Juan Dominguez diving to return a low ball. Dominguez used to play tennis, and plays pickleball as a way to stay active.
Del Mar’s first official Pickleball league is under way, with the singles tournament kicking off Oct. 3 at the Heritage Campus Gym.
According to a participation report from the sports and fitness industry, Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America, and it is fun for all ages. Del Mar aims to help this growth by hosting double round robin men’s, women’s and co-ed doubles leagues. Each match will consist of a best two-of-three sets to 11 and competitors will play two opponents each day, giving the opportunity to play at least four games each day.
The doubles league begins Oct. 17, and games are played from 5-6:30pm Mondays and Wednesday.
The game gets its name from the creator’s dog, Pickles, who would always chase the ball around while they played, and the game itself combines concepts from tennis, ping-pong and badminton.
You begin with a simple serve over the net to the opposite side of the court similar to that of ping-pong; however, once each player allows the ball to touch the ground once you have now begun OPA: a period of open volleying where you may hit the ball while it’s in midair. You may still allow the ball to bounce once if you want but the goal is to make the ball bounce twice on your opponent’s side with the first bounce having to stay inbounds so a quick strike out of midair can be effective.
Just be sure not to get too close to the net or you’ll enter the kitchen: a term for the non-volley zone. If you cross the line into the kitchen and hit the ball then you have committed an illegal move or fault, more specifically called a Volley Llama. In Pickleball, only the player who began the serve can earn that point. If the player returning the serve wins on that turn, then they switch who is serving rather than the defending player receiving a point.
I attended the first day of the Pickleball singles league so that I could ask some of the players about their experiences, but after one of the competitors who signed up to play didn’t show, I was asked to fill his spot so that all the other competitors could have an opponent. Before this, I had never touched a Pickleball paddle in my life, but it was very easy to understand the rules after a few minutes of playing. Despite losing, I had a fantastic time and the more I played, the more it made me want to keep going as I got very into the game. The primary thing I took away from playing is that there’s more strategy involved than physical skill.
Juan Dominguez, a student at Del Mar, was among the competitors.
“I have a background in tennis, so I thought it would be fun to play and stay active,” Dominguez said. “It was fun, a good learning experience.”
Dominguez said he would recommend Pickleball to someone who’s never played before, adding that it’s a great way to stay in shape and make new friends.
“It’s harder than tennis, mainly because it’s such a smaller court so it’s not as easy to keep the ball in bounds,” Dominguez said.
The registration deadline for the doubles league is Oct. 14. To sign up, visit the Intramurals office at Gym 108 or call 361-698-1337. The Intramurals office is open 1-5 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and 1-6:30 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday.