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Brantford Friendly Play Tournament Oct. 5, 2013 posted Oct 21, 2013, 2:40 PM by D Hall

by Sylvia Hernandez-Rassavong, third-year journalism student at Laurier Brantford. Photo by Dave Hall

Pictured below are St. Thomas & London players at the Brantford Tournament Oct. 5, 2013 L-R: Peter Singleton, Lyn Levandoski, Elaine Wood, Helen Hall, Susan Singleton, Dave Hall


The game of pickleball — a combination of ping-pong, tennis and badminton, played with a wooden paddle and a polymer whiffle ball – began as an improvised family game in the mid-1960s.

It may have started as a time killer for the Pritchard family of Bainbridge, Washington, but it’s grown considerably since then. It’s now an organized sport and quickly gaining attention in Ontario, including here in Brantford.

Thanks to a grant from the Ontario government, pickleball has been added to physical education classes in elementary schools.

And it’s even more popular with seniors.

Men and women recently gathered at the Doug Snooks Eagle Place Community Centre to enjoy a friendly tournament of Pickleball.

There were brackets of play for men, women and mixed doubles. While there wasn’t a trophy to be won, medals were given out to the last team standing with the highest score.

Jane Kemp, Pickleball area ambassador for Brantford, said seniors love it because it’s easy on the joints and muscles but still requires speed.

Dave Hall, Ontario pickleball ambassador, agrees with Kemp.

“It’s an easy sport for old guys like me,” he said, “but also it’s fun and it’s social … It’s good exercise and it’s easy to learn.”

Kemp said the Brantford group started about a year and a half ago, playing once a week. Now members play four times a week. The club has a membership of about 25.

“It’s extremely addictive. Most people who try it, they get hooked on it,” said Hall. “It’s spreading across Ontario very rapidly … It’s starting to spread all over North America to tell you the truth.”

Lloyd Brassington and Paul Schirripa, 2012 Ontario 55+ summer games gold medalists from Mississauga, won the men’s doubles at the recent tournament.

“I enjoy playing the game because I get to hit the ball,” said Brassington. “For me, pickleball is competition.”

Schirripa added: “It’s important when playing doubles to know the other person’s game.”

The Pickleball Association of Ontario and the Canadian Pickleball Association work to promote the sport.

“We get calls all the time to come out and do demos and clinics and stuff, places where they want to start up,” said Hall. “We’ve been working really hard the past couple of years showing everybody the sport and that’s why it’s spreading rapidly.”

Friendly tournaments are great because they provide an opportunity for people to see what pickleball is about. The next tournament is planned for May 3 of next year.

“It’s a very social game and it’s a lot of fun,” said Kemp. “I’d like to see more adults get involved.”

Big News Day for Pickleball – Oct. 15, 2013 posted Oct 15, 2013, 4:28 PM by D Hall [ updated Oct 15, 2013, 4:30 PM ]

From the Toronto Star, Oct. 15, 2013 and also from Global TV Newscast, Oct. 15, 2013.

James Alberga has a warning for newcomers to the sport of Pickleball.

“Pickleball is very addictive,” he says, taking a break between games at Milliken Park Community Recreation Centre in Scarborough to chat. “Once you start playing it, you’re going to want to play every day.”

Alberga, 72, has been playing what’s considered North America’s fastest-growing sport for seven years. Before that, pinched nerves had made the aficionado of racquet sports leave physical activity behind 15 years.

But that’s the beauty of pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and ping-pong: it has the easiest elements of the three sports and can be less taxing physically, making it extremely popular among seniors. It’s a simple paddle game, played using a perforated, slower-moving ball over a tennis-type net on a badminton-sized court. Underhand serving and playing with doubles add to the broad appeal. With its own set of rules, the game is called for the first team that reaches 11 points, with a two-point spread.

Pickleball was invented in 1965 in Washington State, as a family game. By 1990 it was being played in all 50 states. But the sport has recently exploded in popularity.

According to the USA Pickleball Association website, the number of places to play in North America from 800 to 2,000 between 2010 and 2013, the number of courts rose from 2,000 to 6,000 in the same time span and the estimated number of players increased from 60,000 to 105,000.

