History of Pickleball Timeline

Listed below are short excerpts from the book: History of Pickleball – More Than 50 Years of Fun!  Enjoy reading this historic timeline that Jennifer keeps up-to-date. If/when you share this information PLEASE link back to this website as your source History of Pickleball Timeline – much appreciated!

Since it’s “birth”, pickleball has attracted millions of players from around the world.

Seattle Skyline. Illustration copyright 2018. May not be reproduced without authors permission.

Pickleball was “born” in Bainbridge Island, WA. Founders were Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. The sport was named after the family dog “Pickles” who kept chasing the ball. Pickle’s ball.

The first permanent pickleball court (built specifically for pickleball, not badminton or a temporary court), was constructed at Joel and Joan Pritchard’s home in Magnolia Bluff, Seattle.

A corporation was formed‒Pickle-Ball Inc.‒to protect the creation of this new sport.

The National Observer published an article about pickleball which helped launch both awareness of the sport and mass orders of product.

Tennis magazine published the story “America’s Newest Racquet Sport.”

The first-known pickleball tournament was held at South Center Athletic Club in Tukwila, WA.

Pickleball began at Thousand Trails Resorts, a nationwide network of RV parks.

United States Amateur Pickleball Association (U.S.A.P.A.) was organized to perpetuate the growth and advancement of pickleball on a national level.

  • The first Executive Director and President of U.S.A.P.A. was Sid Williams.
  • The first rulebook was published in March.
  • The first composite paddle was invented by Arlen Paranto.
  • U.S.A.P.A. hosted the first-ever National Doubles Pickleball Championships in Tacoma, WA.

The Villages, FL, built its first permanent courts.

Joel Pritchard (co-founder of the sport) passed away at age 72. Although he was Washington State’s Lieutenant governor for a while, he is probably better known for his connection to the birth of pickleball.

The first Thousand Trails tournament was held at Pio Pico RV Resort, CA.

The first National Championship Tournament was hosted by The Villages, FL.

Pickleball was included for the first time in the Huntsman World Senior Games, held yearly in St. George, UT.

  • “39 Known Places to Play in North America” was listed online. This represented 10 states, three Canadian provinces, and about 150 individual courts.

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) becomes a nonprofit corporation.

Bill Bell (co-founder of pickleball) passed away at age 83.

The Rules Committee published the USA Pickleball Association Official Tournament Rulebook – Revision: May 1, 2008.

  • Pickleball was included for the first time in the National Senior Games Association (NSGA).
  • 420 “Places to Play in North America” were listed on the USAPA website. This represented 43 states, four Canadian provinces, and about 1,500 individual courts. (This does not include many courts at private homes.)
  • ABC’s “Good Morning America” aired a segment about pickleball – the first mass media exposure of the sport.

The first USAPA National Tournament was held in Buckeye, AZ. The tournament drew 400 players from 26 states and several Canadian provinces.

The International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) was created.

The first Tournament of Champions was held in Utah, with $46,500 in cash prizes.

Pickleball Channel website was launched (first professional media group).

The first USAPA Ambassador Retreat was held.

  • International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) was created.
  • More than 2 million people play worldwide, with the number expected to grow to ?

Pickleball Magazine was launched (first full-color, professional print, and digital magazine).

  • First US Open Pickleball Championships were held in Naples, FL.
  • More than 4,600 “Places to Play” were listed on the USAPA website.
  • USAPA announced it had more than 17,000 members, created the Referee Certification Program, and formed a relationship with St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
  • Super Senior International Pickleball Association (SSIPA) was created for ages 60 and better.

Pickleball Hall of Fame was created. The 2017 Inductees: Joel Pritchard (1 of 3 of the founders), Barney McCallum (2 of 3 of the founders), Sid Williams, Arlen Paranto, Mark Friedenberg, and Billy Jacobsen. 

  • More than 5,869 “Places to Play” as of November were listed on the USAPA website.
  • CBS Sports Network carried a two-hour nationally televised broadcast of USAPA National Championships.

Indian Wells Tennis Garden, CA host Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships which drew 2,000+ players who competed for $80,000 in prize money – the LARGEST cash purse in the history of the sport. This was year one of their 5-year contract for Nationals. 

Barney McCallum (co-founder of the sport) passes away at age 93 in Seattle, Washington. Jennifer Lucore and Alex Hamner had a special friendship with Barney for 10 years – “Barney was the best and will be forever missed.”

  • 2019 Pickleball Participation Report from the Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) reports 3.3 million players in the United States. 62% of players are men and average age for all players is 41 years old. 
  • The APP Tour, The Association of Pickleball Professionals, was launch in June and is the first USA Pickleball Sanctioned Tour for Professionals and Amateurs.
  • 2019 Pickleball Hall of Fame Inductees: Jennifer Lucore (First women “competitor”) – that’s me!, Dan Gabanek, Steve Paranto, and Enrique Ruiz. 
  • In the USA the year ended with 7,928 Places to Play pickleball. Total Courts: 30,238. Ambassadors: 1,904. Certified Referees: 206. Tested and approved 134 paddles and 10 balls.

COVID-19 hits the sport (just like it did the world) and in mid March play suspended.

  • USAPA has a network of over 1,900 volunteer ambassadors.
  • USAPA, the governing body of our sport in the USA, changed its brand name to USA Pickleball to better align with other sports governing bodies and updated its logo and website. 


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