It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and a group of Powell residents gather on the old tennis courts behind Rocky Mountain Manor to play some rounds of pickleball. It’s one of four pickleball …
It’s 9 a.m. on a Tuesday morning and a group of Powell residents gather on the old tennis courts behind Rocky Mountain Manor to play some rounds of pickleball. It’s one of four pickleball meetups held every week. With some handheld paddles, wiffle-like balls, and casual clothing, the gang is ready to play.
The game is a lot like ping pong, except it’s played on about half a tennis court.
Among the players is Teresa Miller, and if anyone in Powell could be called the pickleball coach, it’s her. She steps up to teach new players, patiently explaining everything from how to serve to the rules of the game. Between plays, Miller tosses out encouraging words.
“Teresa’s enthusiasm is infectious. She makes you feel good about your game,” said Cheryl Elliott, another regular on the Powell pickleball circuit.
Elliott estimates there are about 20 to 25 regular pickleball players in Powell, and they always welcome new players.
The Powell group is anxiously awaiting new courts the city plans to build at Westside Park, replacing the old tennis courts. As it is now, when the light pickleballs hit one of the many cracks at the courts by Rocky Mountain Manor, they can zing off in any unpredictable direction.
At the new courts at Westside, the pickleball nets — which are slightly lower than tennis nets — will be set up on both sides of the tennis nets, which will be permanent. The pickleball nets are portable, so they can be removed when more courts are being used for tennis, such as during a tournament.
The Moyer Foundation put up $15,000 for the construction, and the pickleball players, as well as some tennis players, might be able to get a few games in toward the end of the season once they’re complete. It all depends on how the contractors’ bids come in.
If everything goes according to the city’s tentative schedule, 2 inches of asphalt will be put down in July. That needs to cure for 45 days before it can be painted, and then it will be ready for public use.
“I think it’s going to be a great facility,” Elliott said.
While most people associate the game with the elderly, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association’s (SFIA) 2019 Pickleball Participant Report, the sport attracts its share of younger players. Nearly 40% of casual players — those who play less than eight times a year — are 18 to 34. However, 40% of those who play more than eight times a year are 65 or older, so it’s the older players getting in most of the practice.
Many players use a phone app to find one of the many pickleball meetups held across the country. Elliott and Miller said they’ve used it while traveling so they could make sure to get in a game or two while on the road.
“Everybody is welcoming wherever you go,” Elliott said.
As a low impact sport, pickleball is easy for seniors and the disabled to play. Elliott said she has played against people in their 90s, and she once played against a girl in a wheelchair. Deb Kobbe, another regular Powell player, was once matched up against a man in his 90s who was on oxygen.
Miller and the others go easy on new players, but when matched up with an experienced competitor, they play to win. It’s all friendly, though. A big part of the fun is meeting new people.
“I have fun with it. I have fun with the people I play,” Miller said.
She’s retired now, but when she was working, Miller would get up at 5 a.m. to get a game in before work.
“It’s one of the few things worth getting up at 5 a.m. for,” said Elliott.
Fortunately, the Powell meetups aren’t starting that early. Anyone wishing to join in the fun can do so at the Rocky Mountain Manor courts on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m., or Mondays and Wednesdays at 5 p.m.