Tennis and Pickleball are at war! Tennis purist view pickleball as a fad. Pickleballers think tennis is over and wants all their courts converted. And no one was more squarely in tennis' corner than Eric Amend.
At age 12, Eric was ranked #2 in the United States. At 14, he was #1. With a scholarship to USC, he became a four time All-American and in 1989 was an NCAA Doubles Champion. His career highlight was competing for the United States in men's singles tennis at the 1984 Olympics.
After his playing days were over, Eric coached tennis for awhile, but that didn't last. His life spiraled downward. Eric summarized, "I was depressed. I had no joy. I was sleep-walking through my life."
Following the death of his father, Eric quit his job in February of 2022. There was a nagging hole in his life. "I wanted to be active again. I kept hearing about pickleball. To even think about playing pickleball felt wrong. But I was so down that I was finally willing to try anything… even pickleball."
The moment Eric walked in Pickleball Kingdom, an indoor pickleball facility in Chandler, Arizona, everything changed. "Just walking into the Kingdom transformed me. The colors, the sounds, the energy. I just felt good." He started playing every day. With his tennis background, he improved quickly.
In June of 2022, Eric met the owner of Pickleball Kingdom, Ace Rodrigues. They talked about sports and life. When Ace found out Eric wasn't employed, he offered him a job on the spot. Ace recalls, "There was an intensity about him. I remember seeing him on courts pushing himself hard. I liked him from the beginning."
As he did in tennis, Eric has been quickly climbing Pickleball Kingdom's ladder. He's now their Director of Facilities.
"With our recent announcement that we will franchise nationally, I'm excited to train new locations with, 'The Keys to the Kingdom.' I know there will be a Pickleball Kingdom in every U.S. city soon and I'm proud to be a part of that. I now have joy in my life. I feel so grateful because I have a huge community of friends and I work in a place that just makes me happy. My heart is full. Pickleball has truly changed my life."