Aug 16, 2022 - Sports

Pickleball takes off in Detroit

A pickleball doubles match at Palmer Park
A pickleball doubles match at Palmer Park. Photo: Joe Guillen/Axios

One of the country's hottest sports is finding new devotees in Detroit.

State of play: Pickleball has exploded in popularity recently — participation grew 15% last year to nearly 5 million players nationwide.

  • The sport — kind of like a cross between tennis and Ping-Pong — is attractive to players of all ages because it has a smaller court than tennis, simple rules and low cost.

What they're saying: Palmer Park, near 7 Mile Road and Woodward Avenue, is home to frequent pickleball games, Leonora King, tennis director for the People for Palmer Park Tennis Academy, tells Axios.

  • "It's taken off. [Groups] are lined up … to get on the court," King says.
  • "It's a lot of activity but it's not too strenuous. I've lost like 15 pounds," Alice Willis, who began playing with retirees in the Palmer Park games in July, tells Axios.

Between the lines: Several other city parks have pickleball courts or tennis courts with pickleball striping, city spokesperson John Roach tells Axios.

  • They are: Stoepel No. 1, Liuzzo, Van Antwerp, Krainz, Skinner, Young, Lafayette, Romanowski and Rouge (Brennan Area).

Yes, but: Some metro Detroit residents — annoyed with pickleball's noise — are fighting the sport's expansion, the Free Press reports. The game is played with a plastic ball that makes a popping sound when struck.

  • "Imagine having to hear the pop, pop, pop sound of the pickleball, 14 hours a day. All Saturday and all Sunday," a petition opposing a pickleball project at the Birmingham Country Club reads.

💭 Joe's thought bubble: I fell in love with pickleball in my "lifetime sports" class as a senior in high school, but I hadn't played much since then.

  • More than 20 years later, I played last weekend at Palmer Park and it was as fun as I remember. It's truly a game for all ages and I highly recommend it!
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