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Pickleball: Coming Soon to Fort Hill Activity Center

The following blog post describes the growth of the sport of pickleball spurred by the opening of Fort Hill Activity Center, which began hosting indoor pickleball clinics and open gyms in 2016.

With a grand opening celebration planned for August 27, 2016, the Fort Hill Activity Center soon will be hosting a variety of activities in its gymnasiums, including the fast-growing sport of pickleball. 

 

Construction progress at the Fort Hill Activity Center in June 2016

 

Participants in the June 2016 Pickleball Basics program at DuPage River Sports Complex

What is Pickleball?

Pickleball blends elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton. The game was invented by 3 friends in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, Washington as a sport that everyone in the family could learn quickly and easily. Learn more about the fun story of the origins of pickleball as explained at http://pickleball.com/pages/history or in this entertaining video

Pickleball at the Park District

Did you know that Naperville Park District already has pickleball courts at Ashbury Park, DuPage River Sports Complex and Ranchview Park?  The District began with 2 courts at DuPage River Sports Complex in 2013 and added a third at DuPage, 2 at Ashbury and 3 at Ranchview because of the growing interest in the sport.

 

Pickleball court with portable net and permanent lines at the tennis courts at DuPage River Sports Complex

The Park District’s Pickleball Basics class is one of the programs offered to introduce beginners to the game. Once the Fort Hill Activity Center opens, more programs will be scheduled there and it’s likely that leagues will form as interest grows. 

View of the gymnasiums at the Fort Hill Activity Center showing progress with construction as of June 2016

 A Pickleball Romance: Instructors Chrissie and Mike’s Story

The two instructors for the Park District’s Pickleball Basics class told their respective stories of discovering the sport of pickleball, with a happy ending that included finding each other as well.

Pickleball instructors Mike and Chrissie at the courts at DuPage River Sports Complex

Instructor Chrissie Carl lived in Seattle for 6 years and never heard about pickleball, even though the game was invented on Bainbridge Island, just a ferry ride from Seattle. Her parents knew about the game in Columbia, Missouri, and when Chrissie moved to Chicago, her mother gave her a pickleball racket for Christmas.  “My mom had encouraged me to play golf, but when I didn’t show an interest in it, she decided to introduce me to pickleball.” 

Chrissie wanted to give the game a try and looked everywhere in Chicago for a place to play. The only places that turned up were in the suburbs, so she decided to start her own Pickleball Meetup. “And the first person to show up was Mike (now her husband). That’s how we met.”

Mike first heard about pickleball through his father’s friend, Jim Wright, who has been a national pickleball champion. “He was a retired high school tennis coach and he taught me to play pickleball.” 

Mike and Chrissie found one set of pickleball courts in Chicago at Gompers Park and also improvised a court at Jackson Park, where the tennis courts were seldom used and could be lined for pickleball. They played at these courts and at a beach house in Michigan. They are glad to see the sport expanding in Naperville.

Tips on Getting Started with Pickleball

Mike and Chrissie have the following advice about getting started with pickleball:

  • Pickleball is a great game where age doesn’t matter.  You can play with anyone who plays at about the same level as you do, no matter what the age. 
  • You move very quickly but the movement is mostly with the arms and hands; your feet just move a little, in contrast to tennis, where you need to run and move farther around the court.
  • Most play the game as doubles.  It’s grown a lot; many are playing in our area and we have multiple skill levels.
  • Cost of a racket is about $70; portable net is about $120; and balls are approximately $3 each.

Sign up for the next Pickleball Basics class beginning July 14 outdoors at DuPage River Sports Complex. Additionally, you can try one of the fall pickleball classes at the Fort Hill Activity Center and you’ll be playing in no time! The Naperville Park District’s Autumn Program Guide will be available online August 1 and will be delivered to Naperville residents beginning August 4. 

 


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