If you are a pickleball junkie, you spend your weekends a) drilling, b) competing in tournaments, and c) binge-watching professional pickleball tournament livestreams on YouTube.
This past weekend, the PPA Championship Sunday matches at the Darling Tennis Center in Las Vegas were hosted by the Tennis Channel. It’s a big deal (dill) since this event marked the end of the 2022 Grand Slam calendar year. The level of play was extraordinary — especially the women’s doubles and men’s doubles finals — but the level of commentary was a complete and utter joke.
Social media is overflowing with negative reviews of Tennis Channel commentators Jan-Michael Gambill (who was described as a “former top 15 tennis player and longtime pickleball player”) and Steve Weissman (whose main qualification seems to be repeating sports cliches in a punchy, broadcast-y voice).
Our favorite senior pro pickleball athlete and coach Dayne Gingrich summed things up bluntly and accurately:
They’re literally making fun of the sport they’re broadcasting!!! Sooo insulting.
Growing the game is more than televising or streaming, it’s also about having announcers who actually know the game. Their lack of knowledge is embarrassing and cringe-worthy.
It’s hard to pick just one moment of ultimate cringe-tastic-ity. As others have noted, the Tennis Channel chumps didn’t know what stacking was, guessed which shots were dinks, called the refs “umpires,” insulted the refs when they made correct calls, couldn’t identify Lindsey Newsman during the women’s doubles warm-up, and bragged that they could take on #1-ranked pro Ben Johns after a little bit of training.
Someone gifted in video editing needs to make the Tennis Channel chumps lowlight reel. We guess it won’t be any of the social media gurus at PPA or any of PPA’s partners or contractors. Too bad.
If we had to pinpoint just a few minutes that encapsulated the Tennis Channel chumps’ ignorance, rudeness, and arrogance, we’d say this few minutes of Gambill and Weissman babbling about every other sport other than pickleball while women’s doubles opponents Waters/Waters and Bright/Todd battled it out with incredible levels of athleticism takes the cake. Watch, if you can stomach it, as Gambill rambles on about playing pickleball with beach smashball paddles, then reminisces about ProLite technology during key rallies, then yields to Weissman yammering about padel tennis in Europe, who chirps about celebrity male athletes and actors who play pickleball…while disrespecting the best women in the world on display in front of them.
At the very least, those two clowns owe these top pickleball athletes an apology.
And so does the PPA for selling out the sport for “clout.” Sheesh.
Pickleball Inc. strikes again.