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As demand for pickleball grows, Northeast Ohio communities race to build courts

Parks across the area are undergoing construction of courts to keep up with the fastest growing sport in the United States.

CLEVELAND — Pickleball has quickly become the fastest growing sport in the United States. Northeast Ohio is trying to keep up. 

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According to USA Pickleball, almost 5 million people played the sport in 2021. However, last year alone, that number grew to over 36 million people.

It’s a trend being felt in the Greater Cleveland area daily, according to pickleball ambassador Rick Warsinskey.

“I do think the cities are recognizing that there’s a great demand because they hear from their own residents that they want courts,” Warsinskey told 3News recently at Clague Park in Westlake. “I’ve seen a number of meetings are being held by council and the mayors are getting involved and the park districts, to try and find places to build courts and come up with the money. I think they’re making good efforts to fill as many courts.”

Northeast Ohio is witnessing a high demand for pickleball, but not nearly enough courts to play.

Tri-City Park on the west side of Cleveland is currently putting six new courts in which are expected to open later this summer. It's the same story on the east side, where Beachwood City Council approved spending over $1 million for improvements that include adding six new pickleball courts.

The popularity and demand are even higher than Warsinskey could have ever predicted.

“I never really thought that it would be as big as it is now,” Warsinskey said. “Everyday so many people write me and I’m like, astounded, so, it is surprising, but I guess I’m getting used to the fact that it is going to keep growing.”

Pickleball attracts players of all ages and is relatively easy to learn. It combines tennis, ping-pong and badminton.

The equipment? A paddle and wiffle ball.

Pickleball got its start in the 1960s in Bainbridge Island, Washington, just a short ferry ride from Seattle.

Today, it's booming, from the state of Washington, where Pickleball is the official state sport, to Central Park in New York City.

The supply cannot keep up with the demand. Cleveland and Northeast Ohio are no different than the rest of the country right now.

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