It is always wonderful to hear the stories of how pickleball got started and how it has grown over the years. Anna Copley was able to catch Steve Paranto at the USAPA Nationals last November, for a brief conversation about the World’s First Pickleball Championship in Seattle, Washington. Listen for Steve’s confession in this video. Enjoy!
Anna: Here we have Steve Paranto and he was at the first pickleball tournament.
Steve: It was billed as “The World’s First Pickleball Championship” in a suburb of Seattle, at the Southcenter Athletic Club. It was either ’75 or ’76. It was the spring. And Joel Pritchard, one of the main inventors stood up on a chair and kicked the tournament off and told us the rules. Back then the matches were three out of five to eleven not two out of three. So it was a long match when you played singles and the surface was carpet and so the rallies were very good because carpet slows, kind of like clay court version of pickleball, so it was different because of that, it was and we had a blast. About 50-60, either they were tennis players that learned at their community college or high school or they were guys who worked at Weyerhaeuser, the company, because they had a private indoor court and they played every day at lunch time. And that was pretty much all the participants in that “World’s First Tournament”.
Anna: How many people do you think..?
Steve: There were about 60 to 70 players. My partner, Dave Lester won that, and I took second and we lost the doubles. So, I am the “World’s First Loser” of pickleball. And I just talked to Matthew Blom, who is one of the great players of today. He was taught how to play by Dave Lester, my partner, who is the world’s first ever champion of pickleball. Dave Lester,… and he is teaching at a college, Concordia College in Minnesota, and that’s where Matthew Blom spent his time learning the game from my first partner.
Anna: Thank you Steve.
Steve: You’re welcome.