Part ping-pong, part tennis, game grows in popularity
If you’re looking for a fun sport to play, Ken “Pickleball Ken” Marquardt said he knows one where you can’t go wrong.
“Everybody can play pickleball,” Marquardt said.
“Pickleball is just like tennis only smaller, just like ping-pong, only bigger,” he said.
Pickleball is a racquet sport played with solid paddles and a perforated ball that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis.
There was only one place in Denver to play the sport back when Marquardt first started playing in 2010. Now, seven years later — and with plenty of encouragement from Marquardt himself — there are 71 places to play in the Denver metro area.
Three of these are located in Westminster and one in Thornton.
Westminster Recreation Center, located on Sheridan Boulevard, offers drop-in pickleball Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-5 p.m. Players sit in chairs lining the side of the court and chat with each other while waiting for their turn to play in one of the four courts.
Rules are similar to tennis and can be played by singles or doubles. All serves must be made underhanded and the receiving team must let the ball bounce once before they return it. If they do, the serving team has to let the return bounce once as well.
After that, teams can hit the ball before or after it bounces. They can only hit the ball before it bounces if they are at least seven feet from the net, however.
Points are scored by the serving team and the game is played to 11 — as long as the winning side wins by two points.
New sport, new people
Pickleball isn’t just about health and exercise. It’s also about creating friendships, healing wounds, and helping others.
This article was contributed by Megan Crumley, a former journalist in the Denver Metro area, who now resides in Cañon City, CO.
I met Megan by chance while resting under a shade tree after playing skinny singles for about an hour in the brutal afternoon sun. She was picking up some litter and happened to walk past.
We talked about pickleball for awhile when she told me that she wrote an article about this Pickleball Ken fellow up in Denver. Coincidentally, Ken happens to be the 2018 winner of the Pioneer Award for the Great Plains Pickleball Region.
This fortuitous encounter prompted me to ask Megan if I could use her article on our new website. I said that I would give her credit and would ask for the necessary permissions. She said yes, and that she would send me the article, and she did.
— Robbie Wall, Great Plains Pickleball Region Webmaster and USAPA Ambassador for Crestone, CO, and Saguache County CO