Pickleball is fun

Linda Watlington, Pat Warren, Joanne Woods and Jeff Sicz tap paddles after a fun game! Pickleball games end with this ritual at the net, along with congratulatory and humorous remarks.

By Rebecca Page

Special to Caswell Messenger

What is Pickleball?! With similarities to tennis, ping pong and badminton, it’s the fastest growing sport in the nation and the fastest growing sport in Caswell County! Played with a wiffle ball and paddle on a court roughly a fourth the size of a tennis court, a person of average fitness and coordination can learn to play well enough to have fun in about a half hour.

Currently there are about two dozen people who play regularly at the Caswell Recreation Center tennis courts. Pickleball court lines have been superimposed on three unused tennis courts and players in the

group provide their own nets, balls, and paddles. Many in the group, including the writer, jokingly call themselves “pickleball addicts” because…well…they’re addicted, playing three to five times per week,

or more! Others say they play for “fun, fitness and fellowship.”

The game originated in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, WA, when some fathers sent their bored kids to a badminton court with ping pong paddles and an old plastic baseball and told them to hit around. Soon the fathers joined the fun! Rules evolved as they played. The net was

eventually lowered to 36” and a non-volley zone called the “kitchen” was established on either side.

There are a couple of stories about how the game was named, but the writer’s favorite is for the dog, Pickles, who chased wayward balls during the early days!

For an entertaining interview with the originators of the game, go to pickleballchannel.com/history-of-Pickleball.

As the rules evolved, the idea was to make a game families could enjoy playing together, and that spirit carries on today. While everyone plays to win, the primary goal is for all to have a good time.

The group that plays in Caswell includes women and men ranging in age from 20’s to 60’s, with 60 somethings competitive with 20 somethings! That’s part of the beauty of the game. The writer’s son once quipped affectionately, “It’s nice to have a sport I can play with my mom.”

Play is loosely organized such that everyone gets to play with as many different people as possible.

 Do you want to play? Play is at the Caswell Recreation Center

tennis courts on any Tuesday evening (weather permitting) at 6:30. It’s preferable that you email pickleballday@gmail.com to say you’re coming to assure there will be enough paddles to share. Wear comfortable clothes, court shoes (tennis) and bring water. Someone will help you with basic skills for the first 30 minutes and recreational play begins at 7 p.m. There is no charge.

Questions? Email pickleballday@gmail.com