“The growth in Canada has been very much the same,” says Dave Shepherd, president of Pickleball Canada. Two years ago an estimated 6,000 Canadians played the sport. Now Pickleball ambassadors, who represent the national and provincial associations in every region, report that number to be 12,000.

Snowbirds in Arizona and Florida — where some retirement communities have 150 pickleball courts that are busy day and night — have pushed for greater access here.

“There are a lot of people who used to play tennis and racquetball and, as they get into their 50s and 60s, they’re finding that their joints won’t take it anymore,” Shepherd says, from his Abbotsford, B.C., home. There is much more ground to cover on a tennis court, he says.

Donna Leung took up the game 12 years ago, when she retired from Bell Canada as a secretary at age 46. The Milliken club has a rule that one must be 55 or older to play. But not many people played then, so she was welcomed to the courts. Now she’s a regular player, as well as a head referee at provincial tournaments.

“It is a big part of my life now,” she says. “It’s good exercise and a good place to make friends.”

Former software consultant Merrie Lee is a recent retiree who plays competitive badminton. “It was just another sport that I could try, but I liked it,” says Lee, a regular who now plays twice a week. “I have fun and meet lots of people.”

The sport was added to Milliken Park’s community mix 13 years ago, says Gary Mercer, the centre’s community program co-ordinator. “Our numbers are great, it’s been growing and growing,” he says. Pickleball is offered twice a week at the centre, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On average, 80 people play throughout the five-hour span, Mercer says.

Alberga plays at Milliken park and in Aurora, Newmarket, Stouffville, Bolton, Durham, Oshawa and Pickering. Until recently he was playing six days a week, sometimes twice a day at different locations. “My wife says that’s my new love,” he says.

And this is no “sedentary senior’s game,” a quick scroll through the tournament schedules of any association shows there is a definite serious side. “It can be quite a fast and furious game,” Shepherd says.

Alberga, who says he missed competitive play when his pinched nerves made him stop sports, has won the provincial title twice. But the competition is only one aspect, he insists. Sometimes it’s just fun and games. “Everyone is a winner when we play pickleball,” he says.

Since he started playing pickleball eight years ago, Michael Font, 83, has seen his stamina and overall physical health improve. “If you’re not feeling well you can take it easy, because there’s a partner,” he says. “If you feel good that day, you can go for more.”People can play at any level, Shepherd says. “That’s the beauty of it.”

St. Thomas Players Enter Bayfest Tournament in Port Rowan ON, Aug. 31, 2013 posted Sep 6, 2013, 10:35 AM by D Hall [ updated Sep 6, 2013, 10:38 AM ]

St. Thomas Times-Journal, Sept. 3, 2013

Pickleballers Taste Tourney Action

Twelve players from the St. Thomas pickleball group travelled to Port Rowan on Saturday to participate in the Bayfest Pickleball Tournament, and four returned home champions.

The tourney was part of the Labour Day weekend festivities in the Norfolk county community. Pickleball is a paddle sport combining elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton, and recently started in St. Thomas.

This tourney was organized by Stonebridge Community Services in Tillsonburg and was a great opportunity for beginning players to experience the tournament atmosphere, and have some fun doing it.

In all, 32 players were entered. They were divided into four main teams of eight players each. The total points scored in individual matches were tallied to determine a winner.


The Blue team won the tournament with local players Rod and Jan Nicholson, and Dave and Helen Hall making up one half of the eight-member squad. This team amassed a total of 231 points over the course of playing 24 games.

The participants were cheered on by a number of St. Thomas players who were not in the tournament but took the time to travel to Port Rowan, along with friends and relatives. The players said thanks to their supporters.

Anyone interested in learning to play pickleball can call 519-2071466.

