Fall River unveils new pickleball courts as sport expands in the region

FALL RIVER — The city unveiled four new pickleball courts at Kennedy Park, as the sport sees a rapid growth in popularity.

“I tell people, ‘once you start playing, it becomes an addiction,’” said Cliff Teixeira, a district ambassador for USA Pickleball based in Bristol, R.I.

Teixeira was at Kennedy Park on Friday morning for the official opening of the new courts. In 2021, the city announced a state grant for $400,000 that would go to upgrading existing tennis courts and installing the four pickleball courts.

Pickleball is similar to tennis, but played on a smaller court with a shorter net, and using smaller paddles and wiffle balls.

Mayor Paul Coogan trys his hand at pickleball Friday.

Speaking at a press conference at the opening on Friday, Mayor Paul Coogan said the city wants to continue to improve its parks and other outdoor spaces.

Already, he said, the city is interested in adding more pickleball courts in the city, given how popular the new ones already are. On Friday morning, the first time the courts were open to the public, there were already about a dozen people playing pickleball.

Mayor Paul Coogan speaks at the new tennis/pickleball courts at Kennedy Park.

“This investment in Kennedy Park is good for the whole community,” he said.

What does Pickleball USA do?

Pickleball USA plans to offer some community clinics to introduce people to the sport.

Pickleball has been dubbed the fastest growing sport in the U.S. for three consecutive years, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.

USAPA Ambassador of Bristol Rhode Island Cliff Teixeira.

Teixeira said there are around 800 regular players at the Bristol R.I. courts.

“We’re seeing the same sort of explosion of play across the region,” he said.

In the Fall River area, there are also courts at Bristol Community College and in Dartmouth and Fairhaven.

Barbara Henson of Somerset at the new tennis/pickleball courts at Kennedy Park.

Teixeira said the game has become popular because of its fast pace and how quickly beginners can pick it up. Earlier in the pandemic, people were desperate for recreational activities, and pickleball was an obvious choice. Enthusiasm has only expanded since then, he said.

“It’s an easy learning curve. Hard to master, easy to get going,” he said.

This article originally appeared on The Herald News: Fall River unveils new pickleball courts at Kennedy Park