A NEW sport is taking Gosport by storm as more and more people join in for a game of pickleball.
Popular in America, pickleball is a racquet sport like no other as it combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton to make a fun new game to try.
Lee-on-the-Solent resident Ian Kingsbury discovered the sport in Florida, where he spends six months of the year with his wife Pauline.
After falling in love with the sport, he has now introduced pickleball to his home town by helping start two sessions a week at Alverstoke Lawn Tennis, Squash and Badminton Club.
Ian, 71, said: ‘It’s good for people that perhaps think their sporting days are over because they’re not.
‘My aim is to try and get seniors playing who maybe have never played or find tennis too strenuous. This is an ideal compromise.’
Played on a badminton court with paddles similar to table tennis bats and a plastic perforated ball, pickleball is suitable for doubles or singles matches and has its own unique rules.
Ian plays five or six days a week when he is over in Sarasota on the west coast of Florida, and found it really brought the community together so is hoping for a similar reaction on the south coast of England.
He said: ‘This is fun and you’re getting some exercise. Any exercise is good and certainly the older you get, the more you should exercise. I’m trying to get people to have fun and meet like-minded people.
‘Before we started pickleball, very few people knew others and a whole band of friendships has started, it’s fantastic.
‘We just want to get the word out and attract people.’
Club chairman Carl Titterington has embraced the sport ever since trying it at an open day hosted by the centre.
The 33-year-old said: ‘It’s been really pleasing to see how quickly it’s grown. One of the really pleasing things for me is that the sport brings everyone together.
‘The really nice thing is that after the first game they’re usually pretty happy with the rules.
‘I had such a good time and from then I was just hooked.’
In his first year as chairman, Carl is trying to expand what is offered by the Alverstoke Lawn Tennis, Squash and Badminton Club to give it more of a community feel.
Pay-and-play pickleball sessions are offered at Alverstoke on a Wednesday from 10.30am to 12.30pm and a Saturday from 4pm to 5.30pm, costing £4 a go with no requirement to join the club.