The name of the game is Pickleball

Christine Murphy and David Harrison.

By Ron Lane

If you want to get hit with a blank stare just tell people you play Pickleball.

“Pickleball – what in God’s name is Pickleball?”

At present it would be safe to say, that this new sport with the funny name, would be the fastest growing sport in the world. And that would be the understatement of the year.

The game of pickleball started in the summer of 1956 on Bainbridge Is. Washington, USA .and has been described as a mixture of tennis, ping pong and badminton.

It started at the home of Joel Prichard and two friends Bill Bell and Barry McCallum, when after returning from a game of golf they found their families bored. They then proceeded to set up a game of badminton but could not find the shuttlecock. They improvised with a waffle ball lowered the net and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.

The rest is now history.

In 1972 McCullum incorporated Pickleball. Inc and manufactured a wooden paddle (racquets} to help the sport grow. The game which can be played as singles or doubles is played on a court similar to a double’s badminton court, the size of which is 20 ft by 44 ft; and the net hangs at 34 inches in the centre.

From then on, the game really started to spread: around the USA (now with an estimated 3,000,000 players) Canada, Asia, New Zealand, Europe and all states of Australia. Such is the growth of this sport in the states, they have now established both junior and senior ranks; some have now started playing as professionals

In Brisbane the game got off to a good start. It quickly spread to the Gold Coast and now the Sunshine Coast is starting to move; with Noosa established and Caloundra on the way. Also, at Beenleigh Multi Sports Complex Tennis Centre, eight new courts are on the go.

In 2018 there were an estimated 500 players in Australia but now the figures tell us that an estimated 3000 are now going in pleasant pursuit of the pill.

Club organizer and spokesperson for the Noosa Club, Christine Murphy said: “The main factor is that it is a game for all ages and locals have been playing at the Noosa Leisure Centre since November 2017; then in January 2019 the Noosa Pickleball Club was officially formed. One thing we have noticed is that tennis players who feel they are too old for the game on the bigger faster courts are joining us and loving it.

Also, there is the safety factor. It is a good fast open game and there are very few injuries: another of our aims is to push the sport from the school age onwards”

Despite being a relative new club, they have not wasted any time. In February of last year, the club entered the second Australian Pickleball Championships held at the Hibiscus Sports Centre in Brisbane.

These titles were contested by 156 entrants ranging from 11-79 years and for Noosa 16 members took to the courts with six coming home with medals. Now having five members with Level1 Coaching Accreditation within their ranks, further success is assured and on October 2-5 of this year at the Australian Titles in Newcastle, the medal tally will be perused.

To further advance the sport, members have done demonstrations at over 50 lifestyle resorts.

“At one particular resort,” Christine said with a laugh, “we did a demo on Friday and by Monday afternoon they had ordered all their own equipment. You couldn’t ask for better results than that.”

At Wallace Drive Noosaville where the Leisure Centre is located, the game is played five times a week and all newcomers are welcome. As with any new sport to succeed a good team of workers is essential and at the Noosa Pickleball Club things could not be better.

Sitting in the chair as President is Woody Dass.

“I arrived in Noosa from America 15 years ago and at first all I wanted to do was go surfing; but two years back I got a good look at this sport and I was hooked.”

For Christine and her husband John, both now retired, it was different.

“We saw it on the 7.30 Report and from then on it was all stations go.”

Add to this Glenice Ault as Secretary and Marian Brace as Treasurer and a great foundation is established.

Like all successful clubs they have some very definite plans for the future: promote the sport in every way and every level and also to become independent and have their own courts.

“Another thing that we want to do is thank Noosa Council for their sports grant and also the Government for their assistance in obtaining our equipment.”

In 2016 the United States of America Pickleball Association, officially recognized Para-Pickleball or wheel chair pickleball, as a competitive branch of the sport.

Pickleball is definitely on the way.