Little Boy Falls in Love With Pickleball

With a tear in her eye, Linda Fetter is quick to say how pickleball saved her life.

And her grandson Liam, only four years old, with a big smile on his face, is well on his way to being a pickleball fan for life.

Fetter has been playing for about eight years and Liam got to go to his first tournament recently. Pickleball is special for both of them.

“Honestly pickleball is what saved me,” Fetter said. “It gave me something to do other than think about everything.”

Fetter is referring to the escape that pickleball provided her and little Liam after the loss of her grandson – Liam’s nearly six-month-old brother, Jett – who died about four months ago.

“It’s been so tough,” Fetter said. “An unbelievable experience and it’s been so tough on Liam and his mom [Victoria].”

Fetter said she’s taken Liam “under her wing” and that included taking him to his first PPA event. The two had spent plenty of time together watching the matches on TV, so when they showed up, Liam recognized several of the top players and parked himself right behind the bench where Ben Johns was sitting. 

The first pro Liam met was Irina Tereschenko, who took the time to stop and give him a quick high-five, have a conversation and smile with him. And at that point Liam was hooked, Fetter said.

Liam wanted a PPA shirt, so Fetter got him one and the vendor even threw in a ball for him to keep, too. The two went home, checked out some more of the matches on TV, and Fetter ended up taking Liam back to the tournament the next day, pen and ball in hand, ready to get some autographs from the stars of the PPA.

“I was telling my husband Bill that he needed to go with me, and we had no intention of bringing Liam, but Liam said he wanted to go back,” Fetter said. “He got an autograph from Leigh Waters and then Ben [Johns] gave him an autograph and of course, Liam started rooting for him. When the match was over and Ben was getting interviewed, Liam went running after him. Liam is standing there with Anna Leigh Waters and she signed his ball, reached out, even gave him a hug. He loved her.”

That was Friday. And there’s more.

“He embraced it all,” Fetter said. “It was incredible. That night he went home, and he was in the living room and he was hitting the ball. His mom said that’s all he does now.” 

Liam loved it so much he even got to go back for a third day – this time Championship Sunday.

“He was so excited to go again and the first thing that happened when we walked in was, he saw Catherine Parenteau and Tyson McGuffin,” Fetter said. “We were there, and they both signed his ball and he gave them high-fives.”

So, a young boy gets to go on three trips with grandma, gets to see great pickleball, and gets to meet the game’s best players. That’s what you call a pretty great weekend.

“Victoria has done an amazing job of raising an exceptional little boy,” Fetter said of her daughter. “He’s loving, kind and very energetic.”

Fetter said pickleball has helped her. It’s obviously become a passion for Liam, and now it looks like there will be one more in the family playing pickleball.

“Victoria has been going through a hard time, she was a tennis player, and we always told her to start playing pickleball and trying to get her to play and wanted her to play and that it would help her get through it,” Fetter said. “We’re going to start playing this week and Victoria was watching and she said, ‘I get it. People are so nice.’”

“These people are the kindest people with their hearts in it. I think Victoria had an epiphany. She wants to play now.”

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*article is courtesy of PPA Tour