While the name may get a giggle or two, the rising popularity of pickleball is no joke. The sport, a combination of ping-pong, badminton and tennis, was invented on Bainbridge Island back in 1965. The paddle-and-wiffle-ball activity has since grown in popularity across the country — especially with tennis players. Many rec centers and country clubs across the Inland Northwest have started to convert their existing courts into spaces to play pickleball, offering indoor space for the winter months. There are lots of courts in outdoor parks, too, for when the weather improves in the springtime.
The Inland Northwest is also home to Tyson McGuffin, the 2017 and 2018 Men's Singles national champion in pickleball. McGuffin originally started out in the world of tennis, but like many other players, switched gears and dove head first into what he describes as "the fastest growing sport in America."
The reason for that, McGuffin explains, is the wide appeal of the sport; pickleball is a lot easier to pick up and play compared to other games like tennis. What takes nine months to learn in tennis only takes two weeks in pickleball, McGuffin says. The game is less physically demanding than tennis, as well.
"I've heard so many good things about people trying pickleball, playing pickleball," says McGuffin. "I highly recommend this game."
The other big appeal for the game, McGuffin says, is the flexibility it offers players. Athletes who play games, like racquetball, badminton, ping-pong, tennis or squash, each add their own style and technique to the game, as there's no one dominant winning strategy.
"I think the beauty of it is we have so much variety in pickleball because we have all these different people coming in who played another racket sport," McGuffin says. "They all kind of play their own way."
CLUBS AND COURTS
Numerous private clubs, such as the YMCA, Kroc Center, Peak, Rathdrum Fitness Center, Hayden Lake Country Club and the Spokane Club also offer indoor pickleball courts and organized play for their paid members. Spokane Parks stores nets in a locked bin; you can check out a key for the season by emailing the city at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cherry Hill Park
1718 N. 15th St., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300
600 W. 29th Ave., Spokane • 625-6200
The Hub Sports Center (indoor)
19619 E. Cataldo Ave., Liberty Lake • 927-0602
The Inland Northwest Pickleball Club (indoor)
420 E. Front Ave., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300
501 Fort Ground Dr., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300
North Park Athletic Club (indoor)
8121 N. Division St., Spokane • 467-5124
Prairie Sky Park
8501 N. Nettleton Ct., Spokane • 625-6200
Prairie View Park
Mon-Sun, dawn to dusk • 3724 E. 61st Ave., Spokane • 477-4730
1002 W. Main Ave., Spokane • 625-6200
Spokane Street Sportsman Park
Between 19th and 21st avenues on Spokane Street, Post Falls • 208-773-0539
National champion and Spokane resident Tyson McGuffin at North Park Athletic Club: "I highly recommend this game." YOUNG KWAK PHOTO