Bird Park now ready for pickleball

The group warmed up before playing a game by rallying without scoring points, which explains the pickleballs scattered all over the field.

By James Kinneen
Hometown Weekly Reporter

If you’ve been to Bird Park lately to play a game of tennis, you might think that for the first time since 1882, the dimensions of a tennis court have changed.

But these new lines are actually for a new game: pickleball, a hybrid of tennis, badminton, ping-pong, and the racket and ball game you probably grew up playing at the beach.

Invented in the 1960s but having seen a resurgence in popularity in recent years, pickleball can be played on any tennis court, but must have its own lines drawn on the court to be played properly. While some inventive players have gone with chalk or duct tape, thanks to a donation from the Bird family, the tennis courts at Bird Park are both freshly paved and showcasing the contours of the new sport.

But since the game is so new, just adding new lines to the field’s surface may not be enough to attract people who may have heard of it, but haven’t seen it – let alone those who are struggling with the rules or trying to develop skills. To that end, over the past few weeks, Maura O’Gara has hosted Pickleball at the Park, a beginner to intermediate program to both introduce players to the game and bring people together to play.

“Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States,” said O’Gara. “It’s great for all ages. It’s fun, it’s easy to pick up, and since we already have tennis courts in the park, it was quite easy to paint the lines for the pickleball in the tennis court. We wanted to invite the public to take advantage of an outdoor pickleball opportunity. It has been very popular, so I would like to see more people enjoy the pickleball courts here at the park.

Unlike tennis, pickleball, all serves must be performed by the hands.

O’Gara explained that less than a third of people who signed up for the program had played before, and that although she herself is not a tennis player and cannot guarantee the benefit of having a training in tennis, many of those who signed up were actually tennis players. Yet compared to the sport, she thinks pickleball is more of a game of finesse, which is why it is so popular with all ages, as being young doesn’t offer the same kind of advantage as in the games. faster and more powerful games.

While pickleball and tennis are different, seeing a sliced ​​forehand shows the overlap in skill between the two matches.

O’Gara said that because COVID has pushed back some things and the lines are new, people should expect to see even more pickleball-related events in the future, including pickleball lessons she said. has fun creating.

But none of that would line up if the players at the Pickleball at the Park sessions this summer hadn’t enjoyed the game so much.

So like the new lines on the tennis court, pickleball is here to stay. And O’Gara is here to help people find out.

“I am delighted that we can provide an opportunity for people to bring pickleball into their lives,” she said on Friday afternoon, before grabbing her paddle and jumping into a match.

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