The Year of the Racquet

In Beats + Bytes by Nue Agency

Welcome to what has been officially dubbed “Circle Back Week”. 2023 is starting to fire on all cylinders. This week, there’s a lot of talk about ChatGPT, The Golden Globes, and the new music industry business models that Lucian is calling for. I have thoughts on those for another day, but I want to kick things off with a slightly more niche prediction: I believe this is going to be a big year for the racquet.

I recently spoke to my friend, Darren Herman, about this trend for his great weekly VC newsletter, Operating Advice. Culturally speaking, racquet sports are on the rise:

2023 will be a huge year for racquet sports. Tennis is set to have its cultural breakout moment with the new Netflix documentary, Point Break, dropping January 13. I think this could be tennis’ Formula One moment where this behind-the-scenes, storytelling access could ignite interest in the sport and their stars.

On top of that, this a special era for tennis fans as the legends and new guard are still co-mingling on the court for the last time before the baton is passed to the new generation of greats. We watched Serena retire last Fall at the US Open (although she keeps saying how hard it is for her to sit still… I don’t think she will come back) and it’s definitely sad to see Federer go. His last game of doubles with Nadal was nothing short of legendary. And we will miss Naomi this year on the court but mazel tov to you and Cordae.

Pickleball will make racquet sports even more accessible as it’s easier to compete on a high level. At this point, Tom Brady, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Gary V, Jake Paul and even Wiz Khalifa are getting in on the action of owning & promoting their teams. Expect more and more celebrity attention to both sports and more mainstream adoption to follow.

Even Padel is gaining steam. Brooklyn opened a cool members club in Williamsburg and the Wynwood Padel club in Miami is a lot of fun. Our Web3 Padel chat group is rocking! Federer, the GOAT, got in on the action this week, too.

Tennis style and the “country club baller” are going to crossover. There’s a beautiful dichotomy between tennis’ over-the-top style and the flamboyance of streetwear. It could be bigger than ath-leisure, so it’s exciting to see more small brands coming into the sport and locking in deals with the sport’s stars.

In addition to the Netflix special, the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open, takes place this week.

Tennis is a connective tissue in my family. It’s a sport that you can play for a lifetime once you learn it. I love it and am excited to see it rise on a global scale.

Advance notice: on Monday, February 13th from 11-2pm during Frieze Art Fair in L.A., I’m hosting a tennis tournament and outing to benefit Artadia. If you’re in town, I’d love you to come check it out and support. There are still ways to get involved, so don’t hesitate to reach out. Tickets can be found here!

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Also published on Medium.