Pickleball mania engulfs Shreveport-Bossier City

If a local chapter of Pickleballers Anonymous is ever formed, Shreveport’s Debbie Monsour may be the first person in line who needs help.

“I’m so addicted,” Monsour said. “I go to bed thinking about pickleball, I wake up thinking about pickleball.”

Aptly dubbed by others the “Pickleball Queen,” Monsour is not alone. Pickleball, a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong is the fastest growing sport in the nation and northwest Louisiana does not appear to be left behind.

Locally, there are inside courts, outside courts, permanent courts and temporary courts.

The laundry list of pickleball venues includes Christ United Methodist Church, Cypress Baptist Church in Benton, Hot Wheels Skate Rink, Noel Methodist Church, Querbes Tennis Center, Shady Grove Community Center, Southern Hills and the YMCA of Northwest Louisiana.

Pickleball is also available at Stonebridge, East Ridge, Pierremont Oaks, Southern Trace country clubs and Bellaire Fitness for members only and invited guests.

Unlike Monsour, fellow Shreveporter Adam Young has a strong tennis background, but he’s also a huge fan of pickleball. Young finds the social aspect appealing and appreciates how easy it is compared to tennis to find pickup games.

However, like Monsour, Young is possessed by the competition.

“There are two different styles,” Young said. There is the textbook style, which includes dinks. I hit it as hard as I can — not textbook.”

Pickleball, a sport for all ages, was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island (near Seattle) by three enterprising dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum. Like tennis, it can be played in singles or doubles.

According to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 2022 Topline Participation Report, there are nearly five million pickleball players in the United States.

Monsour, 54, urges those who would like to be introduced to the game follow “Shreveport-Bossier City Pickleball” on Facebook for information on the numerous opportunities.

The game has a few “ambassadors” and Monsour and Young singled out Jack Varuso as integral for the game’s growth locally.

“He’s very instrumental in getting people connected and he also does pickleball bootcamps,” Monsour said.

One local country club had a little drama when it looked to install pickleball courts and a couple of members threatened to quit.

“I can see where they could be somewhat threatened,” said Monsour, who first played the sport five years ago at Calvary Baptist (there are no longer courts there) and was quickly hooked. “There are tennis courts all over the country that have closed down and now have nothing but pickleball.”

Guthrie Park in Longview (Texas) recently replaced its tennis courts with six pickleball courts.

“Every tennis player I ever met ended up loving pickleball,” said Monsour, a former softball player whose competitive spirit was reborn by pickleball. “They just have to try it.”

Young says he knows many members at Southern Trace who have become obsessed with pickleball after the golf course was closed for renovations.

A light week contains five playing days for Monsour, who has traveled out of the country for pickleball clinics. Recently, she lined up three pickleball events in a single day.

“It’s not as hard on you physically (as tennis), but you get winded and you get your cardio workout,” Monsour said. “It’s such a friendly sport. I love the competition, but it ends up being a big family of people.”