A craze that’s causing a racket in Greenwich

Greenwich resident Edward Fuhr gets ready to receive the ball while playing pickleball last week. — Henry Cobbs photo

Greenwich resident Edward Fuhr gets ready to receive the ball while playing pickleball last week. — Henry Cobbs photo

On any given summer Wednesday morning, around 12 to 16 Greenwich residents can be found in the platform tennis courts along Loughlin Avenue in Cos Cob.

However, they are not there to play paddle tennis. Rather, they are partaking in one of nation’s fastest growing sports: pickleball.

The program, sponsored by the Town of Greenwich Department of Parks and Recreation, has seen steady growth since it began a year and a half ago.

“It’s simpler than tennis,” said Sue Norton of Greenwich, who has been playing pickleball since 2012. “It’s easy on the body and easy to pick up. It’s fast and it’s a lot of fun.”

The sport, which combines elements of tennis, badminton, racquetball and Ping-Pong, uses a light plastic ball and rectangular wooden racquets. Although pickleball calls for specialized lines, players often use traditional or platform tennis courts and draw in the lines with chalk.

“These raised courts were only being used for paddle tennis in the winter and are perfect for pickleball,” said Norton.

“There has been a pickleball group in the town that has been playing together for several years. But, the town formed a more formal program last year. This is our first full year where we offer pickleball each season,” explained Patricia Troiano, a recreation supervisor for the Department of Parks and Rec.

During the winter months, the town pickleball league is held indoors at Western and Eastern Civic Centers. The town has also offered a pickleball league aimed towards youth and has plans to bring that back for the upcoming winter.

Betsy Underhill, the coach of the Greenwich High School girls tennis team, has been instrumental in supporting the program. “Betsy is the one who has worked with the town and gotten permission to use these courts. The town has been great in allowing her to get all of these programs up and running,” said Norton.

“Betsy is wonderful. We wouldn’t be here without her,” said Greenwich resident Janet Gold.

The program is very casual and allows players great flexibility. Players attend the practices whenever possible, self-sort, and scrimmage in doubles. After a set amount of time, the pairs switch.

“I am amazed by how much it has caught on in this area,” said Edward Fuhr, who has been playing for nearly three years.

“It’s growing like crazy,” added Gold. “When I first started to play, no one had heard of pickleball. I would get stares when I told people what I was doing for the day. Now, more people have heard of it.”

The town, equally impressed by the sudden demand, renovated courts in Christiano Park to have lines for both tennis and pickleball.

“We do press releases through the media before the registration period. But mostly, pickleball has spread because of word of mouth,” said Troiano.

“A friend of mine told me about pickleball,” said Norton. “I gave it a whirl and immediately thought it was incredibly fun.”

Although many of the participants travel to Florida for the winter, several use the time to improve their game. John Lowry stays at a retirement community outside of Orlando called The Villages.

“The facility is home to 140 pickleball courts,” Lowry said. “It’s incredibly popular there and I play all the time when I’m down there.”

“I’m really glad we are able to provide opportunities for all of our residents to keep active,” said Troiano said. “As long as the interest remains, we’ll keep this running.”

“Just try it once. You’ll be hooked,” Norton said.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress