New sport takes off in St. Thomas

Pickleball players meet three times a week at the Timken Community Centre in St. Thomas. Back Row (L-R): John Harbaruk, Wolfgang Fischer, Terry Boss, Christine Boss, Norma Huston, Rod Nicholson Middle Row (L-R): Dorothy Miskelly, Sharon Harbaruk, Elaine Wood, Bob Jackson, Vicky Carrothers, Joan Lapierre, Helen Hall Front Row (L-R): Louis Lapierre, Jan Nicholson, Margaret Hunt, Lyn Levandoski, Jane Perry, Dave Hall

The sport of Pickleball came to St. Thomas in May of 2013. Now, most people are probably asking, ‘What the heck is pickleball?’ Well, it’s the fastest growing racquet sport in North America. It’s a game that combines elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton on a doubles badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches. The Equipment, which is inexpensive, consists of a pickleball paddle, a whiffle ball, court shoes and gym attire. It can be played indoors or outdoors.

Imported from the U.S. by snowbirds, pickleball has taken off in Ontario and B.C. The national governing body is Pickleball Canada, while provincially the sport is promoted by the Pickleball Association of Ontario.

The appeal of pickleball is threefold. First, it’s easy to learn and play. Second, it’s good exercise and it’s fun. And third, it’s a very addictive social game, but it can also be as competitive as you want to make it. Major tournaments were held in Oshawa and London this year and both attracted well over 100 players.

So what about pickleball in St. Thomas?  Before moving to St. Thomas, new residents Dave and Helen Hall had been playing for several years in Ontario and Florida. They approached the Parks and Recreation Dept. and the sport was introduced at the Timken Community Centre gym in May. Growth was slow at first, but there are now 25-30 enthusiastic regulars. On Aug. 31, a dozen St. Thomas players participated in the Bayfest tournament held in Port Rowan and showed very well.

Playing time has been expanded from two drop-in sessions a week to a Monday, Wednesday, Friday format from 10-12 at the Timken Centre. The standard drop-in fee of $2.00 applies.

The success of this program has now led to the introduction of an eight-week beginner’s course, which runs from 11:00-1:00 p.m. every Sunday from Oct. 6 to Nov. 24.

New players are welcome! Please contact the Timken Recreation Centre for information or call Dave Hall at 519-207-1466.