How to Convert Tennis Courts to Pickleball Courts

Years ago David wrote this article for the USA Pickleball Association’s newsletter. We’re getting more and more questions on how to convert tennis courts to pickleball courts, so we thought we’d reproduce David’s article in our blog.

If you have underutilized tennis courts – or basketball courts for that matter – you might want to turn to an up-and-coming sport that is uniquely suited to adding new life to old courts, pickleball.

Pickleball is a fun court sport played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a whiffle ball and wood or composite paddles about twice the size of table tennis paddles. It can be played indoors or outdoors, is easy for beginners to learn – but can develop into a fast paced, competitive game for experienced players. In addition to being fun, the game has developed a reputation for its friendly and social nature.
Pickleball can be played as singles or doubles. New players can learn the game quickly in a single session. No special apparel is needed – just something comfortable and appropriate for a court sport. Equipment is inexpensive and easily portable. The game can be played by all ages and is particularly popular in school P.E. programs and senior citizen hangouts.The popularity of pickleball is really being driven by seniors. The reasons they enjoy pickleball in many ways parallels the reasons that they can better utilize many tennis courts:
  • They have lots of free time and can use the courts in peak as well as off – peak hours
  • Many former tennis players find pickleball a good “step -down” sport when tennis becomes too demanding
  • Pickleball is easy to learn so new players can be introduced to it and playing in minutes
  • Because the pickleball court is considerably smaller than a tennis court more courts can use the same space, allowing for more players at one time.

Court Conversion – One Pickleball Court Per Tennis Court

There are two paths to converting existing courts to pickleball courts: shared use and dedicated use.

With shared use simply add pickleball lines to an existing court and players of both sports can use the facility. This may cause some initial confusion, but players quickly get accustomed to the lines.

The simplest way to add one pickleball court is to just lower the tennis net to 34″ in the center.   The center strap could be used to bring the net down to 34 inches in the center. If the tension on the net cord is very tight, the tension might have to be loosened slightly by adjusting the ratchet on the net post.  Another option is to purchase a Tennis Net Adjuster to lower the net for pickleball or you can do it yourself using two eye hooks, two expandable sleeves and some tie down straps, but first make sure and you  have permission to drill a couple of holes into the court surface .

Lines can be painted on the court for pickleball. Then the court can be used for both tennis and pickleball very easily. Because of the size of the tennis court, you might want to have some sort of temporary barrier for the balls so that they don’t have to be chased the full length of the tennis court.

How to Adjust a Tennis Net to Regulation Pickleball Height

How to Adjust a Tennis Net to Regulation Pickleball Height

 

diagram of One Tennis Court Converted into Two Pickleball Courts

One Tennis Court Converted into Two Pickleball Courts

The diagram above shows 2 pickleball courts laid out on a tennis court. A standard tennis court pad is 60’x120′. The minimum recommended size for a pickleball court is 3 0’x60′. That is exactly one fourth the size of a standard tennis court pad. Therefore, it is possible to put 4 pickleball courts in the space of a tennis court except for the possible existence of angled corners that are on some tennis courts.

If the corners are angled, then two courts can fit very nicely as shown. If the conversion is temporary or it is desired to be able to continue to use the court for tennis, then portable net stands can be used for the pickleball courts and the tennis net can be left in place as a backstop for the two pickleball courts.
Diagram of how One Tennis Court can be  Converted into Four Pickleball Courts

One Tennis Court Converted into Four Pickleball Courts

The diagram above shows four pickleball courts on a tennis court. Note how the position of the pickleball courts has been shifted by two feet to allow for the angled corners of the tennis court.  That leaves only 6 feet between the pickleball baseline and the tennis net. That is a little tight, but works in a pinch.
If the tennis court does not have angled corners, then move the courts 2 feet so that there is an 8 – foot distance between the pickleball baseline and the backstops. Note how the lines are made to coincide as much as possible with the tennis court lines in order to minimize line confusion for the players. Note also that this layout does not allow room for fences between the side-by-side courts.
Permanent Courts
This diagram (below) shows 2 tennis courts that are permanently converted to 8 pickleball courts. If a single tennis court is converted, just refer to half of the diagram. Angled corners are squared off if necessary. If the tennis court is a standard dimension of 60’x120′, that only allows 5 feet between the pickleball sidelines and the fences. That should be considered the minimum dimension. If space and budget allow, add some additional overall width. That will give the more active players more room and also give room for seating on the courts.
Conversions are happening across the United States with great success.
Diagram of how two tennis courts can be converted into eight pickleball courts

