by Lisa Tome
Pickleball isn't just for your grandparents who have retired and moved to Florida anymore.
The game, the fastest growing racquet sport in the U.S., already has a strong Cecil County presence.
By the third week of July, the tennis court in Charlestown will be lined for Pickleball. In January 2013, the Cecil County Pickleball Players LLC, began playing the game weekly at Thomson Estates Elementary School.
"I play with a lady who's 74. She runs circles around me," said Jen Bird, who brought the game to Elkton.
Bird explained the finer elements of the sport which she learned to play with her aunt and uncle in Florida in 2008.
"You play on what looks like a tennis court. It's not as wide or long. And there is not as much running," explained Bird. The equipment needed is a low net, a hand paddle nearly the size of a racquetball racquet, and a plastic baseball-sized ball with 40 holes in it. Serving is underhand. Only the scorer serves. Games are played to 11 points.
Bird fell in love with the game, and flies to Florida several times a year to play. She joined a league in Phoenixville, Pa., meaning she drives about three hours round trip, to play the game. That's when she founded the local group.
"It can be a full-body workout. In the two and a half hours I play, I move 14,000 steps," said Bird. "It's so much fun. We have a great group of people and lots of laughter.”
The game may be played indoors or out. "When you play outside it's a different game," said Bird. "We play doubles, but you can play singles or doubles."
Bird works to spread the word about her love of the sport. She works for the school system and has recruited coworkers to play. "It's heartwarming. I enjoy seeing people fall in love with it. It's a lot of fun. Oxford (Pennsylvania) has it in the phys. ed. curriculum. I'd love to see it in the PE curriculum here. "
The Cecil County Pickleball Players LLC will resume their weekly games August 21 at Thomson Estates. They play Thursday evenings from 7-9:30 p.m.
You can schedule to play with them on the meetup.com website.
The league currently has about 65 members. In order for everyone to get court time, 16 players sign up for each week. In order to join you must be age 18 or above.