CNBC’s ‘The News with Shepard Smith’ Reports on the Surge of Pickleball

CNBC’s ‘The News with Shepard Smith’ Reports on the Surge of Pickleball

Pickleball continues to surge and CNBC’s Shepard Smith has taken an interest in knowing why!

On Friday, April 16th, ‘The News with Shepard Smith‘ had special correspondent Jane Wells sit down with Ben Johns to talk about the sport’s growth and his personal professional career as a player.

“Tournaments have gotten bigger. The purses have gotten bigger. And the crowds have gotten more enthusiastic,” said Ben Johns.

Having also said he expects to make around $250,000 this year vs. $50,000 in 2018.

It’s an exciting time for pickleball and with 4.2 million players and growing, we will continue to see more opportunities for players and brands to monetize on the sport.

Check out the full CNBC segement below! Nothing better than having the opportunity to have watched it live while playing picklebally myself at the Pictona courts in Holly Hill, Florida.

Team Vossberg Gainor Earns Gold, Silver & Bronze

Team Vossberg Gainor Earns Gold, Silver & Bronze

Team Vossberg Gainor competed in the Pickleball Veritas in the Acient City in St. Augustine, Florida February 26-28, 2021 and brought home gold, silver and bronze medals! 

Laura Vossberg Gainor and Mia Azotea competed in the women’s doubles 3.0 and it came down to two excited matches between good friends, Deb Witzel and Betty Tully from Nocatee, for the gold medal! Gainor and Azotea brought home the silver and Witzel and Tully with the gold, with plans for more friendly matches to come at home!

Gainor also played with her brother-in-law, Jason Gross, and took home the gold in the mixed doubles 3.0 with Azotea and Brian Gainor winning bronze.

Gross and Brian Gainor fought hard in the extreme heat on Sunday for mixed doubles on February 28th and won another Gold medal for Team Vossberg. 

Such a blast all competing together and officially challenged to continue signing up for more future tournaments with goals of getting close to 4.0 in the years to come! 

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

The Economist: Pickleball is the Fastest-Growing Sport in America

We recently spoke with The Economist with USA Pickleball CEO, Stu Upson, to talk about the growth of pickleball as one of the fastest growing sports in America. More and more players are hearing chatter about the sport and want in on the action! With almost 3.5 million players across the nation, we’ll see continuous growth over the next year.

Some key quotes from the article below and visit The Economist’s website to read the full article.

“In the five years to the end of 2019, pickleball participation grew by more than 7%, while Americans’ overall activity level stayed flat, according to the Sport & Fitness Industry Association. Although data from 2020 have not yet been released, the sport has picked up more swing thanks to covid-19. Last March, when quarantines went into effect and gyms closed, portable pickleball nets temporarily sold out. Players set up courts, which are half the size of tennis courts, in driveways. “It’s the new thing,” says Derek Heil, an employee at Dick’s Sporting Goods in Dallas, who has seen a sales spike for pickleball equipment over the last year, including for higher-end paddles which sell for around $100.”

As more people take up the sport, demand for televised matches and sponsorships will increase. – Stu Upson, USA Pickleball CEO 

More Schools Playing Pickleball During Coronavirus Pandemic

More Schools Playing Pickleball During Coronavirus Pandemic

Vossberg Gainor worked with USA Pickleball to coordinate an interview with Scripps discussing the growth of pickleball in schools. Featuring Laura Vossberg Gainor and her kids, Clara and Garrett.

Article By: Kai Beech, National Correspondent for E.W. Scripps. 

Playing sports while obeying safety protocols, like social distancing, can be difficult. But with many people looking to exercise and stay safe during the pandemic, one sport is now serving up that option: pickleball.

“Compared to other sports where you have a lot of contact with each other, pickleball, you’re very rarely getting close to each other,” said Laura Gainor with USA Pickleball.

Gainor describes pickleball as a sport that’s a mix of badminton and ping-pong. While pickelball is played in an area half the size of a tennis court, the court big enough to properly social distance. “You see everyone keeps a safe distance on the court,” she said. “So, you’re for the most part keeping that six-feet of separation.”