Two Tennis Courts Converted into Eight Pickleball Courts

Stanley Volkens, USA Pickleball Association Local Ambassador for Southwest Ohio, and seasonal resident of Arizona, surveyed the 16 tennis courts in Middletown and found them greatly underutilized. Stanley approached the park board with a plan to convert two under-utilized tennis courts into 6 beautiful new and regularly used pickleball courts. The Park Board gave Stanley and his pickleball players permission to convert 2 tennis courts over to 6 pickleball courts. The dimensions worked out perfectly. The courts have 14 ft. between them with 8 ft. at the ends. The tennis nets are the backdrops between the ends of the courts. The courts are laid out north and south. The pickleball players did all the work and paid all the cost ($3,956 total). They presented the new courts to the city with a ribbon cutting ceremony with park board and city council members.Paul Barksdale and Rex Lawler, Local Ambassadors for Greater Terre Haute, Indiana played on the new Middletown courts in the SW Ohio Senior Games and were so impressed that they brought a similar plan back home. They found underutilized tennis courts and proposed a shared cost plan to their park and recreation department. The players raised $1500 to cover nets, posts, and other supplies and the park and recreation department agreed to provide the labor following the same step-by-step process and court format used in Ohio.In Port Angeles, Washington two deteriorating tennis courts were converted into six pickleball courts. Originally donated to the city by the Elks in 1951, the $30,000 conversion cost was
shared by the Elks and the city. The courts are now often maxed out with 24 players at a time having a fun and getting exercise.

The USA Pickleball Association has over 300 local ambassadors who are ready and willing to assist with the development of more pickleball courts and community involvement efforts.Pickleball is a great sport for seniors but is also popular with all ages. Just witness a heated inter-generational game and you will see why this sport with a funny name is becoming so popular.

By David Johnson, partner at PickleballCentral.com and former Media Relations Chair for the USA Pickleball Association.

 

 

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Enrique Ruiz

In this segment of “Meet the Pros”, I had the pleasure of chatting with Enrique Ruiz. Ruiz is well-known in the pickleball community, and is passionate about this sport!  To watch Enrique in action, take a look at our video page that features Enrique Ruiz at the 2012 USA Pickleball Association’s National tournament.
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PC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • ER: Dennis Forbes Memorial Open- Gold
    2014 Grand Canyon Games Mixed Age & Open Gold
    2014 Tournament of Champions Mixed Doubles Gold
    2013 Mixed Doubles- SeaTac Open Gold
    2013 San Diego/Melba- Gold in Men’s Age & Open Doubles
    2013 Seatac Open Singles Gold
    2012 & 2013 Open Singles National Champion
    2010 & 2012 Men’s Open Doubles National Champion

PC: What paddle do you play with and why?
ER: I play with a Pro-Lite Blaster. I play with it because it feels right and works for me! Also, here’s a shout out to my sponsor who has always taken good care of me and all my pickleball needs: Pro-Lite Sports!

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PC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?
ER: I learned from the late Harry W. He first introduced me to pickleball at an Elementary school in Hillsboro, Oregon, where we learned our basics from Larry Seekins. He’s now out of Billings, Montana.

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PC: What’s your preference – playing indoor or outdoor?
ER: I am an indoors player. I only play outdoors 2 or 3 times per year at tournaments, and I do not like it. I enjoy major competition which is why I enter in these outdoor tournaments, but I do not like it!

PC: Do you like singles or doubles better? Why?
ER: I enjoy mixed doubles, singles and men’s doubles all the same. I view them as all different and I enjoy the challenge to try to figure them out.

PC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?
ER: My favorite place to play is indoors at my friend’s court in Hillsboro, Oregon.

PC: What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?
ER: I don’t think I have a secret sauce! However, over time, I have learned to focus on placement and control and not so much on power. I’ve been blessed with many opportunities to face the top players in this sport and for me, control has always given me better results than playing a power game. I must point out that I don’t consider myself a “pro” and nobody will ever hear me say that I’m the best. I just get lucky from time to time.
However if I had to give out some advice. . . Listen to the more experienced players but only apply what fits to your playing style and ignore the rest, and always go out there respecting the game and your opponents. Lastly, I personally learn more from the close matches that I lose than from the ones that I win. This of course is how I view it and it’s simply my humble opinion.

