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‘What is Pickleball?’ with June from AO’s Spa

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June in the spa smiling at the camera holding her Pickleball bat and ball with haircutting chair and mirror blurred in the background
June in the spa smiling at the camera holding her Pickleball bat and ball with haircutting chair and mirror blurred in the background

Anyone who regularly stops by AO’s Bolton Spa will have crossed paths with June.

But when she’s not keeping AOers massaged and looking swish, she’s probably playing Pickleball.

She set down her snippers for a minute to tell us a bit about “the fastest-growing sport you’ve never heard of”…

So, Pickleball. What is it?

It’s like a big game of ping-pong with bits of tennis and badminton mixed in there too. You play it on a tennis court but use special bats and a ball with holes in it.

Where do the pickles come into it?

It’s nothing to do with pickles haha. The guy who invented the game in the ‘60s had a dog called Pickles, so that’s where the ‘pickle’ comes from.

What’s that in your hand?

That’s my Pickleball bat. It cost me £150. They start at around £30 and go up to about £250. It’s depends on the weight; the pricey ones are really light.

How long have you been playing Pickleball?

I picked up a Pickleball racket for the first time in 2019 after a friend introduced me to it.

It’s played outdoors so it was perfect during Covid and when things eased up a bit, I’d play in the garden with my friend.

June in the spa smiling at the camera holding her Pickleball bat and ballmirror blurred in the background and wearing her Pickleball kit
June and teammate Sheila smiling and showing off their silver medals at the Pickleball tournament
June and teammate Sheila showing off their silver medals at the 2022 National Pickleball Tournament

Why did you take up Pickleball?

I was advised to do a sport and Pickleball was a great choice because it builds muscle and it’s low impact on the bones. I usually play it Friday evenings over the road at Bolton Arena.

Sounds like a nice hobby…

It’s more than a hobby – I just won silver at the second-ever annual Pickleball National Tournament in the Women’s Doubles.

That’s amazing – well done! So, are you part of a club?

I’m part of Leigh Pickleball Club right now. It set up with just a few members, but it’s reached 150 these days. There’s a Horwich club too – the Horwich Hotshots – and there are clubs popping up all over the place.

Who is Pickleball for?

Everyone; all age groups play it! It’s on the school curriculum in Wigan now. There are around 7,000 Pickleball players in the UK and it’s even bigger in the USA. Even David Beckham and Kim Kardashian play it!

Awesome – so, can you fit me in for a dry cut today?

No, we’re choccablock – I’ll pencil you in for tomorrow.

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