Craig residents bring skill, speed to pickleball courts
CRAIG — What do you get when you mix the mobility of a tennis game and the speed of a ping pong match? You get pickleball.
Almost every day, a dedicated group of pickleball players meet at Craig City Park to play the hybrid sport. Pickleball organizer Sue Eschen said it was about three summers ago when her friends introduced her to the sport. She said she used to play racquetball, but once she got her first taste of pickleball, she added, she became hooked.
“It’s exciting, and it’s fun,” Eschen said. “It’s very easy to learn.”
The game is played in two teams of two players each. Each player uses a paddle that is slightly larger than a ping pong paddle, and instead of a tennis ball, a whiffle ball is used. The teams play on a 20-by-44-foot space, with a net in the middle. From there, both teams hit the ball back and forth until a score is made, similar to a tennis game.
The group Eschen plays pickleball with is growing steadily. On average, at least 10 people meet up and play together, she said, adding that the city has been accommodating to the pickleball players, providing light for them to play at night. The Senior Social Center also provides players with supplies and equipment. During the winter, the group plays indoors at Boys & Girls Club of Craig.
Pickleball player Troy Schaus said he wasn’t as good a tennis player as he would have liked, but with pickleball, he seems to have found more success.
He noted the game was easy to pick up, and he has been playing regularly with Eschen.
“We’d love to have more people playing with us,” Schaus said. “If it’s their first time playing, we’ll show them how it’s done and teach them.”
The first game of pickleball was played in Washington in 1965, and the game has since become one of the fastest growing sports in both the United States and overseas, according to the USA Pickleball Association.
Pickleball players can be found at Craig City Park from 8 to 11 a.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursdays during summer.