DALLAS — The improvised courts set up in the parking lot of the Polk County Sheriff’s Office were busy for much of the first of Dallas’ Tuesday on the Square events on June 13.
The sport? Pickleball, the fastest growing sport in the country, according to those who belong to the increasingly popular Dallas Pickleball Club.
Karen Freeman, a member of the club, said the sport developed 51 years ago. It’s a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It played on smaller courts and with lower nets than tennis, making it accessible to a wide variety of athletes. While there’s strategy to the game, most players can pick it up quickly, she said.
Freeman said that doesn’t mean it’s not challenging or competitive.
“Your mind has to be focused on the ball,” she said. “It can come back at you so fast.”
Currently, the club meets at the tennis courts in Roger Jordan Community Park Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 to noon, and Sunday and Tuesday evenings from 6:30 until dark.
“In the mornings, we have four courts full and people waiting out (for their next game),” Freeman said. “That’s not everyone. If everybody came, we would have quite a few people waiting out.”
By the end of this summer, club members — and anyone who wishes to try Pickleball — will have courts designed for the sport.
Thanks to a grant and money from city park system development charges, the city is building courts across the street from the Dallas Aquatic Center. Work is slated to begin by mid-summer, granted that the ground is dry enough.
Freeman said Dallas isn’t the only place seeing a surge in the sport.
She said the city of Bend just opened a 16-court complex and hosts tournaments. The sport has a website that lists all the places in the country to play.
“In the last 10 years, it’s really taken off,” Freeman said. “It’s pretty amazing.”