Cracking the lid on pickleball

Ray Griffiths returns a serve during a pickleball game at the Germain Park tennis court. Barry Wright

On an unusually cool evening in early July, nine people gather at the Germain Park tennis courts to play one of the fastest growing sports in North America.

Pickleball was invented fifty years ago near Seattle, Washington, but only in the past few years has the sport taken off, especially with the 50 plus crowd.

“We have a group of about 20 people who come out when they can,” said Noreen Miller.

“We play outside on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in June, July and August, and we play indoors (in a school gym) for the rest of the year,” she added.

The program is run through the Strangway Centre Community Centre.

“It’s just good to come out and have some fun and exercise,” said Miller, who says anyone who wants to give the sport a whirl is more than welcome.

The sport is played with two or four players on a smaller-sized tennis court with a Whiffle ball and an oversized, lightweight ping pong paddle.

Points begin with an underhand serve from behind the baseline.

The first team to 11 points generally wins. The exception being close contests where the winning team needs to have a two point advantage in to register a victory.

“It’s fun to play,” said Jim Gibson, 78, the elder statesman of the group, which included players in their 60’s and 70’s.

“It’s good to socialize with people your own age,” he added.

Gibson has been playing for three seasons and looks forward to continuing the game at his winter residence in Florida later this year.

– Barry Wright