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Salt Lake ranks fourth nationally for pickleball — but what is it?

Salt Lake ranks fourth nationally for pickleball — but what is it?

(KSL/file)



SALT LAKE CITY — In a new ranking of pickleball and its popularity in the nation's biggest cities, Salt Lake City comes in fourth.

The Coventry Direct marketing company gathered information about the 50 largest cities in the United States to determine which city was the best for pickleball. They assigned values based on the number of pickleball courts and clubs a city offers, the number of places that offer pickleball lessons, as well as information about average precipitation and temperatures.

Based on their calculations, Salt Lake City is the fourth-best city in the nation in which to play pickleball, often described as a ping-pong-tennis hybrid.

What is pickleball?

According to USA Pickleball, the game is played on a modified tennis court. It involves a net, modified paddles and a whiffle-type ball.

And for a game that was invented by a bunch of dads in Washington state in the '60s, it has a bunch of rules. But generally:

  • Players serve underhand; and when serving, the paddle can't go above the waist.
  • The serve is diagonal, and the ball can't land in the 7-foot "non-volley zone" on either side of the net.
  • According to the rules, the first serve must be allowed to bounce before returning. The same applies to the return of the first serve.
  • After the first serve and return service, players may volley the ball back and forth without letting the ball bounce.
  • Players cannot volley the ball from the non-volley zone.
  • Play continues until there is a fault.
  • Only players who are serving can score a point.
  • The team that scores 11 points first, wins (although the win must be by two points)

It's been around a while

The origins of pickleball date back to 1965, when Joel Pritchard, a Washington state congressman, and Bill Bell searched for something new to keep their families entertained. They developed the game on an old badminton court.

Tennis magazine called pickleball "America's newest racquet sport" in 1975, with its first tournament held a year later.

The United States Amateur Pickleball Association was born in 1984, and the game's first website was born in 1999. Organizers established the USA Pickleball Association in 2005. Players held the first national tournament in 2009, followed by the first international association in 2010.

Today there are more than 8,000 places to play pickleball in the United States, and more than 2,500,000 people playing.

OK, but where did the name come from?

There are two stories about the name.

One of the men that invented the game owned a dog named Pickles. Word is that Pickles had a habit of grabbing the whiffle ball and running off with it. The folks at Pickle Portal webpage say there are people involved in the origins of the game that swear this is the reason the game is called pickleball.

The other story involves something called a pickle boat and also stems from one of the game's originating family members, who thought that the game reminded her of a pickle boat. In the sport of crew, a pickle boat houses a crew team thrown together randomly. Not unlike the game of pickleball, which, as the creators of the game admit, was thrown together using tools from other games.

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Simone Seikaly

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