Popularity of pickleball surges in Ottawa

OTTAWA — It’s sort of like tennis, with the agility of badminton, played with a ball similar to ping-pong, all mixed into one, with a unique name that’s hard to forget.

Pickleball will serve-up a smile to anyone who plays the sport and there are plenty of smiles, it’s one of North America’s fastest growing sports.

“It can be played by people of any age,” says Yvon Tarte, who started the Amberwood Village pickleball league four years ago. “We started playing pickleball many years ago in Florida, where we wintered and thought it was a great game it was a fairly new sport here but raging in the US.”

Tarte signed on members to play at the Amberwood Golf & Country Club.

Two tennis courts were converted to three pickleball courts. The playing area is smaller then tennis and the net is lower.

Since then, club memberships for the sport has exploded, this season already has more than 100 members registered. 

“It’s the fastest growing sport in the world,” says Katherine Usher-Vollett, Amberwood Golf & Country Club general manger. “We are converting our tennis court into six pickleball courts to be able to have more members and public come out and play.”

Courts have also been popping up across the Ottawa area as more people are picking up the game. The equipment lists is short; a paddle and a wiffle-ball, which can cost as little as $30.

“I joined a league here last summer just learned to play a year ago and love playing with a variety of people,” says club-member Christine Adam-Carr. “I could come out and there would always be a bunch of people here …I played with my daughter, she’s in her 20s, she’s played with her friends so it’s really taking off with a lot of different ages.”

The rules are fairly simple. For instance, the ball must bounce once before returning a serve. There are some areas off limits, like the ‘kitchen sink’, a no-volley zone which helps prevent someone from spiking the ball over the net. A match lasts about 15 minutes and you require 11 points to win.

“It’s easy to learn it and get to a certain level for anybody,” says Glenn Carr, who is playing a match with his wife Christine. “It helps develop quickness, agility, skill and it’s much more of a finesse game than tennis.”

As for the unique name, well there are a few different stories of how it came about, one being that the game was named after the dog of one of the inventors

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