The racquet sport of pickleball has become so popular in the Valley that residents Andrew Seidenberg and Grant Peterson recently co-founded the Arcadia Pickleball Association to allow participants to expand their network of players within the neighborhood.
Pickleball is a cross between ping-pong and tennis. According to Seidenberg, many players are former tennis players, and in fact, many Arcadia residents have converted their tennis courts into pickleball courts. At about 20 feet by 44 feet, a pickleball court is similar in size to a badminton court.
Last November, Seidenberg was playing tennis with his kids at Herberger Park when he noticed what he described as “these weird little tennis courts.” These were four new pickleball courts created from half of the existing tennis courts.
“I had some previous experience running sports leagues,” Seidenberg said, “and I knew software that could easily run a league and create an association.”
The association launched at the beginning of May. The group, “promotes play, but we’re fun and social, too,” Seidenberg said.
Currently, the APA has close to 100 followers on Facebook (@arcadiapickle) and about 20 who have officially joined the ladder. The ladder is a structure that ranks players individually based on their skill level.
“Arcadia players at every skill level can join our association,” Seidenberg said. “Players find and compete against each other based on a similar skill level. Players then move up and down the ladder based on their match scores. The ranking system is totally fun. We’re more about bragging rights than being super competitive.”
In addition to hosting matches in members’ backyards, the association also plays at the Arizona Country Club or on the public courts at Herberger Park. They envision the park as a place where they can one day grow the sport by providing training and skills clinics.
“With pickleball, you don’t have to play at the same level to have fun,” Seidenberg said.
“Pickleball is easier on the body and less intimidating than tennis, and for kids and the elderly, it’s simpler to learn than other racket sports.”
While the APA is currently geared toward adult play and socialization, they hope to add children and teen clinics and programs to their organizational offerings in the future.
“Down the road, our goal is to get kids involved,” Seidenberg said. “Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America, and I won’t be surprised if it isn’t an official high school sport by the next decade.”
The APA has two separate seasons. One runs January to Memorial Day, and the other spans August 1 to mid-December. Having two distinct seasons of play gives athletes a break and also allows players to reset their skill position on the ladder. For those who have improved between seasons, they have the chance to compete and rank higher.
“We’re all about doing this for the love of the sport,” Seidenberg said. “We’re all volunteers; no one gets paid here. Connect with us on Facebook and come out and play with us.”