LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — The popularity of pickleball has exploded, with nearly 50 million Americans saying they’ve tried it.
It’s the fastest-growing sport in the U.S. And while it’s competitive, it’s not nearly as intense as another growing rivalry: tennis players vs. pickleball players.
It’s easy to see how pickleball became so popular.
“I told two people, and they told two people,” Michelle Sullivan told us
“It’s something that I was just instantly attracted to,” Tonya Bell said.
Angie Colang said, “It’s a very social game, and it’s just a lot of fun.”
And pickleball player Karen Machay added, “It doesn’t matter your age or your size. I think everyone can grab a paddle and a ball … and play pickleball!”
But for some tennis players, it can feel like a battle to get on the court these days.
“I have seen more pickleball courts coming up in the past year,” tennis player Celeste Smith told us.
“There’s been a couple times where I went to the court thinking it was a tennis court and it was a pickleball court and I was like, man, that’s just the worst because you can’t play at all.”
She’s right. Across the country, tennis courts are being replaced, and pickleball courts and clubs are popping up. It’s happening here in the valley, too.
“Some people who really want to play tennis are like, this is my day. How come I didn’t get a court?” tennis player Chomputtsorm Thantu said.
In Santa Monica, California, a tennis center just invested $250,000 in pickleball. So, how often do tennis players find themselves in a pickle?
“Almost every day,” Thantu said. She just shrugs it off when it’s not busy.
Another complaint from some tennis players — and pickleball neighbors: the noise that comes with the game.
Whether it’s from the paddles … “Like a ping … like a ping … POW!” tennis player Aarin Yu said. “Pickleball has a different sound when you connect with the ball.”
Or from the passion of pickleball players, this is not a meek and mild game. What do the players have to say about that?
“Double pane windows, and, earplugs,” Sullivan said. “I do feel bad if your home is really close. But, it is a rage that’s going on as the fastest growing sport in America!”
Machay said, “I probably wouldn’t want to live next to a pickleball court. But I love to visit them to play!”
The players we spoke with encouraged tennis players to join in. “Just join forces, and play pickleball, and you’ll understand,” Christine Pollnow said.
“The people that are complaining are likely not playing the game and they should come out and see what all the fuss is about! … Because they’ll be yelling, too,” Bell said.
The pickleball wave is only growing, attracting people of all ages who are developing a love for the game.
As Michelle Sullivan puts it: “Came out and tried it, and, got addicted!”
To Tonya Bell, it’s exuberant and exciting.
And Angie Colang is addicted. “I played this morning, I played again tonite, and I’m playing tomorrow morning, and tomorrow night,” she said.
“What’s not to love?” asked Pollnow. “Honestly, literally, you become obsessed with the game.”
We asked tennis player Celeste Smith if she ever worries about finding a court with all this pickleball around us. “Not until now,” she said.