URI dominates first collegiate pickleball match in New England
WAKEFIELD, R.I. (WLNE) — The University of Rhode Island defeated Providence College 3-1 on March 19 in the first ever collegiate pickleball matchup in New England.
URI freshman Ryan Estus founded New England’s first club this fall.
“I had been playing pickleball over the last few months in the summer, and I came to campus hoping to play more with friends i met in college,” Estus explained. “I was surprised to see there wasn’t some club representation of the sport for pickleball, and I was like, ‘We should change that. We should get something going.'”
The club has grown from 10 to 50 members in just a matter of months.
Estus and other club leaders noticed on Instagram that Providence College formed their own pickleball team.
He added, “I gave them a follow and I sent them a direct message. I said, ‘Hey we’re URI pickle ball and we’d love to play you in a match sometime since we’re so close in proximity.’ They said, ‘We’d love to do the same — and the rest is history.”
Dozens showed up for the match last week at the Old Mountain courts in Wakefield, including member Dylan Weiner.
He told ABC 6 Tuesday, “It was very competitive. It was a lot of people surrounding — URI on one side and PC on the other. There was tension in the air it was magical.”
The club hopes to soon get the funding and approval to become an official club sport at the university, and play national tournaments while leading play regionally.
Unlike other sports, Estus believes pickleball is inviting, inclusive, and builds community.
He finished, “It’s got such an easy learning curve. Tennis is a sport that takes years to master — sometimes more. You can pick [pickleball] up in that time frame.”