Racket Rocker Alena Taylor on the Tennis vs. Pickleball Debate

Draper resident Alena Taylor grew up without sisters—but tennis changed all that.

“When I joined a tennis team, I instantly had 12 sisters,” the 50-year-old mother of three says. “I’ve kept those relationships up and they’re some of the most important of my life.”

It started as laughter on the court, exercise, being outside—a fun new hobby. But as her game improved, Alena discovered new things about herself. “I’ve never thought of myself as competitive, or having athletic drive, but there is something about the sound of a racket hitting the ball just as it should, and I fell in love with that sound.”

She says she became obsessed with replicating that perfect point of contact. “You do five really bad shots and one really good one, and that good one makes you think: ‘I want to do that again and again.’” Advancing from a good shot to discovering the ‘winner’ shot, she says, is how true addiction begins.

Alena’s biggest problem is where to get her next fix. 

“Draper has a serious shortage of tennis courts,” she says, but no shortage of pickleball courts. “I kinda feel like tennis is being overshadowed. There are so many people who want to play tennis, but you show up to the park to play and if people are using it, you might have to wait an hour and a half.”

And finding indoor tennis courts near Alena’s house during our long winters? Forget about it. “I have to drive a ways,” she says, “but it’s worth it.”

As for whether or not tennis is for everyone (pickleballers say their sport is user-friendly), Alena admits starting tennis can be more of an investment.

“Yes, it’s harder to pick up tennis,” she says. “It takes more time, and lessons at indoor clubs are expensive, but you don’t have to go down that road. You can scrimmage with people and organize for free, you can do group lessons at a public facility, you can hit with people. When you compare that with a gym membership, I’d say it’s pretty comparable.”

Alena says she’s made tennis work on a budget. “I found a way to do it because it makes my life better. Granted, I’ll never own a fancy car,” she says,  “I choose tennis instead.”

See what else tennis and pickleball players have to say about their court-side feud.

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Heather Hayes
Heather Hayeshttps://www.saltlakemagazine.com/
A Salt Lake native, Heather Hayes has been a voice for Utah’s arts and culture scene for well over a decade, covering music, dance and theater Salt Lake magazine. Heather loves a good yarn, no matter the genre. From seatmates on ski lifts to line-dwellers in a grocery store, no one is safe as she chats up strangers for story ideas. When she’s not badgering her teenagers to pick up their dirty socks or spending quality time with her laptop, you can find Heather worshiping the Wasatch range on her bike, skis or in a pair of running shoes.

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