2017-08-10 / Sports

Pickleball - it’s kind of like tennis and ping pong combined

By John Bonke
Staff Writer • jbonke@mihomepaper.com • 810-452-2668


CASEVILLE - Pam Mason (foreground) returns a volley in a doubles game of pickleball, while her teammate, Dave Sommers, follows the action. Waiting across the net are Lyn Sotzing (left) and Teresa Calkins (right). 
Photo by John Bonke CASEVILLE - Pam Mason (foreground) returns a volley in a doubles game of pickleball, while her teammate, Dave Sommers, follows the action. Waiting across the net are Lyn Sotzing (left) and Teresa Calkins (right). Photo by John Bonke THE THUMB - It’s kind of like tennis and ping pong combined - it’s called pickleball and there are players playing in the Thumb.

It looks like tennis is being played. The paddles are like oversized ping pong paddles and the ball is like an orange whiffle ball. The court is the size of badminton’s.

The game is beginning to catch on. In Caseville, a group meets at 10 a.m. in the school’s older gym, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Pickleball enthusiasts Richard and Teresa Calkins, of Caseville, are two who have been playing the game for about three years. The couple was vacationing in Florida and some neighboring friends invited them to play pickleball and explained that it was kind of like tennis, but with a whiffleball.

“We had to go see it for ourselves,” Teresa explained, as they were skeptical about a net game using a whiffleball.

While she had played racquetball and tennis for years, Richard hadn’t that much, but their level of pickleball play is flip-flopped, with Richard playing with the more avid, competitive players and Teresa enjoying it for the exercise.

Teresa said they purchased their paddles and ball online and the sport is relatively inexpensive.

“The (Caseville) school has been very gracious to us,” Teresa said, adding a pickleball net has been donated to the school.

Playing indoors has helped, Teresa said, with Michigan weather being unpredictable.

The group will meet during the summer vacation and others who are interested in playing are invited to stop by during the meeting times.

Pickleball can be played singles or doubles. The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) states on its website that doubles is the most common form of play. The same size playing area and rules are used for both singles and doubles. The court is the size of a badminton court.

The serve, initiated with at least one foot behind the baseline, must be made underhand and paddle contact with the ball must be below the server’s waist. The serve is made diagonally across the court and must land within the confines of the opposite diagonal court.

Points are scored by the serving team and games are played to 11 points and a team must win by two points.

There’s even a Double-Bounce Rule: as per USAPA, 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 or play it off a bounce. The double bounce rule eliminates the serve and volley advantage and extends rallies.

For more detailed rules, see the official website at www.usapa.org.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Washington. Three dads, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities, are credited for creating game, according to USAPA. The legend and lore says the game was either named for the way pickle boat crews are chosen - or a cocker spaniel named “Pickles.”

The USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) was organized to promote the growth and development of pickleball on both a national and international level. The organization provides players with official rules, tournaments, rankings and promotional materials. The USAPA is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. It is governed by a board of directors who provide the guidance and infrastructure for the continued growth and development of the sport. (www.usapa.org)

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