By Andrea Peacock/News staff
The court is smaller, there’s a paddle rather than a racket and a wiffle ball as opposed to a tennis ball, but many are calling this sport the new tennis.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court, and is a combination of tennis and ping pong. It was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, with the purpose of creating a game the whole family could play together.
Originally made of wood, pickleball paddles are now made of lightweight composite materials.
North Saanich resident Brenda Hardy and her husband first started playing pickleball when they were in Palm Springs this past winter.
“We decided to try it, and it’s probably the best thing we did in terms of activity and exercise,” said Hardy, 63.
Neither Hardy nor her husband played tennis prior to taking up pickleball but she said it was still easy to get used to, despite tennis players having some advantage at first.
Although similar, there are differences in the rules. In pickleball, the ball must bounce once on each side of the court before volleys are allowed. Points can only be scored on the serve. The receiving side cannot score points and service is lost by losing a rally.
“It’s not difficult to learn or play,” said Hardy. “When we started playing in Palm Springs, the best player was 84 years old.”
On the Saanich Peninsula, there are two public places to play pickleball, both of which are run by Panorama Recreation Centre. One is at North Saanich Middle School on Thursday evenings from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the other takes place at Greenglade Centre on Mondays and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to noon and Wednesdays from 8:30 to 11 a.m. Hardy said she would like so see more but said it has been difficult getting municipalities on board.
Hardy requested Central Saanich paint one tennis court with pickleball lines. In June, council agreed to add those lines on an existing multi-use court in Centennial Park.
“But you have to bring your own nets,” said Hardy, adding the court will be shared.
A subsequent motion was also made to paint lines on the tennis court in Saanichton Green Park but consideration of that was deferred for six months, said Central Saanich mayor Alastair Bryson.
“The new multi-use court will be an excellent venue for enthusiasts to play and showcase the sport to others who may be interested,” said Bryson.
“As participation and awareness increases, staff will monitor demand for court time and make future recommendations to council as necessary.”
Since coming back from Palm Springs in April, Hardy has been playing pickleball at Greenglade Centre.
“It’s a really good bunch of people, all interested in being active,” said Hardy, adding her favourite part of pickle ball is just playing a good game.