The rise of pickleball - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Community Focus

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The rise of pickleball

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Posted: Wednesday, February 15, 2012 11:00 am

Things are moving fast for the pickleball community at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center and those who are leading the push, hope it doesn't slow down anytime soon.

When the club began two years ago, they started with about 35 members and since that time, it has more than doubled. The club's organizers say this is a testament to a game that can be played pretty much year-round in Arizona.

"This club is one of the most active and dynamic clubs at the Ahwatukee Rec Center," Jack Singer said. "Pickleball is becoming so popular because it's something that keeps you going."

Recently, the parking lot of the Ahwatukee Recreation Center was paved to encompass two courts. The club's members would like that to change in the coming year, and are working toward getting multiple permanent courts built at the center.

Singer said that there is a retirement community in north Phoenix that is advertising the fact they will have up to 16 courts available for members, a testament to how popular the sport has become.

"The fact that they will have that many and they are advertising it, I think really shows that people love pickleball," he said. "We have people come from Sun Lakes to play here, and we're hoping that number grows."

On Saturday, a group of more than 50 was on-hand to take in a pickleball clinic, taught by Jim and Yvonne Hackenberg, who have won tournaments in different parts of the country.

The local club has two ambassadors to the USA Pickleball Association, one of which is Mary Littlewood, retired softball coach for Arizona State University, who was instrumental in bringing the sport to Ahwatukee Foothills.

"Our goal is just to promote the sport and let people know it's out there," Littlewood said.

If they are eventually approved for new, permanent courts, it would be about a year down the line before construction. Until then, the club will continue to thrive on the paved parking lot courts.

Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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