We at FresYes have seen signs at various local parks advertising this mysterious sport and wanted to know more about it, so we interviewed Denise Haas, a local player with more than a few wins – and even several Pickleball medals – under her belt.
FresYes: So, what is Pickleball exactly?
Denise Haas: Pickleball is a net sport played on half the size of a tennis court with a paddle and a hard plastic ball with holes in it. One may play singles, doubles, or mixed doubles.
FY: Who can play Pickleball? Is it a sport anyone can enjoy?
DH: Pickleball was initially invented for those who could no longer play tennis due to age, also to be a game for the whole family to participate in. There are specific tournaments open to only seniors (50 and above), and open tournaments available to all ages. This sport is good for everyone, and it provides social outlets as well as great exercise.
FY: Where did the game come from?
DH: It was created by two gentlemen in Washington state in 1965. They had a court and wanted to have a game the whole family could play together, young and old. The game was in its infancy, but gradually had rules etc. and started growing. As the story goes, they named it after their dog named Pickle. He would grab the ball and run away with it. (Ha!)
FY: Can you tell us a bit about your Pickleball experience? How did you get into playing, and what makes it enjoyable for you?
DH: My experience with this sport has been phenomenal. I’ve made wonderful friends, played in numerous tournaments in California and other states, and have been blessed with many medals during these tournaments. One of my long-time friends talked me into trying it in August 2014, and Pickleball is a fast sport – played on a smaller court than tennis. It just gets in your blood. We have people ages 20 to 80 playing this game.
FY: What do you need to play? It is costly?
DH: A paddle is less than $100, and some are as low as $25. Balls can be purchased relatively inexpensive as well. Outdoor court shoes would be suggested.
FY: How does someone who’d like to play get involved in the local Pickleball scene?
DH: This is a fabulous sport and I am amazed at how much it has grown since I started playing. Unfortunately, Fresno has yet to install dedicated courts, so we have to set them up each time to play. If you get the phone app called “Meetup” (Android version, iOS version) and search “Fresno Area Pickleball,” it will provide a list of all the places, days, and times to play locally.
There are approximately seven or eight locations in Fresno, one in Fowler, one in Selma, three in Visalia, two to three in Tulare. Fresno-area opportunities to play and learn can be found online here, and Visalia, which has an even more robust schedule of tournaments and game times, posts information through Visalia Live and Play Magazine.
This is a fabulous sport and I am amazed at how much it has grown since I started playing.
Thanks to Denise Haas for taking time to educate us on the fast-growing and fun sport of Pickleball. We may not be able to keep up with her, but hopefully we’ll see her on a court soon!
[Photos courtesy of Denise Haas.]