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The History of Pickleball

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, then a congressman from Washington State, and a businessman named Bill Bell at Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, WA. They created the game as a form of entertainment for their families using an old badminton court, a lowered net, ping-pong paddles, and a perforated plastic ball. The next weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game and the three men began working together to create rules, which they based largely on badminton gameplay. In 1967, the first permanent pickleball court was constructed at the home of Pritchard’s friend and neighbor, Bob O’Brian. In 1976, the first known pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, Washington. (Many of the participants were college tennis players who knew very little about the new sport.) Pickleball pioneer Sid Williams began organizing tournaments in Washington state in the early 1980s and in 1984, the United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was created and the first rulebook was published. That same year, Arlen Paranto, an industrial engineer at Boeing, created the first composite pickleball paddle. By 1990, the sport was being played in all 50 states, and in the early 2000s, it was added to several Senior Olympics events across the country. (It has since been added to many more.) The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was established in 2005 and in 2008, the sport received its first mass-media spot on Good Morning America. In 2009, the first USAPA National Tournament for players of all ages was held in Buckeye, Arizona. The sport’s popularity has only grown from there. In fact, it has experienced a massive boost in popularity over the last two to three years and is especially popular among senior citizens.

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