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Pickleball bounces into Manteca
Competition Tuesday, Wednesday at tennis center
Pickleball competitors are in Manteca Tuesday and Wednesday as part of the 2009 Manteca Senior Games. - photo by Photo Contributed


• WHAT: Manteca Senior Games
• PICKLEBALL: Takes place at the Manteca Regional Tennis Center on North Union Road. The women’s doubles and the men’s doubles start at 8 a.m. Tuesday followed by the mixed doubles at 1 p.m. The women’s singles and men’s singles are at 8 a.m. on Wednesday
• SOFTBALL: The three-day softball tournament starts Tuesday at 8 a.m. at the BLD complex.
• TRACK & FIELD: Field events get underway Wednesday at 2:30 p.m. at Sierra High followed by track events at 3 p.m.

Pickleball has the feel of badminton, a bit of ping pong and the look of tennis.

The  recreation sport that was dreamed up in 1965 in the Puget Sound area of Washington using an asphalt badminton court by two fathers responding to their children saying they were bored now has a governing organization – the USA Pickleball Association – that claims 15,000 members with 30 registered courts in 12 states.

“It’s amazing,” noted Linda Abeldt of the Manteca Convention & Visitors Bureau, the organization conducting this week’s Manteca Senior Games. “People see the game and they fall in love with it. They want to play.”

The popularity of pickleball is attested to by the fact it is the top draw in terms of entries for the inaugural Manteca event that’s now part of the California Senior Olympics.

You can see what all the fuss is about Tuesday and Wednesday when the pickleball competition takes place at the Manteca Regional Tennis Center on Union Road in front of the Manteca Golf Course.

The women’s doubles and the men’s doubles start at 8 a.m. Tuesday followed by the mixed doubles at 1 p.m. The women’s singles and men’s singles are at 8 a.m. on Wednesday.

According to the USA pickleball Association website, Pickleball is a simple paddle game, playing a special perforated slow-moving ball over a tennis type net, on a badminton-sized court. The ball is served underhand, without bouncing it from the court, and is served diagonally to the opponent’s service zone. Pickleball rules state points are scored by the serving side only and occur when the opponent faults (fails to return the ball, hits the ball out of bounds, etc.). The server continues to serve, altering service courts, until the server faults. A game is won by the first side to reach eleven (11) points but will continue until won by a two point margin.

Unique pickleball features include:

•Serve Position: Server can have one foot inside the baseline, as long as the other foot is outside at moment of serve.

•Service Bounce Rule: Following serve, each side must make at least one ground-stroke, prior to volleying the ball (hitting it before it has bounced).

•Non-volley Zone: A player cannot volley a ball while standing within the non-volley zone.

Sport named after family dog
One of the bored kids’ fathers was Congressman Joel Pritchard of Washington State whose family’s backyard asphalt badminton court was the birthplace of pickleball. The name came because the family’s cocker spaniel named “Pickles” kept stealing the ball.

The USA Pickleball Association site goes on to note that the game can be played on tennis courts or volleyball courts and outdoors on just about any hard surface.

The game caught on quickly because it could be played by all ages, required minimal equipment and costs and was easy to learn. Young children who had never played a racquet sport could enjoy pickleball. Seniors who had hung up their tennis or badminton racquets came out of retirement to play pickleball.

By 1972, interest in the game had grown to the point that the US Pickleball Association was formed.

In 1984, the US A Pickleball Association became the governing body of the sport and published its first official rulebook.

There are pickleball organizations in the Bay Area including Lafayette. There are also pickleball courts at several Del Webb communities including the original Sun City in Arizona and Sun City at Lincoln Hills in Placer County.

For additional information, contact