Long Islander’s Love for Pickleball

Action at The Pickleball Hall in Sayville.

            Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports and Long Islanders are joining the pickleball craze, as indoor and outdoor courts are being built regularly to support its rise in popularity.

South Shore residents are flocking to courts to play this addictive, hard court game because of the positive attributes it offers, including different ability levels.

“Depending where your comfort zone is with pickleball, it is not necessarily a ballistic, fast-moving sport,” avid player Alexander Lopez explains. “It is an accessible sport, with players of all ages – even ones with disabilities are able to get in on the game.”

Lopez, an Associate Professor at New York Institute of Technology, is a South Shore Long Island resident who plays two to three times a week and considers himself an intermediate to advanced player. 

 Another reason Lopez believes pickleball is popular is that it is a very social sport. 

 “You get to meet people like yourself and develop friendships,” he says. “It’s harder to meet people when you get older. Pickleball breaks the barriers and encourages genuine relationships. It also offers the opportunity to play with your spouse or partner.”

Lopez’s wife, Kerri Lopez is also a devoted player.

A pickleball court looks much like a tennis court, both rectangular, but a standard pickleball court is smaller. According to onixpickleball.com, a standard pickleball court is the same size as a doubles match badminton court, which measures 44-feet long and 20-feet wide, for a total area of 880 square feet; while the standard tennis court for a singles match is 78-feet long and 27-feet wide for a total area of 2,106 sq. feet, according to harrodsport.com

As a pickleball court has roughly 2.4 times smaller footprint, more courts can be built in the same facility, which is starting a trend of outdoor tennis courts being converted to pickleball courts to accommodate the rise in popularity and the growing number of players.

This trend is much to the lament of some diehard tennis players. Across the bay in Ocean Beach Fire Island, a somewhat tense discussion took place last month during an informal planning meeting in which rebuilding of the Village-owned outdoor tennis courts to accommodate the growing demand for pickleball access was discussed.

Some parks provide portable pickleball nets and have the markings on the ground for you to play a regulation pickleball match. You just have to wheel over the net and place it on the appropriate markings on the ground.  

Indoor facilities like The Pickleball Hall, in Sayville, offer clinics for people to try the sport. 

“People sign up for the clinic, have fun with it, next thing you know, they are playing a couple of times a week,” says Melinda Marrero, a part-time employee at The Pickleball Hall. “I see the excitement in people when they first come into the building and start warming up to play. Everyone has a great rapport with each other and gets along, which makes people want to return to play more.”        

Playing outdoors is great when the weather is pleasant, but there are advantages to playing at an indoor facility. Climate controlled conditions means you can play comfortably on frigid winter days, or the most stifling summer heat wave.

Lopez says he plays all year round in an indoor facility because he does not like waiting for a court. Places like The Pickleball Hall allow players to reserve court time online or by telephone. 

Open play is another option where you pay a fee and just show up. With open play, people rotate in and out and teams usually change each time a new game begins.

Pickleball courts are sprouting up around Long Island and nationwide. The website Pickleheads.com and its app that can help locate a court near you. It’s a great resource to help locate courts close to home or while traveling. At the present time, there are about 15,200 searchable locations listed on pickleheads.com and it continues to grow. 

No matter what age you are, if you want to play a sport that offers fun, friendships, exercise, and accessibility give pickleball a try. Join the action and see what the craze is all about.