From individuals to organizations, weekend warriors to professional players, minute observations to big-picture ideas, tennis has been top of mind across the board over the past two years.

“I feel like this is the tennis boom part two,” says Trey Waltke, general manager of the Malibu Racquet Club in southern California. “Everyone is talking tennis. Everyone is playing. People are rediscovering how great tennis is.”

Tennis shouldn’t rest on its laurels; the first boom didn’t last forever. But this is as good of an opportunity to reflect on what the sport has gotten right, during a time when so much has gone wrong.

Over the next few weeks, we'll do just that, with a series of stories—30-Love—that highlights 30 things worth celebrating about the New American Tennis Boom. Look for past articles on the left side of each page.—Ed McGrogan


WATCH: Tennis Channel Live discusses who in the Big Three has the best chance to win the most majors in 2022.


While nothing beats going toe-to-toe with a rival, there’s arguably no more relentless practice partner than a ball machine. True, you don’t get the live-ball benefits of competing with a flesh-and-bone workout mate—not to mention the wisecracks and feelings of physical superiority. But in terms of never missing a shot, getting tired or ridiculing a flubbed volley, you can’t beat the dependability of a ball machine.

And if it’s been a while since you’ve tried one out, the latest models bring tons of game to the court.

Because of COVID-19, players also recognize the value of a ball machine for its inherent social distancing. Rather than miss a practice session, they can work on their strokes with the utmost precaution.

The Slinger Bag puts an innovative spin on this familiar teaching staple. A ball launcher constructed for maximum portability, it has a straightforward, user-friendly design that allows players to hit the courts and get right to work on their games, whether it be soft feeds for beginners, or spin-laden drives for the advanced set. In its first full year in existence, which happened to coincide with the pandemic, Slinger Bag still sold more than 20,000 of its ball launchers.

With new arrivals flocking to tennis, and old players rediscovering it, ball machines are resurgent. Seek one out at your club, or as an investment purchase. If only they could talk a little trash—or share a beer with you after the hit.