Under the noon sun on April 29, a group of locals gathered at the tennis courts at Galt Community Park to play an increasingly popular sport: pickleball.

Pickleball players use solid paddles to hit a hollow plastic ball over a net, and each hit produced a distinctive popping sound.

With similarities to tennis and ping pong, pickleball is played on a space less than a third the size of a tennis court, so the Community Park group marks out the play areas in chalk. They told the Herald that they are looking forward to a planned resurfacing of the courts, which will include the creation of four dedicated pickleball courts. That way, they won’t need to redraw their lines every time it rains.

The group, which meets on Wednesdays and Saturdays at noon, sent representatives to the recent state of the city presentations, at which they asked for more pickleball courts to be added. According to them, six to eight courts are enough for a tournament.

The popularity of pickleball has ballooned lately; the Sports and Fitness Industry Association said in 2022 that it was the United States’ fastest growing sport in the previous two years. A professional league, Major League Pickleball, started in 2021, and it later attracted investment from an ownership group, including professional basketball players LeBron James, Draymond Green and Kevin Love.

The accessibility of pickleball for people of all ages is also essential, local pickleball player Cindy Dearth told the Herald. She and her husband started playing pickleball on a cruise and looked for ways to keep at it once they got back to dry land.

“It’s addictive. It’s a healthy, fun, addictive thing to do for us old people. We’re retired,” Dearth said. “The kids are getting into it now, and it’s just a friendly, friendly competition, (a) way to meet people.”

Dearth wanted to ensure that that sport continues to welcome amateurs.

“It needs to be for the everyday person,” without high prices to play, Dearth said. “It should be open to everybody.”