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Pickleball play nets strong field

Senior Games continue today & Thursday

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Pickleball play nets strong field

Carl Meissen of Lincoln returns a pickleball serve in the open round Tuesday of the Manteca Senior Games competition at the Manteca regional Tennis Center.

JASON CAMPBELL/The Bulletin


POSTED April 29, 2009 2:53 a.m.
Lodi orthodontist Lancer Turner is no stranger to relishing the feel of a racquet in his hand as he stares down the net.

As one of the founding members of the Future Star’s 2000’s after-school tennis program that helped make tennis a popular after-school program for kids of all ages, Turner seemed like the natural fit for a new take on his old pastime – pickleball.

Designed as a fun sport that brings out elements like wiffle ball, tennis, and racquetball together into one fun game, the activity has quickly become one of the hottest at the inaugural Manteca Senior Game. It gives just about everyone who plays a chance to feel like a kid again.

Pickleball play continues today while the Manteca Senior Games track and field competition gets underway today at 2:30 p.m. at Sierra High. The softball tournament also continues at Big League Dreams sports complex through Thursday.

“It’s one of those games where it’s so fast paced but it’s so fun,” said Turner in between sets. “It’s not like tennis where you can kind of guess where the ball is going to go. “With pickleball you just have to react and that’s what makes it so much fun.”

Tuesday afternoon there were dozens of teams waiting their turn to jump out on to the court and tackle what many have been called the fastest growing sport in the world for those aged 50 and over. Instead of the traditional felt ball that flies almost perfectly straight after being served, the aerated wiffle ball gives those who have had a little bit of practice the chance to bend the ball just like the best soccer players in the world can do when they get an opportunity.

“It’s really like table tennis but on a badminton court,” said participant Daniel Patina. “It was one of those games where you just kind of stumble into it and all of you sudden you’re in love with the tempo and the game itself.

“It’s great for seniors because you don’t have to always be covering every single inch of the court, and you can use physics to make the ball do what you want when you get a chance to set those shots up.”

Co-sponsored by the Manteca Convention and Visitors Bureau, the first annual Senior Games has drawn competitors from throughout Northern California and promises to become the hot spot for both the athletes and those wishing to catch a glimpse and some of the most active seniors you’ll ever see giving it their all out on the court.

“This is really one of those games where it doesn’t matter what your skill level is or how good you are at any of the games that make up pickleball,” Patino said. “It’s a multi-generational game where you can enjoy it with your grandchildren or out here in a competitive setting where people really are having the time of their lives.”

The women’s doubles and the men’s doubles as well as the mixed doubles took place Tuesday.  The women’s and the men’s singles are scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. today at the Union Road Tennis Complex.

“It’s one of those games where people can really come out and have a good time even if they’re newcomers,” said Turner – who last year made a push to bring a United States Tennis Association complex to the Mistlin Sports Park in Ripon. “People have a good time and they’re competitive, and that’s pretty much all you can ask for.”
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