It has been years since a new sport has been introduced at the high school level in Southwestern Ontario.

“We lose more sports than we are gaining,” says St. Joseph’s teacher Eric Ursic. “This is a starting point, and hopefully a springboard that can jump start something.”

Pickleball is considered one of the fastest growing sports in the world, and it’s slowly being incorporated into physical education classes. However most of the sports played in secondary school aren’t continued after graduation.

“I used to be high school teacher, so I know all about that,” says St. Thomas Pickleball Club president Dave Hall.

“I think (physical education) should be teaching kids to (play) for their entire life, to maintain healthy lifestyle and pickleball is certainly that.”

The St. Thomas Pickleball Club came up with the idea for a one-day intramural tournament for high school students a year ago and it was held Monday.

They contacted the schools and this year eight from the two local school boards came on board.

“I think it’s a great sport for high school,” says East Elgin secondary school player Landon Underhill. "St. Thomas has a great facility here, and it’s a sport that is definitely getting more common and more popular.”

Ursic says it’s a sport that combines the rules of tennis and badminton. “When it is introduced at school level, most kids don’t know how to play. You see all the volunteers out here on every court. It’s a day to celebrate the sport really.”

As word of mouth spreads, and more schools jump on board next year, Hall hopes the tournament will double in size