Pickleball proving popular

LACONIA — Pickleball, a sport which combines the elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton, has proved increasingly popular at the Laconia Community Center, where it was introduced this summer and has developed a loyal following in the last several months.
''It's been very well received. We have two sessions each week and the number of people playing keeps growing'' says Amy Lovisek, assistant director of the Laconia Parks and Recreation Department.
The sport is played on a court with the same dimensions as a doubles badminton court. The net is similar to a tennis net, but is mounted two inches lower. The game is played with a hard paddle and a polymer, smaller version of a whiffle ball.
A pickleball ball typically moves at one-third of the average speed of a tennis ball and the court is just under one-third of the total area of a tennis court. The net is hung at 36 inches on the ends, and 34 inches in the middle. The court is striped like a tennis court, with no alleys; but the outer courts, and not the inner courts, are divided in half by service lines. The inner courts are non-volley zones and extend seven feet from the net on either side.
The ball is served underhand from behind the baseline, diagonally to the opponent's service zone and points are scored only by the serving team when their serve is not returned or is hit out of bounds. The winner is the first team or player to reach 11 points and have a two-point lead at that point.
''We have pickleball from 6:45 to 10 p.m. on Monday nights and on Thursdays from 8;45 to 11;45 a.m. One of the best things is that the players are really friendly and eager to teach people new to the game how to play,'' says Lovisek.
She said that equipment and a paddle are available for new players and that the cost is $2 per person for each session of play.