The ball came flying over the net but I was ready. This was it, the final point. No way were we going to lose 11-0. How humiliating. The ball bounced, I swung and missed. It was right to me but when it bounced it went in a crazy direction and I missed it. “We’ve been pickled” said Jerry. He must have seen the blank look on my face as he then said “We lost 11-0, that means we got pickled.” Welcome to the sport that’s sweeping the Nation, played by thousands, mostly old farts, lots of whom used to play tennis.
Pickleball. A game played on a court smaller than tennis but with a lot of the same ideas. The paddle looks like a giant ping pong paddle and it’s played with a wiffel ball but you’d be surprised at how far that wiffel ball can go and how crazily it can land when someone who knows what they’re doing spins the ball.
It started innocently when I noticed the clinic for pickleball wanna-be’s at the gym I belong to. I decided I needed to know what the big deal was so Tom and I went to one. Then we went again. The cute guy in charge of the program said he needed substitutes for the league as some people were on vacation. We jumped right in and volunteered. My first day I went at the 10am start time and found out it was not one hour, but two hours of play. I have to admit, I was a little nervous.
Meet my team of Larry, Jerry, and Carrie, so of course I told them my name was Mary. Right away Jerry and I lost to Larry and Carrie 11-0. Now I know what pickled means. Losing. “But I just started” I wailed, “I’m a beginner.” BIG MISTAKE. Immediately Larry and Carrie smelled blood and slammed spinners across the court to me. Then when we switched partners, Jerry slammed spinners at me even though we’d just been partners, which I called him on and he pretended he didn’t even know me. Or they’d hit a soft spinner. When a soft spinner bounces, it spins off to the left or right depending on how they hit it. You think you have a shot and find yourself swinging at air. “Don’t worry Mary,” Larry said, “eventually you’ll get the spin.”
If you want to feel body parts that you’ve never felt before and who doesn’t, this sport is for you. So what if I’m writing this with a swollen knee which I can barely walk on, I’m just praying the swelling goes down by the time Wednesday comes so I can get back out there and play again. No more getting pickled for me!
How about you out there? How many of you play this fun game? Any good or bad experiences to share?