Pickleball court gets an audience

By Julia Deal and Ella Corrao

On a freezing Saturday this month, Bostonians can be found holed up indoors, under layers of fuzzy blankets or by a fireplace. But in a picturesque nook in Jamaica Plain, some city dwellers can be found on the court enjoying a lively and exciting game of pickleball.

Inside the little court, paddles and puffer jackets swish. Folks exclaim in joy after beating their opposing team, and unlike the other silent and competitive courts across Boston, conversation is all around.

“It’s a very supportive community,” said David Rosenthal, a Brookline resident. “If you stick around here a little bit, you’ll see people being nice to one another, complimenting people… It’s a way to meet new people and feel good about it.”

Often described as a hybrid of ping pong and tennis, the sport is played with two paddles, a ball and a net. However, the players credit the largely conversational aspect of pickleball to the sport’s rapid rise in popularity.

“It’s more social than tennis,” said David Taylor, a Jamaica Plain resident. “I’ve met a whole new group of friends through doing it.”

Located on Centre Street near Curtis Hall, the pickleball courts offer a free and trendy pastime to locals who are ready and willing to get a little sweaty for a lot of fun.

“You get to meet plenty of people with different skills and lots of different personalities. That’s what makes it a lot of fun,” Patrick Hamilton said.

It’s not just Jamaica Plain, people from all over Boston visit the courts for a match. Catherine Bent, an associate professor at Berklee, visits the courts for all of the dynamic people she has met along the way.

“There are people here who are of all walks of life,” Bent said. “It’s just such a great cross section of Boston.”

The pickleball court is free to use and can be reserved by parties. Nathaniel Gates from Boston Parks and Recreation says that tennis and pickleball courts alike have been misused in the past.

“Tennis organizers and trainers would permit out entire weeks and months and then charge use from people in the city and around who would come and play,” Gates said. “They’re public parks, they’re not allowed to do that.”

Across from a beautiful painted mural, the courts stand proud. It’s certainly difficult to imagine even the first snowfall of the winter season will stop this dedicated group from enjoying all that the Jamaica Plain pickleball courts can offer them.

Julia Deal and Ella Corrao are enrolled in a Boston University College of Communication Reporting in Depth class, which focuses on community reporting.

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