Pickleball players mid rally at the Mapperley Tennis and Rackets club

A traditional American racket sport is quickly becoming a smash hit at a Nottinghamshire based Tennis and Rackets club.

Mapperley Park Tennis and Rackets club are spearheading the Pickleball craze in Nottingham being led by Head coach, Rachel Kirk.

Pickleball is played using the front third of a Tennis court where participants can enjoy either a singles or doubles match.

The rules do differ from Tennis as only the server in Pickleball can win the point and ball must bounce one per side, after the serve.

If the perforated, hollow plastic ball is struck out of the court a point is won and when the ball fails to reach over the net.

Rachel Kirk leading her Wednesday morning Pickleball group.

Whilst the sport has recently been introduced to Nottingham, Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the USA and is approximately seven years ahead of the current state of Pickleball in England.

Rachel Kirk has been coaching Pickleball at the club situated in Mapperley for five years and has not been surprised at the rapid rise of popularity that Pickleball has generated.

“Pickleball has been growing at a crazy rate in the U.S, so it was only a matter of time it hit British soil.”

Head coach, rachel kirk

Pickleball is causing waves in the world of sport and now firmly has its racket in the door in Nottinghamshire, but the sport is currently struggling to impress the IOC (International Olympic Committee).

The IOC have cast doubt over the scoring system Pickleball use as games can vary in length which makes it a challenge to pin down an exact time for TV coverage.

Pickleball has also entered a competitive market which has recently seen Squash join Tennis and Badminton as racket sports with Olympic statues.

“Pickleball is trying hard to become an Olympic sport, but the IOC rejected its advances.”

RAchel kirk 

Rachel has been working closely with Pickleball England and the IPF (International Pickleball Federation) in order to minimise the double faults in their Olympic campaign in hope of a place at a future games.

Mapperley Park Tennis and Rackets club celebrated their 100-year anniversary in 2023.

The club have seen the development of Tennis and now will witness the advancement of Pickleball which hit the Mapperley courts 5 years ago.

A plaque at the club in Mapperley commemorating their 100th anniversary.

The growth of Pickleball has been described by Rachel as “out of control” and since she introduced the sport to the Nottinghamshire Rackets club five years ago, popularity has increased.

The debut session in 2019 was not supported by the club in full and Rachel was left to her own devices to promote her “all ages and ability drop in” sessions.

Five years on and Rachel now runs four sessions which are split into different age groups and abilities.

The increase in popularity of Pickleball have also seen a rise in older members at the Mapperley Tennis and Rackets club as they have appreciated the social aspect of the game.

“Pickleball is for all but it’s a great game for those who use sport for socialising.”

Rachel Kirk

With a higher demand of people finding Pickleball at the club, it has meant Rachel is training up other Tennis coaches at the Mapperley club to be able to run Pickleball sessions if she needs to expand.

The future of Pickleball in England and Nottingham is bright as the sports popularity is at an all-time high.

2023 saw the inaugural British Open Pickleball league, with Mapperley Tennis and Rackets club as one of the hosts.

With fresh acknowledgement from the IOC it may be only a matter of time that Pickleball volley’s itself into Olympic conversations.