Last week, Asheville city officials announced that new pickleball courts are coming to the 828. The courts will be installed at Recreation Park (near the WNC Nature Center on Gashes Creek Rd.). Next Monday (Feb. 10), they’ll hold a public meeting from 5-6:30 p.m. at Stephens-Lee Community Center (30 George Washington Carver Ave.) so that pickleball enthusiasts and the pickleball-curious can share comments + feedback.
But here at AVLtoday, our first question was: what is pickleball?
Pickleball shares similarities with tennis, table tennis + badminton (as well as other paddleball sports).
Why the funny name? The game was invented in 1965 by three fathers near Seattle, WA. Despite its recent appearance on the scene, there’s some uncertainty about how it got its name. One of the three inventors, Joel Pritchard, had a dog named Pickles who chased the ball and ran away with it when they played – hence the name. Another story posits that it was named after a crew term: “pickle boat,” in which oarsmen are chosen from leftovers of other boats – which fit because the game combined many elements of other sports.
However it got its name, it has official rules, regulations + even its own organization – the USA Pickleball Association. Here’s the lowdown on pickleball –
- It can be played indoors or outdoors.
- The court is badminton-sized (20’ x 44’) with a modified tennis net.
- The pickleball itself is made of plastic + has holes, like a wiffleball. The paddle is a little smaller than a tennis racquet.
- It can be played as doubles or singles – so two to four people.
We could explain all the rules to you – but instead we’ll let this super helpful video do it for us.
And, pickleball is a fast-growing sport, in part because it’s relatively easy to pick up (especially if you’ve played other paddlesports). In 2016, 1.57 million adults said they were “casual” players, and close to 1 million said they were “core” players (who play more than eight times a year). By 2017, over 3.1 million people played the game. In 2018, there were 6,885 places to play pickleball in the U.S.
Asheville could add to that number. The proposed design for Recreation Park includes multiple courts, as well as a reconfiguration of the basketball court. The project does not currently have any allocated funding and is in a concept stage. The meeting next Tuesday will include a project + design overview and time for comments.
Want to play pickleball in Asheville? Currently, there are options to play – or devoted courts – at the Downtown YMCA (30 Woodfin St.), the East Asheville Recreation tennis + pickleball courts (New Haw Creek Rd.), Ferguson Family Center (135 Candler School Rd.), the Stephens-Lee Center (30 George Washington Carver Ave.) + more. There’s also an Asheville Pickleball Meetup Group. They play every Sunday at the Stephens-Lee Center. Invest in some paddles + balls before you go. When we looked, sets of two paddles with a couple of balls were averaging around $30.