How Pickleball took St. Louis by storm
If you are looking for a racquet sport this spring, you might find that some of the old standards are a bit outdated. Tennis? Too hard. Racquetball? No one wants indoor sport during a pandemic. Well, what about pickleball? Perhaps the main problem with this laid-back version of tennis, ping-pong, and badminton is that it’s just too popular. The courts in the region seem to be perpetually filled with players.
The very fact that courts exist is largely the work of one man, for St. Louis magazine revealed in recent article detailing the explosive growth of the sport here. Mike Chapin fell in love with pickleball in 2014, writes Nicholas Phillips. Through Chapin’s advocacy, in 2016. Tilles Park in St. Louis became host to the region’s first permanent multicourt pickleball facility. At Chapin’s urging, four parks across town followed, with more on the way (with more to come in St. Louis County).
Tuesdays Saint Louis Live, Chapin discussed the tradition of pickleball, his efforts to install pickleball courts in city parks, and what gives the sport its multigenerational appeal.
“I don’t know of a sport where a grandparent and a grandchild can be physical in the same court or on the same court like pickleball,” he said. “That’s the beauty of the game.”
Chapin also spoke of the criticism that the growth of pickleball has come at the expense of tennis. By the time he started advocating for pickleball, he said, the city alone had 149 tennis courts. “I knew tennis and pickleball could be linked,” he said. “We definitely wanted to be a good partner. … Honestly, many tennis or racquetball players convert to pickleball, or play both sports at the same time, and fall in love with pickleball.
Tower Grove Park, for example, has nine tennis courts and eight pickleball courts. “We usually have about 20 or 30 people waiting to play pickleball, and the tennis courts are barely full,” Chapin said.
We also heard from listeners from the metropolitan area.
The pickleball flute player
Listen to Mike Chapin discuss pickleball live
For those looking to see the best players on the court, Chapin also said the USA Pickleball Association’s Middle State Regional Tournament will be held at the Dwight Davis Tennis Center in Forest Park from May 27-30.
“There will be over 800 players representing 37 states participating in this major event and it will really show how great our sport of pickleball is with the growth we are having right now in St. Louis,” he wrote. in an email. “Guests and non-players are invited to come and watch the sport played in singles, doubles and mixed doubles throughout the four days of the tournament. Free entry.”
What: USA Pickleball Association Intermediate State Regional Tournament
When: May 27-30
Where: Dwight Davis Tennis Center, 5620 Grand Drive, St. Louis 63112
“Saint Louis Live»Brings you the stories of Saint-Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah fenske and produced by Alex heuer, Emily woodbury, Evie hemphill and Lara hamdan. The sound engineer is Aaron Doerr.