Pickleball serves up a winner: Parramatta is in the middle of a pickleball boom

 By LAWRENCE MACHADO

 PICKLEBALL anyone? The name is certainly a conversation starter – especially as the name came from a dog.

This entertaining cross between tennis, table tennis and badminton is now the pastime for many who thought their sporting days were behind them. It is credited with improving your mental and physical wellbeing.

It is touted as a sport for all ages with Pickleball NSW keen to see it introduced to schools and athletes with disabilities.

Pickleball is played with a paddle and a lightweight ball with holes on a badminton-sized court. Games are 11 points.

Tennis, badminton, basketball and netball courts can be used while the net is slightly lower than in tennis. Rules are geared to make it an even playing field.

Parramatta is in the middle of a pickleball boom, thanks to the council’s support, and new venues keep popping up.

The sport, which started in Seattle in 1965, is played in NSW, Queensland, Victoria and WA, with the third Nationals set for Newcastle later this year.

According to the legend, the sport is named because Pickles the dog, belonging to the owner of the property where the game first originated, used to chase the balls.

 I joined their session

 ‘To find out more about this sport, I joined their session at Old Toongabbie’s Binalong Park, which along with Auburn Basketball Centre, are regular venues in western Sydney.

My coach Jackie Robinson patiently took me through the basic rules before partnering me against Peter McGovern and Mira Soucek, who knew how to make me run.

Anyone with a background in racquet sports should take easily to it, and I was easily hooked on it.

For pickleball aficionados, it is pretty competitive with the sport boasting professionals in the USA.

American-born Jackie Robinson, 72, said the game, which takes about 10 minutes to grasp, is good for all ages.

“In 2006, I went to Ohio for a visit and because I needed some recreation, I Googled for possible events and saw pickleball,” said Mrs Robinson, of Castle Hill.

“I started playing with my sister-in-law before the family joined us; it is incredible and there is a lot to it than you realise.

“And I was taught by an 86-year-old man!”

Officially, the game was first played in Sydney in December 2017 at Ryde YMCA, with around 14-17 players turning up.

“Through word of mouth, the sport has expanded and by 2018, the NSW Pickleball Association was formed,” Mrs Robinson said. “We now have have more than 30 venues around NSW.”

“The Ryde Council has been supportive.”

Patrick McGovern, Linda Gibson-Langford and Linda Steiman are among those promoting the game, saying they love the social side too. They are among the many who will gladly show you the ropes.

Alex Turton, 82, from Blacktown, a tennis player for 50 years, said he enjoyed his first game of pickleball.

“It is splendid and I love it,” he said.

Details: 0466 982 000 or www.pickleballnsw.org

 PHOTO: Parramatta Lord Mayor Bob Dwyer tries his hand at pickleball.

 

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