A large group of people of all ages, genders, races, and ethnicities are shown on a pickleball court. They are holding pickleball rackets and smiling.
Chris Clark (fifth from right, second row) offers pickleball lessons and more through Toss & Spin. Credit: Courtesy Chris Clark

For college tennis player Chris Clark, the COVID-19 pandemic became an unexpected reset that helped him bring his master’s of business administration back to the court. After stints at Gatorade, Wilson Sporting Goods, and the Kraft Heinz Co., he found himself out of a sports start-up job, with his love of racket sports “staring me in the face no matter what I did,” he says. Fueled by his passion and business experience, Toss & Spin grew from Instagram content with industry pros to outdoor lessons (where my husband found Clark and rekindled his own tennis game). The mission? Access and enjoyment through racket sports by offering classes and now team-building and community events for companies and brands.

Clark prides himself on the company’s Uber model of meeting the consumer where they are, a key element that promotes access and lowering barriers to racket sports. “Whether we’re on the south side of Chicago or in Los Angeles, we’re at the courts nearest you,” he says. He furthered that message by cannily foreseeing pickleball’s rise and its unique appeal as a play-anywhere sport with a “court” you can create within minutes. After transforming venues such as the United Center and the Old Post Office rooftop, Toss & Spin has partnered with Shake Shack for a national pickleball club. The ten-city national “tour” offers clinics, a tournament, and, of course, swag. I’m going to take Clark at his word that almost anyone can pick up the sport “fairly easily” and look forward to joining the ranks of newly minted racket athletes born from such creative, experiential efforts.

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