By Denise Bacon

Pickleball? Never for me, I thought; I’m a tennis player.

That was before my sister invited me to join her for pickleball at the Pan Am Centre on a Wednesday morning. Now I can tell you about the fastest growing sport in North America!

Pickleball can be fondly considered the mutt of sports that was cobbled together in Washington in 1965 as a quick pastime. The paddle/racquet is like an oblong oversized table tennis racquet, the court is the size of a doubles badminton court and the net is low to the ground like in tennis. The hard plastic wiffle ball is slightly bigger than a tennis ball.

The game, like any sport, can be played by all ages and at all levels from beginner to highly competitive. All levels of play are available in various parts of Scarborough and seasoned players are very welcoming of newbies. Most community centres will have racquets and balls available.

Pickleball is popping up across the city in community centres, school gyms and sports clubs. Port Union Community Centre has beginners’ drop-in pickleball for seniors on Monday afternoons from 1 p.m. – 3 p.m. Eddie Chin has been playing for 25 years and he’s happy to now have a game in the neighbourhood. Pickleball keeps Eddie 80 years young!

Brenda D’Abreo and Robert Edwards, who were partners for a game, effusively said, “It’s so important for seniors to be active. Activity stimulates the mind.” Robert has met more neighbours through pickleball at Port Union Community Centre than he had over the 28 years he has lived in the area! He feels 10 years younger just in the short time he has taken up the sport.

John Davidson and Dennis Day, partners in a game, love the exercise and camaraderie through pickleball.

Every one of the players was keen to have at least one more day of pickleball at the community centre.

There is now a Pickleball Association where you can get information about this sport, including where to play.

Be careful when you start, though. You could get hooked like I did!