Looking for a new sport? Try Pickleball!


By Rick Palsgrove
Southeast Editor

Wayne Cassidy (left) makes a return as his doubles partner Marvin Staley looks on during a pickleball game in Groveport’s Degenhart Park on Aug. 16. Cassidy and Staley faced off against their friends Scott Lockett and Ken Emerson. The group, which also includes Jerry Clements, Russ Herr, and a few others, play pickleball regularly in the park.

Pickleball is making its presence known in Groveport.

The unusually named game has been around since the 1960s. Legend has it that the game is named for the inventor’s dog, “Pickles,” because the pooch liked to run off with the ball and be chased by the players who tried to retrieve it.

According to information from the Groveport Recreation Center, the game combines elements of badminton, tennis, and ping pong. It is played on a badminton sized court with a net that is 34 inches high. Players use wood or composite flat, smooth paddles to strike a plastic ball similar to a wiffle ball with holes. Players can play either singles or doubles.

Groveport resident Scott Lockett is an avid pickleball player.

“It’s a fast, competitive game that all ages and all skill levels can play,” said Lockett. “Once you get a feel for the paddle you can pick up the game quickly.”

Lockett, 62, took up the game earlier this year because he was looking for ways to exercise beyond walking and bicycling.

“Pickleball is fun and it can get your competitive juices flowing,” said Lockett. “It’s great for fitness for everyone. You can really work up a sweat playing this game. It gets your heart rate up. One of our players wore a Fitbit while playing and it recorded him taking 7,000 steps in an hour.”

The game has its unique aspects, too.

“The method of keeping score is different and some of the rules are quirky,” said Lockett. “There’s a spot near the net called, ‘The Kitchen,’ that you have to stay out of except for certain circumstances.”

Working out strategies is also a fun part of the game.

“Some of the strategies are similar to ping pong,” said Lockett. “The saying goes, ‘Who controls the net controls the point.’ You want to back your opponents away from the net. Also, it’s fun to smash the ball, but experienced players tell you that you want to keep the ball low.”

Lockett plays pickleball regularly in Groveport’s Degenhart Park where there are lines for six pickleball courts marked among the outdoor tennis courts there.

On Aug. 16, I watched as Lockett along with Ken Emerson, Marvin Staley, Wayne Cassidy, Jerry Clements, and Russ Herr squared off in pickleball matches. The games were fast paced and the frequent “pock” sound of the ball smacking the paddle echoed through the park. The games were competitive and it was clear the players were having a great time as they good naturedly ribbed each other between points.

Lockett wants to see the sport grow.

“I’m hoping to see men and women of all ages start playing the game,” said Lockett. “The game can give a whole other segment of the community a chance to use the facilities at Degenhart Park,” said Lockett.

Besides the outdoor courts at Degenhart Park, the Groveport Recreation Center also offers indoor pickleball leagues and classes where one can learn the game. For information about playing pickleball, call the Groveport Recreation Center at (614) 836-1000 or visit www.groveportrec.com.

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