Pickleball Arrives In Franklin Township

Pickleball at SGS - 15

Joel Reiss of Somerset Run prepares to serve during pickleball play Dec. 10 at Sampson G. Smith School.

Take some elements of tennis, throw in a little essence of badminton and combine with a soupçon of ping-pong, and what do you get?

Pickleball, of course.

The sport, invented in 1965 by a U.S. Congressman from Washington State and a friend to give their bored families something new to do, is all the rage in adult communities, mainly in the west and in Florida. According to the USA Pickleball Association, there are about 2.5 million people who play the game around the world.

The township recreation department launched a pickle ball program in November. Every Thursday, from about 6 to 9 p.m., players gather in the Sampson G. Smith School gym. The gym can hold there courts, which are marked out using blue tape. Portable nets are rolled in, and the venue is ready for play.

Play is with either singles or doubles. Paddles that are larger than paddleball paddles are used to strike a plastic ball with holes in it – much like a whiffle ball – over the net to an opposing player. Like tennis, points are scored when an opponent misses a ball or hots it out-of-bounds or into the net.

The players who gather at SGS for the weekly games are mainly from the Somerset Run active adult community. Joel Reiss, one of the residents there, is an organizer of the games.

Reiss said he’s been playing for nearly a year, and likes it because to reminds him of tennis, which he can no longer play because of knee issues.

“I love it,” he said. “I’ll play golf tomorrow morning and I’ll get home in time to play pickleball outdoors.”

“It’s a good activity,” he said. “It’s a nice exercise.”

Reiss said about 45 people have signed for the recreation department’s program. He said a pickleball program in Somerset Run had about 90 participants in its first year.

“In Florida, they wait on line to play,” he said.

Pickleball at SGS - 5

Al Blander gets his game face on during play Dec. 10 at Sampson G. Smith School.

Somerset Run resident Al Blander is another pickleball devotee.

Blander said he likes the game because it allows him to get some exercise and to do something competitive.

“I’ve always been a competitive person, so I do like the competition,” he said. “I like the fact that it’s relatively low-impact, and it’s an easy game to pick up. It’s fun.”

2015 Pickleball at Sampson G. Smith



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