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PC: What’s your day job?
ER: I am a private contractor which allows me flexibility to travel to the biggest tournaments throughout the country.

PC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?
ER: I struggle to make time to play. It’s a difficult task to manage a full time job and to balance family time and the activities/hobbies that we all love. Often I don’t get to play at all but for now, if I end up playing one time per week then I am a happy camper.

PC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?
ER: Nope, I don’t have any. Over the years playing versus the top players in pickleball, I’ve realized that you either have it or you don’t! Luck will only take one so far.

PC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?
ER: My goal is to maintain my level of competitiveness while playing in fewer tournaments. With the birth of our baby, I plan to travel less and to focus more on my family.

Family Photo

PC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?
ER: I am from Portland, Oregon and am known by all my friends & partners as ” El Condor” [“The Condor”]. This well-suited nickname was given to me because of my amazing ability to switch hands, and my wingspan which allows me to cover a lot of space on the pickleball court.

PC: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?
ER: Over the years I have been lucky enough to have played in some highly competitive matches, both winning some and losing some. However, I am extremely thankful to the Lord up above, because pickleball has brought me some lifelong friends and to me that’s priceless!

Thanks, Enrique!

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Matt and Brian Staub

Pickleball talent runs in the blood of this pickleball playing father and son duo.  Brian and his wife moved to the pickleball hub of The Villages in Florida and their son Matt followed. Matt and Brian Staub both achieved a 5.0 player ranking.  The Staub’s offer pickleball lessons, clinics, and video analysis through their website, PoachPB.com.  The Staub’s were kind enough to answer some questions for us.

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PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • Brian: USAPA Nationals 35+ Doubles Gold 2012, 2013
  • USAPA Nationals Open Doubles Gold 2013
  • USAPA Nationals Singles 50+ Gold 2012
  • Tournament of Champions Doubles Silver 2014
  • Atlantic South Doubles Gold 2014
  • Matt: USAPA Nationals Singles 19+ Bronze
  • Tournament of Champions Doubles 5th 2014
  • Atlantic South Doubles Gold 2014
  • Atlantic South Singles Gold 2014

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

Staub’s: Champion Aluminum We like the soft feel that gets even softer as you play with it.

 

 

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

Staub’s: My parents (Ralph and Delores Staub) moved down to the Villages about 12 years ago and we first saw it on a visit one year, we have been hooked ever since.

PBC: What’s your preference — playing indoor or outdoor?

Staub’s:   This is the Sunshine State, we don’t use indoor courts.

PBC: Do you like singles or double better? Why?

Staub’s:   Doubles because there are so many interesting matchups and patterns you can use, it really is a constant chess match.

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PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

Staub’s: We really enjoyed our first trip to Ogden this year. It’s amazing to see the mountains since we don’t have anything like that in Florida. It’s also nice to get out of the humidity and only use one shirt per day.

PBC: What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

Staub’s: I don’t think it’s much of a secret that we both like using our backhands; an easy tip to help your backhand is start using the continental grip.

PBC: What’s your day job?

Brian: I’m retired from UPS with 28 years of service.

Matt: I am a pharmacist.      

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

Staub’s: We try to get 6 hours a week, mostly drilling. There is ALWAYS time for exercise.

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PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

Brian: Drinking mustard (standard yellow).

Matt: I wear my lucky orange socks.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

Brian: Win tournament of Champions

Matt: Win USAPA National Championship

PBC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?  

Brian: I am married to my wife, Patty, and we have 2 sons – Matt and Chase. I played college tennis, and Patty was a college gymnast.

Matt: I’m single until Caroline Wozniacki comes to her senses. I played baseball in college.

Thanks Brian and Matt for sharing your passion for pickleball with us!

Want to see this father/son duo playing? Click here!

by Miranda

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Wes Gabrielsen

Wesley Gabrielsen is a pickleball pro from McMinnville, Oregon. Wes, as he’s more commonly called, has found what works for him, and it’s paying off! From the paddle he plays with to his pre-game breakfast, Wes knows exactly what will make him successful.

