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The Redwood Pickleball Club: A glimpse into the future of the sport

Pickleball club members participate in a weekly Friday meeting. (Photo courtesy of Chris Lee)
Pickleball club members participate in a weekly Friday meeting. (Photo courtesy of Chris Lee)

Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the United States, with a 158.6 percent growth rate in the last three years, according to SFIA. The sport has over 36.5 million players nationwide, and Marin County is no exception. 

Established in the spring of 2022, the Redwood Pickleball Club had over 100 sign-ups on this years’ club day. Its members enjoy the inclusive nature of the sport. Seniors Chris Lee and Jack Voges are the co-presidents of the club this year after being members last year. 

Lee has been playing tennis for over ten years. He loves the individual and team aspect of tennis and has risen to captain of the Redwood boys’ varsity tennis team after transferring to Redwood his sophomore year. 

“I became interested in pickleball through my involvement in tennis, [as] I’ve always enjoyed racket sports and have been playing tennis since I was in elementary school. Pickleball [came] easy to me because of the similarities between the two sports.” Lee said.

Voges rows at Marin Rowing Association but recently got into paddle sports. Lee and Voges took over the Pickleball club this year. Although there was a club last year, they didn’t meet often, and it wasn’t very organized. The pair see a bright future for the club under their leadership.

“We decided to take over [the club] so we can organize more events and get more people involved, hopefully building a strong foundation for someone else to take over next year,” Lee said. 

Supervisor of the club and Physical Education teacher Byron Nelson enjoys the club because it encourages student activity at lunch. 

“I like that [students] want to be active during lunch and they are getting something done while building relationships and having fun,” Nelson added.

Data courtesy of Marin Pickleball (Infographic by Julia Delsol)

The sport’s accessibility and low impact make it a perfect activity for people of all ages.

 

“I know 7-year-olds that play [pickleball], and I know there are [pickleball] leagues at senior homes,” Lee said.

Marin County’s pickleball community has flourished, attracting players of all ages and skill levels. Marin Pickleball League (MPL) hosts matches for Marin residents. They have weekly round robins for various skill levels to compete. A Flex League is also hosted by MPL, where players participate in division games to compete for a prize. 

In recent years, a number of local towns have added pickleball classes to their recreation program offerings. Top among these is Ross Recreation with multiple classes each week that help foster the skills of up-and-coming players. The classes are hosted on tennis courts with new pickleball lines painted.

The sport not only provides physical benefits such as improved cardiovascular health and hand-eye coordination but also fosters a strong sense of community and social interaction. In Marin County, pickleball isn’t just a game; it’s a bridge for friendships and a shared passion for healthy living. The welcoming atmosphere on the courts encourages inclusivity, making it an ideal activity for individuals seeking both fitness and social connections. 

Lee and his friends enjoy playing pickleball at Tiburon Peninsula Club. The club has courts available daily. They’re popular with members of all ages.

“[Playing pickleball is] definitely a social event; we like to place bets [on it], and we just use it as a way to get all our friends together,” Lee said.  

The club’s leaders hope that as the sport keeps growing, their club will too. They meet at the tennis courts at Redwood every other Friday. To encourage people to attend, they provide paddles and balls to everyone and always play music. 

Co-presidents Chris Lee (left) and Jack Voges (right) stand in a ready stance, eager to hit the ball at a club meeting. (Photo courtesy of Chris Lee)

Club member Beach Swanson enjoys the atmosphere the co-presidents create for everyone.

“I love the [Redwood] Pickleball Club because of the fun and competitive nature of its members! It was a way for me to pick up the sport quickly,” Swanson said. 

Nelson added that there is a space for everyone. “Some people just dink around, and others go all out and get intense,” Nelson said.

 Lee and Voges are hoping to host a Redwood Pickleball tournament in the spring with either 32 or 64 teams of two, depending on the number of sign-ups. The tournament will be a single elimination style and span over a few weeks at lunch. To elevate the competition’s stakes, prizes will be awarded to the champions. 

The Pickleball Club aims to provide an environment that encourages physical activity and fun. Inviting all students to join, the club is open to members of different skill levels. Pickleball’s inclusive nature is one of the reasons why the sport is growing so rapidly. Lee believes the reason for the massive growth these past years has been because of how easy it is to pick up. 

“It’s a lot easier to pick up than tennis, and there is a much smaller learning curve; I would say anyone can play [pickleball] and be good at it,” Lee said.

Lee and Voges encourage more people to come out to the tennis courts on Fridays at lunch! For more information, check out their Instagram page @Redwoodhs.pickleballclub.

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About the Contributors
Meg Stevenson, Nonfiction Student
Meg Stevenson is a sophomore at Redwood High School and a Nonfiction student (cubbie). She enjoys playing lacrosse, traveling and hanging out with friends.
Lucy Miller, Cub Reporter