American couple set up pickleball club in Vila Real de Santo António
If you’ve never heard of pickleball, it’s no surprise considering it is a relatively new sport in Portugal. But across the pond in the USA, several respected newspapers and publications have named it the fastest-growing sport in the country.
Pickleball is a court sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton, and table tennis, and is played on a court the size of a badminton court, over a net that is just a little lower than a tennis net. Its booming popularity has a lot to do with the sport being “easy to play” and accessible to people of all ages.
A couple of American expats have brought their love of pickleball with them to Portugal and have set up a pickleball club in Vila Real de Santo António in the Algarve, which is open to anyone who would like to give the sport a go.
Nancy Whiteman, who moved with her partner Denise Boutin to Cascais at the end of 2020 at the age of 67, were “troubled by many things in the US” and also wanted to travel in Europe while they were still “young enough to get around”.
Being both avid golfers and being used to the summer heat after having lived in Florida and the California desert, they decided to move to Vila Real de Santo António which felt like “more of a traditional Portuguese town” to them than Cascais.
After settling in their new home, they decided to introduce their love of pickleball to the local community.
“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the US and is now played in over 50 countries. A big part of its popularity is the fact that it is so easy to play. We always have new players joining us and, without exception, after 30 to 60 minutes of instruction and practice, they are able to join the group and play games,” Nancy told the Resident.
“Though pickleball can be played singles or doubles, we typically play doubles. This is easier for older players. Finally, pickleball was created as a game that would allow the entire family to play together,” she explained.
The club started with just five people, but now there is a solid base of 12 to 16 players including Americans, Brits, Canadians, Swedes and also Portuguese. They play twice a week at the VRSA Tennis and Padel Club, with dates and times being posted on the club’s Facebook group (search ‘Eastern Algarve Pickleball Club’).
Comfortable cloths and a good pair of sneakers (tennis/court shoes are ideal) are recommended. The club provides all equipment and instruction for free, although a fee is needed to pay for the courts. Each two-hour session costs €5 per player, but as the club grows, the fee will be reduced.
For more information, contact Nancy at [email protected]
The Resident has since been contacted by a reader who asked us to share links to all the other existing pickleball groups in Portugal: