By John Elliott

MONTCLAIR, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – Pickleball was created in a back yard in Washington State in 1965.

Now, it’s a coast to coast craze.

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CBS2’s John Elliott met with a group that plays every day in Brookdale Park in Essex County to explore the sport’s amazing appeal.

“I started to play pickleball about two years ago and it has saved my mentality during the pandemic,” said Diane Nash. “I’ve met a wonderful group of people and we all say without pickleball, we would have gone crazy.”

“It’s fun. It’s great exercise, and you just meet wonderful people,” said organizer Randee Pearson.

“Is pickleball really America’s fastest growing sport?” Elliott asked.

“Absolutely, John. Everyone’s playing it. Everywhere you look, they’re turning tennis courts into pickleball courts, or playing both on the same court,” said instructor Lynne DiGiacomo.

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A pickleball court is about a third of the size of a regular tennis court. You play to 11. You keep your serve until you lose your serve, and it’s an underhand serve. A part of the court is known as “the kitchen,” and you never volley from there, so stay out of it.

“What does the tennis community think of pickleball?” Elliott asked.

“Well, first they were a little annoyed, because of the noise the ball makes when it hits the paddle. The noise is what makes it exciting,” DiGiacomo said.

“The closeness of it makes it more social, right?” Elliott asked.

“It’s a very social game. You’ll see families playing this game together, husbands and wives,” DiGiacomo said. “Just try it. Once you try it, you’ll be addicted to this game.”

Is it just for senior citizens? It used to be considered that. Now if you look around, kids are playing it. They’re learning it in high school and college – everyone’s playing the game.

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All the players Elliott spoke with are part of an organization called Pickleball Alley that is dedicated to booking courts and setting up games to make play more accessible.

John Elliott