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Lancaster Tennis Club introduces new game of 'Pickleball'

Club member Lauren Hall playing Pickleball

Lancaster Tennis Club has welcomed a game named after a family dog which could become an Olympic sport.

The club, based on Lune Road, has become the first tennis club in the local area to introduce 'pickleball' sessions.

Pickleball, which can be played in singles or doubles, combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton and has a badminton-like points system, with whoever gets to 11 points, with a clear margin of two points, winning.

"I read an article in a newspaper about it and I thought it looked quite interesting," said Steve Garland, club chairman.

"I looked it up online and saw it was played on a fairly small court and we had a court that wasn’t being used much.’

Club member Lauren Hall, who initially enquired about the introduction of pickleball in Lancaster, has a close connection to the sport.

"I used to live in Seattle and, on an island in Puget Sound, off the coast of Seattle, the Pritchard family were just playing it in their summer home back in the 60s," said Lauren.

"Apparently it got its name from the family dog.

"It has a big following in the United States. I got exposure to it and managed to play it at the YMCA and private gyms that my friends went to. I played it with my father in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

"I moved here, COVID had happened and I had gone quite a long time without being able to play it. I live in the local neighbourhood and I’d wondered if the tennis club had a pickleball organisation, so I was put in touch with the club and the timing was right to start it."

Pickleball has recently been confirmed as the official state sport of Washington and it is now the fastest growing sport in America.

Additionally, there is a campaign for it to be made an Olympic sport. 

The tennis club holds the sessions outdoors, unlike most pickleball games in America which take place inside.

This adds a very interesting dynamic to the game, especially on days like the day I tried it out.

It was a bit windy which made it more difficult to connect with the ball. However it was still an incredibly enjoyable and relaxing game.

"We received a very generous fund through the Eric Wright Charitable Trust which allowed us to purchase the paint and re-paint the mini court to dimensions for pickleball," said Lauren.

"It also enabled us to acquire the equipment to play. We feel very fortunate that they looked upon pickleball with a smiling eye and gave us that grant."

The introduction of pickleball has seen a slight increase in the club’s members. 

"It has attracted a few people," said Steve.

"We’ve only just got to the point of really publicising it because we had to get everything ready and learn the basics of it so that, if people came along, we could show them how it was played.

"I’m hoping it will develop and hopefully there will be one or two other clubs in the area (that play pickleball) and we can have a few matches in the future.

"There’s a pickleball-only membership. If people join as a tennis player, then the pickleball is included.

"We’re very happy for people to come along and have a try of all of our sports before they sign up, so if you’re only half-certain then come and try it. I think it’s a very good thing to get into and you can play it at all ages. It’s not a power sport and it’s really good for beginners to take up. I think it’s easier to start than tennis.’

As of right now, the club only have outdoor pickleball facilities and are looking for indoor locations to play in during inclement weather. Kendal Tennis Club is also set to start up pickleball sessions and Lancaster Tennis Club would like to organise a small tournament.

For details about how to get involved in pickleball sessions at Lancaster Tennis Club, go to the website lancastertennis.co.uk/pickleball, or get in touch by email to lancstennis@gmail.com

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