As the city held a grand opening of its pickleball courts Friday afternoon at Homewood Park, instructor Tim Payne asked those in attendance to raise their hands if they had never played the game before. About half of them hadn’t.
That changed when many of them took to the courts to try their hand at the sport, which continues to grow in popularity.
“I was not familiar with it, and then someone told me this was happening today,” said Joella Sidhu, who lives nearby and decided to check out the grand opening. “It looks fun. It looks like I could do it.”
The game, which includes elements of tennis and badminton but is played with ping-pong-like paddles and a wiffle ball, is ideal for people of all ages, Payne said.
“The popularity comes from the simplicity of the game. Think of it as ping-pong or badminton at the lowest level,” he said. “That said, you can play to high levels where there is a lot of skill and athletic ability involved.”
Vicki Reed and Rhonda Adkins were among those on hand to demonstrate how pickleball is played. They have been playing it indoors at Rotary Place, and now they’re looking forward to having an outdoor option.
“It’s totally different (outdoors),” said Reed. “The wind can change the game.”
“I find it a lot harder to play inside,” Adkins added. “It’s more challenging. It’s faster.”
She hopes the city can eventually erect fencing around the court. There are already some bicycle tire marks on it, and it abuts the basketball court.
“You don’t want to wreck this beautiful court,” Adkins said.
Those who couldn’t make it to Friday’s grand opening still have a chance to learn about the game. The city is offering a free Pickleball in the Park program, starting Sept. 11 at 5 p.m. For more information, contact the city’s parks, recreation and culture department at 705-329-7250.