It's one of the fastest-growing sports in Halton Hills, and across the country for that matter.
Pickleball is immensely easy to pick up and play. President of the Halton Hills Pickleball Association (HHPA) Marc Surette attributes the growth of the game to its low barrier to entry. One simply needs a paddle, a ball and someone to play with. It's also fast-paced, making it ideal for those looking to work up a sweat.
HHPA – what was then called the Pickleball Players Group (PPG) – had about 130 members by the end of 2020. The club closed out the next year with 200 players and 2022 with 320 members, not counting carryover from the COVID years (about 400 or so). Pickleball Canada estimates there are roughly 350,000 players nationally.
It's tempting to describe pickleball as “like tennis, but…” and it's easy to see why. The playing court is similar to tennis, the paddles resemble rackets and a ball is hit back and forth with said paddles. Despite the resemblance between the cousins, Surette, however, would say it's more like table tennis and badminton.
“You want to play up at the net rather than playing from the baseline,” he explained.
But there's one thing standing in the way of its full growth potential locally: the lack of places to play.
“For us here, we don't have a community gym, whereas surrounding communities do,” Surette said. “Our players are heading down to Milton, to Brampton, Mississauga, where there is indoor play.”
The HHPA only has about six indoor and two outdoor venues to play in. They usually rent school gyms or community spaces like the Living Hope Church.
Despite this obstacle, the HHPA has been able to keep its calendar full of events and get-togethers. They scheduled 24 two-hour sessions in January and 33 in February. They're meeting almost every day, barring holidays. They will be hosting a tournament in Milton as well (registration is already closed).
“It's just another way for the group to connect with each other,” Surette said.
Those interested in joining the HHPA can find more information on its website. Enrollment costs $50 per year; due to limited space a spot is not guaranteed.