February 6, 2023 —It’s America’s fastest-growing sport. Pickleball!
Popularity Growing for All Ages
Kendal at Lexington resident Alice Correll says she discovered pickleball in 2013 when a local resident put up a sign at the Rockbridge Area YMCA inviting people to try this new sport.
It’s a cross between tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It can be played as either a singles or doubles game, though doubles is typically more popular. It was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Washington, but recently its popularity has spread across the country.
Rockbridge Pickleball Club
In recent years, her group, the Rockridge Pickleball Club, has been playing indoors at the old Natural Bridge High School gymnasium. With four indoor courts, 16 people can play at once.
Most of the players are retired people, says Alice. The Club has 35 members who pay monthly dues to help cover the court rental cost. Alice and another member are Kendal at Lexington residents as well.
“It’s easy to learn; the games are short. It’s just a fun game.” The group meets up to four times each week. Monday mornings are for advanced players only. Tuesday and Thursday afternoon sessions and Saturday morning sessions are open play for any level player. Sponsored by Rockbridge Area Recreation Association, newcomers can also take beginner pickleball classes.
“It’s a very social sport,” Alice says. Having fun with friends is what Pickleball is all about. In addition to their games, the Club also hosts a Christmas party in December and has picnics in the summer.
And when Alice moved to Kendal at Lexington from a house in town in June of 2022, her pickleball pals helped. “I never asked anyone to help me move,” Alice says. “Six of the players and their spouses volunteered to help move all my boxes.”
Lexington Pickleball Group
Kendal at Lexington resident Sue Piepho heads up another group of pickleball enthusiasts who play outdoors at the Lexington Golf & Country Club. There are currently 17 Kendal residents and staff in her pickleball group and another nine players who don’t live or work at Kendal. “We’re open to everybody who wants to play. The Country Club provides the racquets and the balls for free,” says Sue.
“When I moved here, I played with the Rockbridge Pickleball Club at Southern Virginia University,” says Sue. “And then the pandemic shut that all down.”
“Once things began to open, I wanted to find someplace close to play. I belong to the Country Club. One of our members had them paint lines on two tennis courts in May of 2021,” says Sue.
Sue says pickleball attracts a lot of former tennis players.
Easy to Learn
The social aspect of the game keeps people coming back. “You don’t need to come with a partner,” says Sue. “You start playing in doubles, two to a team. The winners stay on their court and split. The losers go to another court and split.” “You play with different people every game,” says Sue. “It’s pretty inclusive.”
Most of the players in her group from Kendal were taught pickleball by those already in the group. “They were newbies,” she says. “People tend to get better quite quickly.” People really enjoy the game. “There are many smiles, and there’s a real sense of achievement,” says Sue. “Getting a new skill is fun.”
Pickleball is Kind on Aging Bodies
A pickleball court is about half the size of a tennis court, so there is less running. While it’s a good cardio workout, it’s less stressful on the knees, shoulders, ankles, and hips. “Once you learn to anticipate where the ball is going, you don’t have to run as much,” says Sue. “There’s a lot less court to cover than in tennis.” But she encourages players to learn to say “nice shot” and not take undo risks to return every ball!
Where To Start?
Those interested in joining one of the local pickleball groups can contact the marketing department, and we can connect you to Alice or Sue.
Watch this short video by the Rockbridge Report featuring interviews with Alice and other pickleball enthusiasts: