Pickleball players/Wikipedia

The pickle ball craze has spread to Ventnor. After installing two pickle ball courts at the Suffolk Avenue recreation area earlier this summer, Ventnor Recreation will sponsor its very first Pickleball Tournament Aug. 31 and Sept. 1.

Ventnor City converted a practice tennis court into two pickle ball courts and held a ribbon cutting on June 12.

The game has nothing to do with pickles, except for the dog legend has it was named after, but seniors, youths and adults have latched on to the fast-growing sport because it’s easier to play and less strenuous than tennis.

The game was invented in 1965 by three men from the Seattle area who were looking to find something to do with their kids. Apparently, one had a dog named Pickles who kept running after the ball and that was the start of the craze.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, there are more than 4,000 pickleball courts in the nation and 2.5 million pickleballers playing in tournaments. Margate installed several pickleball courts at the rear of the municipal building last year. Other courts are located in Ocean City and Egg Harbor Township.

It’s a cross between  tennis, badminton and ping-pong. It’s played with a wooden or graphite paddle that’s bigger than a ping-pong paddle, but smaller than a tennis racket, and a plastic colored ball with holes like a waffle ball. The courts, both indoor and outdoor, are badmitton sized – just 20 feet by 44 feet with a modified tennis net that’s 36 inches high.

USA Pickleball Association Ambassador Pat Harringan, who volunteers to promote the sport in Ventnor, said there are often 14-20 people waiting to play at peak times.

On July 26, she asked the Board of Commissioners to consider restriping another tennis court to share pickleball or find a place to have an indoor court, perhaps in the building being erected to temporarily house fire apparatus at the recreation field on Surrey Avenue in Ventnor Heights. The recreation program taught more than 100 people how to play during clinics held this summer.

“It’s been well received in Ventnor,” she said.

“We’re happy to see it being used,” Commissioner Tim Kriebel said.

Players were able to join for the season for $50. The weekly fee is $15 and the daily rate is $5.

The tournament will be held 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 31 and 8 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 1 at the pickelball courts at Suffolk and Atlantic avenues.

The cost is $10 per team and is free to members. Intermediate to advanced teams recommended. Deadline to register is Aug. 24.  Based on sign ups, partners will be randomly selected from a hat.

Call 609-246-7595 for details or reach out to Pat Harrigan at the courts.

For more information about pickleball, see usapa.org


Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.