Tennis Startup Hires Former Prince, Wilson Exec

Makers of a portable tennis ball launcher called Slinger Bag have hired former Prince CEO Mike Ballardie as CEO.

The move comes on the heels of Slinger Bag’s successful crowdfunding campaign last year, which raised over $1 million, $731,170 of which was via a Kickstarter campaign where 2,815 backers pledged $239 to receive a machine. 

The Slinger is a portable tennis bag that incorporates a tennis ball launcher that holds up to 144 balls along with equipment, including rackets. It is currently in the final stages of development and will be available to consumers worldwide this summer.

Ballardie started his tennis business career in the late 1980s at Wilson, where he spent 11 years and ultimately led the company's EMEA Racquet Sport division. He also worked for VF Corp and served for many years as a board director for the Tennis Industry Association in both the United States and United Kingdom.



Slinger Bag Founder Joe Kalfa contacted Ballardie for feedback on the product, according to a recent letter he wrote to Kickstarter backers. 

“Mike tested Slinger Bag and had a few other people on the court try it as well to hear their feedback," wrote Kafka. Mike loved it and we quickly got to speaking about how we can get him involved in our Slinger Bag company. Having someone like Mike involved is a dream for a small startup like ours.”

Ballardie has been involved in tennis all his life -- as a player, a coach and as a business leader.

“Slinger Bag is an innovation that can both change the face of tennis and stimulate tennis participation irrespective of age or ability,” Ballardie stated.

The company is headquartered in Raanana, Ill. with offices in New York and Canada. Ballardie will be based out of a new international office in London.

With an estimated 1.2 billion people either playing or being regular fans of tennis, the global tennis market is valued at over $10 billion, according to the company.

Slinger Bag also recently hired Adi Spiegelman as a model, via an introduction from a Kickstarter supporter.  Spiegelman is one of the top five players in Israel and has worked with other major brands including Swarovski.

Photographs of her trying out the invention are on the company’s new website,

Next story loading loading..