Pickleball Champion Wes Gabrielsen at the net with a Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball paddle

PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

  • WG: 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Mixed Doubles
  • 2013 Nationals Gold Medal 19+ Men’s Singles
  • 2013 Nationals Silver Medal Open Men’s Singles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Men’s Open Doubles
  • 2014 So Cal Classic Gold Medal Mixed Open Doubles

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

WG: I play with Pro-Lite’s Magnum Graphite Stealth. It was the first non-wooden paddle I ever used, and I love the weight, overall feel and touch it provides me. I’m more of a touch player rather than a power player so it fits my style of play well.

Magnum Graphite Stealth pickleball Paddle purple with yellow burst

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

WG: I played pickleball in high school P.E. classes but back then I played “boom-ball.” It was a great cross-training activity for my tennis game. I also audited a pickleball class back in college, but was first introduced to competitive, dinking-based pickleball by my current mixed doubles partner Christine Barksdale (former mixed doubles partner in tennis). We played on a USTA Mixed Doubles Team together in 2010 and by January of 2011 she got me back into pickleball and I have been hooked ever since!

PBC: What’s your preference — playing indoor or outdoor?

WG: I prefer playing outdoors as it is more like tennis for me. I feel that I can shape and spin the ball more effectively outdoors and look for any chance I have to play outdoors rain or shine. Living in the northwest, however, we play indoors from October-April and I do enjoy playing inside as well.

PBC: Do you like singles or double better? Why?

WG: For the longest time I preferred singles much more than any other event. It was more like tennis for me, although you couldn’t pay me a million bucks to play singles in tennis right now! Singles in pickleball reminds me of net play in the doubles game of tennis, so I preferred it. Now, however, I would have to say mixed doubles is right up there with singles for me in terms of my favorite method of play.

Wes Gabrielsen with female pickleball partner on the court  arm and arm holding MGS pickleball paddles

PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

WG: In the northwest we are blessed with many places to play, and I prefer a few. The “Paranto Palace” (fellow player Steve Paranto’s backyard court) is one of my favorite places to play. It’s a great, relaxed setting for good play and friendship. I also enjoy playing at our community park several times a week with my pickleball workout partner Tim Gardner.

PBC: What’s your secret sauce? Any tips for players?

WG: Preparing for each tournament. I am of the philosophy that drilling and keeping up on your skills is vital to one’s success in a tournament. Practice matches are vital to one’s success in tournament play, but drilling and skill development are what keep me fresh before tournaments. Before nationals or another big tournament, I make sure to workout 3-4 days a week by mostly conducting skill and fitness drills.

Wes Gabrielsen on the metal podium at National Pickleball Tournament holding the Oregon state flag

PBC: What’s your day job?

WG: I currently have two jobs. I am a high school history teacher at McMinnville High School (7th year of teaching overall), and am the Associate Head Coach for the Women’s Tennis Team at Linfield College.

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

WG: During our offseason from tennis I play 4-5 days a week, for a total of 12-15 hours. During tennis season, I play one day a week for 3-4 hours.

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

WG: My go-to breakfast the morning of a tournament: Greek Yogurt and Granola with Honey. It gives me the right energy to compete well during the days play. In terms of rituals, I just make sure to get into the proper mindset pre-match and get a good long warm up in the night before and morning of competition. Something I use to instruct the tennis players I coach (and use myself when I compete) is that I expect to win every match I play. This is a mindset of confidence, not being cocky, and allows a player to settle in and just play their game. Having this mentality allows me to focus on my shots and strategy, and nothing else.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

WG: I think I speak for all tournament players when I say I’d like to win every event I enter! But that’s not realistic. I always focus on playing my best one match at a time. My goals for the upcoming months are to get in good court shape before competing in nationals in November. Six events in a week is a lot of play!

Wes Gabrielsen at the net involved in a pickleball game

PBC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?

WG: I am single and have no kids. That’s why I have all of my free time to play 8-10 tournaments during the summer!

PBC: Do you have any final words about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

WG: I honestly don’t like to categorize myself as there are so many great players across the country. My goal is to go out, compete with good sportsmanship and class during each match, and to hopefully come out on top. Pickleball is such a great sport and there are so many exceptional players out there. I hope to continue to be successful in the coming years as I continue to play this great game!

Thanks, Wes!

