BOOM: Courting the Racquet Sports Industry With Robyn Duda

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Tennis remains popular, badminton is having a moment says Pinterest, and paddle is, according to the Washington Post, the next big multi-location winner is racquet sports.

We met with Robyn Duda, the co-founder of RacquetX, a new festival for both business and consumers that involves ALL racquet sports, to ask her about the trend.

Why do you think racket sports are so popular right now?

“People are looking for ways to socialize and exercise wherever they are. The cost of play can be affordable and they don’t need to travel far to get into a game.”

Who are some of the “big players” in the conversion of malls and other public spaces to sportainment venues?

“Pickleball courts are rapidly filling up empty mall spaces and commercial buildings. Among the MULO (multi-location) brands that are rapidly scaling are:

Plus, multi-location fitness clubs like LIFETIME and regional facilities like YMCAs and JCCs are building courts for the sport. 

The pickleball market alone is estimated to be valued at $2.8B by 2028.

We’ve also seen branded ping pong (table tennis) clubs increase in popularity and many fitness centers are converting spaces to include other racket sports.”

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What are some of the factors commercial property owners and developers need to take into consideration?

“More and more companies are emerging that have expertise in court building. Developers need to be sure that parking is accessible and that spaces are safe and secure for people who may want to play in the early mornings or late at night. If a facility plans to hold tournaments, they need to take that into account when they’re planning a build-out. Retail stores within pickleball or padel complexes can be a great source of new revenue. And, of course, food and beverage are part of the whole ‘eatertainment’ experience.”

How is technology being woven into the “racket craze?”

“Just as Mind Body transformed the spa and health services industry by allowing consumers to book appointments on their phones, technology companies are building apps that enable consumers to find courts near them and make reservations. Other technologies allow players to plan vacations around racket sports, learn tips for play, and keep track of games and scores. Some investors who were big on tech investments are now starting to invest in pickleball and padel. We’ll have some of them speaking at our upcoming event.”

What do you think the future of MULO (multi-location) racket sports businesses will be?

“Just as soccer became popular in the U.S., padel will catch on. Court complexes will fill many of the empty commercial spaces. Technology will connect fans with places to play and other players. And racket sports fashion is already a huge and growing category — on and off the court!”

So, whether you’re wielding a pickle, padel, paddle, or racket/racquet, watch your local commercial spaces to see what may be a net win for MULO brands!

Nancy A Shenker, senior editor with Street Fight, is a former big brand (Citibank, Mastercard, Reed Exhibitions) marketing strategist and leader. She has been featured in, the New York Times and Forbes.