Pickleball courts pop up more in Central Texas

Published: May. 23, 2023 at 12:54 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Many Central Texans may be planning to lace up their tennis shoes and pick up their paddle and whiffle ball as they head to play pickleball at new local courts.

Waco Regional Tennis and Fitness recently transformed some of their tennis courts into pickleball courts because of people’s heightened interest in the sport.

People can be seen playing pickleball on the courts nearly every day.

Instructor, Jodi Thurman, said a friend encouraged her to go to a pickleball clinic at First Woodway Baptist Church after her husband died five years ago.

“I was just basically sitting around, and my friend told me about that, and I went, and it just opened my life up to so much more,” she said. “It’s been wonderful.”

Since then, she has become an instructor and has watched it grow exponentially.

“When I first came out here, they were playing with some temporary nets out here, and, as time went on, it has just grown bigger and bigger,” Thurman said.

Recently, her classes grew from only a handful signing up to now filled within hours.

Waco Regional Tennis and Fitness followed the buzz by transforming four tennis courts into eight pickleball courts.

Thurman said the reason for the popularity of the sport may be linked to the elements of it, similar to tennis, ping pong and badminton.

“It’s very hard to pick up tennis right from the get go and even harder to become really good at it over time,” she said. “With pickleball, it’s easy to pick up.”

Thurman said the courts are smaller and people usually play the game in doubles, with four people; therefore, there is a lot less running involved. The sport is also less aggressive and intense, making it more social. Thurman said it’s more accessible to all ages and all skill sets.

These are some of the reasons Jana Miller started playing when she moved to Waco and found her own love of the game.

She moved about a year ago from Seattle, where she said there is pickleball everywhere; however, the courts in Waco were more accessible to her than in Seattle.

“It’s a great way to meet people, being new,” Miller said. “It was an opportunity to meet people. It’s fun.”

She said now she comes two or three times a week and enjoys the experience.

“You really mix up the people who you play with,” she said. “So, it’s an opportunity to improve your game in that way, too.”

Thurman said people start playing the game for many reasons, and she expects it to only grow from here.

“We’re having lots of Intro to Pickleball classes, so people can learn how to play the game,” she said. “More and more people are getting into it. They come out, and they realize how much fun it is and that it’s not that difficult to learn.”

Miller said she hopes to see more public courts pop up in Waco. There are pickleball courts in Killeen, Harker Heights and Temple.

There are opportunities for open play, taking courses and participating in tournaments. The tournaments have grown exponentially as well.