PRINCETON: Pickleball growing in popularity


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By Bob Nuse, Sports Editor
Looking for a new sport to try? Wondering if you might be a bit too old to start something new, but still hoping for something active that’s fun to do?
The sport gaining in popularity that is right for players of any age or ability is Pickleball, which is being offered at more and more tennis clubs, with lessons thrown in so anyone can learn the sport.
Pickleball contains elements of tennis, but on a smaller court. It has some similarities to pingpong and even badminton. Pickleball is played with a paddle and on a court smaller in size than a tennis court or more the size of a badminton court. The ball used is a perforated, slow-moving one and a tennis-type net is used.
“This is the third year we will be offering Pickleball,” said Diana Kimick, who is the director of teams and communication at the Nassau Tennis Club in Skillman. “It has grown. We have a big group of men and ladies who love playing. Last year we had 100 participants. We are introducing lessons this year. We have people at the club who are interested in giving lessons and there are plenty of people who want to learn to play.”
The sport is one that can played by all ages and there isn’t a high level of tennis experience needed to play. The game is very popular among older athletes, many of whom have never played tennis.
“It is a little more geared to the senior level,” Kimick said. “We have senior men and women who have played tennis and others who have not played tennis. It is a shorter court and is a quick, fast-paced game with a smaller ball and racquet. It’s bigger than a ping pong paddle and the people who begin playing really seem to enjoy it.”
Nassau Tennis Club will be offering Pickleball for the third year beginning in September. The sport is also offered at the Princeton Racquet Club, which will offer an introduction to Pickleball at its TennisFest on Aug. 19 from 12:30-2 p.m.
“A lot of the local clubs are getting into it as well,” Kimick said. “It is more of a winter sport. We start right after Labor Day and will (run) through the winter until April. During the summer if people want to play they go to their local parks.
“We will have four players on a court and two courts going at a time. It has become very popular and the seniors really enjoy it. We have equipment they can use and there is no charge if they rent it.”
Princeton Racquet Club (PRC) started Pickleball a year ago and it has caught on quickly at the club that is located in Princeton.
"Pickleball is so much fun, with lots of rallies and a mix of volleys and finesse," Judy Vogt of PRC said. "All ages, from children to seniors, and all levels, from beginner to advanced, can enjoy it. Tennis players  can pick up the game easily and it helps improve their volleying skills. Pickleball is a great option for the aging person who can’t cover a tennis court any longer and still wants to use their tennis skills."
Players at PRC have taken a quick liking to the sport. Among the comments Vogt and Colleen Cosgrove hear at PRC are: ‘"They can still play and have fun even thought their body is falling apart; they can play pickleball as a replacement for tennis, when they can’t play tennis anymore because of bad knees; it’s fun to learn a new game and it’s a great social activity."

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