Maya Miserlian, ’25, and Jonah Gross, ’25, practice pickleball at Taylor Gym. Miserlian is the pickleball club’s vice President and Gross will be president in the fall of 2024. (Courtesy of Jonah Burd)

New pickleball club works toward becoming an official club sports team


Lehigh has a plethora of student clubs and organizations that can provide something for almost anyone. With over 200 clubs on campus, discovering an unexplored topic may seem unlikely.

Jonah Burd, ’24, was committed to creating a club that Lehigh hadn’t seen before. As the founder and president of Lehigh’s new pickleball club, Burd knew this would be something special.

Now, the club is working toward gaining the label “team.” With recreational and competitive playing options, next semester members will be able to compete in tournaments at nearby colleges.

Burd said the combination of the competitive and recreational sides of pickleball makes for an approachable tactic for growth.

He said one of the club’s main objectives is to give members an equal amount of playing time, and he plans to have the competitive members of the club attend different schools to compete in the near future.

While they’re not currently interacting with neighboring schools, vice president Maya Miserlain, ’25, attributes the club’s steady progression toward this goal to Burd.

“(Burd) has been making a lot of great progress in terms of going to different events to mitigate the term of tournaments,” Miserlain said.

Burd has been in regular contact with schools like the University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania State University, the University of Massachusetts and the University of Miami to receive insight into an intercollegiate tournament called DUPR.

Similar to the Universal Tennis Rank for a tennis player, DUPR stands for Dynamically Universal Pickleball Ratings. This program has maintained thorough engagement with universities by hosting conferences like Super Regionals and Campus Regionals.

“The amount of schools involved within these tournaments is starting to add up,” Burd said.

He said he believes numbers will continue to grow in the coming years.

Establishing a strong foundation to support a new club may require help from external sources, such as allocating funding from Lehigh’s Student Senate.

Pickleball requires rackets, balls and nets. With an average of 16 members attending the club’s Wednesday practices in Taylor Gym from 7 to 9 p.m, equipment is crucial to the emerging club’s success.

However, Burd said being a new club makes it harder to get funding from the Student Senate. So, he’s made his own investments to further the club.

“I bring my own two nets to practice and eight paddles,” Burd said. “I’ve spent around $400 of my own money for this, but it’s truly an investment, as I love the sport and want others to love it too.”

As the semester progresses, Burd said Lehigh’s pickleball community is growing in passion, and familiar faces are showing up at practice.

The club’s succeeding president, Jonah Gross, ’25, hopes to further emphasize this sense of community next semester by establishing a culture similar to Lehigh’s club tennis team.

Gross is also a part of club tennis, and he said he enjoys the team’s blend of engagement and competition through intercollegiate tournaments.

“There’s a community aspect in club tennis, through its events hosted outside of practice and knowing you’ll hit good points and play intense matches,” Gross said. “Honestly, I want to model the pickleball club similar to that.”

As the club member who will be stepping into Burd’s shoes next semester, Gross knows where his objectives land, and it’s in a competitive plateau of play.

“I want to be able to build up where (Burd) left off,” Gross said. “I know that we’re taking the club in a slightly different direction from being purely recreational into being competitively focused.”

Gross said he’s passionate about being a part of a club with a vision and is happy to step in to contribute. He also acknowledged Miserlain’s role as vice president on the executive board will help him be successful as the next leader.

Although the pickleball club may not be recognized as a club sports team right now, with the contribution of the executive board’s duties and members’ shared passion for this sport, their future is becoming brighter.

The pickleball club hopes to grow in numbers in the upcoming fall semester and achieve its goal of becoming an officially named club sports team for Lehigh.

Miserlain said she’s also looking forward to recruiting first-year students next semester during the club fair.

Currently, the pickleball club hosts practices on the courts of Taylor Gym on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 to 2 p.m. All students are welcome to attend.

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