Destination Pickleball China

(Overview:  Below is the article that Corvallis, OR ambassadors Bob & Connie Anderson submitted to the USAPA Newsletter of the Corvallis Pickleball group’s trip to introduce pickleball in China.  This post is intended to supplement the USAPA article as there is a limit on how long that article can be, so we are reproducing it here with some additional stories from the travelers themselves.  The stories are many and you can tell how much fun the group had on their trip.  This is  along post, so sit back and take it all in.)

China, An Amazing Country!

Connie & Bob Anderson “playing” pickleball on the Great Wall.

Connie & Bob Anderson “playing” pickleball on the Great Wall.

Six couples from Corvallis, OR, which included nine USAPA pickleball players, traveled to China this fall to introduce pickleball to as many Chinese people as we could. We took a portable USAPA net and paddles, which were all donated by Steve Wong of
S-Type Sports. (Thanks again Steve!) We demonstrated pickleball in Beijing, Xian, Shanghai, Guangzhou and on the Great Wall and on our ship on the Yangtze River. We were invited to ‘Guangdong Industrial Technical College to demonstrate pickleball. It was at this site that we donated the net and paddles we carried so the college could continue to teach pickleball to their students and faculty.

 Our group with students from Guangdong Industrial Technical College

Our group with students from Guangdong Industrial Technical College

At every stop we found the Chinese people welcoming and receptive to pickleball. Even though we had interpreters we used a lot of “sign” language to explain the rules which brought many smiles and much laughter from both sides. By the time we finished playing with them we had made new friends. It was a wonderful experience and trip!

The China group at Temple of Heaven

The China group at Temple of Heaven: Janet Hochfeld, Bob Rice, Judy Rosenthal, Roger Rosenthal, Sue Leung, Jim Schupp, Po Leung, Karen Schupp, Connie Anderson, Bob Anderson, Gwenda Rice, Paul Hochfeld (not shown)

Submitted by Connie & Bob Anderson
USAPA Ambassadors – Corvallis, OR

See our China Pickleball Trip Photo Gallery:  Rather than using the slideshow, click on the first picture and scroll manually with arrows to see picture captions.  Hit ESC key to exit photo gallery and return to narrative.  If you click on Slideshow, you may need to scroll back down to the gallery area to see the show.

Individual Stories of the Trip

We arrived in Tienanmen Square and wanted a group photo taken with our USAPA banner. We had just unrolled the banner and formed a group when a military person came running over waving his hands and motioning that we could not take the photo. Our guide/translator, Gloria, tried to explain who we were and what we were doing. He would have nothing to do with it and as we rolled up our banner he chewed her out for “letting” us do that in the first place. We felt very badly for Gloria as she was a very nice person. It was one of our first tastes of China and not very welcoming, but as the trip progressed relations warmed through the game of pickleball. Connie Anderson

Bob and I were getting ready to visit the Great Wall. During most of the trip Bob wore a “travel” vest which had a large pocket on the back. We went back and forth deciding whether we should take our pickleball paddles and a ball and “play” pickleball on the wall. Finally we decided to put them in the vest and we would make a decision once we were on the wall. No one else knew we had them with us. We climbed the steeper section of the wall to try to avoid the crowds. Our time was running short, we were still amongst people and were going to have to start down soon. Bob and I couldn’t leave the wall without hitting a few shots so to the amazement of our group and other people on the wall, we pulled out our paddles and a ball and hit a few shots. Our grou shagged the ball and took pictures with many other wall walking people watching and smiling. It was a highlight of the trip. Connie Anderson

Everyone has heard of the Great Wall in China but I never thought my husband and I would be standing on it watching our doubles partners, Connie and Bob Anderson, gently hit a pickleball back and forth to each other as other tourists streamed by.  Judy Rosenthal

When we were on our three day cruise down the Yangtze River we became very friendly with our on board guide, Daisy.  All Chinese young people ‘adopt’ an English name.  We talked with her about Pickleball and she wanted to learn.  On our last day of the cruise we were docked and ready to embark into the famous three Gorges route.  It was an incredible setting.  In the morning we set up our portable net on the top deck and began to play.  Somehow Daisy got word we were playing and literally invited all
the staff up to the top deck.  They were in their black tuxedo like outfits – high heels, bow ties, etc… and were playing Pickleball.  It was surreal to see how much fun they were having learning this wonderful game.  James Schupp

