Pickleball in Lubbock draws growing crowd
Pickleball is a weird name for a sports, but it's becoming more and more popular across the country. It's a combination of ping pong and tennis. Every day at the Burgess-Rushing Tennis Center a crowd shows up to play.
"Pickleball was actually invented in 1965 but it didn't really take off until probably 2005-2010," Andy Carter, an ambassador for the U.S. Pickleball Association said. "There's now estimated to be three million players in the United States and they're saying it'll double every year for the next five years."
Carter started playing seven years ago. He moved to Lubbock last year and has seen the sport grow around the South Plains.
"If you've ever come out and played two or three times, you're hooked and you won't quit playing," Carter said.
Ericka Walmsley is a disabled veteran. She got hooked on pickleball when she was struggling with depression.
"My dad said you're not going to lay in bed anymore," Walmsley remembered. "He picked me up and me and my 70-year-old dad went down to play pickleball and learn how to play."
She's played every morning since.
"There is no class-ism on the court, there is no racism on the court, it's very love tolerant around here. We have different political views but we tolerate each other either way which in this country is pretty amazing," she described.
The group welcomes newcomers all the time and taught FOX34 some basics.
"You can only score when you're serving. So if you lose the play, both players serve then, it's side-out to the other side and both of them will get to serve," Carter said.
"The serve has to bounce and then the first return has to bounce. So you can't go crashing the net until that first bounce and then it's kind of a free for all," he added.
"And then you want to get up to that blue line up there which is called the 'no volley zone.' Most people you'll hear it referred to as the kitchen. That space between the blue line and the net is the kitchen and you can only be in the kitchen to hit a ball that bounces," Carter stressed.
Games are to 11 and you must win by two.
According to Carter, players range from 10 years old to 90 years old. More tennis players are switching to pickleball because there isn't as much lateral movement. He also said it has become so big in Lubbock a group of players is pushing the city to build more outdoor and indoor courts.
For more on pickleball, visit usapa.org.
If you're interested in playing in Lubbock, check out the Lubbock Plays Pickleball Facebook page.