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How this 60-year-old is taking a new popular sport by storm

How this 60-year-old is taking a new popular sport by storm
Posted at 7:36 PM, Apr 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-08 19:36:19-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- Pickleball is the fastest-growing sport in the country and one amateur player is living his dream of playing the sport.

Steve Vozza comes to life on the court with a paddle and a ball.

"Okay, so when I come to a court and I hear the ball being hit, I gotta run out to the car. It's like a sort of like a good drug. It's very infectious and you just love to play, and we come out to the court and play. I forget about all my troubles," Vozza said.

An avid sports enthusiast, Vozza has been playing the popular game for over a decade. He found himself hooked after playing for just a few minutes.

"Now I play like four or five times a week. And I play in tournaments. I have six tournaments I'm playing in the next, like three to four months," Vozza said. "I'm very energetic. I can run down a lot of the balls. That's another thing too. It keeps you in shape. I'm 60 years old. Not bad, huh?"

The retired civilian from the Army gave up years of martial arts, bowling and golf for Pickleball.

"Three years ago I retired and now I'm fulfilling my dream by playing pickleball all around the world, the country and having a great time. It's fun," Vozza said.

Vozza will compete in the World Pickleball Tournament this weekend. The event is the largest, non-sanctioned amateur pickleball series in the country. He will ten travel abroad to compete.

The game was created in 1965 in Washington by three dads who were looking for something fun for their kids.

"It's a combination of like tennis, ping pong and badminton. It uses a paddle instead of a racket and a little plastic ball. It's like a whiffle ball," Vozza explained.

The game, which is generally designed for doubles, opened to singles and wheelchair players. It can be played inside or outdoors and the court is about half the size of a tennis court.

"From young people only up to, you know, senior citizens, it's becoming more mainstream, even for the younger players. There's tournaments popping up all across the country all around the world, it is the fastest-growing sport in the United States," Vozza said.

With the sport quickly gaining popularity, Vozza would like to see it introduced in the Olympics.

"It is not yet but we're hoping one day it will be. I mean, they have cornhole?"

Vozza plays with the Chesterfield Pickleball group and is hoping that others will join him.

"They just come out here to Pouncey Tract any, any morning, afternoon or night and there's people out here and just come on out and just say hey, I want to learn, or I want to play and we'll, we'll invite you in," Vozza said.

The Richmond Pickleball Classic, sponsored by the World Pickleball Tour, runs through Sunday and is free to watch.