The University of New Mexico division of Continuing Education, in partnership with ABQ Pickleball Club, is proud to launch its newest course, Beginning Pickleball, starting Saturday, June 17 at Montgomery Park Tennis Courts. This program will help participants learn the basics of the sport, as well as provide an opportunity to meet new people in a fun and encouraging environment.

Widely known as America’s fastest growing sport, pickleball is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It is a fast-paced, friendly game that is easy for beginners to learn and is enjoyed by players of all ages and skill levels.

ABQ Pickleball Club is a diverse group, playing pickleball at various locations around Albuquerque and surrounding areas. The club welcomes all levels of players, promotes and publicizes pickleball, and encourages new players to learn and participate and run tournaments.

“We are thrilled to partner with ABQ Pickleball Club to offer pickleball programs to the community,” said Executive Director at UNM Continuing Education, Audrey Arnold. “Pickleball has grown significantly over the past few years, and we’re excited that UNM Continuing Education can be part of such an accessible sport that promotes health and wellness, social and community building.”

Pickleball is gaining interest, and fast. Albuquerque Pickleball Club is the largest club in New Mexico. When Gary Rutherford joined, he can recall about forty people that were invested in the sport at first. Now there are more than 1700 members.

UNM Continuing Education’s Beginning Pickleball can help new players start their pickleball journey and learn the fundamentals of the game, while longtime recreational players can enhance their skills and meet new people to play with.

Pickleball is also deceivingly less taxing on the body than other similar sports. It requires much less cardio than a sport like tennis. 

“Pickleball means less running, lots of strategy, and lots of twisting,” Rutherford defined.

All that twisting adds up, though, Rutherford warned, and in the last few months, something about the challenge pickleball presents has drawn many more young people to the courts.

Rutherford used to stick to people his own age when he first got into the sport. “Now, I get beat up by all the youngsters,” he laughed.

The recent gravitation of so many novice pickleball players to the sport is its inclusive nature, Rutherford said. There is much time spent on the court waiting in line for the next tournament, which offers plenty of opportunity to get to know the other teammates. As of 2021, Pickleball is now a Major League sport.

Spots for UNM Continuing Education’s Beginning Pickleball are limited and are already filling up quickly – register today to save your place! Pickleball players can also find courts and upcoming tournaments on the Albuquerque Pickleball Club website. 

For those willing to dip their toes in the court from the sidelines, there is an amateur tournament, “Hang with the Prosat Manzano Mesa Court court on June 1-4 to get a better idea of all that the sport brings to life. 

UNM Continuing Education provides quality programs in Professional Development and Personal Enrichment. UNM Continuing Education is committed to providing innovative, accessible learning opportunities to individuals, organizations, and communities in New Mexico and around the world through impactful, engaging programs that position them for success.