The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

The official student newspaper of The Hockaday School

The Fourcast

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The Pickleball Epidemic

Pickleball continues to rise in popularity, quickly catching up with tennis

Pickleball has risen to power in the racquet ball industry in the last few decades.

Invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, the sport has continued to evolve with the founding of the USA Pickleball Association in 2005. In February 2023, the association reached 70,000 members. According to the Topline Participation Report by The Sports and Fitness Industry Association, in just the span of the past year, the number of players has grown from 4.8 million to 8.9 million players, naming it the fasting growing sport for the third consecutive year.

“Almost every tennis center has pickleball courts now,” junior and tennis player Rayna Li said.

In November 2023, Brookhaven Country Club will host the Pickleball National Championships. Brookhaven has converted all of their outdoor tennis courts into pickleball courts, much to the dismay of the club’s tennis players.

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“I have to pay extra to play indoors now and it’s really annoying,” Li said.

On the other hand, Brookhaven pickleball players are ecstatic for the numerous courts the club now offers.

Hockaday math teacher, Ms. Christine Sigurdsson, plays pickleball anywhere from two to five days a week at Brookhaven. Sigurdsson became interested in the sport pre-pandemic when Brookhaven offered intro to pickleball classes once a month. She quickly fell in love with the game, translating her racquetball skills over to pickleball. After the covid quarantine, Sigurdsson picked up a paddle again and headed back out to the courts.

Li, playing tennis since 5 years old, does not love pickleball. Although Li finds dabbling in pickleball with her friends a fun activity, she struggles to enjoy pickleball more than that.

“Pickleball is so easy that anyone can play, and you can have a lot of fun,” she said. “The court is so small, the balls light, and you don’t have to run around or anything. It’s just a really fun way to connect.”

While pickleball shares similarities with tennis, Li said they are ultimately different.

“It’s the same goal,” she said. “You’re just trying to hit a ball over the net into the court, but I think the strategies are way different. Pickleball is just strategy, and you don’t really need to be physically capable of enduring two-hour matches, but tennis is both mental and physical.”

If Li could transfer one part of pickleball into tennis, she would love to have the pickleball community. Sigurdsson agrees with this, saying her favorite part of the game is the people she plays with.

“Everybody is just so friendly,” Sigurdsson said. “When I was new to the sport, they were super helpful with lots of tips. We can joke, and have a great time, while still trying to win.”

The Varsity field hockey team recently visited the Chicken N Pickle courts.

“It was super fun,” sophomore Anaiya Saxena said. “I definitely feel a lot more bonded with my team.”

Chicken N Pickle features both outdoor and indoor courts. Most of the time, the indoor courts are packed solid with serious pickleball players, while the outdoor ones are booked by less experienced players.

“We had a lot of fun. We all learned a lot about each other and how competitive we are,” Saxena said. “We also worked together with different players on the team.  I would ten out of ten recommend pickleball as a thing to do with your friends.”


(This article is a FourCast web exclusive.)

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About the Contributor
Lang Cooper
Lang Cooper, Staff Writer