PHOENIX -- If you have not heard about the sport pickleball, chances are you will in the near future because some consider it the fastest growing sport in America.
The sport is an integration of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Instead of a standard tennis racket, an oversized ping-pong-like paddle is used with a Wiffle ball on a badminton-size court.
The USA Pickelball Association (USAPA) was established in order to advocate the growth and expansion of pickleball nationally, as well as internationally. The organization supplies players with official rules, tournaments, rankings and promotional materials.
Traditionally the sport is considered to attract an elderly audience, but the USAPA wishes to broaden the age gap and target a younger audience. Because there is a wide variety of skill levels and it is not hard on your joints, pickleball is friendly for all ages and fitness levels.
The sister sport to tennis, pickleball, which dates back to the mid-'60s, has recently boomed in Arizona. the Grand Canyon State is home to some of the nation's most qualified players.
"I never imagined that in eighth grade when I learned pickleball in P.E. that I would make it my career," said Steve Wong, owner of Onix Sports.
A nationally ranked champion in men's doubles, Wong is also the president of the Surprise Pickleball Association (S.P.A.), which donated $25,000 to the city of Surprise in order to construct pickleball courts that opened on February 27, 2011. The S.P.A. also raised $10,100 in order to enhance the lights at the City Courts.
For more information and locations to play pickleball in Arizona, visit usapa.org.