Examining pickleball — one of America's fastest growing sports

By Manny Correira
Posted 1/27/23

For Bristol residents Nancy and Peter Tache, pickleball has become a way of life.

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Examining pickleball — one of America's fastest growing sports

Posted

It’s arguably the most acclaimed recreational activity in America and gaining in popularity by the minute.

Welcome to pickleball. This infectious, fascinating pastime continues to astound everyone…young, old, and in-between.

By definition, “pickleball is a fun sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court and a slightly modified tennis net.”

For local residents Nancy and Peter Tache, pickleball has become a way of life. Both are involved in every aspect of the game to the point where both have excelled on the competition circuit throughout the country and beyond.

“We rent a house in Bristol and travel around the United States to participate in high level tournaments,” said Nancy. “I have played in the U.S. Open that had 2,500 players in it and lasted a week, and I got 6th place in the Senior Nationals which had over 2,500 participants last May. Right now, we are in Del Ray Beach for the winter training and just finished playing in the Boca Raton masters tournament which had 1,100 players.”

Nancy played at the 4.0 and 4.5 level, which reportedly is right up there among the best competitors. Pros play at the 5.0 level.

Obviously, Nancy, who is also a certified instructor, is proud of her accomplishments, and rightfully so, but her athletic background is also worth mentioning.

“I am a Bristol girl who swam all her life at the Bristol YMCA,” she said. “It was great growing up in this town.”

“My husband and I played mixed doubles together in most pickleball tournaments,” she added, “And I also compete in women’s doubles.”

For those unfamiliar on how this sport has skyrocketed in popularity in recent years, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Wa., and has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a popular sport throughout the U.S. and Canada. The game is growing internationally as well, with many European and Asian countries adding courts.

Here locally, the former Bristol Town Common Tennis Courts along Wood Street (among other locations) now serves as a haven for all pickleball players. It’s amazing to see the number of people who congregate there to play this fascinating and enjoyable game.

“Peter is a pickleball instructor as well,” said Nancy, “But was a goalie for the UCONN hockey team in the 80s. He works in real estate but works remotely when we are traveling. One of his favorite tournaments was playing in a Canadian tournament in Magog, Quebec. We love the adventure of going to new places and meeting wonderful people with the same interests. We end up meeting a lot of the same people at the tournaments … it’s like a lifestyle that we just love.“

“We love the competition since we were both college athletes,” said Peter. “Pickleball is both competitive and fun for us. It’s great exercise, and we have met so many people along this incredible journey over the past few years. We have also had the opportunity to play in many major tournaments all over the country and be on the court with many of the top pros. It’s also great to see old friends and meet new friends along the way, and getting to play in some of the top pickleball venues in the United States. None of this would have been possible for us without pickleball.”

Said Nancy in conclusion, “I play in the 60-plus bracket and I thought it would get easier the older I got, but everyone that is a serious player is retired and trains all the time…so everyone is really good.”

Captivating as it is around these parts, pickleball continues to stagger the imagination. Obviously, as Nancy and Peter Tache have indicated, you’re never too old to go out and play a game that is good for the body and soul.

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