St. Thomas players pictured on the left are:

Front L-R: Dorothy Miskelly, Jan & Rod Nicholson, Dave Hall

Back L-R: Teena & Albert Vanderploeg, Lyn Levandoski, Vicki Carrothers,
John, Harbaruk, Terry and Christine Boss, Helen Hall

Wasaga Beach Pickleball, Aug. 10, 2013 posted Aug 10, 2013, 2:17 PM by D Hall [ updated Aug 10, 2013, 2:20 PM ]

Town adds more courts to meet demand

“Have you ever heard of pickle ball?” asks Owen McKechnie from the other end of the line.

I was aware that the Town of Wasaga Beach was getting behind the emerging sport but it wasn’t until the invitation came from McKechnie that I found myself on the court experiencing it firsthand.

A year ago, McKechnie introduced pickle-ball to members of the Wasaga Beach Youth Centre and got an adult club going at the RecPlex.

As local interest grows, the municipality is adding two more courts at the Lamont Creek Tennis Courts, where the club has been playing pickle-ball this summer.

Pickle-ball is commonly described as a cross between badminton, tennis and ping-pong because players use a paddle to whack a wiffle ball around a badminton court with a net lowered to three feet in height.

McKechnie says it is the fastest growing sport in North America.

It’s not hard to see the appeal.

Players say it is so popular because it’s great exercise and there is a social element to it as well, as most people prefer to play doubles.

“It’s really appealing to the retired and senior demographic because of hip and knee issues that make it hard to do other racket sports,” says McKechnie.

He said some of the club’s members used to play tennis, or still do, and he himself runs the local badminton club.

Pickle-ball was first played on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington, in 1965 by three families vacationing at their cottages as a family friendly activity. It was officially incorporated in 1972.


McKechnie said it grew in popularity over the years but really caught on in the southern United States, where retirees were overwintering, about eight or nine years ago. Those people, including Canadian snowbirds, brought it back with them when they came home for the summer.

Brian Stephenson helped get the local club going this summer. Membership is up to about 35 players.

“It’s great exercise, you get to be outside and people have fun. They don’t take it too seriously,” says Stephenson.

There is an official pickle-ball association, international tournaments, official gear and the whole bit.

The Town of Wasaga Beach has supplied the club with equipment and it continues to be a weekly activity offered at the youth centre.

In fact, there is talk of a pickle-ball challenge between the youth and the adults.

The local club continues to play at Lamont Creek Tennis Courts, off Lamont Creek Drive in Wasaga Beach, until Thanksgiving and then they will move indoors at the RecPlex. There is a $15 fee to join the club. For more information call McKechnie at 705-422-0274 or e-mail grappa3143@gmail.com.

Kingsville Now On the Pickleball Map, July 16, 2013 posted Jul 19, 2013, 5:10 PM by D Hall [ updated Jul 19, 2013, 5:13 PM ]

The Kingsville Reporter, July 16, 2013

Locally, Wayne Halpert and Jules Kay have been instrumental growing the sport the past two months.

“My wife and I sort of brought it back from Florida with us,” said Wayne, who retired with wife Jude to Kingsville from Windsor. “We now have thirty-one people signed up to play.”

Pickle-ball in Kingsville is open to all ages and games are played Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Players use the tennis courts beside the Kingsville Arena and use temporary markings to indicate court boundaries.


“The rules of Pickle-ball are to designed to limit injuries,” explained Wayne. “The game is played on a court one-third the size of a tennis court, and the ball travels at about one-third the speed of a tennis ball.”

Competition locally is all about fun. During a three-hour session, players rotate partners.

“It’s been a great way to exercise, have fun and meet some great people,” Wayne added.

“Pickle-ball is very, very addictive,” added Jules.

While Pickle-ball players are happy to have somewhere to play regularly, they readily admit they would love to have permanent courts. Halpert will be making a pitch to the Parks & Recreation Arts & Culture Committee on the idea this week.

“We attended the open house for the Parks & Recreation Master Plan, but there was no mention of Pickle-ball courts,” he noted. “The City of Ottawa recently created five Pickle-ball courts because the sport is growing that fast.”

Wayne stated that easiest solution would be to paint permanent markings on the tennis courts.

“It might cost what, about five-hundred dollars,” he said. “It’s not going to be like a high school gym floor where you have markings for several sports.”

