Many a game has been invented to occupy bored kids – but few have lasted as long as pickleball. If you haven’t heard of it before, pickleball combines many elements of badminton, tennis, and ping-pong. It’s played indoors and outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly lowered tennis net. And it’s played with lights bats (bigger than table-tennis bats) and a plastic ball with circular holes (a wiffle ball).
And, yes, you can learn pickleball in a night class – in Portmarnock Community School!
“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US,” says Debbie Brown, the American charged with bringing pickleball to north county Dublin. “The sport is over 50 years old and was started by three dads in Washington state whose kids were bored. In terms of adult education, it’s a great way for people who are trying to stay active, or who used to play tennis or squash and want to keep up a sport. It’s ideal for schools and communities too because almost every sports hall has a badminton court.”
Portmarnock is lucky to have Debbie in its midst! She coaches tennis, padel, squash, and pickleball. A native of California, Debbie is a former college tennis player and a three-time national champion in the over 35 and 40 age groups, winning the silver medal in the World Masters in Portland, Oregon. She has played in World Masters events in Melbourne, Australia, and both Sheffield and Birmingham, England. More recently, she represented Ireland in the Home Internationals and played in the Spanish Open in Madrid in early September.
“The sport is growing here in Ireland and, every week, someone new comes along. The classes run for 15 weeks, but we also have a drop-in option. In fact, we’ve hosted American players who are on vacation here in Ireland and want to get their pickleball fix!
“I’d really love to get people here excited about pickleball! It’s perfect for every age – the racquets and ball are really light, so it’s an ideal starter sport. It involves exercise, flexibility, twisting, bending down to pick up the ball.”
If you want to join a sport that’s increasingly played in countries such as England, Holland, Spain, France, and Belgium, as well as the US, get along to Portmarnock and check out pickleball!
Debbie Brown pictured with her Irish Nationals competition mixed doubles partner (left). They won the Open mixed doubles division. Pickleball in action (right).