...in the beginning

Local man wants to share his love of the game

 

 

By Bruce Gallaudet

 

Enterprise staff writer

It's not tennis. It's not quite badminton. And although it uses a Wiffleball, it has nothing to do with baseball.

It’s called pickleball. And While it hasn't yet found a foothold in Davis, if local man John Cook has anything to do with it, the one-size-fits-all game soon may have a place to play.

I started looking for sites, asking people if they were interested," Cook recalls I used to ride my bike almost every day past Covell Park. Rarely, rarely did I see  anyone playing tennis on those courts.

It seemed to me to be a nice place to play because there's a water fountain there, restrooms, shade and nobody was playing on those courts."

 

Cook earlier this year appealed to Davis Parks and Community Service

Superintendent Samantha Wallace for help in designating a pickleball site Wallace, according to Cook. was quick to investigate his recommendations.

 

On June 18, the Recreation and Park Commission unanimously endorsed Wallace's and Cook’s idea to provide pickleball’s no-volley lines" and signage at not only Covell Park, but at the Slide Hill Park courts.

Tonight, the City Council will be asked to approve $500 to handle those chores.

So what IS pickleball?

Fun for senior citizens on down to kids of all ages, pickleball is played with two players on a team it covers a court the size of those used in badminton (20 by-44 feel): and game-specific paddles are smaller than tennis rackets but larger than ping-pang paddles.

It uses a specially designed plastic ball with holes. The paddles have short handles and are solid, not strung like tennis racquets.

The net is 34 inches tall ” two inches lower in the middle than a tennis net.

Until a year ago, Cook, 75, had mostly been a resident of either Woodland or Davis since 1976. He spent last year at a Fairïield retirement community where he was introduced to the low-impact but highly competitive game.

Returning to Davis last fall, Cook became an advocate for one of the nation’s fastest-growing pastimes.

Cook points to the USA Pickleball Association website (www.usapa.org), where it is claimed that more than 400,000 People play organized ) pickleball nationwide.

There are city-run Programs in Vacaville, Sacramento, Elk Grove and Rocklin, as well as in points north and south of Davis. If Cook’s efforts take off, this city will have Yolo County’s first official pickleball set-up.

Starting this week,

Cook and playing partner Katie Lawler will conduct drop-in sessions each Wednesday at 8:30 am. at Covell Park where Cook has already laid blue no-volley zone lines.

He’s bought paddles and a bunch of balls.

Our drop-in sessions are for anyone who wants to learn or play. We have plenty of equipment to lend to new players, says the former UC Davis internal auditor.

It’s a very social game. People get out and get acquainted with each other It’s a popular game because it’s easy to learn. With 15 minutes of instruction (a player) is ready to go.

So does Cook see his efforts turning into pickleballmania?

The long-term goal is that within a year I’ll have at least 50 people and I can go back to (the city) and say “We have 50 who are playing regularly at the drop ins, we have people playing on the weekends. Could we take those tennis courts at Covell Park and make them dedicated pickleball courts? Notes: It seems that Cook’s undertaking will get an enthusiastic green light from City Council members at tonight’s meeting that ironically will include weighing the future direction of discussion regarding the needs of local sports facilities. Pickleball, according to the USAPA website, was created by three fathers from Washington. Apparently their kids were bored with available games. The name, says Cook, comes from lore that suggests one of the dad’s dog’s name was Pickle and he’d retrieve every errant shot: “This is Pickle’s ball, they’d yell”, Cook explains. Interested in playing?