Fenway Park took part in the ongoing Pickleball Ballpark Series which has been on the road this summer, giving athletes a chance to test their mettle in some of the most recognizable venues in the …
Fenway Park took part in the ongoing Pickleball Ballpark Series which has been on the road this summer, giving athletes a chance to test their mettle in some of the most recognizable venues in the country.
Cranston resident Courtney Lambrese has been one of the countless Americans to fall in love with the sport, which has seen a massive spike in popularity in the past year, and she along with teammate Crissy McCullah finished in third place at the event back in July.
Lambrese, who was a former college athlete at RIC, decided to give pickleball a try back in April and was quickly hooked. She along with a handful of friends and family members began hitting the courts at Hope Highlands once a week. Since then, the community in Cranston has grown exponentially and what turned into a weekly get together has turned into a near nightly hangout. The tournament at Fenway was Lambrese’s first ever competitive go-around as she continues to learn the sport.
“It’s one of the fastest growing sports in America and it just seemed like a great summer activity to be involved in. I wanted to try something new so I picked it up with my sister and we have formed a community here in Western Cranston. It becomes addicting,” said Lambrese.
Pickleball has existed for nearly 60 years but has recently reemerged in the public eye. According to the USA Pickleball website, it is a paddle-based sport that is a mix of tennis, badminton and ping pong and can be played in singles or doubles.
Lambrese and McCullah, who is from Cumberland, finished the day with a 4-1 record to take the bronze medal. Lambrese enjoyed her time playing the game with fellow competitors in the unique atmosphere that Fenway provides.
“It was a fantastic experience being able to play pickleball on the outfield at Fenway. It was incredible to be playing pickleball alongside people that love it just as much and in the atmosphere of Fenway. There were people in the stands, there were vendors, it was great for my first tournament,” said Lambrese, who felt a little more urgency to get the job done on the scoreboard. “You felt the pressure of playing to win. In our community, if you win, great, if you lose, great, as long as you had fun. There was a little bit more pressure, but it was great overall. It exceeded my expectations because going and I knew I was a competitive player, but there’s always someone that is better than you.”
As she and the rest of the Cranston community continue to master the sport, Lambrese expects it to further gain traction and believes its greatest strength is its appeal to all generations.
“It’s just a friendly sport for all ages. You can be 30, 40, 50, even up to 80 years old but everyone can play together. No matter what age you play, everyone is different and brings something new,” Lambrese said. “It’s an environment that everyone wants to be a part of.”