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Pickleball Continues Growing in Central Pennsylvania

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Pickleball has created a buzz around the United States in recent years, becoming the fastest-growing sport in the country. Central Pennsylvania has embraced the pickleball trend with open arms.

“The sport is extremely appealing for many people,” said Vinay Joshi, one of the owners of Smash Point Pickleball in Mechanicsburg. “It’s actually addicting, to be honest. I play every day for two hours and I still cannot get enough of it. This is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. right now and I believe it continues that way.”

According to Pickleheads, the Keystone State has the 11th most pickleball courts in the United States. Within Pennsylvania, Harrisburg is the ninth most popular city to play the sport based on the number of courts.

“We’ve come a long way in Central Pennsylvania from like a gradual, casual sport to professional,” said Madhumitha Rengarajan, one of the owners of Smash Point.

On Sept. 5 at the Smash Point ladder event, which involves 16 teams who consider themselves intermediate to advanced players competing to reach the top of the ladder, the courts were packed with players.How to watch Penn State football vs. Delaware

This was the fourth time Smash Point has held the event since opening on July 29. The event has filled up every time.

Joshi noted that since he started playing in March 2020, during the pandemic, he has seen the game experience a boom, including the growth of youth playing pickleball.

“Since I started playing [I] pretty much every day see new faces,” Joshi said. “I used to see a lot of seniors play this, but . . .the last three years it started getting younger and younger. Now I see a lot of high school kids.”

Smash Point plans to continue fostering the growth of the sport for the younger generation by offering a program for homeschooled kids to come and play pickleball at a discounted price.

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Pickleball appeals to a large range of ages because it is easy to learn the basics and start playing immediately. Smash Point highlights this aspect of the game with a decal on the outside of the facility that says “30 minutes to fun.”

“The first time I played pickleball it took me a little bit to get a grasp of it,” Rengarajan said. “But in 30 to 40 minutes, I was having a blast. The learning curve is very small.”

Pickleball had humble roots, beginning with Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and Bill Bell, a businessman, deciding to use ping-pong paddles and a plastic ball to entertain their families on an old badminton court.

The whole reason the game was invented was to have an activity the entire family, kids, and adults, could do together.

Rengarajan said that the “grassroots” beginning and popularization of pickleball with a focus on community is what has helped the sport’s growth.

“I know of pickleball potlucks that happen in parks,” Rengarajan said. “So, people bring a dish, leave it there, play pickleball, have fun, and then go home. It’s a very community-oriented sport.”

Joshi and Rengarajan urge everyone to try pickleball.

“It might not be your cup of tea, but . . . you are moving and having a lot of fun,” Rengarajan said. “If you’re athletic and want to try a new sport or you love meeting people, just come try it once.”

Central Pennsylvania is on its way to becoming a hub for pickleball, with places to play indoors and outside and opportunities for the youth to become involved.

Source : ABC27