Pickleball creates athletic community for all ages

By getting out on the courts and learning to play pickleball, many in the local community are finding enjoyment and making new friends.


Photo by Thao Ung

Get it, girl…Returning the ball to her opponent, pickleball player Lana Ung competes in a singles match at a park in Glen Mills, Pa. Pickleball can be played with one player against one, or two against two.

To get outside, be active and have fun with friends and family, people of all ages are playing pickleball, which is a quickly-growing sport similar to tennis.
Pickleball player Dorothy Reed said that the game is a combination between “ping pong, badminton and tennis.”
Senior Brendan Hunsicker said that the ball is like a Wiffle ball.
According to senior Ryan Schewe, a player serves the ball diagonally from the back of the court so it lands in the opposite box, where it needs to bounce before an opposing player can hit it back.
“Then on the return, you’ll also have to wait for it to bounce once, and then you hit it back,” Schewe said.
Players enjoy the game for many reasons. “I enjoy just being outside, especially,” junior Kathryn Yaglenski said.
Schewe said that when he was younger, pickleball was a way to “connect” with his grandparents. “[Pickleball] was something active that we could learn with the whole family and we could all do together,” Schewe said.
For others, pickleball is an opportunity to build community. “Getting to know new people and teaching them how to play is one of the reasons I like to play,” pickleball player Keith Reed said.
Pickleball player Deb Poulsen said that many older people who used to play tennis have switched to pickleball. “It’s such a nice game for any age because it doesn’t have that intense running,” pickleball player Jeanette Dructor said.
According to Poulsen, most people play two against two. When the serving team makes a mistake, the serve rotates to a different player. “You can only score points when you serve,” Yaglenski said, “so a lot of times, games go on forever.”
Pickleball player Brandon Shettsline said that he enjoys the “competition.”
Some appreciate the challenge of learning a new sport and seeing improvement over time. “It took me like a week or two to just understand the score,” Shettsline said, “and now I’m teaching people how to get better.”
Each pickleball game is played to 11 points. “You have to win by two points,” Poulsen said.
Poulsen said that strategy plays a role in pickleball, including the placement of shots. “If you’re not understanding the patterns of how [your opponents] play, you’re not going to be able to move around fast enough within your court to receive,” Yaglenski said.
Schewe said that he enjoys the strategic part of pickleball. “I like racquet sports because they do require a level of skill to be good at. It’s active, but you’ve got to think when you’re doing it, too,” Schewe said.
According to Shettsline, there are many local places to play, such as Palmer Park, Parkside Park, Robert Keller Park, Unami Creek Park and Franconia Park.
“Sometimes I go to the YMCA to play on Tuesday nights,” Shettsline said.
Yaglenski plays at Upper Salford Park, where there are pickleball lines painted on tennis courts.
While Hunsicker said that the game can be “fast-moving,” Schewe said that it’s easy to pick up.
Poulsen said that a lot of people play down in Florida. “We have this big whiteboard and you have beginner, intermediate and advanced little discs that you can put up on the board,” Poulsen said.
According to Poulsen, she is an intermediate player. “If I went over, I would take that disc, put it in a column and sign my name that I’m ready to play,” Poulsen said. “Then you need three more people to sign with you to play.”