The tennis courts in Kingsville are unique to other municipalities in they are maintained by the Tennis Club in conjunction with the town. Wayne admitted that he would be happy to join the Tennis Club if an agreement could be reached.”

At this time, those details have yet to be discussed, but it highlights the need and desire for Pickle-ball players already.

The following is a basic overview of Pickle-ball.

The game is played on a badminton-sized court: 20’ x 44.’ The ball is served diagonally (starting with the right-hand service-square), and points can only be scored by the side that serves.

Players on each side must let the ball bounce once before volleys are allowed, and there is a seven-foot no-volley zone on each side of the net, to prevent “spiking.” The server continues to serve, alternating service courts, until he or she faults. The first side scoring eleven points and leading by at least two points wins. Pickle-ball® can be played with singles or doubles.

To volley means to hit a ball in the air without first letting it bounce. In Pickle-ball®, this can only be done when the player’s feet are behind the non-volley zone line (seven feet behind the net).

Each team must play their first shot off of the bounce. That is, the receiving team must let the serve bounce and the serving team must let the return of the serve bounce before playing it. Once these two bounces have occurred, the ball can either be volleyed or played off the bounce.

To start, the serve must be hit under hand and the contact of the paddle to the ball must be below your waist. Each team must play their first shot after the ball bounces, and after that then both teams can choose to move forward up to the non-volley line or stay back at the baseline.

No volleying is permitted within the seven-foot non-volley zone; this prevents players from closing the net since the court is so small.

To learn more and sign-up, you can contact Wayne at 519-800-3550 or Jules at 226-783-8573.

Pickleball Takes Off In St. Thomas Ontario July 2, 2013 posted Jul 2, 2013, 7:12 PM by D Hall

by Ben Forrest, St. Thomas Times-Journal

David Hall went to Florida four years ago hoping to play golf but came away with an addictive new hobby that hasn’t let him go.

The hobby is pickleball, an increasingly popular game he calls the continent’s “fastest-growing sport you’ve never heard of.”

Hall, 66, a retired high school teacher, fell in love with the game, which is a hybrid of ping pong, tennis and badminton. He brought it back to Ontario and started a pickleball club near his former home on Manitoulin Island.

Now back in St. Thomas where he was born, Hall and his wife, Helen, are trying to establish pickleball in the city through drop-ins at the Timken Centre.


Anyone can try the sport during the drop-in sessions, which will have a sporadic schedule this summer due to scheduling conflicts.

The cost is two dollars per session, but equipment is provided and visitors don’t need to bring anything but gym clothes and running shoes.

Pickleball is played on a doubles badminton court, but the nets are lowered to the ground, as is the case with tennis.

Players use an eight-ounce paddle to whack around a whiffle ball the size of an orange.

The paddles resemble those used in ping pong and the balls come in two types: A relatively light ball with large holes in it for indoor games and a heavier ball with small holes for outdoor games.

Jan Nicholson of Port Stanley Plays Pickleball
at the Timken Centre in St. Thomas

“We don’t have any outdoor courts here yet, but sometimes they will share tennis courts outside with pickleball,” Hall said. “That’s been done in a lot of communities.”

The game is played in many Ontario communities and is rising in popularity, Hall said. Many find it addictive, and about two dozen people have shown up for sessions at the Timken Centre.

Hall said the pickleball is fun, social and offers good exercise, qualities he thinks explain the game’s appeal.

“I always point out those three things, and the fact that you can play this sport to almost any age as long as you’re physically active,” he said.

In May, he won gold with a Collingwood partner in their age 65 to 69 class, in a pickleball tournament in London.

Response to sessions at the Timken Centre was slow initially, but there are a few who’ve taken up the game.

One of them is Birgit Peschutter, 66, of St. Thomas.

“It’s a challenge,” she said when asked what she likes most about the game. “I’m still not where I want to be but compared to when I first started – you know, you can see yourself progressing and of course that always makes you feel good.”

As for Hall, it’s a game that’s hooked him and displaced another pastime he once travelled south to pursue.

