CINCINATTI — Boomers may not be finished teaching the rest of us a thing or two.

Witness: pickleball.

What You Need To Know

  • Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the U.S. for the 5th consecutive year

  • The game is played as doubles on a tennis court with a wiffle-like ball and shorter net

  • Nettie is a pickleball racket company founded by Catherine Baxter in Cincinnati

What was once gently mocked as a fake sport for retirees has exploded onto the scene, taking over tennis courts with its simple rules, quick learning curve and culture of welcoming inclusion for players from novice to expert.

The popularity of pickleball can’t be overstated. It has been the fastest-growing sport for five years running, and Catherine Baxter’s timing couldn’t be better.

She’s a millennial who was inspired by her now in-laws to found Nettie, a Cincinnati-based pickleball racket company for the next generation.

Rewind to the COVID-19 lockdown, when Baxter’s in-laws — stuck inside their Manhattan apartment — moved their furniture out of the way to set up their own miniature indoor pickleball court.

Their decision sparked something in Baxter. She was struck by the fact that they loved the sport so much they moved art off their wall, just to play.

"I saw a gap or an opening in the pickleball equipment that I saw out there and had an idea," Baxter said. "I think I can do something here."

Baxter saw all the paddles on the market were either very expensive or, as she described, boring. No color, no pattern, no whimsy, which didn’t make sense for such a fun and upbeat sport.

“There was a space for something that was good for people who were recreational players, who were casual players, who were beginners, who wanted something quality," she said. "I also just love color, and I love good design and fun patterns and just wanted something that was more appealing to my sense of style."

Part of the company's mission, Baxter said, is trying to get more people out in the world playing together, whether with their grandparents, kids or even their in-laws.

Nettie’s rackets stand out from the crowd with bright colors and whimsical patterns. This is not your grandparent’s racket.