HOUSTON — Pickleball is an old sport exploding in popularity with courts and leagues popping up all over Houston. It's also the fastest-growing sport in America.
"It is blooming everywhere, worldwide," said Terry Stone, president of the Greater Houston Pickleball Association.
Stone said that growth starting to be seen in Houston, too.
"There are a lot of pickleball players. They're fanatical about it. They love the game," Stone said.
One of those players is Jason Mok.
"I haven't put down a paddle since I heard about it," Mok said.
Mok is one of the operating partners of FM Kitchen and Bar. The owners are getting ready to open PKL Social.
"It is easy for me to sell because I love it," Mok said.
The new pickleball-centric sports bar will go in next door to FM Kitchen along the Washington corridor. It'll feature 10,000 square feet of patio space to enjoy cocktails and FM's most popular dishes, plus four pickleball courts. It's set to open this fall.
"Once Houstonians get exposed to it, they'll become addicted to it as well," Mok said.
PKL Social will be the latest business to cash in on Houston's pickleball fever.
"We said this has to be in Houston," said Roberto Escalera, owner of Bumpy Pickle.
Bumpy Pickle opened on Houston's east side earlier this year. The restaurant is still in the works, but nine pickleball courts are already ready for play.
"We love the sport," Escalera said. "We love the social part of the bars. And we kind of mix it altogether."
Stone told KHOU 11 News this is just the beginning. The Greater Houston Pickleball Association is pushing to bring a professional pickleball tournament to Houston this October.
"Let me tell you, if we make that happen, it is going to blow up," Stone said.
If you'd like to learn more about pickleball in Houston, you can find more information here.