Pickle what? Well, April is the month for it

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Pickleball's popularity has exploded in Williamsburg, with the local club, Pickleburg, doubling its number of members since March 2018. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jeff Anthony)
Pickleball’s popularity has exploded in Williamsburg, with the local club, Pickleburg, doubling its number of members since March 2018. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Jeff Anthony)

It’s a game that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong and is played with paddles and a light-weight perforated plastic ball (think wiffle ball): Pickleball.

The game, created in 1965, “is experiencing unparalleled growth,” said Justin Maloof, executive director of the United States Pickleball Association.

“By establishing National Pickleball Month again for April, it will help us to continue to promote the sport on a national level and help get Americans moving, staying active and enjoying this great sport,” Maloof said.

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball has a following of approximately 3.1 million players in the US.

In Williamsburg and James City County alone, the year to year growth has exploded.

“We’re way ahead of the national growth average of 12 percent,” said Jeff Anthony, founder of Pickleburg.com, Williamsburg’s hub for all things pickleball, including information on how to get started, where to play, and upcoming tournaments and events.  “Our club (pickleburg), the largest in the area, has grown from 200 to nearly 400 members since last year. The real challenge now is matching court availability to demand.”

What makes pickleball so popular?

“It’s a welcoming and inclusive way to have a great time and stay healthy,” Anthony said. “As a newcomer to the game when you show up to play people are always there to loan you a paddle and introduce the basics. From there you’re hooked.”

In Williamsburg, the average player is around 55 years old. But don’t be fooled into thinking the game is only for folks older than 50.

“It’s not a slow sport,” Anthony added. “It will take everything you have to give.”

“Ever heard of the US Open in Pickleball? Last year they drew over 2,000 players from 47 states and 20 countries to compete on 50 courts,” Anthony added. “How about the U.S. Pickleball National Championship? Two-thousand-two-hundred players and $75,000 in prize money — that’s the largest cash purse in the history of the sport.”

There are four public venues where people can can drop-in for open play.

The indoor courts at Quarterpath Recreation Center and the JCC Recreation Center charge a member fee, while outdoor courts at Veterans Park and Jamestown High School are both free.

For those ready to step into the arena and play competitively, Quarterpath Recreation Center offers three tournaments a year.

New to the sport? No problem. Set up a free introductory session, equipment provided, through Pickleburg.com, or check out one of the Williamsburg Parks and Recreation’s free clinics.

The next clinic will be on June 11 from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. at the Quarterpath Recreation Center. Equipment and instructor are provided.

For more information on pickleball in Williamsburg, click here.

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