Pickleball Tournament in Beach Haven Seeks Participants

Jul 26, 2017
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Enthusiasts of a sport that has been growing like wildfire on Long Beach Island are welcome to participate in a pickleball tournament Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 12 and 13, at the Nelson Avenue courts in Beach Haven.

Entry deadline is Friday, Aug. 4. The Saturday event features women’s and men’s doubles, while Sunday games will be mixed doubles. The format could be single elimination or round robin, depending on the number of teams entered.

Check-in time is 7:30 a.m. and the action is scheduled to start at 8. Age brackets are 19 to 49 and 50 and up. The fee is $25 for the first event, $5 for the second. Checks are payable to LBI Pickleball and can be sent to Andy Jones, 8 Cottage Court, Haven Beach, N.J. 08008.  

“I’d like to see us draw between 80 and 100 people,” said Karl Lombel, who is coordinating the event with  Jones. “Last year, we had a smaller informal tournament, but this year we’re going to go bigger and I think we have a good amount of people all over the Island who will want to join us.” 

Jones said the racket game, which combines elements of tennis, ping pong and badminton, is currently one of the fastest-growing sports in the U.S. On LBI, pickleball began drawing interest in 2013.

“It is played on a court about half the size of a tennis court, and the net is a little lower than a tennis court net,” she said. “It is also played with a Wiffle ball, so it won’t bounce very far.”

She said pickleball’s origins date back 50 years ago to Bainbridge Island, Wash., where state legislator Joel Prichard and friends began improvising a game featuring a badminton net, Wiffle ball and wooden paddles. She said the name “pickleball” was derived from Pritchard’s family dog, who was named “Pickles.”

Games are played on the Beach Haven courts from Memorial Day to Labor Day, and then move to St. Francis Community Center in Brant Beach during the off-season.

“You go to Nelson Avenue at 8:30 on a Saturday morning, there might be four people playing tennis, but there could be 40 to 60 people playing pickleball,” she said.

Beach Haven Councilman Don Kakstis said there is a $2 fee to play pickeball at Nelson Avenue from 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and 6 to 8 p.m. Tuesday. The rest of the time is free.

“Over the summer, we’ll probably draw about 2,000 to the courts,” he said. “We have around 40 people a day on the weekdays and 60 to 70 duirng the day on weekends.”  

Jones is also involved in pickleball activities at her offseason home near Allentown, Pa., as well as Bonita Springs in Florida during the winter.

“People of all ages can enjoy it,” she said. “And it doesn’t tire you out as much as tennis.”

“They’re very friendly games, but they can get competitive,” said Lombel. “There’s a social element that I think appeals to a lot of people. It’s a good way for friends to get together.”

For more information, call Jones at 610-737-7957 or Lombel at 610-291-5087.

— Eric Englund


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