Lynn is fast becoming the hub of pickleball on the North Shore.
With Mayor Jared Nicholson and city officials cutting the ribbon to open the four new courts Wednesday at Clark Street Playground, scores of pickleball players (also known as picklers) from Lynn and other communities have been enjoying the fast-growing sport.
In fact, Lynn hosted the first Pickleball Club tournament Oct. 22, and somewhat remarkably close to 50 players came to the Clark Street Playground on an autumnal Sunday morning to compete in the well-organized event.
“It was a beautiful day and a very successful event, and I appreciate everyone’s contribution, whether it was participating in the tournament or making a donation to the raffle,” said Associate Commissioner of DPW/Parks Lisa Nerich, adding that the building of the courts was funded through a Lynn Community Development grant.
Sarah Caliento, a former Lynn elementary school teacher and the city’s pickleball ambassador, attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony. Caliento was an organizer of the inaugural Pickleball Club tournament.
“The sport is catching on quickly in Lynn,” said Caliento, who gives pickleball lessons through the Lynn Parks Department. “We had been hoping for new courts for a while, and they were able to get new courts put in there. When the weather is nice, we have 30-35 people playing pickleball there daily.”
Interestingly, Caliento grew up on a dairy farm in Dalton (Mass.), which is home to former Major League Baseball pitcher Jeff Reardon and former Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette.
“I played softball for 50 years in the Lynn Park League,” related Caliento, who is a graduate of Lesley University. “I played volleyball for the same number of years at the old Lynn YMCA when it was on Market Street. And I also played in a women’s basketball league.”
And now she is promoting and advancing pickleball – which is part tennis, badminton, and table tennis – in the city as its official ambassador.