Six pickleball courts were officially opened in Virgil Saturday, with experienced players on hand to teach 50 or so people of all ages interested in learning the sport.
The Niagara-on-the-Lake Pickleball Club, with a membership of about 120, expects its numbers to jump with a move outdoors and the extra space on the former tennis courts, resurfaced and converted for the sport that uses a smaller court, a racquet that’s more like a paddle and a light-weight ball which was getting blown around in Saturday’s wind.
Club member Steve McGuire was at the Virgil Sports Park to provide racquets, including smaller ones perfect for kids, and balls to anyone who wanted a free lesson. From the time the six courts were officially opened by Lord Mayor Betty Disero, they were full, with interested newcomers receiving instruction from club members. In the hour after opening, McGuire had about 30 names of people who were interested in joining, he said. “Our goal this morning is to introduce people to the sport, and the new courts,” he said. “We also want to show it’s not just a game for older people, this is for everybody, and it’s a lot of fun.”
There were youngsters on the courts who were proving McGuire’s point, and one dad who said he would be bringing his two daughters out to play pickleball this summer. St. Davids resident Anthony Pingue stood on the sidelines watching his daughters Gabriela, 13, and Isabel, 10, hitting the ball back and forth with Carsten and Asher Abrams, the grandsons of Case Bassie, the president of the pickleball club
Pingue said he had been holding off on buying the racquets and balls until he had a chance to see the sport played, and to determine whether his daughters would enjoy it, but he quickly became a convert. “It’s something that’s great for kids, and they obviously like it. It seems easy enough to learn. I’d say it’s great for all ages. I’m going to buy a set of racquets.” He said one of the benefits for children is it seemed they would be able to pick it up more quickly than tennis, and with six courts, hopefully there wouldn’t be a wait to play. “I”m always looking for free stuff to do with the kids. And I like doing things in town with them. We’ll be playing pickleball this summer.”