Click here to see videos of Wes Gabrielsen!

by Miranda

The Pickleball Palace – A Private Indoor Pickleball Court

While searching for the most beautiful pickleball courts in Washington State, we received a call from Terri Ross in Port Ludlow.  She confessed about her addiction to pickleball, and, she told us that she had built her own indoor pickleball court and christened it the “Pickleball Palace!”  Can you be any more of a fan of pickleball than Terri Ross?  Terri loves to play pickleball.  She played with her mother 30 years ago.  As pickleball has grown in popularity, the Port Ludlow Resort built some beautiful outdoor pickleball courts.  Since Terri and her husband built an indoor tennis court for resort members to keep playing tennis in the winter, they were asked, once again, if they might consider building an indoor pickleball court as well.  This request was what spurred their imagination to consider building an indoor pickleball court.  They had land next to their house, so they scraped off the existing building and began to plan.

 

Pickleball Palace Port Ludlow,WA

“My husband is an engineer, so, we really had no problems in the design and construction of our ‘Pickleball Palace’.” They applied for a building permit.  They chose Sound Building Systems in Port Ludlow, WA to design and build the building. The metal building guy couldn’t envision what they wanted at first.  He had never heard of pickleball!  Together they mapped out what was needed for the space around the court.

They took into consideration that the biggest complaint around the outdoor courts was that there wasn’t enough room.  The building dimensions, not including the viewing room and restrooms, is 65’ X 30’.   They began by talking with players to get an idea of how high the building had to be.  The roof ended up being 25 feet over the net, with beams 22-25 feet over the net.  The beams needed to go length-wise instead of crosswise and had to be longer to create an arch over the net.

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The building is insulated, but not heated and there is no air-conditioning. There are 2 big doors to open for ventilation and a door to the viewing room.  The playing surface is a gravel base with asphalt on top.  Then it was painted with the Trucourt tennis court paint in green and red, similar to the finish on their indoor tennis court. The lighting is 1000 watt, ballast bulbs on a slow-start transformer. The lighting is PERFECT.  Some say you might even need to wear sunglasses when playing inside.  It took 4 weeks for the installation of the Pickleball Palace.  Terri and her husband have nothing but good things to say about Sound Building Systems.

Pickleball Palace Cake

Over 60 folks are playing pickleball these days in Port Ludlow.  Terri has added a refrigerator, a popcorn machine and a jukebox in the viewing room of their Pickleball Palace.  They expect to be pretty busy playing pickleball this winter.  They have folks who are new to the game playing Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and the more serious men’s group, with a gal or two, playing on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

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Pickleball backyard indoor court waiting area

 

 

 

Pickleball Palace lounge area

 

By Eliza

Meet the Pickleball Pros – Carolyn Ebbinghaus

We’re featuring Carolyn Ebbinghaus today as we continue on in our “Meet the Pros” series. Carolyn eats, sleeps, and breathes pickleball and has found success at making her life revolve around our favorite sport!

Pickleball Pro Carolyn Ebbinhaus of Traverse City, Michigan with a yellow pickleball paddle in her hand

PBC: Can you list for us your major wins so we can correctly introduce you to our readers?

* Won the Gold in Women’s singles at the Nationals 2012, in my age group 50+

* Won silver, in Women’s doubles, age 50+, Nationals 2012.

* Won two bronze medals, Nationals 2013, one in singles- age, and one in mixed doubles- age 50+

* Won 5.0 mixed doubles open, 2014, at the Meijer State games

PBC: What paddle do you play with and why?

CE: I use the “Legacy” (the Legacy paddle by Pickleball Inc.). It gives me the extra power I need for put away shots.

Legacy composite pickleball paddle yellow paddle with blue accent color and edge guard

PBC: What’s your pickleball story? How were you introduced to pickleball?

CE: I began playing pickleball at our local YMCA in Traverse City about 7 years ago. Only about 5 or 6 men played, and it looked very tough. I began playing every chance I could, and loved everything about the game.

PBC: What’s your preference — playing indoor or outdoor?

CE: I love outdoor play. Here in Michigan, we get about a three month window of good weather, so I get outside and play every chance I get.

PBC: Do you like singles or double better? Why?

CE: I like doubles, singles wears you out faster.

PBC: What’s your favorite place to play? Why?

