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Home / EXCLUSIVES / “Some precious things in life shouldn’t change and Pickleball is one of those….”, Sunil Valavalkar

“Some precious things in life shouldn’t change and Pickleball is one of those….”, Sunil Valavalkar

Pickleball, one of the most trending sports in the world, is standing at a juncture. With its increasing popularity, there is integration of certain changes in it, but that has given rise to some inevitable arguments. Sunil Valavalkar, the President of International Federation of Pickleball (IFP) and the founder of All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) expressed his personal views on this swinging discord, which added some more pickle to Pickleball.

Pickleball stands out…

Sunil Valavalkar: The growth of Pickleball is phenomenal throughout the world. As a sport, Pickleball has embraced many journeys, touched many lives, developed into a symbol of ‘Sports for All’, and gradually stood out from other sports.

Pickleball is a concept…

Sunil Valavalkar: Pickleball can be played by any person of any age and capacity; it can be played anywhere and everywhere, and its gender is neutral. It has turned out to be the most emerging sport in the USA and Canada. In European countries like England, Spain, Germany, Pickleball is accepted as a sport for fitness. As Pickleball is less injurious and less expensive compared to other sports, it is being avidly played in countries like India, Nepal, Uganda, Nigeria etc.

There are minimal requirements to play Pickleball; moreover the rules of this sport have also been uniquely crafted to make it simple for the common people. With the cooling down of the global pandemic, people are back on Pickleball courts, perhaps more than before because of its non-contact characteristic. The sport perfectly fits in the new normal life- style of civilians. Hence, Pickleball has become a concept now whose soul lies in its community-friendly nature.

Pickleball addiction can sometimes become detrimental…

Sunil Valavalkar: By now, everybody has agreed that Pickleball is a highly addictive sport. There are hundreds of stories floating around about this addiction which are useful for its further promotion. However, for the governing bodies these stories must ring as alarming signal. It is generally said that excess of anything is harmful which is also true for Pickleball. Too much addiction to Pickleball can lead to its popularity but often cut its uniqueness. The fizz can take away the simplicity of the game.

Pickleball losing its soul…

Sunil Valavalkar: The over exposure of the game, especially among the younger generation, is escorting towards hard-core competitions. Earlier, the sport used to build friendship, but now players are turning to be rivals. The on-court camaraderie is seldom seen; rather arguments, split on points, impatience and outbursts are more common. With an increase in viewership, this competitive attitude of the players may go well with the spectators, but it is taking away the soul from the sport.      

Pickleball’s underlying principles

Sunil Valavalkar: Recently, there is a serious threat to its point system. A part of the fraternity wants it to be faster and crisper. But if we carefully analyse the rules of Pickleball, we will find that the underlying principle of this game is to have more and more rallies.

Why Pickleball has underhand serve and double bounce rule?

In other racquet sports, powerful serve acts like a deadly weapon for the server. But in Pickleball that advantage has been taken away with the rule that the paddle must be below the waist and server must stand outside baseline.

Similarly the rule of double bounce also takes away the advantage of powerful serve.

After the ball bounces on each side, both the teams get equal opportunity to play interesting rally points.

Today, some players are demanding the closing down of Kitchen rule. But if it is amended then it will be advantageous for tall players who can stand near the net and gain a point in no time. But that will definitely kill a probable rally.

To change or not to change; the argument continues…

Sunil Valavalkar: Many may argue here that change is inevitable and whatever happens is for good. But there are few precious things in life that should better not change and Pickleball is one among them.

About Poulomi Kundu

PoulomiKundu started her career in 2000 as a freelance journalist in Hindustan Times. Soon after she was selected an intern in Zee News, Kolkata. After her post- graduation in English, Poulomi joined the leading television production house of eastern India, Rainbow Productions. She was a journalist in Khas Khobor, a Bengali news magazine programme in Doordarshan and also headed the post production department of another programme, Khas Kolkata. In 2004, Poulomi moved to Delhi as a creative writer in an advertising agency, Brand Stewards Pvt. Ltd. In 2005, she again shifted her base for a better opportunity and that in Mumbai. There she got the job in Raa Media Pvt Ltd. as an associate director of two programmes for Doordarshan-Yuva and Paisa Vasool. In the meantime, she also wrote features in DNA as a freelancer. Poulomi directs promotional videos, develops scripts for films for Corporate and NGOs. But an ardent sports lover, Poulomi always had an urge to contribute somewhere in the field of sports. Her love for sports started from an early age when she played gully cricket and football for local teams. Academics and professional hazards sometimes took her away from her passion, but it never died in her. She always nurtured the never-ending dream. So she materialized her dream in the form of ‘SPORTSAVOUR’. It is an online sports portal that serves sports with the tagline ‘For the indigenous, unconventional, unknown’.

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