SPARTA, NJ – Ever heard of Pickleball?  They are playing it at Lake Mohawk Tennis Club.  Last Friday evening they had an open house for interested pickleball players.

“It is the fastest growing game in the world.  It is very popular in this country in the south and the most popular unit in Sparta Middle School phys ed,” Pickle Ball enthusiast Catherine Roy said.

The game is described as a combination of badminton, ping pong and tennis.  It is played with paddles similar to ping pong.  The ball is perforated hollow plastic; think wiffle ball covered with smaller holes.  The court is about one third the size of a tennis court played with a smaller lower net.

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Usually played with doubles both players on a side serve before turning the ball over to the other side.  The first team to 11 points wins, though it has to be by a two-point margin.

The smaller size court and lighter paddle are part of the reason the game has become so popular.  The underhand serve is appealing as well.

“So many of us end up with rotator cuff injuries and back and knee issues, this is a lot easier on us,” Pickleball player Anthony said.  “The rules are designed so you don’t smash the ball into the other person’s face, encouraging you to go to the net.”

The rectangle box up by the net is called the kitchen.  While the reason for the name is not clear, the space plays a large role in the game.  The ball cannot be hit on the fly in the kitchen, keeping it safer for the person on the other side of the net.

On the serve the ball must bounce on the receiving team’s side before returning.  The serving team must also let it bounce on their side too before hitting the ball.  This is referred to the double bounce rule.  This rule keeps the game more even and extends rallies.

“It’s a lot harder than I thought,” Gary said.  He was playing singles.  He stuck with it and played doubles.

Roy said anyone interested in trying the game can contact the tennis club.  They have equipment and  two courts available to play about 80 percent of the time.  The club is not exclusive to Lake Mohawk residents. 

“About a third of the members don’t live in Sparta,” Roy said.