Pickleball a big hit in South Okanagan

Pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis, is highly addictive.

Bill Rogocky returns this serve as partner Michael Taenzer watches during city parks and recreation pickleball action at the gym at the recreation centre. Pickleball is just one of the many activities available during the day for seniors at the centre.

Bill Rogocky returns this serve as partner Michael Taenzer watches during city parks and recreation pickleball action at the gym at the recreation centre. Pickleball is just one of the many activities available during the day for seniors at the centre.

Pickleball, a combination of tennis, badminton and table tennis, is highly addictive.

“Once you start playing you can’t stop,” said Kim Coleman, a gold medal winner in the sport at the recent B.C. Senior Games in Langley.

Coleman is among 300 people expected to play the sport in Penticton this season and plays five to seven days a week. Having always played racquet sports, she loves the speed and aggression of pickle ball. However, she also enjoys being around the other players, some who are younger.

“It’s a pretty tight knit community,” said Coleman.

Kim Hun Kopp can attest to that.

“Every time I come out I’m happy,” said Hun Kopp, 35. “People here are just so nice to me.

“You come out and make a lot of friends, it’s a friendly game,” continued Hun Kopp. “It’s a good game too. I love running around the court.”

Ernest Treichel arrived at the Penticton Community Centre Monday morning after playing a few hours on the court at Skaha Lake. The 72-year-old just can’t get enough.

“It’s good for seniors,” said Treichel, who got into it playing in Mesa, Arizona. “You still have to do a lot of running. Almost more running than in tennis sometimes.”

Treichel loves the exercise and camaraderie he gets.

“It’s a very excellent game,” he said.

Jack Byron, the Penticton volunteer pickleball co-ordinator, said the sport began in the Peach City in 2002 with six players using wooden paddles. The sport has grown considerably since then, attracting 200 players last year. Byron said the reason behind the growth are Penticton’s indoor facilities that provide six courts. There are also plenty of options for people with sessions offered for various skill levels with play seven days a week.

Byron likes that the sport is easy to learn.

“Almost anyone of any age can play competently within three weeks,” said Byron. “Gifted athletes can reach an expert level within two years.”

There are 10 to 15 tournaments, from Osoyoos to Kamloops, for those wanting to compete and they are at various levels of play.

For more information on the pickle ball programs offered in Penticton, check the RECreation Penticton guide or contact Jack Byron at 250-493-5087 or email him at jackbyron@shaw.ca. There are no sessions on Oct.13, Nov.11, Feb. 9 and 20.