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Summerfield joins nationwide pickleball craze by forming club

Members say the game is addictive, but they must be wary of 'pickleball elbow'


Photo Credit: BARBARA SHERMAN - KEEPING THAT BALL IN PLAY - Among the players having a good time on the Summerfield pickleball court, which is a modified tennis court, on Aug. 14 are Sheryl Caldwell and Del Jordan.Summerfield residents joined the pickleball mania that is sweeping the country and started the Pickleball Club in early July.

As of mid-August, the club already had 48 members and was growing almost daily.

For the uninitiated, pickleball is a combination of racquetball and tennis with a little ping pong thrown in. It is a racquet sport that two or four players can play at one time on a modified tennis court. Players use solid paddles to hit a polymer-perforated ball back and forth (hopefully) over a net.

Del Jordan is co-leader along with Rod Sacconaghi for the club as well as events for men, and Connie Jones and Joan Casciato are in charge of events for women, according to the Summerfield Summary. The Pro Shop has four paddles for rent, but most members have purchased their own.

"It's easy to join, and there are no dues," Jordan said. "People just need to contact someone on the list, including Marty and Karen Swigler."

Jordan noted that in Arizona, where he spends winters, there are 900 people in the local pickleball club, and annual dues are $10.

"The good thing about pickleball is that you don't have to run all over the court," Jordan said. "You can get a rally going for a long time. And it's amazing how much better people are getting in such a short time."

Mike and Sheryl Caldwell have been playing since the club started, with Mike noting, "I've played tennis my whole life, but I haven't played for the last three weeks."

Sheryl added, "It's fun exercise. It's addicting. I started playing ping pong a couple of years ago, and I've never played a sport except ping pong until now. But you do have to worry about pickle elbow."

Keith Masterson, who also joined the club at the beginning, said, "It's a great game. Everybody can play it. It's a very easy game but good exercise. It's a great addition to Summerfield."

Photo Credit: BARBARA SHERMAN - PLAY (PICKLE) BALL! - There is always time for some laughs and jokes during rounds of pickleball, which gives players some exercise while having fun.With seven people playing on one of the tennis courts Aug. 14, players could alternate playing and taking time out as they changed partners and played game after game.

Patty Read played pretty continuously, and when she did sit out a game, she said, "It's really fun and really fast. I love the people I play with, and they're so helpful since I'm a beginner."

One player with some experience was Carolyn Ward, who first played pickleball in Georgia, where she spends winters. "I was bummed out because there was no pickleball here, and then I saw online that a club was forming," she said. "There are some really good pickleball players here. I try to play every other day so I don't wear myself out."

Finally, Walt Schweizer said, "I like the exercise, and it's a lot of fun. I have never played tennis, but you tell the ones who have played tennis before."

Credit for starting the game in 1965 goes to former state Rep. Joel Pritchard, who lived on Bainbridge Island, Wash., before being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970. He and two friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, tried to set up a game of badminton for their bored families one day but couldn't find the shuttlecock, so they improvised with a Whiffle ball and fabricated plywood paddles, and lowered the badminton net.

Some people think the game was named pickleball after the Pritchard family dog Pickles, while others believe the name comes from "pickle boat," which refers to the last boat to come in with the daily catch.