miami Open director and former top-ten star James Blake, who commented: “Haha. That might be because you were playing a pretty low level of tennis. Maybe if you were familiar with the athleticism it takes to excel at the sport you would realize how ridiculous this statement is.”

Former US Open champion Roddick, who has previously taken part in pickleball exhibitions himself, backed up Blake’s response, describing Alshon’s comments as part of a “dumb conversation.”

Roddick added: “It’s pretty hard to say one of the most ridiculous things on Twitter in a given day. Tell you what. If anyone pickle person ever ranks higher in tennis than what Sock will be at end of this year in his new paid pickle hobby, I’ll commentate a pickle match standing on my head.

“This ain’t a real discussion. Fun game. Dumb conversation.”

While, in her own response to Alshon, doubles major winner Rennae Stubbs simply said: “Dude you really need to delete this tweet.”

Today Alshon has responded to both Blake and Kyrgios, defending his initial post and his career as a junior tennis player.

In response to the Australian, Alshon quoted his reply and stated: “We’ve barely scratched the surface of pickleball’s potential. Imagine if pickleball had more athletes like Federer, Djokovic, and Alcaraz. Then we could compare. Come to pickleball, you might be able to break the top 10.”

While in response to Blake, he commented: “I played practice sets against Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Steve Johnson, and more when I was 17 and ranked 1 in the country. I understand the level of the top tennis pros. Pickleball requires more skill in several aspects.”

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