According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, pickleball grew in popularity by 23% between 2016 and 2019.

“Just being inside all the time it can really have some adverse effects on your mental health,” said Emma Iacono, an 11th grader from North Carolina. Her high school has started playing pickleball during the COVID-19 crisis, giving her a physical and emotional escape during quarantine. “It’s a great way to stay connected people right now even though the world is sort of by itself,” Iacono said.

Now, more schools across the country are picking up paddles and playing pickleball during the pandemic. “Once we get those courts out, the kids go crazy,” said Denise Steenstra, a PE who plays pickleball with her students at Liberty Oaks Elementary School in Kansas City, Missouri. “It’s one more piece to a puzzle to a kiddo who’s never tried something before,” Steenstra said. “They have no idea what they’re going to love until you give them a piece of equipment in their hands and they can have success with it.”

USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as CEO

USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as CEO



Laura Gainor – (704) 941-4191
USA Pickleball Media Relations


USA Pickleball Announces Stu Upson as Chief Executive Officer 
Upson to become organization’s CEO as the sport experiences accelerated growth.


SURPRISE, Arizona, November 12, 2020—USA Pickleball, the national governing body of pickleball and one of the fastest growing sports in the country, today announced that Stu Upson has become Chief Executive Officer, officially starting December 14, 2020.

Upson has more than 25 years of senior management experience, including most recently as the Chief Operating Officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame since January 2015. Prior to 2015, Upson held multiple senior level positions, including Executive Director of the United States Bowling Congress, Senior Vice President (SVP) of Sales and Marketing at Skip Barber Racing, SVP of Sports and Entertainment Marketing at First USA Bank, and beginning his sports and entertainment experience as Vice President of Business Development for Major League Baseball Properties.

“It is an honor to be joining USA Pickleball as the CEO,” said Stu Upson. “I am very excited to make this next step in my sports leadership career. As pickleball has soared in popularity due to its fun, social and active lifestyle qualities, we will continue to create programs for all players and all ages, from recreational to tournament, to continue this accelerated, upward trajectory. USA Pickleball is a strong brand with many players and organizations proud to be a part of it and we have an incredible future in front of us.”

 “On behalf of the Board of Directors we are thrilled to have Stu lead USA Pickleball,” said Phil Mortenson, Board Chair of USA Pickleball. “As Stu joins us, we are extremely energized as an organization for the opportunities on the horizon. With Stu’s leadership and the support of the Board and Staff, we anticipate continued advancement of the sport in growth of partnerships, grants, sanctioned tournaments, memberships, and much more.”

USA Pickleball Executive Director, Justin Maloof who will continue in his current role, is looking forward to Upson’s addition to the team. “Stu’s extensive background and management of multiple departments, including marketing and sales, finance, human resources, club operations, and events and hospitality are just what USA Pickleball needs to strategically plan with our fellow leaders, board members and ambassadors to strengthen the exposure of the sport,” said Maloof.  

As COO of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Upson helped oversee its 7-acre campus which includes a 3,000-sq. ft. museum and tennis facility that, in addition to its year-round operations, hosts the Hall of Fame Open, an ATP World Tour tournament and the hall of fame induction ceremony. During his time as the Executive Director of the United States Bowling Congress, Upson was responsible for promoting and regulating the sport while supporting the organization’s members, volunteers and state and local associations. 

Upson, a graduate of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California, is married with two daughters and lives in Darien, Connecticut.


About USA Pickleball 

The USA Pickleball Association, a non-profit 501(c)(3) was established in 2005 to further the advancement of the sport on a national level. As the official governing body of pickleball in the United States, USA Pickleball promotes the growth of pickleball by maintaining the rules, setting player ratings, advancing the sport through its national network of 1,900+ ambassadors, and sanctioning tournaments. Since 2013, USA Pickleball has grown 1,000% in its membership to nearly 40,000. More information can be found at