If tennis is too hard and table tennis isn’t hard enough, pickleball may be just right for the competitive senior who wants to stay fit.
“The sport is a combo of badminton, ping pong and tennis,” said Renee Bray, president of the Sun City Center Pickleball Club. “It’s addicting and fun.
“We have members who’ve had hip and knee replacements or have neuropathy and sugar diabetes, but they’re still able to play,” she continued. “It’s a very competitive sport for all ages and all levels.”
Pickleball rackets look like overgrown ping pong paddles but the ball is larger than a ping pong ball and smaller than a whiffle ball.
The court is smaller than a tennis court, so there’s less distance to run, but participants still get a pretty good workout.
Lynn Seevers has been playing pickleball for eight months. A regular tennis player, she likes the convenience of jumping in and out of the two games.
“When you play tennis, there’s a wait sometimes between plays,” Seevers said. “With pickleball, I can get more exercise because I’m always moving. It’s a great stress reliever.”
The club of 250 members was founded in 2001. It hosts monthly inter-club round robin tournaments for players of varying skill levels and the Tampa Bay Senior Games pickleball competition each fall.
“Last year we hosted the Hillsborough County Senior Olympics here,” Bray said.
In addition, clubs from Valencia Lakes, Kings Point and South Shore Falls compete in periodic tournaments with the Sun City Center Club. Although competitive, the events are a great way for the senior communities to socialize.
The club hosts fundraisers and participates in FunFest annually to continue upgrading the Community Association-owned courts. A few years ago, the club used proceeds to have lighting installed for night play.
If you aren’t sure if pickleball is the sport for you, just show up behind Community Hall, 1910 Pebble Beach Blvd. S, any Tuesday at 1 p.m. and join a free beginner’s class to find out. The club provides paddles and balls for the class.
Annual membership is $26, and all you need purchase is a paddle. The dues cover balls, a monthly courtside brunch and an annual Christmas Party.
For more information, email [email protected] or visit www.pickleball.suncityctr.org.
Freelance writer Dosi Loverro can be reached at [email protected]