There’s a sport quietly taking Massachusetts by storm. It’s called Pickleball. And no, it does not involve hitting pickles with bats but it does require a ball and a paddle—and some coordination, too.

At first glance, it looks like a game of tennis, but if you take a closer look, it’s a whole other ball game-- a game Abington resident Ann Reilly wanted to bring back home from vacation.

I had played Pickleball on Cape Cod. And enjoyed it so much that I felt as though we needed to do something like that in Abington.” Reilly said.

Consider it the PokemonGo of the senior set. The U.S.A. Pickleball Association says it’s the fastest growing sport in the country— a claim supported by the 414% increase in Pickleball courts nationwide since 2010. Abington made that list when Ann Reilly and her fellow Pickleball enthusiasts got local businesses to help them build a court.

“We sent out a letter saying, ‘we need Pickleball courts to have exercise, fun and sociability for our over 55 adults.’ As a result, we received a $10k grant from the Abington Elderly services.” Reilly said.

The rest is history. What followed was an outpouring of support—the town donated the land. The $11,000 fence was donated by a local business, as was the Pickleball sign. The grating, paving and painting were all done at a discount. The message was clear— Pickleball was here to stay.

It’s great because we don’t have to sit around in a rocking chair. It’s great because we’re active. It’s great because we meet some wonderful people. You get to a certain point and many of the grandmothers are babysitting all the time and they need to have some activity. At least, that’s how I feel, and I feel that it’s been a lifesaver in that I’m meeting new people, I’m playing, I’m active, I’m having fun.” Reilly said.

It’s clear that everyone is else is having fun, too. So, what exactly is Pickleball? Let’s address the name first. Legend has it that Pickleball inventor Joel Pritchard named the game after his dog, Pickles, however, the truth may lie in Pritchard’s wife, Joan, who in a newspaper column wrote that Pickleball borrowed its rules from so many other sports, it reminded her of the pickle boat in crew— “where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.”

Now, onto the rules. Think of Pickleball as a combination of tennis—with far less lunging, ping-pong, and badminton. And it’s always played with 2 people on each side. The ball resembles a wiffle ball, but it’s thicker, and the paddles are made of composite. Ann Reilly kindly walks me through the rules of the game.

“There’s a 2-bounce rule. You need to serve it underhand-- which is difficult if you play tennis. And the return of serve has to bounce once. The opposite side has to bounce once. And then volley the ball—but you can’t volley the ball in the kitchen.” Reilly said.

That’s another distinction of Pickleball—the court. The pale blue section in the middle is called the kitchen. Don’t ask why. Just stay out of it—unless the ball bounces inside the kitchen, in which case, you can step in to hit the ball.

After the rundown, we head to the court to face off against other Abington residents, Sharon Collins and Sue Mollica. They are worthy adversaries.

Ann Reilly is about to discover my less than stellar hand-eye coordination. My first swing and the ball hits her leg.

Well, it’s hard if you don’t have sneakers, either.” Reilly said.

Proper footwear is always a good idea, no matter how comfortable you think your wedge sandals are. Even so, I’m confident that’s not the reason I played so poorly. But our main priority was not to get pickled—which is what happens if you plan an entire game without scoring a point.

We managed to score a point and thus avoided being pickled. We didn’t win—but hey, we had fun, which is really what Pickleball is all about.