A simple backyard game created by three dads to entertain their bored kids on Bainbridge Island, Washington, in 1965 – now called "Pickleball" – is still gaining players, especially in Sellwood Park.
According to the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA), "Pickleball" is a proper noun, and thus is capitalized. But, how this game got its name is disputed. There is some agreement that the game may have been named for a crew rowing team, or perhaps for a family dog. It's played by either two or four participants, and is described as a mix of ping-pong, badminton, and tennis.
Nevertheless, Pickleball has evolved into a popular sport, now with official rules, and played around the world. Four Pickleball courts neatly fit into the space of one regulation-sized tennis court. The equipment required is a Pickleball paddle – it looks like an oversized ping-pong paddle; a perforated polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle Ball; and a low net.
As we arrived to see the sport being played on a sunny spring afternoon, the activity on all four courts was lively. But, most interesting to us was the fun players were having – with smiles and laughter all around.
"I've played this for almost four years now," said PDX Pickleball Club "volunteer ambassador and energetic evangelist", Nisa' Haron.
"As a life-long tennis player, when a volleyball player friend suggested giving this a try, I told her that I didn't like the name; it sounded silly, not serious," recalled Haron.
"Indeed Pickleball is not a serious name; but, as you might know, all of us tennis players are elitists," Haron said with a sly smile.
"At any rate, I tried it – I bought a paddle, and loved the game," Haron told THE BEE. "And now, I am not only the USAPA Ambassador for Inner Southeast Portland, but I've been promoting the game everywhere. Before the pandemic I started Pickleball in Malaysia; and I've also played in Thailand, Tokyo, Singapore."
A game for all agesAny age group can play, Haron asserted. "So grandparents can play with their grandchildren and still enjoy the game, because most of the time we play doubles. And, it's easier to learn and play than tennis! A lot of tennis players of stop playing because of injuries, but they can still enjoy Pickleball."
Promoting permanent courtsLocally, about 100 PDX Pickleball Club members get together – not only to play the game, but also to promote the sport, and teach newcomers how to play.
Since the club was started in 2016, they've lacked permanent Pickleball courts. Now, players mark off four areas in a tennis court, and set up temporary nets to play games.
"Our next project is to work with Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) to resurface abandoned tennis courts for Pickleball players; our pilot project is here, in Sellwood Park," stated Haron. "So, we are collecting funds to help resurface unused, or underused tennis courts, to put in six dedicated Pickleball courts." (Note: Local tennis players deny that any tennis courts in Sellwood Park are actually abandoned.)
To learn more about Pickleball, go online – www.pdxpickleballclub.com
And, to see a video of games of Pickleball, being played with several Pickleball courts set up on one Sellwood tennis court, right here: >youtu.be/hhp5BRnqfng
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