The fastest growing sport in the U.S. is about to have its first-ever tournament on Saipan tomorrow, Oct. 30, at the Capitol Hill tennis courts with 16 players signed up for the Paradise Pickleball Club-organized competition.
Pickleball is cross between tennis, ping-pong, and badminton and courts can be drawn on any tennis court or basketball court, according to tournament coordinator Donna Krum.
The 16 players that will see action in the round-robin format are Donn Dunlop, Nelson Krum, Aaron Hutchinson, Leith Poole, Juan Cuellar, Ray Austin, Dan Wollak, Michael Muldoon, Marivic Dunlop, Merle Byrd, Mimi Zhang, Gyan Lucero, Mary Rose, Marcia Schultz, Lily Bloom, and Kseniia Lizunova.
Games will be doubles and mixed doubles format and there will be cash prizes for the Top 3 winners of the tournament—$80 for first place, $50 for second place, and $30 third place.
Pickleball was introduced on Saipan in August last year when Paradise Dental’s Dr. Nelson Krum, fully recovered from hip replacement surgery, was looking to get back to his favorite sport of tennis.
His sister-in-law, Judy in Arizona, caught wind of Krum’s plans to get back to tennis and ardently suggested that he try pickleball instead. Krum and his wife, Donna, were intrigued and did their research and soon enough founded Paradise Pickleball Club.
Its first makeshift court was the parking lot of Paradise Dental with lines made out of duct tape with the club’s first games involving five regulars.
Fast-forward a year later on Aug. 7, the club celebrated its one-year anniversary and it has grown to 20 regulars with three courts at the Church of Latter-day Saints along Middle Road and four courts on Capitol Hill.
For his effort bringing the sport to the Marianas, Dr. Krum was recently appointed the official pickleball ambassador for the CNMI and Guam.
Plans are also afoot to roll the game out to the CNMI’s disabled community with a court being striped at the Center for Living Independently on Capitol Hill.
With over 3 million players, pickleball is arguably the fastest growing sport in the U.S. and its popularity has spread all over the world as pickleball is currently played in 57 countries—18 more countries and pickleball can qualify as an Olympic sport.