REDWOOD CITY – Part tennis, part ping pong, part badminton, pickleball is arguably America’s fastest-growing sport, with many in the Bay Area picking up a racket.
But don’t be fooled by the fun sound. Players said this latest craze should be forewarned.
“It’s really addictive, once you start playing you can’t stop,” said Cecilia Lau.
When the epidemic first hit, Lau, a longtime tennis player, struggled to get her 12-year-old son Nikola off the Internet, and Lau eventually managed to get him off the grid with a different kind of network.
It worked. Two years later, the whole family is pickling up to four times a week.
“It’s a quick game,” Lau told KPIX 5. “It’s very fun and very interactive.”
Lau is one of about 5 million pickleball players in America, a sport that has grown 40% in the past three years. Part of the appeal is that it’s much easier to learn than tennis, so almost anyone can play it.
No one knows exactly why it’s called pickleball. Some say it was named after the inventor’s dog, Pickles. Others believe it is a move towards pickleball boats having mixed crews, as pickleball is a mixture of other sports.
Either way, it’s clearly a moment. It has become so popular that local sports clubs are now getting in on the action.
Todd Kramer, executive vice president of Bay Club Redwood Shores in Redwood City, said the facility has converted one of its tennis courts into four pickleball courts, and that’s just the beginning.
“I think it has the potential to be one of the major racquet sports of this generation,” he told KPIX 5.
For Lau, it was a chance to spend quality time with her son, who is growing up so fast.
“It’s so nice that he can participate in this sport,” Lau said. “We can actually compete together.”