HAYDEN, Idaho — One of the fastest growing sports in the United States is the sport of pickleball. Even though it was named the state sport of Washington in April, the pinnacle of the sport right now can be found in Hayden, Idaho.
The number one ranked men's singles pickleball player in the world, Tyson McGuffin, resides in Hayden.
McGuffin grew up in Lake Chelan and was a wrestler and state champion tennis player in high school. He began playing pickleball in 2015.
He recognized his talent in the sport early on. He entered a tournament in Coeur d'Alene in 2015, competed in a lower division and ended up winning.
When McGuffin watched the professional players play in the tournament, he felt he could beat them. Six months later, McGuffin turned pro and he went to three games with a player who was ranked top 10 in the world at the time.
"Right then and there I knew I wanted to pursue the sport professionally and try and capitalize," McGuffin said.
Within a year and a half of turning professional, McGuffin was ranked top 10 in the world in double, and within just eight months, he was ranked top three in the world as a singles player.
He became sponsored by a manufacturing company in Hayden, Idaho that focuses strictly on pickleball equipment.
Selkirk Sport was founded by brothers Rob and Mike Barnes and their father Jim in 2014.
"Right when we got into it, hardly anybody knew about the sport. People would ask us what we do and we would tell them we manufacture pickleball paddles. Only about one out of 10 people knew what that was," Rob said.
However, the Barnes family entered the sport at the right time, as it has only grown in popularity since then.
"When we first got started, the top of the line paddle sold for $60, but with the advances in technology, the top performance products now sell for between $200 and $250," Mike said.
"We have been a big part of investing in research and development to really drive the technology forward and produce equipment that we feel the sport needs," Rob said.
Selkirk Sport has become one of the most popular pickleball brands in the world. The company sponsors the PPA tour and sponsors several top players in the world, including McGuffin.
Selkirk has grown so much, the Barnes family has opened a manufacturing warehouse in Coeur d'Alene in addition to their location in Hayden.
As for the sport itself, popularity has boomed over the last decade. Governor Jay Inslee signed a proclamation naming pickleball Washington's state sport in April and the accessibility of the sport to people of all ages has helped the sport grow.
"Tiger Woods's old golf coach, Hank Haney, said within five years, pickleball will be more popular than golf from a participation standpoint," the Barnes brothers said.
This means more competition for McGuffin and potential customers for Selkirk, including several former tennis players trying their hands at professional pickleball.
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