Pickleball players hope to spread love of sport

New courts available and group is looking for more people to get involved

It’s not quite tennis. It’s not quite ping-pong. And it’s not badminton, either.

It’s pickleball, a relatively new racquet sport that’s made its way into Squamish.

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And it just so happens that a group in town is hoping to share its love for this game.

“It’s a huge game,” said Karen Chelswick, a local pickleball enthusiast. “It’s easy to learn it because it’s played quite similarly to tennis but it has somewhat different rules.”

Chelswick said that the game is a great way to stay active without subjecting your body to too much wear and tear.

“If I compare it to tennis, the court is half the size,” she said. “So as you get older or as you start to get injuries, it’s less wearing.”

She added that this makes it a popular game among an older crowd, but it’s by no means restricted to those in their golden years.

“It’s not a seniors’ game,” Chelswick said.

Indeed, a recent CBS Sports broadcast featured players of diverse ages in the the 2018 Minto US Open Pickleball Championships.

She’s also inviting anyone interested to come out and give it a try — for free.

“We want to expand [our] group and teach people,” Chelswick said.

She said that pickleball players recently received a grant from the District of Squamish.

As a result, two tennis courts behind Eaglewind were overpainted with pickleball lines, creating four pickleball courts. The players also got four nets to go along with it.

Chelswick said that a pickleball net is free to use for anyone who would make the request at the front desk of The 55 Activity Centre.

They play on Tuesday afternoons and Thursday afternoons from about 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. both days.

On Sept. 11, Brennan Park is also offering free pickleball to anyone interested to play from about 4 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Those interested don’t need to have equipment to join in.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the sport got its start in 1965 when Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his golfing partner Bill Bell returned to Pritchard’s home from a round on the course.

They saw their families were sitting around with nothing to do. There was a old badminton court on the property, but no one could find a full set of racquets.

So they experimented playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. Adjustments to the net were made, and before they knew it, a new game was born. Anyone interested in joining the Squamish pickleball group can call Bob Pearce at 604-567-7828.


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