“Now I don’t play much golf,” he said. “I’m lucky to twice a week in Florida, and the rest of the time I’m playing pickleball.”

For information, call Hall at 519-207-1466.

The sport has a website at www.pickleballassociatonofontario.org

Pickleball Comes to Whitchurch-Stouffille July 2, 2013 posted Jul 2, 2013, 6:10 PM by D Hall

Stouffville Sun-Tribune

Dennis Carter wants the people of Whitchurch-Stouffville to know there’s a new sports club in town.

While the sport of pickleball isn’t new to Whitchurch-Stouffville, the Stouffville Pickleball Club is now officially up and running at the Stouffville Arena every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Citing the club has close to 80 members hailing from Whitchurch-Stouffville and even as far south as Scarborough, Carter noted the club has access to six makeshift courts on the Stouffville Arena floor.

And the timing for the club’s creation couldn’t come at a more appropriate time as he said the sport, which has a solid foothold south of the border, is gathering momentum across Canada.

“Pickleball has a quicker learning curve than tennis and it’s a faster game than tennis. My guess is there’s close to 1,000 people who play the game in Ontario and around 5,000 in Canada and close to 100,000 in the United States,” he said. “When the club started, within one week we had 80 people sign up. I know there are other people in Stouffville who will sign up as well.”

Having played the game on a competitive level in tournaments in Canada and south of the border, Carter even went out on a limb to predict some 15 to 20 years from now the sport will be a part of the Olympics.


The sport is attractive for participants due to several factors, Carter said.

For starters, it’s an activity which the entire family can play.

As well, the equipment used is minimal and it’s simple and relatively inexpensive.

In addition to the donning of gym apparel, a pickleball paddle and Wiffle ball are the only other requirements.

Anyone wishing to learn the game can pick it up within 30 minutes, Carter insisted.

While the Stouffville Arena serves as a good local playing facility in the short term, once Aug. 1 rolls around, the club will lose access as the ice will be put back onto the arena surface for the upcoming hockey campaign, said Carter.

This, Carter said, will pose a problem as there’s no other local playing facility available.

Carter though is lobbying for some reconsideration from town council when it revamps the existing outdoor tennis courts and running track near the arena.

He noted plans call for the tennis courts to be expanded to four from the current three. He would like to see one designated for pickleball from May to October.

For this to happen though, Carter is hoping to extol the virtues of the game to the decision makers at town council.

“We need dedicated courts. A lot of the current members want to play the game outside on courts that can be used all the time,” he said.

In the meantime though, Carter said anyone wishing to join the club or even to learn what pickleball is all about, can do so during their Thursday sessions at the Stouffville Arena.

Saugeen Shores Holds Local Tournament June 21, 2013 posted Jun 29, 2013, 6:18 PM by D Hall


From the ShorelineBeacon.com June 28, 213

It was all fun in the sun on the first day of summer.

The Saugeen Shores Pickleball Club held their pickleball tournament on June 21 at Lakeshore Recreation which saw 11 teams take to the courts to enjoy a morning full of exercise, fellowship and fun.

The youngest player to participate was 15-years-old and the oldest was 83-years-old.


First place winners were Lorraine Edwards and Brian Beale and second place winners were Sue Buckton and Joanne Marklevitz.

Following the tournament, prizes were handed out to each participant which included items such as, shirts, an official pickleball handbook signed by the author, gift certificates, hats, a basket full of pickles and balls and water bottles. Gift bags were also distributed which were donated by the True Sport Foundation.

Lakeshore Recreation also provided the lunch which consisted of hamburgers and hot dogs.

Pickelball? It’s a thing and growing (Brantford Tournament, June 15m 2013) posted Jun 17, 2013, 4:55 AM by D Hall [ updated Jun 18, 2013, 6:29 PM ]

by Susan Gamble, Brantford Expositor June 16, 2013

Brantford ON – A hybrid racquet game has hit the city and is spreading in popularity.

Pickleball – part tennis, part badminton and played with a hard paddle and a whiffle ball – is especially popular with seniors and youngsters because it moves a little slower than many racquet sports.

