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So we're expanding into's why


No. No. No. Don’t care. Yup, everyone’s doing it. But nope. We’re tennis. Nope. And then…wait.

I’d say that’s a quick, very simple summary of the team debate and inner dialogue we each had as we talked about expanding ADV — our brand that started with a humble and ultra-engineered tennis dampener to, most recently, practical, functional, and modern tennis bags.

History and love for tennis

You see, tennis has been a part of my life for over 25 years. It all started when I stumbled upon a hand-me-down racquet at a local yard sale. After countless hours of hitting the ball against the house and discovering sustained interest, I was hooked on a sport that would shape my formative years. It taught me discipline and how to fail, something that when I was 11 years old, I didn’t think too intently about, but now, as a founder, parent, and friend, know are important skills.

Tennis is more than a sport; it's a commitment and an addiction. Years later, as a coach in Australia during my grad school days, I remember biking 3 hours daily back and forth to the courts I coached at. I did this for a number of reasons. Fitness (and money) were factors, but my love for the sport was the primary motivation. The journey enhanced my fitness, prompted contemplation about the game and life, and improved my competitive edge. A straightforward yet profound definition of motivation I recently heard, resonates with me in the context of tennis; motivation means that you feel like doing something. No nudges needed, you just go — that’s my story with tennis.

Oh, the flurry of questions

As the pandemic unfolded and pickleball inquiries flooded our customer service inbox, transitioning from a handful to a daily deluge, we couldn't ignore it. What was this poppy sport all about?

Addressing the obvious question—why not embrace the fastest-growing sport?

Last 4-year Pickleball Participant Growth in US

Sources: Pickleball Heads blog and Pickleball Opinion blog (for 2023).

For one, the same motivation wasn't there, and I shared the frustration over the court takeover. Unlike the accessibility I enjoyed in sunny Atlanta or through connections to indoor facilities, securing a reservation became challenging, compounded by the competition with pickleball players. I empathized with the pain felt by many devout tennis players.

However, after doing some thinking and being invited (ironically enough, during a tennis clinic), I decided to give pickleball a chance. 'Let's explore this,' I thought. 

It took a few games to adapt to the nuances, from shorter swings to scoring and footwork adjustments. Once I got the basics, though, the game flowed, and I understood it. It was enjoyable. I almost immediately started winning games (which, hint: didn’t last that long). There was laughter and cheers. Strangers would celebrate my victories. It was a distinct atmosphere, focused on relationship-building. Contrary to the intensity I feel during a tennis match (but which I’ve grown to love). While different, the reason behind the sport's appeal became apparent—the social aspect, unsurprisingly.

Really diving in

In 2023, I played pickleball for 15 consecutive weeks. What began as an appreciation for the social dynamics of the game, evolved into a deeper understanding of the competitive side, a facet I had dismissed. During this journey, I discovered that over 70% of our sampled ADV customers engage in another racquet sport, predominantly pickleball. Similar to me, tennis players were exploring pickleball for a different experience. It initially provided an ego boost, especially after grueling tennis matches. However, facing more experienced players with tennis and non-tennis backgrounds humbled me. My tennis proficiency only took me so far, and in certain instances, ingrained habits made executing plays more challenging. I had to develop more skills and train. I had to tap into my competitive drive — and, was motivated to do so. As an aside, I discovered that strong tennis doubles skills are more applicable to pickleball than singles (where, admittedly, my experience is limited).

Immersing ourselves in this community for weeks and months has broadened our team's perspective on pickleball. Once thought to be just a quirky, lingo-infused sport just for 'fun,' has evolved into a sport we understand, appreciate, and enjoy. Yes, it still possesses a distinctive personality, but it definitely goes beyond the first blush.  It's also about competition, focusing on the strategic use of control and power, and akin to tennis, it requires dedication and work.

Path forward

Tennis will continue to be at the heart of what we do for ADV. The core values instilled by tennis, such as discipline and resilience in the face of failure, will undoubtedly enrich our product pipeline as we venture into new racquet sports. However, acknowledging many of our players who also enjoy additional racquet sports, particularly pickleball, and embracing the competitive spirit compels us to move forward. We are determined to make a lasting impact on the court(s).


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