by Chris Tobin
A new sport came to Timaru last Wednesday.
People interested in having a go were given the opportunity to try pickleball at the Southern Events Centre.
Why is the sport so named? It derives from the expression “pickle boat” which, for the rowing-minded, refers to oarsmen chosen for a crew after other crews have been picked.
The game is an amalgam of tennis, badminton and table tennis.
“It’s played on a badminton-sized court,” Pickleball NZ development officer Joy Tawhaio said.
“The paddle is similar to a table tennis racquet and the ball is hollow and plastic. It’s called a wiffle ball.”
Similar to tennis but with serving being done underhand, the net was at a lower height than in tennis.
“It’s great for tennis players who can’t serve any more.”
Tawhaio said the sport had taken off in the United States where it was extremely popular in the 50 to 90 age bracket.
“It’s a game for all ages from 7 years to 97.”
Tawhaio said there were from 1200 to 1500 players in New Zealand and it was particularly popular around Auckland. An Ashburton tournament was held recently but pickleball had not been played in Timaru until last week.
Tawhaio expected this would change.
“It’ll take off here. It’s a very social sport.”