In a pickle over pickleball?

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In a pickle about pickleball? Not to worry. Tempe City Council approved an outdoor, lighted pickleball facility, final destination of which is all that remains to be decided.
After completing their due diligence and engineering research, city staff recommended to the Tempe parks
board that the facility be located at Tempe Sports Complex on Hardy Drive just north of Warner Road, next to the
Arizona Cardinals training center.
As of now, the preferred location is the complex’s south end, with funding approved and only a final go-ahead
remaining to meet the summer 2018 scheduled opening.
Although in recent years the name pickleball may have hit a sour note among real sportsmen, statistics show
that it has become one of the country’s fastest-growing leisure-time pursuits.
It burst onto the local scene five or so years ago at the Tempe Lakes community, where HOA manager Christine Baldanza says the number of members-only devotees continues to increase, despite the availability of only a small playing area.
“It has grown from a handful of enthusiasts to sometimes as many as 40 people—and they’re
all diehard pickleballers,” said Baldanza.
Invented in Washington in the mid-1960s, the game combines elements of tennis, badminton and
ping-pong, with contests played mostly as doubles and set on a court about two-thirds the size of what
tennis players use.
With a net that’s a bit lower than the one used for tennis, the game employs a plastic ball about the size of a baseball with holes and a paddle that’s twice as big as its ping-pong counterpart.
The game, say enthusiasts, provides a great workout in a fun social environment—playable by all age levels and
having exploded in popularity with the baby boomer crowd over the past decade.
When construction starts on Tempe Sports Complex courts, the city of Tempe will continue to provide a few indoor gymnasium courts where pickleball wannabees can play and learn the game.
Indoor play is offered at Kiwanis Park on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 10 a.m. In North Tempe, indoor play is available at Escalante Park on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
At the North Tempe Multi-Generational Center, play is offered on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to noon and Tuesdays from 6 to 9 p.m. At all locations, beginners are welcome. Instruction for pickleball newbies is available at Escalante Park and the North Tempe Multi- Generational Center.
Additional information can be found at www.pecospickleball.org.
ASU also offers a class on the game and will soon be adding pickleball intramural competition.
Locally, Tempe’s USAPA pickleball ambassador, Dutch Vander Laan, can be reached at 480-225-4370
or by email at vlaan@cox.net.

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