CHENEY, Wash. - Have you heard about it, yet? Pickleball.
It's fun. It's addicting. It's been around for more than 50 years and this weekend, hundreds of players from 20 states and four countries are taking over Eastern Washington University (EWU) for the 2022 USA Pickleball Pacific Northwest Diamond Regional tournament (or the USAPPNWDRT for short).
"During COVID, it just exploded," Seattle resident and tournament player, Mary Ann Benack, said of her new passion's popularity.
Two years ago, after trying pickleball at the suggestion of a friend, Mary Ann fell in love with it and decided to leave her corporate job of 20+ years. She now not only plays pickleball full-time, including at the National Championships last year where she won 2 silver medals, but she also teaches pickleball on the west coast. And there's no shortage of students!
"There's so many customers. People who just want to learn pickleball," Mary Ann said. "I literally can't keep up with the demand."
Invented in 1965 on Washington's own Bainbridge Island, pickleball recently became the Official State Sport of Washington and has been called the fastest growing sport in the U.S.
Tournament Director Mike Hoxie attributes the growth and popularity to the sport's accessibility.
"It is very affordable to enter," Mike explained. "It's for all ages. All shapes. All sizes. Anyone can pick it up and play."
The 2022 USA Pickleball Pacific Northwest Diamond Regional tournament runs through Sunday at EWU and is free to attend. If you're new to the sport, Mike said you'll find no shortage of folks eager to teach you and get you hooked!
"You can talk to any of us 'fanatics,' as I say, because we love the sport and would be happy to help explain it and get you started," he encouraged..
If you'd like to find out more about pickleball in the Spokane area, check out Spokane Pickleball on Facebook. You can also check out USA Pickleball.