Pickleball rising in Akron, getting extra indoor, out of doors courts

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Summit County is seeing a resurgence in young pickleballers, and no, we’re not referring to teens who’ve made fortunes selling dill pickles — that’s a whole different story.

Pickleball, which combines elements of ping-pong, tennis and badminton, is the nation’s fastest growing sport and the number of people playing it (pickleballers) is steadily increasing in northeast Ohio.

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Local parks and recreation centers have adapted to this new trend by installing pickleball courts or tennis courts that can easily be converted into pickleball courts.

One such location is the Towpath Tennis Center, which recently added six outdoor pickleball courts to its four indoor pickleball courts for the sport. These new courts offer more space for pickleball’s social side, an element that sets it apart from similar sports like tennis, said Dallas Aleman, co-owner of Towpath Tennis Center.

“It was a good sport that filled a gap during the pandemic,” Aleman said. He added that while the sport initially gained popularity among the older population, it has gradually been picked up by teenagers and people in their 20s and 30s.

“The greatest growth in pickleball right now is in this age group and that will continue to see the sport grow strongly,” he said. “We’re trying to do our best to continue promoting that culture of being welcome, non-judgmental and the fact that you can enjoy the sport no matter your age. I think (these are) the ingredients that make this sport so viral and growing.”

Pickleball in Tallmadge:Tallmadge installs outdoor pickleball courts at Lions Park

The Towpath Tennis Center supplies racquets and balls for players to borrow and purchase. People also don’t have to be members to use the center’s pickleball facilities, although they do have to pay a fee. There is also a wide range of other inexpensive or free pickleball courts in the area.

Where to Play Pickleball in Summit County

  • Waters Park (169 East Glenwood Avenue, Akron): Six pickleball courts are open daily from 8:30am to 5:00pm. More pickleball courts will be coming to Joy Park in the future.
  • Boettler Park (5300 Massillon Rd, Green): Four pickleball courts are open Tuesdays and Fridays from 5:30pm to 9:00pm.
  • Lake Anna YMCA (500 West Hopocan Ave., Barberton): After October 30th they will have four pickle ball spots. Currently three places are open Monday and Friday from 9.15am to 12.00pm and Saturday from 7.00am to 8.30am. Two places are open on Wednesdays from 12pm to 3pm.
  • Lions Park (Lions Park Drive, Tallmadge): Two permanent pickleball courts and four lined tennis courts are open daily from dawn to dusk.
  • Glen Meadow Park (1961 Glenwood Drive, Twinsburg): Six pickleball courts are open daily from morning to night.

How to play pickleball

To play Pickleball you need a few things:

  • A pickleball court (20 feet by 44 feet) with a net (36 inches high)
  • A pickleball paddle for every player
  • A ball for pickleball

According to How They Play, here are the rules for Pickleball:

  • Play begins when one side serves the pickleball and hits it over the net with a paddle.
  • To serve the ball, a player must keep one foot behind the baseline and hit the ball with an underhand swing. The ball must leave the no-volley zone (the zone closest to the net without a line dividing it in half) and land on the service court, which is diagonally across the net.
  • Players must serve from the right half of the field. Only one mistake is allowed.
  • When playing doubles, both players are allowed to serve once, and then the other team serves.
  • Both sides must allow the pickleball to bounce off their side once before volleys (shots before the ball bounces off your side of the court) are allowed, meaning volleys are playable after a serve and two hits of the ball. If a player volleys the ball, he must not be within seven feet of the net in the no-volley zone.
  • A player or team can only score if they have served at the beginning of a point. The receiving player or team cannot score.
  • If the receiving team fails to return the ball properly, whether by not making contact with the ball, hitting the net, hitting the ball wide, attempting a volley in the no-volley zone, or attempting a volley before volleys are allowed, the serving team a point.
  • When the serving team fails to properly serve the ball to the receiving team, whether by not making contact with the ball, hitting the net, hitting the ball wide, attempting a volley in the no-volley zone, attempting a volley before volleys are allowed or a double fault is recorded, the serving team does not score. The next server in the rotation then serves the ball and play continues.
  • A pickleball game is played to 11 points and must be won by at least two points.

Pickleball 101:What is pickleball? History of the sport and how to play

When was Pickleball invented?

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by three fathers — Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell, and Barney McCallum — to provide a fun pastime for their families, according to USA Pickleball. Back then it was played with a wiffle ball, today there are perforated plastic balls specially made for this sport.

According to Long Cove Club, there are two competing stories surrounding the origin of the sport’s name. Pritchard’s wife Joan says she started calling it Pickleball because “the combination of sports reminded me of the pickle boat in the crew where rowers were chosen from the remains of other boats”.

However, McCallum claims the game is named after the Pritchard family’s dog, Pickles, who likes to steal the ball from them as they play.

Contact Tawney Beans, reporter for Beacon Journal, at [email protected] and on Twitter @TawneyBeans.