GREENVILLE — At their monthly meeting September 21, the Greenville Park Board announced they had painted red stripes on the basketball court in North Park to create a pickleball court.
Pickleball, a game often played using half a traditional tennis or basketball court and a smaller, portable net, has experienced a surge in popularity over the last six months, including in Darke County and surrounding areas.
A report on NBC News in March labeled pickleball “the fastest growing sport in America.” A post on Arcanum High School’s Twitter page claims they are training for the National Pickleball Championship in Naples, Florida next year. A cursory internet search reveals that at least half a dozen cities within a half-hour radius of Greenville have pickleball courts available.
The game was reportedly invented in 1965 by a former State Representative from Washington who, along with some friends, was trying to play badminton, but lacked the proper equipment. So they improvised, lowering the net and using a wiffle ball and a pair of hastily rigged racquets resembling oversized ping pong paddles instead.
Amusingly, though many believe the sport was named for its inventors’ dog, “Pickles,” an article on the USA Pickleball Association’s official website claims it was the other way around.
Carol Baughman of Ansonia picked the game up six years ago, while vacationing in Florida over the winter, then returned to Ohio and found she was having a hard time finding local folks to play with.
“I was going all the way up to St. Mary’s to play,” Baughman said. Then she learned the Greenville YMCA had a pair of pickleball courts, so she began offering lessons at the Y.
Not long after, Baughman approached the park board about supporting the game at the local parks. After coming to observe a game at the Y, board members agreed to put down striping for three courts in North Park, a small recreation area located behind Kroger on Wagner Avenue.
Pickleball can be played by anywhere from two to six people, broken into two teams. One person serves until their team loses a point (by missing the ball, hitting it against the net, or letting it go out of bounds), at which point the next person on their team serves, and so on. After all players on the first team have served, the other team takes a turn. A game is played to 11 points, and usually takes about 15 minutes.
“I just love it. You make a lot of friends playing this game,” Baughman said. “And it’s good exercise, too.”
Tyler Roberts, program director at the Greenville YMCA, put down stripes for their first court about six months ago, but was initially having a hard time getting people to play. He said that’s changed in the last few months, however.
“We have people who come from Versailles and other places to play,” Roberts said. “Our CEO has become a big fan of the game as well.”
Pickleball courts are available locally at North Park in Greenville; Duke Park, Elizabeth Township Recreation Center, and Lincoln Community Center in Troy; Mote Park in Piqua; and YMCA facilities in Eaton, Greenville, Versailles, Englewood, Piqua, Troy and Huber Heights.
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