MENTOR, Ohio — Pickleball is considered the fastest growing sport in America, and now it’s popping up on courts across Northeast Ohio.
This weekend in Mentor, the Cleveland Pickleball Classic begins.
“Back in the 60s it was invented in Washington State,” said Alex Horn, Director of Marketing for World Pickleball Tour. “It actually just became the official sport of the state of Washington. It’s grown tremendously over the last few years because of how easy it is to pick up for all ages and skill levels."
The sport, which is a mashup of ping-pong, badminton and tennis, is named the fasted growing sport in America for the second year in a row.
“What you find is they pick up the paddle, they play for a few hours and then they’re hooked,” Alex said.
The average age for pickleball is 51 years old. But to no surprise, as people search for new hobbies during the pandemic, it began to catch on to a younger crowd.
“I think because it’s social distancing in nature. It’s outside. It’s grown tremendously in that 18 to 35 age range. A lot of people, this is the first sport that they’ve ever played because of how easy it is to pick up and how addictive and fun it is,” Horn said.
Its rocketship rise in popularity is on full display in Mentor this weekend as the World Pickleball Tour makes a stop there.
“We’re going to have over 25 tournaments across the United States this year. We’re in 17 different states. We started in Columbus, Ohio last year and it’s grown like crazy,” Horn said.
Horn said it’s tournaments like these that are critical for the sport to continue that growth.
“That growth is really going to be important for us in that age range, So finding ways to make this a tournament experience that’s unlike any other — DJs, food trucks, you name it," Horn said.
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