Pickleball In Fishers

As featured in the IndyStar on April 23, 2019

Janet Bluming picked up a pickleball paddle about a year ago and has embraced the sport since.

The former tennis coach said the game, a combination of tennis, table tennis and badminton, is "pure fun."

And in Fishers she isn't the only one in love with the game.

At any given time, any given day, you'll find several people playing on the pickleball courts at Cyntheanne Park on the city's east side. And sometimes players have to wait in line and wait their turn to play.

The game has grown in popularity so much - in 2018 it was named the fastest growing sport in the U.S. by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association - that the city is hosting its first pickleball tournament at the park on Saturday.

Registration for the event is now closed.

Pickleball started in 1965 after Joel Pritchard, a former Washington State congressman, and his friends Barney McCallum and Bill Bell found their families sitting around with nothing to do. They wanted to play badminton but couldn't find the equipment, so they improvised and used table tennis paddles and a whiffle ball.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton.

"People love it because if you've played tennis before, this is a smaller court. That's an advantage, and there's a lot of strategies you can use," Bluming said. "The best part about it is that it can be played at any level, too."

She said whether people are athletic or not or have a disability or are young or old, pickleball can be played by anyone.

In August, the city's Parks and Recreation Department received a $63,000 donation from entrepreneur and pickleball player Steve Cage to add two challenge pickleball courts at Cyntheanne Park. The cours are for intermediate players and advanced players.

The park first opened four courts in 2015 and later raised money for four more. They were also renamed Cage Pickleball courts after their biggest donor.

"It's easy, it's a great exercise, you're outside, you're having fun and it's just such a fun game," Cage, 66, said. "I play about three times a week, and one of my favorite things is that this is a game for everyone."

Here's how to play pickleball

The courts

The game is played on a smaller version of a tennis court that is 20 feet wide and 44 feet long.

Singles and doubles can play, and the court has left and right service zones.

The rules

The serve is underhand, so you'll need to keep the paddle below the wrist and waist.

A serve must be hit from behind the baseline and crosscourt into the opposing team's service court. That serve must clear the net and not land in a 7-foot "no volley" area in front of the net, dubbed "the kitchen" zone.

Unless a ball drops in there and you need to reach in and get it, "don't go in the kitchen."

Unlike tennis, in pickleball there is no serve and volley. You have to serve the ball and let it bounce once on each side before either team begins to air volley.

The game will continue until the ball is hit out of bounds, hits the net or bounces on one side twice.

According to the USA Pickleball Association. points are only scored on the serve. Games are played to 11 points but to 15 points in tournaments.

The Fishers pickleball tournament

A grand opening ceremony for the challenge courts will be at 4 p.m. Friday, and the tournament will be 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at Cyntheanne Park, 12383 Cyntheanne Road. Cost is $25 per player and free for spectators. Both events will feature food vendors and music.

Medals will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners.

For more information and go to www.facebook.com/fishersparksandrecreation

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