Pickleball heats up for summer

The game is played on a court that is smaller than a tennis court. The Lafayette courts at the Lake have been lined in green and, as with tennis, there are four rectangles on each side of the net. In contrast with tennis where virtually all players serve overhand, in pickleball serves must be made underhand. Serves are made cross court. In tennis the serve must land in the front rectangle to be “in.” In pickleball the serve must land in the back rectangle to be “in.” 

In pickleball there is a double bounce rule. The serve must be allowed to bounce before it is returned and the service return must also be allowed to bounce before it is returned. Only after the ball has bounced on each side may players volley a ball in the air. Winning shots often come on balls hit in the air before a bounce, so players often move up toward the net as soon as allowed. However, the area from the net to the cross court line (a much smaller area than in tennis) is a no go zone. This area is referred to as “the kitchen,” and if a player gets too close to the net and steps into “the kitchen” his or her team loses the point that is in play.

In pickleball a game is played to 11 points and games are won by two points. Points can only be scored by the team that is serving. If a player who is serving wins a point he or she continues to serve, switching service courts. Both players on the team serve. This means that if player number one scores three points and then loses a serve, his or her partner then serves until he or she loses a serve. Only then does the serve go to the opposing team. Scores are announced as, for example, “five, three, two,” which means the serving team is ahead five points to three points and the second server is serving.

Because points can only be scored by the serving team, the time it takes to play to 11 points can vary. A team can run off 11 points quickly, or the score can move up very slowly if the receiving side is consistently defeating the serve. However, if the sides are balanced the games do not go on endlessly. Pickleball can be played as an individual sport, but it is mostly played as doubles.

The contact person for pickleball newcomers in Fluvanna is Peggy Shanklin at peggyshanklin@hotmail.com. She said she currently has 36 players signed up, including men and women of all ages, and that she has an email list of 52. Currently pickleballers are playing at Carysbrook on Mondays from 6:30-8:30 p.m. and at the Lafayette courts on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. and Friday from 1:30-4 p.m. There are no fees to participate. However, players usually do buy their own paddles once they decide to play regularly.

The Fluvanna paddleballers are just getting organized, so they have not scheduled any tournaments yet, but eventually plan to do so. They may also ultimately take on teams from surrounding communities where the game has caught on, such as Glenmore, Farmington and Keswick.

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