Meet pickleball: WA’s official sport is a mix of tennis, ping pong, and badminton

TRI-CITIES, Wash. — If you mix tennis, ping pong, and badminton together, you get a fun and exciting game called pickleball.

The game was created on Washington’s Bainbridge Island in 1965 by a man named Joel Pritchard, according to the USA Pickleball Association.

Now, it’s the state’s official sport after Governor Inslee recently signed the measure into law.

Mark Cook, the director of the Columbia Basin Classic Pickleball Tournament, said the declaration is “great exposure” for the sport.

“It just continues to grow and grow. I mean every month we see more new players out and about playing,” Cook said. “When I started playing, there was an older demographic. Nowadays you see kids of all ages playing out on the courts.”

Cook said one of the main draws of the sport is the fact that it’s inclusive.

Jim Sandusky, the pickleball director for the Pacific Clinic, agrees, adding that he began playing in 1989.

“Across the nation, it’s just booming,” Sandusky said. “Especially through the pandemic, it was something that people could do indoors and outdoors so it was accommodating to that.”

All you need is a racquet, a large plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball, and a partner.

Sandusky said it’s fun for everyone, no matter the athleticism level.

“Although there’s movement, there’s not a whole lot of movement. It’s not like you’re running laps or miles or anything,” Sandusky said.

If you want to try out pickleball for yourself, there are beginner classes at Lawrence Scott Park in Kennewick starting around 4 p.m. every Tuesday.

The Pacific Clinic also offers pickleball classes, courts, and lessons.

To learn more about the Tri-Cities local Club 509, click here.

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