On the heels of our big questions post yesterday and answering whether the Morgan Evans serve would have any impact on pro pickleball, the PPA announced today via The Dink that they are eliminating all spin serves. The language being used is as follows:
The server shall not impart manipulation or spin on the release of the ball immediately prior to the serve. The release of the ball to perform the serve shall be visible to the referee. If the referee determines that manipulation or spin has been imparted, or the release of the ball is not visible, the referee shall call for a re-serve.
The PPA did this last year with let serves and the paddle chainsaw serve, and now they are doing it with the Morgan Evans serve. That is, going rogue and choosing their own rules for their organization. We are both on record as being against spin serves, despite the fact that it is a natural evolution of the game. Although we’re not against the idea of getting rid of the spin serves, which likely would have happened in 2023 anyway, having two sets of rules probably isn’t great for the sport overall. Confusion and division in a rapidly growing sport cannot be the best.
Update: Head Referee for PPA, Don Stanley, clarified this rule change is only for pros, not amateurs competing at PPA events
But this is a running trend for pickleball as we have two pro tours plus a governing body in USA Pickleball that are not on the same page and don’t really have a desire to get on the same page. USA Pickleball bungled the new serve rule for 2022 by keeping the Morgan Evans one-handed version of the spin serve. It made no sense to say on the one hand that we don’t like what spin serves are doing for the game but, on the other hand, keep the most effective version of those spin serves in the rules. It appears USA Pickleball made this change with limited consultation.
If it wasn’t clear before, the PPA’s goal is to continue to set themselves up to be to be the leading organization of the pickleball world. They want to be what the ATP is to tennis and the AVP is to beach volleyball. What also seems to be clear is the influence that their most prominent contracted players have on the choices that are made by the PPA (we also expect head referee, Don Stanley, would have had significant influence on this rule change given his very public stance against spin serves).
The spin serves will still have an impact on pro pickleball as we will see them used at APP tour stops and the majors – US Open, Tournament of Champions and Nationals. However, if it wasn’t inevitable before, the PPA’s decision almost certainly signals the death of spin serves. In the bigger picture, the PPA making these types of decisions may well force the hands of the rule making choices of USA Pickleball and we have to think they can’t be happy about that. It would be best if everyone could work together and ensure consistency across the game. Unfortunately, that’s not the direction things are going in the wild west world of professional pickleball.
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