Why it’s So Popular and Where Villagers Can Play

By Anthony Paradiso

In my hometown in New Jersey, there only used to be tennis courts. Now, there is a section dedicated to a new sport that is taking the nation by storm called pickleball. According to the Sports and Fitness Industry Association’s “topline participation report” for 2023, pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States and participation “almost doubled” in 2022.

A GROUP OF TEENAGERS CAME AND SET UP A NET: One of six pickleball courts at William F. Passannante Ballfield, which is located on West Houston and MacDougal Streets in the Village. Photo by Anthony Paradiso.

There is a reason why people are preferring to learn pickleball instead of tennis and that is because pickleball is more accessible.

The first and biggest difference between these two sports is what you use to play with. In pickleball, you use a paddle instead of a racket and a pickleball instead of a tennis ball. Paddles are 17 inches in length, which is ten inches shorter than the average tennis racket, and this makes them easier to handle. Pickleballs are made out of plastic and have a diameter of 2.8 inches, which is an inch smaller than a softball.

Another difference between these two similar sports is the size of their playing surfaces. Pickleball courts are 44 feet long and 24 feet wide, while tennis courts are 78 feet long and 27 feet wide, for singles tennis or when you play one-on-one and 36 feet for doubles or when you play a match two-against-two.

WALKING INSIDE THE ENTRANCE TO William F. Passannante ballfield on MacDougal Street, one finds six Pickleball courts which look like this. Photo by Anthony Paradiso.

Often you’ll see people playing doubles, but you can play one-on-one against each other too. In doubles tennis, the player who’s serving stands at the baseline, while their partner is a good distance away from them at the net. In pickleball, players stand much closer to each other. Because of this, players have to be aware of their positioning on the court more than in tennis, to avoid colliding during every volley.

As of right now, there are two parks in the Village neighborhood that have pickleball courts: Wiliam F. Passanante Ballfield and James J. Walker Park. Passannante has six pickleball courts—but of all things, it doesn’t have nets, which means you must bring your own! Luckily, a website called pickleballcentral.com, which exists to sell pickleball equipment, has them, but they are expensive.

Not in the mood to splurge on a pickleball net? There are other locations to play, and the way to book time at these locations is to visit citypickle.com. First, you create a free account and then you’ll be able to reserve time to play and the best part is it’s free.

City Pickle is an organization that has opened several new pickleball facilities throughout Manhattan and recently, pickleball opened 14 new courts in Central Park. This is one of the main venues for pickleball in the city and I couldn’t think of a better place to go during the Spring.

If you’re pondering ways to enjoy the warmer weather, put the paddle and the wiffle ball together! Invest in these two pieces of equipment and it will pay off!