gmhTODAY 30 gmhTODAY April June 2020s | Page 98

Pickleball Say what? Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing sports in America. It has a funny name and is an odd combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis. It uses a racquet made of wood or composite material and a wiffleball. The net is only 36 inches tall. And the sport is gaining popularity in the South County! The Equipment A pickleball paddle is smaller than a tennis racquet but larger than a ping-pong paddle. They are made primarily of lightweight composite materials, including aluminum and graphite. The ball has holes like a wiffelball, and there are different ball models for indoor and outdoor play. The Court The Name A pickleball court is the same size as a doubles badminton court and measures 20x44 feet. The same court is used for singles and doubles play. The net height is 36 inches at the sidelines and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped, much like a tennis court, with right and left service courts and a 7-foot non-volley zone in front of the net (referred to as the "kitchen”). Courts can be constructed spe- cifically for pickleball or they can be converted using existing tennis or badminton courts. 98 As odd as it is, it does have some history and gives a nod to the simplicity and egalitarian nature of the game. According to Joel Pritchard’s wife Joan, one of the founders of the game: “The name of the game became Pickleball, after I said it re- minded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats. Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn’t on the scene for two more years. The dog was named for the game, but stories about the name’s origin were funnier thinking the game was named for the dog.” GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN SPRING 2020