While Serena Williams and John McEnroe are known for their temper tantrums on the tennis courts, it's a much more cordial atmosphere on the pickleball court at Century House.
In January, Century House introduced a number of new activities for local seniors including basketball, floor hockey and pickleball. While other activities have gone by the wayside, pickleball has proven so popular that it's since expanded from one to two days a week.
"Pickleball is going really well," said Shelly Schnee, recreation programmer at Century House. "It is definitely a group that is growing."
Carole Koverchuk, chair of the pickleball group at Century House, said pickleball is a bit like a cross between ping-pong and tennis.
"You use small, very light balls with holes in them and a wooden paddle. It has a low net," she said. "It's great fun. We all love it."
Pickleball can be played with two or four players, and can be played indoors or outside. The folks from Century House use the multipurpose room in the youth centre that's attached to Century House.
"It is good exercise," said participant Pat Dunnett. "We make it fun."
The Pickleball Canada website states that the game was created in the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle. The inventors' goal was to create a fun new sport for the entire family.
"They had a dog named Pickles," Koverchuk said. "Whenever it went out of bounds, they'd say, 'It's Pickles' Ball.'"
Pickleball Canada's site states that the family dog Pickles would chase after balls and hide them in the bushes.
Over time, the game has evolved to include formalized rules and to be played in school physical education programs, parks and recreation centres, camps, correctional facilities and more.
"Sometimes it is a really good workout. You get a really good rally going," Koverchuk said. "It's really good to be out. Everyone seems to be having fun - that's the main thing."
Lynne Abbott had never heard of pickleball until a few months ago, when she attended a meeting at Century House.
"I had played badminton as a kid. A lot of us really don't have a background in court games. Some do," she said. "It's a really neat group of people. We keep it light and fun. It is a bit competitive. We keep score."
Because of the number of people dropping in for some pickleball action, the group usually plays doubles. In addition to the camaraderie of playing with more people, doubles also means less running for participants.
"I want to stay active. I know it is important for me at this time," Abbott said.
"I think it is really good for seniors. It's not that difficult, even for someone like myself who is not that athletic."
While she's more accustomed to playing tennis, Pat Campbell enjoyed her introduction to pickleball immensely and plans to return.
"This was my first day," she told The Record recently. "I love it. I am a huge tennis fan. I can't play anymore - too much running. This is easier, but still a good workout."
Competitive pickleball league are offered in some communities; the sport is also offered as an event at the B.C. Seniors Games.
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