Gather your wits, a paddle, and a Wiffle ball. It’s time for some pickleball.This fast-growing sport, which has been catching on with retirees, may soon be playable at Big Rock Park in the city of Santee.
The city is proposing to restripe one of its two tennis courts at Big Rock to accommodate four pickleball courts, which can be spread over a single tennis court. The newly striped “multi-use” court, which would still be available for tennis, would be reserved during certain blocks of time for pickleballers.The public is invited to comment on the plan by emailing Recreation Services Manager Susan Richardson at firstname.lastname@example.org by Sept. 3, or by attending the Sept. 4 meeting of the Santee Park and Recreation Committee (SPARC). The committee meets at 6:30 p.m. at Building 8A at the Civic Center Complex, 10601 Magnolia Avenue.
The idea to introduce pickelball to Santee was initially brought to the Park and Recreation Committee in June by Mike Blaksley, a 62-year-old retiree from La Mesa.“Pickleball’s time has come and we need your help and guidance to make this happen,” he told the committee. Pickleball courts, both indoors and outdoors, exist at several parks countywide including Lakeside, La Mesa, Pacific Beach, Coronado, Escondido and Poway.
Blaksley said it’s unfortunate there are so few pickleball courts in East County because the region has the perfect demographics ---an abundance of active seniors – who would enjoy trying the sport of they knew it was available.“I think East County could become a central place for people to play pickleball,” he said.
The sport is attractive to active seniors because players rely more on quickness and strategy rather than the speed and agility that is required to play tennis, he said.
“There’s 8,000 Baby Boomers retiring across the U.S. every day, and this is a great sport for them to pick up,” he said.And many have. In the past three years, membership in the U.S. Pickleball Association has doubled to 200,000.
Games are usually played as doubles on a badminton-sized court that is about one-third the size of a traditional tennis court. Players use wood or composite paddles to hit a light plastic Whiffleball across a 36-inch lightweight net. Games are fast –moving and generally last from 10 to 20 minutes, which allows players to rotate onto a court without excessive waiting.
“It’s a great, active cardio sport. It’s not risk-free in terms of injuries but it’s a lot easier on your joints,” Blaksley said. “It’s a great social environment and it’s also an affordable sport for young and old to play.”
Blaksley said he’s only been playing for about a year, but he’s found it invigorating to the point of being addicting.
“It’s a game a sheer strategy and ball placement,” he said. “It’s just a heckuva lot of fun.”