Bainbridge Island Pickleball Founders Tournament volleys into town

The now-viral sport was first created on the island in 1965.


These paddles would be a real flex to any picklers not from the area.

Pickle! Oh, sorry, that’s pickleball speak for “the fourth annual Bainbridge Island Pickleball Founders Tournament is just around the corner.”

From Wednesday, Aug. 9 to Sunday, Aug. 13, Bainbridge Island’s Battle Point Park will host ~418 international players competing for bronze, silver, and gold medals in the round robin-style event.

Registration for the tournament is closed, but you can want watch all the fun for free. There will also be retail vendors, food trucks, a beer garden, and tours of the court where Pickleball was first played.

You’re reading that right. The sport that has seemingly swept the world off its feet was created right on Bainbridge nearly 60 years ago.

The history behind the briny sport

In the summer of 1965, Seattleites Joel and Joan Pritchard were spending their summer on Bainbridge with their son Frank. After a day of golfing with his bud Bill Bell, Joel came back to find 13-year-old Frank in a bit of a teenage funk — upset because there was “nothing to do” on Bainbridge.

Having made up his own games as a kid, Joel grabbed a plastic ball, ping pong paddles, and set up a badminton net for a new kind of tennis-like activity. Joan named the game after the leftover rowers who raced for fun in “pickle boat” regattas.

The following weekend, Joel’s buddy Barney McCallum came to visit and the two nailed down rules using badminton as the main source of inspiration.

The horde of picklers grows

The sport grew and in 1976, the first pickleball tournament was was held at the South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila. The first rulebook was written in 1984 and by 1990, the game was being played in all 50 states.

Want to get in on the fun? The City of Seattle has a variety of indoor and outdoor courts that can be reserved and a hosts some beginners’ classes.

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