Albany Area YMCA adds indoor pickleball courts to meet demand for the fast-growing sport
ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the U.S., according to NPR. To keep up with the demand for the game in the Albany area, the Albany Area YMCA has added new courts.
If you have played tennis, ping pong or racquetball, then you will find Pickleball pretty easy. A lot of the players WALB spoke with say that they have never played before, but they describe the sport as exciting.
“I saw some people playing and thought I might like to try that. And that was probably at least four years ago. I hate to miss it. We have so much fun here, we laugh a lot, and that’s what I really like about it,” said Katy Sinquefield, an Albany resident and pickleball player.
The Albany Area YMCA previously only had two outdoor courts, but when they saw people waiting to play, they decided to up their availability. Now there are three new inside courts, and they will be available five days a week.
“Every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, we were seeing approximately 24-30 people show up to play pickleball. Four people per court and three indoor courts. So, we had people waiting,” said Dan Gillan, CEO of the Albany Area YMCA.
Brad Polk has been playing pickleball for a while now, but one advantage this sport has over tennis is less running involved.
“Well, younger people, they excel at it, but us older people we need our exercise. So, this is a great exercise. You don’t have to cover a whole lot of area, and just a lot of excitement and a lot of fun,” said Brad Polk, a Lee County resident and pickleball player.
Jane McCrary is a former tennis player herself, but she likes the challenge of playing pickleball with people based on their experience.
“I love the different levels that play here. We have some that are just learning, and beginners, and some that have played a long time they play in tournaments. And as we swap around, we get to play with different levels, so you get better,” said McCray.
“It’s great when you hit a good shot, but that doesn’t always happen. Sometimes it goes right into that net, but we play with some really good players and they help us,” said Sinquefield.
A lot of the players WALB spoke with are mostly seniors, but one benefit that is consistent is the sport serves as exercise for the players.
“Well, before, I was gardening or reading, which are not real active, so this is my active sport. I come three days a week. I try not to miss it unless I’m out of town, but I’m here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. And they did jus open up Tuesdays and Thursdays, but I haven’t made it on those days,” said Sinquefield.
One reason for the expansion is to keep Albany growing by having fun activities for both adults and the youth.
“Moms and dads are coming in and introducing the sport to their kids, and we see this also growing in our local community schools as well. So it’s a growing sport, the popularity is fantastic, and it’s bringing community and families together,” said Gillan.
Many pickleball players expressed how they are making new friends, but one way to maintain those relationships is by joining a league.
“We hope to have tournaments here and invite other community organizations here in the region to be able to compete, like Moultrie like Valdosta. And I believe we have the demand here and the desire for this game,” said Gillan.
Copyright 2023 WALB. All rights reserved.