Pickleball: Now More Common than the Condiment


Ahoy, mateys! This salty sea captain has a tale to tell. While tossing back some ales at ye old Edgewater Inn, one of my galley gal-pals invited me to go pickling with her the following day at the park! Unsure how to take her offer and not wanting to offend, I paused to think. I explained to her that my intended is scheduled to come over from the Old World at the first sign of ice break, but the kind woman assured me that her intentions were innocent.

The following day as she pulled up in front of the dock, I could practically feel her look of bewilderment and consternation burning through me as I carted out one of my best oaken vinegar barrels and three burlap sacks filled to the brim with the season’s last throes of Spanish cucumbers. We had a hearty laugh as she explained that I had confused pickling (which involves produce, seasoning and brines), with Pickleball (which involves paddles, nets and lines). I also learned that a “dink” isn’t a suggestive turn of phrase, but rather, a short volley that is difficult for the opponent to return.

  Little did I know that Pickleball is a sport that combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong. But let me tell you, I fell in love with this game faster than the tide turns! Pickleball is a game that requires patience and persistence, much like navigating a treacherous channel in stormy weather (but without the risk of death). It’s played on a smaller court with a lower net than tennis, so even my old mate Peg-Leg Petey could have a competitive romp.

The game is played with a simple paddle and plastic ball, and the rules of pickleball are so straightforward that even a landlubber can understand them! Har! The game can be played as singles or doubles, and the objective is to hit the ball over the net and into the opponent’s court without the ball being returned. Points are scored when the opponent is unable to return the ball, and the first player to reach 11 points (with a two-point lead) wins the game. The losing team then walks the plank. (Not really, but they should.)

I am always looking for new ways to stay sharp and have fun with my crew. And let me tell you, playing pickleball is a great way to do both! Like a midnight paddle into an unfriendly harbor, pickleball requires quick reflexes and sharp anticipation of your opponent’s next move. The game is akin to setting sail on a new adventure. You never know what challenges lie ahead, but with the right attitude, skill and teamwork, you can overcome any obstacle.

If you haven’t yet tried playing pickleball, I urge you to give it a shot. The game is easier to learn than tying a bowline knot and a great way to keep your sea legs in ship shape while on shore leave. So grab your first mate, a paddle and join me on the court! Bye the bye… Both Wheat Ridge and Edgewater both offer drop-in pickleball at their recreation centers, and there are fine outdoor courts at both Prospect Park and Clear Creek Valley Park.

May your serves be fair, and your sails filled with air.

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