It may be the quirkiest name for a sport ever...pickleball. It's a hybrid of tennis, ping-pong and badminton. It is played with paddles and the ball is perforated and hollow. None of this sounds groundbreaking or revolutionary yet this sport is taking the U.S. by storm! If you think it's a passing fad, think (or dink) again. Lebron just invested in a team.
With a court design that requires far less space than tennis, resorts and clubs are fastidiously converting their courts. Tennis diehards are not enthused with the lines that are either taped or painted to accommodate the pickleball players. Is it time for tennis to become more accommodating? Pickleball prides itself on being inclusive and from a marketing perspective, there is no better way to differentiate itself from tennis. There are no formal dress codes and no prerequisite of years spent taking endless lessons to achieve those classic groundstrokes. In cities like New York, with every square foot at a premium and a post pandemic pickleball obsessed population, one can't help but wonder whether the two sports can coexist?
To help me take a deep dive into America's fastest growing sport, I spoke with NYC's hotshot pickleball ambassador Lydia Hirt, known as @lydia.pickleball to the community.
Jgame: Lydia, why do you think pickleball exploded with such fervor?
Lydia: I think pickleball has become so popular because it's very inclusive, accessible, social and fun! I don't know anyone who has tried it and not walked off the court with a smile. The cute outfits are a bonus.
Jgame: Speaking of cute, you look great (see pic above) in the Jgame Navy Croc dress! In the suburbs there is room for all racket sports but in cities do you see pickleball as a competitor to tennis or can they co-exist?
Lydia: My personal motto in life is "more is more" and i think this applies to pickleball. We city picklers are a scrappy bunch and bring our own nets to create pop-up courts on any accessible hard top are in NYC, always trying to co-exist with the neighborhood. As a former tennis player, I believe everyone can co-exist and thrive, and I have high hopes for Serena and Roger to join us!
Jgame: Tennis wear has come a long way but traditions still apply, for example the all whites rule at Wimbledon. How is Pickleball different in this regard?
Lydia: Something I personally enjoy is the diversity of the players in the community and that there is a much lower barrier to joining and participating, including the fashion. Women of all levels wear skirts, dresses, shorts and leggings - whatever makes them feel confident on the court.
Jgame: You hosted a Pickleball singles event in NYC this Fall - why do you think this sport lends itself to matchmaking?
Lydia: I think it is a great way to connect and mingle with other single people - as well as a wonderful place to make friends as it is both active and social. You're participating in a fun activity that doesn't revolve around eating & drinking (though I love both of those things as well) and can talk with the other players on the court. It is a place to see if you have on-court chemistry that could turn into off court chemistry!
Jgame: Thank you @lydia.pickleball! We can't wait for your next mixer!
Jgame's pickleball essentials:
Cute outfits: Jgame duh! Our UPF protection/moisture wicking gear will keep you cool and dry as you rally, volley and assess your court chemistry!
Paddles: www.playnettie.com is a female-founded, Cincinnati-based brand that has super cool carbon fiber paddles to improve your game.
If you're looking for a place to play in NYC, CityPickle (www.city-pickle.com) connects the pickleball community to courts and events.