If you’d been living in the 1800’s you might have found yourself sitting at a lunch table asking your friends, “What are y’all talking about? What is “tennis”?”
Today you’re more likely to ask, “What is pickleball?”
Like tennis, pickleball is played on a court with a net. The ball is a kind of wiffleball. And instead of a racket, a pickleball bat looks like a big ping-pong paddle.
Pickleball is, reportedly, the world’s fastest growing sport. In 2021 there were 5 million players. By 2023 there were over 36 million. It’s growing about 300% a year.
Here in New Orleans, you can play pickleball at The Exchange Pickleball and Bar. Yes, because it’s New Orleans, it’s a sports complex with a bar. The Exchange – off of Tchoupitoulas Street, near Walmart – is a $3m development that opened in August 2023. And, like pickleball itself, it was an instant success.
The developer and owner of The Exchange Pickleball and Bar is Renee Melchiode.
Sailing started out as a means of survival. To get to where the fish are. Or to migrate to other lands. Now, like pickleball, sailing is a pastime.
But getting out onto the ocean, or even Lake Pontchartrain, requires a financial commitment greater than a couple of pickleball bats.
Judging by the number of boats at South Shore Harbor Marina and The Southern Yacht Club, there are plenty of New Orleanians with enough discretionary income to get themselves out on the water. Walking around these moorings you might wonder, “Where do all these boats come from?” One answer to that question is Murray Yacht Sales. The boat brokerage was founded in 1974 by Tim Murray. Tim’s son, Stanton, took over the business in the early 1990’s, and today Murray Yacht Sales has brokerages in New Orleans, Houston, and St Petersburg Florida.
Beyond New Orleans, Murray Yacht Sales’ brokers, boats and clients are scattered across the Gulf South, in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.
if you’ll excuse the irony, it’s generally unwise to make generalizations. Especially about people. But it’s probably safe to bet that almost everybody reading this has either just put their phone down, is just about to pick it up, or maybe you have it in your hand right now.
There’s something liberating about an activity that gets us away from our screens, puts us firmly in the real world, and requires a combination of 100% physical exertion and mental focus. Although they’re very different, sailing and pickleball are both in this category.
We can thank Renee for going out on a limb and taking a serious financial risk to bring the fun of pickleball to New Orleans, and in a lifetime dedicated to sailing Stanton’s business continues to be a gateway to joy for countless thousands, in New Orleans and across the Gulf South.