Pickleball gains momentum in popularity in Grand Valley | PostIndependent.com

Pickleball gains momentum in popularity in Grand Valley

Brittany Markert
bmarkert@gjfreepress.com

George Gerson was hesitant to play pickleball, due to the odd name, when he was introduced to the sport seven years ago through some friends. Once he gave it a try, he was hooked.

"I fell in love with it," Gerson said.

He explained the game is a mixture of tennis and ping pong. While the majority of the players are retirees, he explained, younger folks are joining in on the low-impact sport. When he started seven years ago, he noted only a handful of people played, but it has since grown to more than 300 players locally.

"It's an easy game to learn," Gerson said. "It can be played for fun or be a competitive game."

For beginners, Gerson suggested to attend a beginners clinic held by Grand Junction Parks and Recreation, which are typically held in spring and summer months. Pickleball can be played year round due to the area's mild winters, but indoor courts are set up in the Lincoln Park Barn. Outdoor courts are located at Lincoln Park in Grand Junction, by the tennis courts, or in the Redlands in The Ridges subdivision area.

He said most folks show up to the courts and play drop in games every day the sun is shining.

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Beginners can also borrow equipment from the parks and recreation department.

To see competitive action, a Sweet 16 tournament is set for Saturday, Sept. 19, starting at 9 a.m. at both court locations. All skill levels are invited to participate.

HOW TO PLAY

While Gerson said the best way to learn is to play, some basics can be taught if just starting out. Pickleball has two pieces of equipment, a solid, short-handled paddle and a ball, which is a ball with holes like a wiffleball. According to the USA Pickleball Association, the ball travels at a third the speed of a tennis ball.

All serves must be underhand.

Points are scored only by the serving team.

Games are normally played to 11 points and you must win by 2 points.

There is a non-volley zone, which is seven feet within both sides of the net, to prevent players from smashing the balls.

When the ball is served, the receiving team must let it bounce before returning, and then the serving team must let it bounce before returning.

After the ball has bounced once in each team's court, both teams may either volley the ball (hit the ball before it bounces) or play it off a bounce (ground stroke).

For more information, visit Western Slope Pickleballers on Facebook or http://www.usap.org.

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