Image for representative use© WPBL

India’s growing reputation as a potential racquet sports hub is all set to get a massive boost with the launch of the World Pickleball League (WPBL), the first-ever professional pickleball league. The league is envisaged by Natekar Sports and Gaming (NSG) of former Davis Cup tennis star and Arjuna Awardee Gaurav Natekar and the Sony Entertainment Talent Ventures India (SETVI). Pickleball, a racquet sport, combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton and has gained significant traction globally.

Using his extensive experience of over 35 years as a player, consultant, entrepreneur, and administrator, Natekar said: “We are proud to unveil the inaugural global professional pickleball league in India. Its easy-to-learn-and-play nature coupled with it being age and gender agnostic makes it the ideal sport for people to come out and play thereby democratizing sports participation like never before.”

The inaugural edition of the league will witness six franchises compete for the title. Each team will have five to eight players including international stars. The league will also mandate the teams to have Indian players and junior players who will form a part of the team to rub shoulders and learn from the best players in the world.

Arvind Prabhoo, President of All India Pickleball Federation and International Pickleball Federation too, welcomed the professional pickleball league and said this initiative could change the future of the sport in the country.

“Pickleball has been one of the fastest-growing sports in India since 2008. A professional league like this will only give impetus to the growth of the sport and gives me confidence that in the next 5 years, our prospective target to get 1 million players engaged in pickleball across the nation is well within our reach and has the possibility that the sport will be mentioned among the top-10 sports in the country,” he commented.

Currently played in over 80 countries, pickleball is extremely popular in the Asia Pacific region and has been growing steadfastly in India in the last few years with over 30,000 amateur players and 8000 registered players across 18 states already playing the sport. The sport requires less space than Tennis and can be played by anyone from the age of seven to 70, making it one of the most popular recreational as well as competitive sports in many parts of the world.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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