Turns out the answer seems to lie in its job-to-be-done (JTBD).
When we asked our pickleball-loving friend what all the pickleball hype is about, he told us that in comparison to tennis, pickleball is easier to learn, positions the players closer to each other, and is slower-paced.
Why do these things matter? "It makes for a much more social game," he said.
You can hold a conversation and include most of your friends in a pickleball game. Not so much in tennis.
Had we been tasked with innovating tennis, we probably would've pursued incremental improvements such as more powerful racquets or crack-proof courts if we hadn't uncovered the JTBD of socializing.