TRUCKEE, Calif. — When I first heard about a Pickelball demonstration a couple of years ago, I thought I’d check it out. After all, I’m an avid tennis player and it could be interesting.
Well, I’ll tell you, when I watched a game, my eyes lit up like Toady in the “Wind and the Willows” when he saw the Motorcar. I was hooked.
The game originated in 1965 when Joel Prichard, a Congressman from Washington State, and his golfing buddy returned from a round of golf and found his family sitting around bored. Joel had an old badminton court on his Bainbridge Island property and decided to convert the court to and play a new family game. He found a plastic ball with holes in it and cut off the handles of the badminton racquets and they volleyed over the net. The racquets didn’t work very well, so he made some wooden paddles and lowered the net to incorporate a “tennis like” game. The whole family could play the game with ease.
The Prichards had a cocker spaniel named “Pickels,” who became interested in the game. Whenever the ball would come his way, he would take the ball and run off with it, because you see, it was Pickels’ ball, and that’s how the game got its name.
The game is a combination of tennis, badminton and ping pong. Played on a smaller size court with a lower net than tennis, it’s an easy game for anyone to play, because you don’t need the strokes required in tennis to hit the ball. It’s also a great workout with fast volleys and lots of shot making opportunities.
“It works for me because I used to play tennis and then had double knee replacement, doing less running allows me to play Pickelball,” said Steve Seitz.
“It’s like a short court tennis game with a fast pace and lots of fun,” added Robin Parker.
Truckee-Donner Recreation & Parks District has embraced the game and has four courts in the Community Recreation Center for play on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 12:30-2:30 p.m. and Sundays 1-3 p.m. Fees are $4 drop in or $30 for a 10-play card. There are plans to build a new outdoor court at the Regional Park, next to the tennis courts this summer.