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Dill or Sweet? It’s Pickleball Time

September 30, 2022

Friday Feelings, Inspiration, Women in Sports, Female Athletes, Women Entrepreneurs

Kathleen Komar and Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Pickleball

On a cool early fall evening I met a friend with an addiction (her words, not mine) to Pickleball. I didn’t have to choose between a dill or sweet pickleball, just needed to show up in relaxed pants, tennis shoes, and a comfortable top to move around in. In fact, the pickleball was more like a wiffleball, yellow with holes in it, lighter than a tennis ball and not as bouncy.

The fact that LeBron James with two other NBA stars had just purchased a Major League Pickleball (MLP)  expansion franchise, as the competition grows from 12 to 16 teams, made trying Pickleball an interesting prospect. MLP founder Steve Kuhn stated, “Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country and our goal is to reach 40 million pickleball players by 2030.” As of 2021, 4.8 million Americans now play the sport.

Lysander Park in Van Buren has the best courts

What you haven’t heard about this sport yet? It started in 1965 when two dads named Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell had bored families at home so they used an old badminton court, spare ping pong paddles, and a  wiffle ball to create a game. Two years later Pritchard constructed the first pickleball court in his backyard. The game gained steam in the Pacific Northwest where the men lived and here it is today as the fastest growing sport.

As a long time tennis player, I felt pretty comfortable trying it out. The main adjustments were the shorter racket with its harder surface (no strings) and lack of a bounce from the balls opposed to tennis balls.  The courts are shorter and thinner than tennis courts. Typically every court is taken where we played, but we got there early enough to snag a court and by the end of the night we were using two courts.

My new Pickleball Friends

Pickleball is FUN! I liken it to a cross between ping pong and tennis with the speed and volleying of ping pong with the set up like tennis. It is a very social sport since players talk through the game, often times giving compliments for good shots – or maybe they were being nice to me on my first attempt. Because people wait for courts to open, if there is a twosome playing, they’ll invite another twosome to join them since the game is more fun with four players. So in the course of the evening, I met and played with five other new people besides my friend. Most of them were two-week old beginners of the game, and admitted to be addicted like my friend Kathleen who brought me there.

My Fitbit told me I burned 900 calories during the multiple match sets, and I wasn’t sore. My cheeks were pink from the cool air, my body warm, and my spirit glowing like the yellow balls and setting sun which eventually kicked us off the courts. Could we play longer, sure could, because it is addictive, but at last all good things come to an end sometime.

I highly recommend finding out more about the sport. The paddles are around $60. Courts are being established as the game grows, but my friend plays it sometimes in her driveway with a portable net.  It is affordable, fun, social, and calorie-burning. What more could you ask for in a new sport to try?   

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