July 14, 2009

Muskegon Pickleball! By Wayne J. LaPointe

"The Muskegon Multitude"
Linda, Leo, Colleen, Elaine, Dennis
Jeff, Duane, Tom, Virginia, Marna, Wayne
MSO 2009 Summer Pickleball Games
Photo by Stan Wilson, Jr.

Pickleball got started at the Tanglewood Park (Age Well Services) in the fall of 2008. We were limited to a room that was four feet shorter than the length of a Pickleball court.

Despite its limitations, we had a lot of fun and did learn some basic rules. The strategy, of course, was vastly different since there were no opportunities to hit long strokes, full length serves, and high, long lobs. Also, some bad habits resulted, such as partial swings when up against the back wall. It did give us a lot of practice in the no zone (1/2 way up), and it certainly added to spirited kitchen line warfare.

Our short indoor court is a plus as a format for some of the individuals who have extremely limited mobility. In fact, I would say it could be a future recreational option for anyone. Just call it "Modified Pickleball". In bad weather, it is a reality for us now. Of course, our 80-84 age Gold Medalists, Elaine Carsok and Duane Quigg don't need it yet. They are too busy beating all of us on the full court outside.

In late May, two courts were painted on the service road next to the building. It has been really great to have a full sized court to help us become more competitive, although the perpetual wind seems to be a big influence on the game at times. Also, the road slants down a couple inches, so we have a 38 inch height on one of the sides. The brick building on the other side results in a few 'lets' per game. However, once we get the nets up on Mondays and Thursdays (3 to 6 pm), there's always plenty of competition. We actually can play any weekday from 8 to 6 as long as there are two interested people. However, in bad weather we only have access to the room, usually at 3 pm on Mondays and Thursdays, each 12 week session.

Currently a concerted effort is being made to get permission to use some of the many public tennis courts in the area. That will be utopia!

Eleven of us ventured to the Michigan Senior Olympics in July and we had a great time. It is so very impressive how efficient and competent the Pickleball leaders are at running the competition. Of course, the friendliness of almost everyone resulted in an enjoyable experience. Also, just cheering for our Gold Medalists, Elaine and Duane, made the trip worth it.

We look forward to many more Pickleball experiences.

Wayne J. LaPointe
Muskegon USAPA Pickleball Association

Blogger's Note: SW Michigan is to be congratulated for the many innovative 'Pickleball Best Practices' they are implementing to GROW Michigan Great Lakes Pickleball! As a Michigan Great Lakes Pickleball Lead Referee, I highly recommend Wayne J. LaPointe's "Rules for ALL to Play Pickleball" as a must read for ALL referees, players, and FANS!

..."just for the FUN of it!"