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  • Writer's pictureTerri Tomoff

Pickleball Craze?

Have you played Pickleball yet? If you have liked it as I have in the last three months, you may now LOVE it like I do! When I was a teenager playing as much tennis as I could get in a day and loved that, I couldn't wait to get on the courts next. I played for hours back then and was on a Cleveland NJTL (National Junior Tennis League) team called Bjorn Borg Bionic Babes. We won the summer Cleveland Championships and were selected to play at the state level at the university I eventually went to, Bowling Green State University. I believe we lost handily there, but we still had an amazing time meeting tennis-playing teenage girls from around the state of Ohio.

I feel the same way with Pickleball today - I can't wait to get on the court to whack the whiffle-like ball all over the smallish court. It's really a hoot this game of Pickleball.

In my short career of playing (okay, I must confess I learned to play only one day at my friend Kata's house four years ago), I hear people talking about this Pickleball craze and their thinking it was "manufactured" by someone in California. That could not be further from the truth, and an easy Google search will put your Pickleball thoughts to rest on how it all came about.

Since I was intrigued enough to learn where this cool game can be played with young and old alike, I investigated. Here is what I found most intriguing from the USA Pickleball website:

In 1965, after playing golf one Saturday during the summer, Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and Bill Bell, a successful businessman, returned to Pritchard's home on Bainbridge Island, WA (near Seattle) to find their families sitting around with nothing to do. The property had an old badminton court, so Pritchard and Bell looked for some badminton equipment and could not find a full set of rackets. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. At first, they placed the net at a badminton height of 60 inches and volleyed the ball over the net. As the weekend progressed, the players found that the ball bounced well on the asphalt surface, and soon, the net was lowered to 36 inches. The following weekend, Barney McCallum was introduced to the game at Pritchard's home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.

Last year, The Sports & Fitness Industry Association (SFIA) named pickleball the fastest-growing sport in America. I can see why; it's super fun and something the whole family can participate in and enjoy immensely (IMHO).

Our local pool/tennis courts fashioned two courts with markings and the correct measurements for a Pickleball court. One tennis court yields two Pickleball courts. At first, we were using the tennis pro's equipment, rackets and balls, but by early August, I purchased a racket for Ryan's birthday and a set of rackets for hubby Bill and me. In September, I bought a fourth racket, so we have an extra one to play doubles for any visitor who'd like to play with us. That extra racket has already come in handy!

Oh, one more thing. There is no saying you're sorry in Pickleball, just saying.



Photos: 1) With my guys at our courts; 2) See how casual it can be? I'm with Julie Hughes, and I'm wearing a bathing suit under my coverup and a pair of sandals (would not recommend playing in sandals...). 3) Pickleball in action - I'm in the red shirt.


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