Pickleball emphasizes fun, friendship and fitness

Pickleball emphasizes fun, friendship and fitness

By Duncan Nixon

The United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) website claims that pickleball is the fastest growing game in America. The site reports that pickleball was invented in a backyard on a badminton court in 1965, and that there are now over 3 million players in the U.S.

Pickleball is a game that resembles tennis and badminton. Paddles are used to hit a plastic whiffle ball back and forth over a tennis net. The court is lined off like a tennis court, but is considerably more compact. Accordingly, there is far less side-to-side action required to play at a reasonable level. Singles play is allowed but the vast majority of pickleball games are doubles play, with mixed doubles play extremely common.

This sport is very popular in retirement communities, but it is decidedly not just for retirees. There are professional tournaments for men and women as well as for senior professionals. On a recent Saturday there were teens and 20-somethings playing at the Lake Monticello courts.

At Lake Monticello and in Fluvanna County, the game has a solid core of adherents. Warren McIvor said that his email list of interested players includes about 50 individuals. There are three places to play in the county. All of the tennis courts at the main clubhouse at Lake Monticello are lined for pickleball. Pickleball players have reserved two courts every Saturday morning at 10 a.m. Individuals who wish to play on the Lake Monticello courts at the main clubhouse are required to pay a fee of $100 a year. Free play is available on the Lafayette tennis courts within Lake Monticello and indoors at the Carysbrook gym. Available times for the indoor courts are determined by Fluvanna Parks and Recreation.

McIvor said that there is no league play and that local players emphasize the three Fs: fun, friendship and fitness. He also pointed out that players are able to arrange games on all days of the week. On July 11 at the 10 a.m. start time, there were 15 players on hand with two courts reserved for pickleball play. As a result, eight players were competing at a time with seven players waiting to move onto the court.

As with pick-up basketball, the winning team generally stays on the court to take on the next twosome. The action can be fast as the ball is volleyed from close distances. Reaction times matter, but there is far less sideway and back and forth movement as compared to tennis. Only a step or two in any direction is required. On a hot day, players can work up quite a sweat.

Enthusiasts from Lake Monticello and Fluvanna County sometimes play at nearby locations, such as Louisa and Charlottesville, and can often find a game when traveling. Players who are visiting the Lake and the county are welcome to join in with the locals.

Anyone interested in joining the pickleball players at the Lake and in the county can call McIvor at 434-774-6724 or email him at gwmci@yahoo.com, or email Rachel Perez-Baum at fluvannapickleball@gmail.com. New players are welcome.

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