Game for all ages

KALAHEO — Pickleball is a social sport.

“There is a lot of fun, laughter, energy, and people making noise,” said Donna Kriese of British Columbia, Canada, Tuesday. “This is a game for everyone. Seniors come for exercise, and grandparents can play against their grandchildren and have a great game.”

Kriese said when they learned that Kauai hosted pickleball, she and her husband Ed packed their pickleball rackets so they could play here.

The Canadian couple was part of the three dozen people spending their morning at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

“We usually have about 30 regular people who show up on Tuesdays and Thursdays,” said Jack Hodges, the volunteer district ambassador for the U.S. Pickleball Association. “Today, we even have people from Princeville because they wanted to play and their facilities are being worked on.”

Hodges will lead a free pickleball clinic hosted by the County of Kauai Department of Parks and Recreation from 9 a.m. to noon on Oct. 31 at the Kalaheo Neighborhood Center.

During the clinic, Hodges will go over how the game is played, and will loan out equipment. Participants are encouraged to wear court or tennis shoes and bring water.

“This sport has really taken off since April,” said Sara Betancourt of Princeville. “I like coming to Kalaheo because the stronger players play here. I’ve only been playing for five months and already won four tournaments, one each in San Diego, Idaho, Northern California, and Reno, Nevada.”

Betancourt said she has been a tennis player since she was 17 years old so the transition to pickleball was easy because the game is played like tennis, but on a smaller court, making it easier to learn.

“I had injured my shoulder playing tennis when I got into pickleball,” Betancourt said. “I learned from one of the clinics given by Jack, and in two months, I had already won my first tournament. This is an excellent sport where anyone can learn at any age.”


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