Sports

New Harris County pickleball courts to open as interest in sport grows

The sport — a mix of badminton, ping pong and tennis — is growing in popularity around the country and in the Houston area.

Pickleball Houston
Pickleball has become an increasingly popular sport. It’s a mix of ping pong, tennis and badminton.

Three new pickleball courts will open in Harris County on Tuesday at the Weekley Community Center in Cypress. In addition to new courts, it will provide equipment, and regular lessons.

The sport itself – a mix of badminton, ping pong and tennis – has increased in popularity over the past few years, especially during the pandemic, pickleball instructor Mike Goldberg said.

"It was something you could during the pandemic where you didn't have to get up close with anybody, and you didn't have to be in a room with a crowd of people," he said. "Secondly, it's been growing for a long time because it can be done by anybody; there's even wheelchair pickleball."

Goldberg also pointed out that the sport is popular among older adults, and former tennis players. That's because the court is smaller, and doesn't require as much running over a large space like tennis.

"You only have to walk about 25 feet from where you serve the ball to where you play," he said. "You can just walk quickly. You don't have to run in order to play the game. It's much kinder on the body."

It's also more social than other sports, he said.

"People do it for exercise and the social aspect of it," he said.

Bumpy Pickle opened this year in the trendy EaDo neighborhood and features courts along with drinks and food. Another pickleball bar, PKL Social, is set to open later this year along the Washington Ave. corridor.

Goldberg said another reason pickleball is growing is because it’s relatively inexpensive to play. Compared to tennis or golf, equipment for pickleball is not as costly.

"A pickleball paddle can be as cheap as $25, whereas a tennis racket is probably going to be $100 or more," he said. "You don't need equipment other than shoes. The ball is about $1 and they last a while."

The three courts will open in Harris County Commissioner Jack Cagle's district. He said that residents of Precinct 4 have been "eager to play."

"We recently opened two new community soccer pitches in the Gulfton area, and next week I'll cut the ribbon on three brand-new outdoor pickleball courts at the Richard and Meg Weekley Community Center in Cypress," he said in an emailed statement. "This is all part of Precinct 4's commitment to public service and our belief that sports help build community and help us come together as neighbors."

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