For fans of one of the fastest growing sports in America, Thursday, May 23 is a date you might want to mark on your calendar because that’s the day the six new outdoor pickleball courts at Smith Community Park at 2401 Fairview St. open for business.
The grand opening will be at 10 a.m. and then they are supposed to open the gates. So when the courts will actually open depends on how long winded the speakers are. But as soon as the speakers get done, surely no later than 11 a.m., the courts will open and a free beginners clinic will be held.
It’s fitting that the new pickleball complex which includes a gazebo were built right next door to the Smith Senior Center because what shuffleboard was to an older generation pickleball is for Baby Boomers, the generation born between 1946 and 1964. If you do the math boomers are either retired, or thinking about retiring and lots of them are looking for exercise that’s fun but doesn’t take four hours or send them to the couch for the rest of the day to recover. Pickleball seems to be it.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by a bunch of guys who couldn’t find any birdies for their bored kids to pay badminton. So they lowered the net on the badminton court, made some wooden paddles and found a whiffle ball. Then they invented a game their kids could play with the equipment they had. Or at least that’s the legend. The sport is said to combine parts of tennis, badminton and ping pong. The court is about a third the size of tennis court and you serve underhanded. So Greensboro’s most famous tennis player, John Isner, would have less of a huge advantage in pickleball.
The game has really taken off with boomers because with a smaller court and simpler rules it’s much easier on the body and mind than tennis. For instance, you don’t have to learn a whole new way to count to play pickleball. The first one to 11 wins, but you do have to win by two.
The USA Pickleball Association has had a 650 percent increase in membership since 2013.
Florida and Arizona are two of of the hottest states (pun intended) for pickleball.