All about the sport taking over Plano’s courts

PickleBall court. Photo by Kathy Tran.
Photo by Kathy Tran.

On any given summer day, people of all ages around Plano can be found in groups of two to four, hanging around pickleball courts ready for a game.

There are so many pickleheads in Plano, in fact, that the city of Plano is planning to open more pickleball courts with an amended lease agreement that allows the public to play pickleball at the Plano Sports Authority at Carpenter Park starting June 19.

Some of pickleball’s growth can be attributed to its accessibility. The game can be played by those in a wheelchair or prosthetic, including youth, older adults and others for whom more aggressive sports are difficult.

Currently, there are 12 indoor pickleball courts at Plano recreation centers and 32 outdoor courts at PISD school sites and High Point Park Tennis Center.

Planoites aren’t the only ones obsessed with the sport. An estimated 10% of Americans are pickleball players.

For those wanting to become involved, Plano Pickleball Club, a Facebook group for players, has more than 2,000 members. Run by Suzanne Atkins, the club hosts clinics, tournaments and helps players connect with others for meet-ups.

One of these players, Karen Nielsen, finds that the sport and community easily became addicting.

“My family will attest that I’m pretty obsessed with pickleball,” Nielsen says. “I love the game, the strategy, the technique, the exercise — all that. But it’s the people who are the best part. Everyone is so nice and friendly and always happy to be there.”

Nielsen took her first two-hour class at High Point Tennis Center with friends in April 2022 with instructors Suzanne Atkins and Laurie McDaniel. A little over a year later, Nielsen is playing four to five times per week as a member of three weekly leagues, participating in tournaments, taking lessons and drill classes and contemplating pickleball-themed vacations.

“Pickleball is a social activity as much as it’s a sport. It’s commonly played in an open-play format where 50 or even more players show up and rotate games and partners,” says Brandon Mackie, co-founder of Pickleheads, an online platform that matches picklers with other players in their area.

“You also almost always play pickleball as doubles, which leaves many opportunities to socialize and meet players.”

What you need:
Wiffle ball
Pickleball paddle
A court with a net
A friend (or friends) to play with
Pickleball Rules

Serving: Players must keep one foot behind the backline while serving.
Players must serve with an underhand swing.
Serves must be aimed at the service court located diagonally over the net and clearing the no-volley zone.
Service starts from the right-hand court, with only one fault allowed.
When playing doubles, both players get to serve once before the serve is taken over by the opposing team.

The game: The pickleball must bounce once on each side before the player may hit the ball at least one time from the start of the game. Afterward, players may volley the ball provided they are not within the designated no-volley zone.
A player or team scores a point only while serving.
A pickleball game is played until a team reaches 11 points.
Winners must win by at least two points.

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