Pickle ball players hope to grow sport

If you’ve never heard of pickle ball, you’re likely not alone.

Bernie Pinette (right) volleys a ball back to his opponents while Gord Mierau looks on. The duo

Bernie Pinette (right) volleys a ball back to his opponents while Gord Mierau looks on. The duo

If you’ve never heard of pickle ball, you’re likely not alone.

Neither had a group of Williams Lake residents who now play almost every day during the week at the Williams Lake Golf and Tennis Club.

Gord Mierau, Bernie Pinette and his wife Georgette Pinette discovered the unconventional racquet sport while vacationing in Phoenix during the winter.

They’ve since become hooked — recruiting, training and pursuing growing the sport in Williams Lake.

“We want to encourage people to come out and play and have some fun,” Mierau said. “People that thought they were done with sport can have a really good time and socialize, as well as get some great exercise.”

Pickle ball, which borrows elements of tennis, ping pong, badminton, squash and racquetball, is played on a 20-foot by 44-foot court with a paddle — mostly resembling a ping pong paddle and a plastic tennis-sized ball with holes. The sport can be played with just two players; however, it is more commonly a doubles game.

Its unique name, pickle ball, stems from an unlikely source — the creators’ family dog Pickles. Pickles would chase after errant balls, then hide them in the bushes. Pickle’s ball was a phrase often spoken during backyard matches until eventually it stuck.

Mierau and the Pinettes recently resurfaced one of the unused courts at the Williams Lake Golf and Tennis Club to accommodate the growing number of players and hope to continue to expand.

“We hope to gain three more courts and hope to have about 50 people coming out and then we’ll go from there,” Mierau said. “Right now we’ve got about a dozen people coming out to play and we have equipment on site for anyone who wants to learn.”

The group meets every day during the week at 9 a.m. and invites anyone interested to come try out the sport.

Mierau stressed the fact that anyone, young and old, can play the sport. He added it’s grown immensely in popularity in the U.S. over the past few years.

“Through our winter activity in the Phoenix area this was such a growing sport,” he said. “We went from 30 players to 150 players in a year and those were people that thought they were finished with some kind of physical activity or sport. The tournaments that happen down there encourage the competition, or lack of competition for social play.”

Bernie said the local group currently has players almost 80 years old, all the way down to his grandchildren. He added the sport doesn’t cost much to get into, especially since the group recently purchased on-site equipment at the Williams Lake Golf and Tennis Club.

“It’s a real cheap in and not expensive to get into at all,” Bernie said. “There’s no equipment you need other than running shoes. We have all the equipment here.”

He added, eventually, the group wants to become an official club once they get enough members.

“The golf course is working with us trying to promote this and get this going,” Bernie said. “We want to thank them.”

For more information, or to schedule a match with the current pickle ball players, contact the Pinettes at 250-392-3768 or e-mail them at pinettes@telus.net.