Ruby Dalrymple, Marsha Gordon, Johnnie Buck and Mary Coppedge congratulate each other after a game of pickleball

Ruby Dalrymple, Marsha Gordon, Johnnie Buck and Mary Coppedge congratulate each other after a game of pickleball

Eudora News and Information ~ www.eudorareporter.com

The most common response I get when I ask people if they’ve ever played pickleball is, “Say what?”  It’s not a sport that most people have heard of, much less played.  But it’s one that is gaining in popularity, especially in certain parts of the country.  There are a number of dedicated pickleball players in Lawrence who meet regularly at the East Lawrence Rec Center and a group that plays in the old Vinland grade school.  But it’s definitely a new thing for Eudora.

Pickleball is kind of the “mixed breed mutt” of games—a court with the same dimensions as one for double badminton; a net similar to a tennis net, but lower; a hard paddle reminiscent of a ping pong paddle (only rectangular) and a ball that is a polymer version of a wiffle ball.  (Note: There is no pickle involved.  No pickles are harmed during play.)  It can be played indoors or out, with two or four players.

The game has some unusual terminology to go along with its unique name.  There’s a type of shot called a dink; an area of the court called a kitchen (and believe it or not, in this game sometimes you have to stay out of the kitchen); and it’s possible to poach, though there doesn’t seem to be a penalty for it and there’s no danger of getting on the bad side of the fish and game folks.

A group of pickleballers has been playing at the Eudora recreation center on Tuesday and Thursday mornings.  It’s made up of mostly senior women who are beginners at the game.  But they’re having a great time doing it, and they’re getting some good exercise.

On a recent Tuesday morning, Marsha Gordon, Johnnie Buck, Ruby Dalrymple and Mary Coppedge were on the court playing doubles.  There were some great hits, plenty of laughter and quite a bit of ball chasing going on (a lot, actually.)  I think their brows had a bit of sweat by the time the hour was up.  It was obvious that the women were having a ton of fun.

When asked why they played pickleball, Mary Coppedge and Johnnie Buck both said that they like the mental challenge of keeping track of the rules and the scoring.  They get  a mental workout as well as a physical one.  Mary added that she appreciates that it’s a good multi-generational game that she can play with other seniors or with her daughter and 12-year-old grandson.

“Unlike most sports,” Marsha Gordon explained, “you don’t have to be young and athletic to play.  People of all ages and skill levels can have fun while getting a nice workout.  It makes me smile just saying ‘pickleball’”.

Ruby Dalrymple agrees that it’s the fun of pickleball combined with exercise that keeps her coming back.

Equipment for the game is minimal—a pair of good athletic shoes and a paddle–and if you’re a senior, perhaps a supply of Ben Gay for after the game.  A paddle made from wood is inexpensive, starting at just $12.50.  But experienced players say that you just don’t get much pop off of the wood, and they recommend a graphite or composite paddle for better play and more power.  Plan on at least $60 for one of those.

The women who play in Eudora would welcome new pickleballers to join their sessions.  You don’t need to be a senior or a woman to join in the fun—anyone is welcome.  Wood paddles are available for use at the rec center or you can bring your own.  If you’re interested, contact Diane Chrislip (dianechrislip@gmail.com or 542-2026).

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