CE: I like playing locally, at the new courts we just had put in at the old YMCA!

PBC: What’s your “secret sauce”? Any tips for players?

CE: Out dink your opponent, let them make the mistake.

Carolyn Ebbinghaus on the metals platform at National Pickleball Tournament

PBC: What’s your day job?

CE: I teach Pickleball lessons and sell paddles and supplies at Pickleball Outfitters, where I am President.

PBC: How many hours a week do you play? How do you make time to play?

CE: I play out three hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. I do most of my business work in the morning, and then work around lessons and playing. I have a great job!

PBC: Any lucky rituals before a big tournament?

CE: I wear two different color socks. Always white, but the top band colors do not match, and I do that for luck.

PBC: Do you have any pickleball goals you’d like to share?

CE: My goal is to try to win another gold medal at the Nationals. The competition is tough, so any medal, is a goal.

PBC: Do you mind sharing about your personal life? Are you single? Married? Kids?

CE: I have a wonderful boyfriend, and I have a terrific 22 year old daughter. Both of them enjoy the game. I have a great, supportive family.

PBC: Anything else you’d like to share about your experience being one of the best pickleball players in the world?

CE: I have met wonderful friends in pickleball, all of which would give me a really hard time if I truly believed this last question. They do know,

however, that I have gone out and given it my best try, and hope to keep playing to the best of my ability, to be one of the best in my age group.

Thanks again, Carolyn!

by Miranda

Baby Boomers Return to College for Pickleball! The Western Institute for Lifelong Learning

When you think of a “typical college kid”, what do you picture? An 18-year old walking around with an oversized backpack and a pile of books? Perhaps a young adult with a look of pure excitement on her face, walking across the stage on her graduation day?

Would you picture a 68-year old married woman, with two kids and 7 grandchildren, with a degree she received over 40 years ago?

This is just an example of a typical student you’d meet at the Western Institute for Lifelong Learning, or WILL. According to their website, “WILL offers a lifetime adventure for continued intellectual discovery in a supportive, expansive, and informal learning environment – for eager learners of any age”. The idea for this sort of program stemmed directly from the local townspeople, who had seen similar ideas in other communities.

WILL snag logo

 

 

Offering 70 courses this fall, ranging from a one day hike to a semester long program, WILL is a unique opportunity for students who may not fall into the “traditional” age group. For only $75 per semester, students can take as many classes or activities as they want. Held at Western New Mexico University, inside the city limits of Silver City, the program is a convenient way to have both an active mind and an active body.

June Decker, the facilitator of the pickleball course, is thrilled that pickleball has caught on in her community. In 1979, Decker was teaching at a university in Vegas, where a coworker introduced her to pickleball. For years, they joked that they were the only two in New Mexico who knew how to play! After moving to Silver City from Vegas, Decker was determined to start pickleball as a part of the New Mexico Senior Olympics. Once they started playing at the state level, the cities wanted to join in on the fun as well. Decker had the skillset and the drive – all she needed was a facility. That’s when the WILL program came along. The Western New Mexico University already had good pickleball paddles and indoor pickleball balls, giving her a great opportunity to share pickleball.

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Once pickleball was introduced, the community caught the pickleball craze! Decker jokes that she “never would have believed I would create a community of addicts”.

Pickleball is one of the most popular classes at WILL. When pickleball was first offered as a course in the fall of 2013, registration for the 18-person class was full within minutes of opening. There were so many people on the waiting list that the decision was made to create a second class section. This year, in addition to the beginner’s class, there is also an ‘Intermediate’ class offered for those who took the class the previous year. Each class lasts for about an hour, and there are thirteen sessions per semester (once per week).

Thanks to the large number of pickleball fans, Western New Mexico State now offers community play two days per week. There’s always enough space, thanks to the 6 outdoor courts and the 4 indoor courts in the university gym. Decker said, “I am very glad we have a pickleball community here so I have people to play with, and I’m glad that people enjoy this great sport.”

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Decker keeps her advice for new players simple: “See the ball, hit the ball. If you think too much, you tend to over-teach, and then the [new student’s] heads are spinning!”

As the conversation ended, Decker started laughing while she joked, “We’re keeping senior citizens off the streets!”

Thanks for sharing your story with us, June!

Photos courtesy of http://www.will-learning.com/

by Miranda