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Macao has launched its first pickleball court at the Fisherman’s Wharf

Pickleball has been described as one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States, and is becoming increasingly popular in China
  • Local pickleball expert and co-founder of the court Marco Leung, says he hopes the opening of the court will inspire Macao residents to take up the sport

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UPDATED: 15 Jul 2024, 10:09 pm

The Soar Sports Centre – Macao’s first pickleball court – opened on Saturday at the Fisherman’s Wharf.

For the uninitiated, pickleball has similarities to tennis and badminton, but is played with a paddle.

“It took over hundreds of meetings, but we finally did it,” Soar Sports co-founder Marco Leung told Macao News. “It felt unbelievable because we picked up the sport in November and now we have our very first court in Macao. We hope to inspire more people to join our community,” said Leung, who set up the facility with Ben Ngai and Tenny Li.

Leung is a former Macao tennis player who took up pickleball last year, after being introduced to the sport by a close friend. Since then, the athlete has participated in multiple pickleball events in mainland China and says his win over Taiwan’s Neilson Chen was his most memorable moment.

He explained that the game requires skill and strategy. “To pick up pickleball and play it – you do need some basic skills in racquet sport,” Leung says. Like most racquet sports, pickleball can be played singles, doubles and mixed, but is played in a smaller area than tennis.

[See more: Here’s where to learn tennis in Macao]

The sport was invented accidentally in 1965 when US Congressman Joel Pritchard invited businessman Bill Bell to his house in Washington. Pritchard had an old badminton court when the two decided to play a few games. While searching for badminton rackets, they found none and improvised with ping pong paddles and a pierced plastic ball.

According to a report by the Association of Pickleball Professionals, it is one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States. Some 48.3 million adult Americans – totalling 19 percent of the adult population – played the sport at least once in 2023.

While pickleball is still in its early stages in the SAR, many cities in mainland China have been holding sports competitions. In an interview with Front Office Sports, founder of the World Pickleball Federation Seymour Rifkind said “The top sports officials in [mainland] China have pledged to me that within five years they expect to have 10,000 courts and 100 million players.” 

Leung agrees and explains that China hosts pickleball games every week and that it’s “a lot crazier than anybody would have thought of.” He hopes he and his partners can emulate similar levels of competitions or events like China. 

“Pickleball does not require a specific height or weight,” Leung says. “All that matters is you enjoy the game.”

UPDATED: 15 Jul 2024, 10:09 pm

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