2014-06-05 / Front Page

Could Pickleball Be Your Racquet?

By Jacquelyn Moorehead


Players set up to serve during a pickleball clinic held at Hunter Park tennis courts on Tuesday nights. (Photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead) Players set up to serve during a pickleball clinic held at Hunter Park tennis courts on Tuesday nights. (Photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead) Tennis has a new twist, and it’s called "pickleball." Pickleball, as best described, is a combination of tennis, badminton, and table tennis. The playing field has the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, but uses a tennis net. Racquets are larger, modified table tennis paddles and the ball is similar to a Wiffle ball, but made from thicker material. The perforated ball allows the game to move more slowly than tennis, and the smaller court lets the players cover the field with a few steps.

Play is similar to tennis, where the ball bounces on a serve before the volley is returned, and games can be played singles or doubles. The point system is unique, with a typical game lasting about half an hour.

Newport Recreation offers free pickleball clinics on Tuesday nights at 6 p.m. at the Hunter Park tennis courts.


Newport Recreation provides all the equipment, including pickleballs and paddles, for players. Newport Recreation provides all the equipment, including pickleballs and paddles, for players. ”Anybody who has played a racquet sport, or anything like it, will love this. You don’t need any particular skill set; it is fun and easy to learn,” Carol Mureddu, Newport Recreation program supervisor, said.

Newport Recreation brought pickleball to the island because of its growing popularity in New England. Mureddu said she played pickleball in high school, and thought it was the perfect recreational sport for anyone who likes racquet sports.

Each week between six and ten people come out to enjoy a game at the clinic. Teams quickly fill the two courts, and extra players cheer from the sidelines while waiting their turn. A few of the attendees played pickleball before going to the clinics, but for the majority it is the first time.

Mureddu said the goal is to create a small league of four to six teams that can play together for eight weeks, starting at the end of June. Now in its fifth week, the pickleball clinics have attracted enough people to continue playing throughout the summer.

The allure is that people of all ages can play. Mureddu said it is perfect for people who enjoyed tennis but cannot move around as freely anymore.

“I think it’s easier for seniors to play pickleball than tennis. It’s not too hard, but is a ton of fun,” Mureddu said.

Newport Recreation provides the equipment needed for the game, but recommends wearing athletic clothing and sports sneakers. A staff member will be present to go over the rules of the game and regulate play.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, by Joel Pritchard and Bill Bell, who improvised badminton with a Wiffle ball, a lowered net, and plywood paddles.

Where the game got its name is uncertain, but a family friend said pickleball is named after the Pritchards' cocker spaniel, Pickles.

TO PLAY

For more information or to sign up for league play, contact Carol Mureddu by phone 401-845-5805, or by email at cjohnson@cityofnewport.com.

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