We had set up our portable net in various places in China but the most significant happening for me was when we set it up on the top deck of our cruise ship on the Yangtze River. As members of our group were playing the rest of us would recruit other people who looked like they may be interested.  I spotted a group of middle age women sitting apart but still watching the play.  I approached them and offered my paddle and pointed at them but each declined with a no-no shake of her head.  As I motioned individually to each one in the group I noticed that one women’s eyes had a glint of
interest.  I gave her my paddle and motioned for her to follow me.  Retrieving another paddle I bounced a ball on my paddle and motioned for her  to do the same.  Seeing how easily she did that I gently hit a ball to her and she gently hit it back and so forth.  Quickly I could see that this women was very coordinated and athletic so I had “Sue” replace one of the pickleball players and soon she was playing doubles and loving it.
After presenting her with a pb pin she invited me over to her group of women and it was then that an interpreter told me this group of  women went to middle school together and “Sue” had been their leader in middle school and she had organized this Yangtze River tour for them.  They all gathered around me anxious that I be in a picture with them.  After many pictures we parted ways but it wouldn’t be for the last time.  The following day, after disembarking from the cruise ship our pickleball group was touring the Three Gorges Dam when I heard “Judy, Judy, Judy” ringing through the air.  There were the women from the ship and their leader, “Sue”, again giving me hugs and wanting just one more picture of us together.  I don’t speak Chinese and my new women friends didn’t speak English but pickleball was our common language!! Judy Rosenthal

While in port, we set up our portable pickleball net on the top deck of our Yangtze River cruise boat. We played with guests and crew members alike. After playing with and coaching this one women, who was a tennis player, I presented her with one of our pickleball pins that we gave out to people we played with. You would have thought she had won the lottery! She had fun playing pickleball and when she received the pin she said, “Is this for me!?” Laughingly she said, “Oh, I’m going home and tell my friend, who plays pickleball, that I won the top prize in the pickleball tournament on the cruise!” She
reached into her pocket and presented me with a Canadian flag pin. We smiled at each other and then she hurried off to her group of friends to show them the pin and talk about pickleball. Once again, another pickleball friend was made.  Connie Anderson

In the beautiful city of Shanghai we left the hotel with our portable net and scouted for a place to play. We ended up playing in place near the subway. As people passed by they would look over the rail and watch. Slowly people came forward and wanted to know what we were doing. We showed them and the fun began. Off to one side a couple was doing some kind of dance exercise. As time went on, she moved closer to us and watched, continuing to dance. Then she would retreat to her original area, but slowly moved back to our area. Finally, she accepted a paddle from one of us and started hitting the ball. She liked it and politely thanked us when she left. One other couple played and wanted to sign that day to be pickleball distributors in Shanghai. We had to tell them we weren’t ready to start doing business in China yet. They were disappointed, but we took there email address and said we would be in touch. Connie Anderson

When we were teaching students at Guangdong Industry Technical College, one student started talking with me in very good English. I encouraged him to try his hand at
pickleball. He kept saying no, he said he was not an athlete. So we kept talking and watching the other students play for a long time. Finally, after much watching he decided he would give it a try. He was very nervous and didn’t hit well in the beginning, but our group kept working with him and sure enough a smile appeared on his face. He started to relax, have a good time and play better.  It wasn’t until later when we were getting ready to take group pictures and I was talking with him again, he mentioned that he was the student body vice president. He was very proud of that, but I could also tell he was very proud of accepting a pickleball pin that we gave people who played with us on the trip. He attached it to his shirt and stood proud and smiling for the photos: another pickleball player in the making! Connie Anderson

In Guangzhou (Canton) we were invited to play pickleball at an indoor  gymnasium normally set up for badminton. Several Chinese men associated with a sporting goods store and friends and relatives of one of our players (formerly of Guangzhou) came to
watch us play the game and to play themselves.  As several of them came into the gym we couldn’t help but notice all of the smoke that came in with them.  It seemed incongruous that they would smoke but then proceed to play pickleball to get healthy???  Later we were invited to stop by the sporting goods store. The owner showed us where he planned on displaying pickleball equipment when he became a distributor. He was sold on pickleball.  Judy Rosenthal

23 thoughts on “Destination Pickleball China

  1. My wife and I have played pickleball in Toronto for abt two years and we now live in HongKong. We want to promote this sport in Hongkong. We tried but not successful. We missed playing this sport very much. Pls. advise as to where to play in HongKong or China (Guangzhou, Shengzeng, etc.)

