WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — The fastest-growing sport in America is pickleball. The court sport is played on a badminton-sized court with composite or wooden paddles and a perforated plastic ball. Simply put, it’s a mix of tennis and Ping-Pong.

Wichita has become a hotbed for the sport. The Parks & Recreation department is converting tennis courts to pickleball courts, and more and more pickleball places are popping up all over town. Some of the most popular are Riverside Tennis Center, Greater Wichita YMCA locations, the soon-to-open Sandbox in Derby, and Chicken & Pickle. The east side social and entertainment complex has 11 courts, six indoors and five outside.

Many of the best players in the sport reside in Wichita. Four of the top-10 ranked pickleball players in the world call Wichita home. Three of them will compete in next week’s Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships.

Pickleball is becoming quite popular in Wichita. Even on a weekday morning, you can find women running around with paddles in hand at Chicken & Pickle.

“We have a lot of local players that love playing. It’s a sport to be in right now. Because just the atmosphere and players willing to play, and random players can just jump on and be good at it very quickly. So, I think it’s just a great sport,” said Jay Devilliers.

Devilliers, who played tennis at Wichita State University (WSU), is a 27-year-old professional pickleball player from Wichita. He isn’t the only one.

“Yeah, we are very lucky. Wichita is pretty big for pickleball. We have a lot of local players that just play a lot and compete,” said Devilliers. “We’re lucky to have four top pros now that are Top-10. We have Patrick Smith. He’s German originally. We have Lucy Kovalova, that is Slovakian originally, and then Matt Wright is local. So, you’re very fortunate to have a lot of pros in Wichita.”

Devilliers is one of the most popular players on the Professional Pickleball Association (PPA) tour. He’s ranked in the top-10 in three divisions: singles, doubles, and mixed doubles.

“You know, being on the tour, it’s really fun and really challenging at the same time. As you can imagine. It’s a lot of traveling. It’s a lot of playing against the top players in the world. The competitive aspect is very high,” said Devilliers. “It’s a lot of adrenaline when you’re playing, kicking in, but so far, it’s been a great journey for me. I’m lucky enough to have a great partner as well that supports me, and my family that’s very supportive of me traveling so much as well.”

Devilliers is on the PPA tour along with fellow Wichitans Lucy Kovalova and Matt Wright. Kovalova, who also played tennis at WSU, is one of the best players in the game. The winner of 19 PPA events and at least nine USA National Championship titles, Kovalova is currently ranked second in women’s doubles and third in mixed doubles.

Devilliers’ mixed doubles partner Wright is also from Wichita. The Wichita Collegiate School alumni is number two in men’s doubles and ranked third in mixed doubles.

Kovalova, Wright, and Devilliers are preparing for the Margaritaville USA Pickleball National Championships next week in Palm Springs, California.

“It’s always like the tournament that you want to win. I think, again, we’re very lucky three of us are going this year to try to get the crown there. So we’ll try to do our best to win,” said Devilliers.

As you can tell, Devilliers is a great ambassador of the game.

“Once you start playing, you love it right away. I was a tennis player. I never thought I would play pickleball when I started it, you know,” said Devilliers. “It’s hard to not compete and play.”

Devilliers is married with three little boys, so he travels to every tournament on the 20-event tour. Kovalova also plays full-time on the PPA tour and also teaches tennis and pickleball at a local country club. Wright is an attorney who plays at most of the PPA stops.