CLARK SUMMIT, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Pickleball is growing in popularity around the country, and across the Commonwealth. The sport is attracting all age groups, from older adults to kids as young as 11.

The weather has turned colder, and sports normally played outside are now moving indoors, including pickleball.

One fitness center in our area is experiencing a boom in business thanks to its new pickleball courts that just opened, and its new pickleball youth program kicked off.

With a little hand-eye coordination and a lot of determination, this energetic group of kids is learning the basic skills of pickleball at Birchwood Tennis and Fitness Club in Clarks Summit.

This youth pickleball program just kicked off its second season on brand-new courts.

“In April of 2022, we underwent a major renovation where we changed our clay courts into a hard court facility. So now we have 8 permanent pickleball courts with permanent nets,” stated Elizabeth Karam, Managing Partner at Birchwood Tennis, and Fitness.

7 players as young as 11 have joined this youth pickleball program that lasts 8 weeks. It’s a one and half hour clinic with 45 minutes of instruction, and 45 minutes of open play.

“Last year it was a league introducing kids to the sport, this year we’re hoping to provide more instruction so that there’s an opportunity to progress and grow with the sport,” explained Karam.

Rosco Petalver is the program’s instructor and also an avid player. He says, whether pickleball is played as a sport or a hobby, it teaches kids sportsmanship and offers camaraderie.

“Players are required to call the lines, there’s a sense of sportsmanship that instilled there’s teamwork you have a partner a lot of times, learning how to play with different people, win or lose, you enjoy the game,” said Rosco Petalver, a pickleball instructor.

Pickleball is a combination of tennis, racquetball, ping pong, and badminton and has grown in popularity as you can see among the young and old alike.

“There’s not many sports where you can have a 9-year-old and a 90-year-old playing at the same time. It’s not for older folks by any means you see a lot of young players that are eager to take on any age,” explained Petalver.

Pickleball ball is played with a small paddle and a wiffle-like ball. These young players are already drawn to the sport after taking one class.

“I really like the serving. I remember how fun tennis was and that really played into it,” said John Webber from Waverly.

“It allows varying ages of age groups even if you’re a year younger kid or older individual and I like that aspect of it,” said Evan Petalver from Clarks Summit.

Pickleball is not new, it’s been around since 1965 when families on Washington’s Bainbridge Island created the game to entertain their children.

The sport exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s so popular there’s even a local Facebook group called NEPA Pickleball.

In addition to Birchwood, pickleball is also offered at most YMCAs, JCC’s, as well as riverfront sports in Scranton.