Looking for a new game? Centennial Sportsplex says consider pickleball

Wednesday, June 27, 2012 at 4:30pm

It’s a sport not many people know about, but it has started to gain popularity throughout Middle Tennessee and much of the country. It combines skills used in tennis, badminton and ping-pong.

It is pickleball, and it is played on a court with measurements similar to those used in badminton. Play includes singles and doubles competition.

Tennis pro and instructor Blain Smith will conduct on the game during an open house, 5-9 p.m. Thursday at Centennial Sportsplex.

“My college tennis coach, Trish Hodgson, introduced it to her P.E. majors,” Stephanie Lane, who taught pickleball in grades 5-9 when she was a physical education instructor at David Lipscomb middle and high schools, said. “We loved it so much that we’d beg her to let us stay late and miss our next class to play more.”

Lane is the former Stephanie Shouse, a standout tennis player at Battle Ground Academy and Lipscomb University.

She has won a number of tournaments in the sport, including two in Utah, along with ones at Naples, Fla., and Lenoir City, Tenn. At Hurricane, Utah, she won gold medals in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles.

“I heard about an adult Pickleball league at A-Game in Williamson County, and I went to check it out,” Lane, the wife of Lipscomb associate athletic director for development Andy Lane and a member of the university’s Hall of Fame said. “I couldn’t believe my eyes, there were about five to seven who came out to play regularly on Fridays. Then the Williamson County Parks and Recreation Department started allowing open play one night per week with a cutoff of 24 players. It has become so popular.

“Tennis players have an advantage playing the sport because the strokes and footwork are already in place.”

Serve 'em up.