Quebec has the pickleball bug

“It’s like a drug. We’re pickleball junkies! » Daniel Boivin’s enthusiasm is contagious. The dapper septuagenarian is a true pickleball enthusiast, which he has been practicing for five years with his wife, Diane.

It’s good for the body… and for the couple tooshe adds, a naughty smile on her lips.

The spouses play several times a week at the Roussillon club, in Montérégie. They participate in the development of pickleball, which has experienced a notable increase in popularity in recent years.

Similar to tennis, this sport is played on a smaller court – often doubles – with a plastic ball with holes and a racket shorter than that used in tennis.

In February 2022, the Fédération québécoise de pickleball had 2,500 members; in December of the same year, their number reached 8,500. And the general director of the Federation, Stéphane Brière, estimates that it will conclude the year 2024 with 15,000 members.

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Daniel Boivin and his wife discovered pickleball five years ago, during a trip to Mexico.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

buzz”, we say to ourselves that we are going to reach a ceiling, he says. But I speak with the municipalities, and I still don’t see the ceiling coming.”,”text”:”What is happening happens with pickleball, it’s unheard of Usually, when we have progress, a “buzz”, we tell ourselves that we are going to reach a ceiling, he says. But I speak with the municipalities. , and the ceiling, I still don’t see it coming.”}}”>What’s happening with pickleball is unheard of. Usually, when we have a progression, a “buzz“, we say to ourselves that we are going to reach a ceiling, he says. But I speak with the municipalities, and the ceiling, I still don’t see it coming.

The city of Montreal is not immune to pickleball fever: the number of outdoor courts has increased from 85 two years ago to 122 this year, according to a compilation carried out by Radio-Canada. And some districts have land projects in development.

An intergenerational sport

This meteoric growth can be explained, among other things, by the unifying side of sport, according to Stéphane Brière.

It’s easy to learn! Someone who has really few skills, who has never really done sport, in the space of 20 minutes, he manages to have discussions, he manages to have fun.

A quote from Stéphane Brière, general director of the Quebec Pickleball Federation
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Stéphane Brière took the reins of the Quebec Pickleball Federation in 2022.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

The sport is very popular with older people, as demonstrated by the participants during our visit to the Roussillon club, but the label of sports for retireeswhich has long stuck to the skin of pickleball, tends to change.

% of my clientele is under 50years. Young people start playing at 12 or 13years. They play with their parents, but also with grandpa and grandma”,”text”:”Approximately 50% of my customers are under 50 years old. Young people start playing at the age of 12 or 13. They play with their parents, but also with grandpa and grandma”}}”>Around 50% of my clientele is under 50 years old. Young people start playing at the age of 12 or 13. They play with their parents, but also with grandpa and grandmarejoices Mr. Brière.

Professionalization of sport

Pickleball is not just a leisure affair, however: professional leagues exist in the United States.

Quebecer Catherine Parenteau, aged 29, is one of the best players in the world and has won several international tournaments. Former tennis player Eugenie Bouchard joined the ranks of the Carvana Pro Tour last year.

She is not the only tennis fan to have made the jump to pickleball: this is also the case for Sébastien Lareau, Olympic doubles tennis champion in Sydney in 2000.

Tennis is very physical, it’s not always easy to find partners. In my old life, I was at a sports center where there was tennis and pickleball, and I discovered pickleball. It’s a sport that is much easier, which is more socialhe explains.

With his business partner Mélanie Brunelle, he co-founded Zac Pickleball, a complex of 11 indoor courts which is due to open next fall in Greenfield Park.

>>Mélanie Brunelle and Sébastien Lareau in interview.>>

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The two investors are developing what will become the largest indoor pickleball complex in Quebec.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

We experienced the growth of tennis in the 1980s, when there were lots of new clubs all over Quebec and Canada. In pickleball, it sure can happen.

A quote from Sébastien Lareau

Even if the complex will not be ready to welcome players for a few months, it is already attracting the interest of fans in the region, such is the demand for land.

>>The interior of an empty building.>>

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The Zac Pickleball Complex will open this fall.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Violette Cantin

% of land reserved for the fall season.”,”text”:”There is already a lot of enthusiasm. It’s going faster than what we can offer at the moment, explains Mélanie Brunelle. We already have 10% of land reserved for the fall season.”}}”>There is already a lot of enthusiasm. It’s going faster than what we can offer at the moment, explains Mélanie Brunelle. We already have 10% of land reserved for the fall season.

An enthusiasm perceptible almost everywhere in North America for the millions of fans of this racket sport.

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