    • Have you found a place to play in Hong Kong? We will be visiting our son on Lantau Island next month and would love to play with him.

    • Hi fellow pickleball fans,

      My husband and I are moving to HK and we love pickleball. Don’t know where we will live; probably close to the airport. I will bring our paddles and hope to find some courts. Let me know if you have found a place to play. If not, maybe we can create courts using tennis courts.

      Janis Bumgarner

      • Hello!

        When are you moving to Hong Kong? We will rent a tennis court and will play with another player around end of April. We need more players.

        Tks.

        Tommy

        • Hi Tommy,

          I lost touch with you after April. I still want to play pickleball sometime. Now it is June and it’s really hot, but I’m game if ya’ll are. I’ll be free up to the fourth of July, then after July 18th. Cheers,

          Jason
          Hong Kong mobile +852 6605 7282

  2. I have asked the coordinator of this trip to China to contact you with any information he might have.

  3. I played pickleball for the first time in San Antonio Texas over the Christmas holidays at a sports center. Four courts were laid over indoor basketball courts (on wood). Played again in south Austin shortly after that on a public tennis court. As a former tennis fanatic, I love Pickleball and would be very interested in getting a MeetUp group started here in Hong Kong, where I live most of the year. I don’t have any gear of my own yet. If you are in HK please contact me. (jason@jasoneng.com) Thanks!

    • Dear Jason:

      My wife and I love to play pickleball. We played in Toronto and we now live in HongKong. We looked everywhere and made enquiries but couldn’t find any court to play. We love to play with you if you can find a court here.

      Regards,

      Tommy

      • I am a tennis player also, and I find opportunities to play tennis rare in HK. In Singapore I played every week – lots of courts there. I think Pickleball could have a better chance gaining popularity there than here in HK. There seems to be more courts there, which makes sense since HK is so densely populated. There more condo communities equipped with large tennis facilities.

        To change the topic, how would one go about using existing spaces for pickleball? Is there a way to use an existing tennis court without taping the surface or changing the net?

        • In the past we have used the existing tennis net, pulled down the net to the 34″ hight and taped the court on both sides of the net using the middle line as a center for the PB court. That does not take long and some inconspicuous tick marks make it even easier. It gets a little wide if you use the existing tennis lines, and just a little short at the back, but have done that also for quick games.

        • Dear Jason:

          We have played in a tennis court without taping nor lowering the net, but just for the sake of exercising and for fun. Because it’s not a standard court with standard lines/boundary, we had to run more/farther to return the ball.

          Are you in Hong Kong between April 20th to 30th? If so, we (my wife and I) may be able to find a tennis court to play with you. Do you have a partner?

          Pls. call 852-56338836 to discuss. We will be away from March 25 to April 19.

          Regards,

          Tommy

          • Hi, Yes I’ll be here. But I don’t currently have a partner. I don’t have a paddle either!

          • Hi, Jason:

            Tks for yr quick response. We have paddles for you. Are you able to find a player to come with you? It’s better to have four players.

            Tks!

            Tommy

          • We have paddles for you. It’s better to have four players, two on each side. Are you able to find one?

          • No I don’t know anyone here in HK that could be my partner. I could bring my wife, but she would be a total beginner. – Jason

          • Dear Jason:

            Pls bring your wife. I have paddles and balls for you. Can you leave me your telephone #? I will call you before April 20th to confirm date and time. Can you play weekdays or only weekends. We’ll play in Tsuen Wan and early in the morning.

            Tks!

            Tommy

          • Hey Tommy,

            Sorry to cancel on you but we have to travel to Indonesia for a project on April 20th. I hope we can reschedule to play when we get back. Here’s my Hong Kong number. Please do call when you can.

            – Jason
            +852 66057282

  4. My husband is working in Shanghai this September and October. I was wondering if you could share with me any contact info for people you met or facilities you worked with that may have continued playing pickleball after you shared the sport with them. I will be visiting my husband for a couple of weeks during this time, so we would both like to find an opportunity to play pickleball. Thanks!

  5. Hi, is anybody still playing the pickleball in Hong Kong? I would like to join and learn. Please contact me via email.

    Thanks!

  6. Hello,
    I am interested in playing the pickleball. Have you started a group in Hong Kong where I can join?
    Please kindly reply.

  7. I am a visitor from Toronto and will stay in Hong Kong for ten weeks. Would like to play pickleball.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *