New pickleball courts coming as sport grows in popularity

Community members Jean West, Andy Miller, Jeff Parke and Catherine Carey play pickleball in Maple Leaf Reservoir Park.


Pickleball was invented on Bainbridge Island in 1965. Nearly 50 years later, pickleball’s popularity is booming just across the Puget Sound in Seattle and across the country. The National Recreation and Park Association recently started a forum for Parks staff to discuss how to accommodate the new trend.

In Seattle, pickleball has been played in Parks community centers for years, but the first and only City-outdoor courts opened just last year in Maple Leaf Reservoir Park. Since fall 2013, the courts have helped create a community of avid pickleball players and the popularity of the game continues to grow.

Jeff Bialer and his wife Jean West picked up the sport when they saw the courts appear in their neighborhood park. Though they had to look up the rules, the two said the courts were too convenient to ignore and now they’re hooked. The couple joined an online meetup where community members can sign up to meet throughout the week and play together on the courts.

“It’s a good thing that I’m retired and can play on Tuesday mornings,” Bialer said, “because in the evenings, the courts are packed.”

Catherine Carey is another member of the meetup group. She said she often played pickleball in community centers, but was excited to bring her game outdoors.

“I found Maple Leaf so delightful,” Carey said. “It’s so nice to be outside in your neighborhood with other people in your community.”

Other than its potential for fun and new friends, pickleball is beneficial for senior citizens and people with sports injuries who need low-impact exercise.

Andy Miller is a tennis player at heart, but has an injured wrist and found pickleball to be a great tennis alternative. The sport still requires coordination and flexibility, but the ball is lighter and the court is easier to cover.

Similarly, Jeff Parke discovered pickleball after he injured his Achilles tendon playing racquetball. Because of his injury, he shied away from racket sports for about 15 years. Parke started playing pickleball in May and said it’s been a wonderful replacement.

“I really like the game and the enthusiasm of everyone who plays at Maple Leaf is fantastic,” Parke said.

In response to that enthusiasm, Seattle Parks is opening a new sports court at Montlake Playfield this fall that will accommodate pickleball. The court is scheduled to open by the end of November.

Pickleball court etiquette

Seattle Parks is excited to take part in pickeball’s growing popularity, and we want to make sure the courts are well-maintained for the community. To help keep our courts functioning, please use the pickleball courts only for pickleball. Pickleball nets are delicate and cannot handle the weight or force of soccer balls, volleyballs or tennis balls.