A game supposedly named after a pet dog will see from more than 400 players from around the world gathering in Florida for its inaugural world championships starting tomorrow.
Pickleball was invented in 1965 by two neighbours Joel Pritchard and William Bell as a diversion for their bored children. They had wanted to play badminton but did not have proper equipment. They improvised with table tennis bats and a wiffle ball.
It was the beginning of the game with another neighbor Barney McCallum being roped in to enhance the game.
While tennis uses racquets, pickleball is played with a paddle that was designed and refined by McCallum himself.
Over the next one year, the three friends would work on creating the basic rules and experiment with newer ones that would limit the use of power in lieu of skills and finesse.
And the rest is history, with the game spreading all over the USA and to Europe and other parts of the world.
The World Pickleball Championships offers a total prize money of USD 100,000 and has attracted players from around the globe including from the United States, Argentina, Brazil, Denmark, England, Germany, India, Mexico, the Philippines, and Singapore.
However, none of the founders of the game would be around to witness the championships. McCallum, the last surviving member of the trio of founders, died earlier last month at the age of 93.
The game itself was the brainchild of Pritchard, who went on to serve in the US Congress and also as the lieutenant governor of Washington state. That left McCallum to promote and develop the game.
In recent years, pickleball has become one of the fastest growing sports around the world. In Malaysia, the game is growing in popularity, especially in Miri.
Pickleball is basically a cross between tennis and table tennis but played on a badminton-sized court with a three feet high net. Players use oversized paddles and wiffle balls.
The object of the game, similar to tennis, is to hit the ball over the net and force the opponent making a mistake in returning it. If the opposing team lets the ball bounce twice on their side, hits the ball out of bounds, hits it into the net, or makes a fault of as per the rules, then they lose that point or rally. The first team to 11 will win the match.
The World Pickleball Championships will see competition in age-group, Pro and Senior Pro categories. A total of 60 world champions would be crowned at the end of the four day competition.
For those interested, the matches will be streamed on the Pickleball Global Facebook page .