“It’s like three games (tennis, badminton and table tennis) in one,” explains Jane Kemp as she watched some of the 28 players in the pickleball tournament at Doug Snooks Community Centre on Erie Avenue on Saturday.

“It’s easier on the shoulders than tennis or racquetball,” she said.

“It’s a lot of fun and very social.”

The whiffle ball used in the sport goes about a third the speed of a tennis ball but still offers a good workout. The pickleball net is low. And the court used is badminton-sized, so there’s less space to cover than in tennis.


Kemp – who has earned the name “Pickleball Ambassador,” said that the sport is booming in British Columbia – and is growing in Brantford.

“We were playing one day a week and now we are here four days a week. We’re hoping in the fall to start a novice league for people to ease in.”

Currently, games are played Tuesday and Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Wednesday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Kemp added that the newly renovated Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre has painted two pickleball courts to encourage the game to spread.

Saturday’s tournament attracted players from around southern Ontario.

Kemp said many local players are happy to travel to Hamilton and Dundas for games.

Pickleball is actually more than 40 years old. And while it’s often unheard of in Ontario, it’s wildly popular in Florida.

It began in the state of Washington, where a politician and his buddies helped cobble together a game for their bored families. The politician’s wife dubbed it pickleball since she said it reminded her of a pickle boat – where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

Kemp said she loves the game and others are just as passionate.

For a second article on the same event go here: http://www.brantnews.com/sports/pickleball-grows-in-popularity/

posted Jun 8, 2013, 5:53 AM by D Hall [ updated Jun 29, 2013, 6:06 PM ]

May 7, 2013 – by Tiffany Wilson, Shoreline Beacon.com

Outdoor Pickleball is back!

For the first time this year, the Saugeen Shores Pickleball Club took to the four, freshly painted courts at Lakeshore Recreation in Port Elgin last Thursday. Eighteen people gathered to have a grand ol’ time, testing out the new Pickleball nets, breaking a sweat, all the while smiling, laughing and having fun.


This year, “it’s bigger and better,” said Maryann Dahmer, organizer of the outdoor Saugeen Shores Pickleball Club. She added, the program received funding from Community Foundations Grey Bruce and True Sport Matching Grant Pilot Program to purchase equipment, such as the new nets, run clinics, have a tournament as well as a celebration.

Pickleball is a cross between tennis, table tennis and badminton. It is played on a court slightly smaller than a tennis court with wooden paddles and a plastic whiffle ball. The goal of the game is to hit the ball over the net so your opponent cannot hit it back over.

“It’s more of the (placement) of the ball and strategy,” Dahmer explained.

For $2 and weather permitting, regular Pickleball play runs from May until September and takes place on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday mornings from 9 a.m. to noon, as well as Tuesday evenings from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.

A beginner’s clinic, that everyone is welcome to attend, will be held on May 27 at Lakeshore Recreation from 9 a.m. to noon at no charge, but pre-registration is required. If interested, contact Dahmer at 519-389-5855 or e-mail jm.dahmer@bmts.com. Beginner paddles, which were hand-crafted by Dahmer’s husband John, are available to use free of charge.

If after the clinic you feel that Pickleball is something you are interested in continuing, why not purchase an official Pickleball paddle from Scoreboard Sports in Port Elgin.

A membership fee is $5 and with that, club members have the opportunity to attend intermediate clinics throughout the summer, the first of which will be on May 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. They also have the opportunity to participate in a fun tournament on June 21 from 9 a.m. to noon, followed by a celebration and prizes.

The club will also be holding a free-of-charge open house on June 29 from 9 a.m. to noon at Lakeshore Recreation for anyone who wants to see what Pickleball is all about. During the open house, there will be demonstrations, free give away’s and an opportunity to try it out.

If you are unable to attend the open house or the clinic, slip on your closed-toe running shoes and head out to one of the regular play times where there will be someone to greet you with a smile and teach you the tricks of the game.

“Come out and give it a try,” Dahmer said. Maryann and her husband John are pictured in the photo above.