There is a new game in town that gives tennis a run for its money.

Scotts Valley Parks & Recreation proudly adds pickleball to its Skypark courts, painting blue lines over those white ones used for tennis.

Though it’s similar to tennis, pickleball is played on a court that is approximately half the size of a standard tennis court — which is more similar to a badminton court.

Where a traditional tennis court accommodates one game with four players, the pickleball space can host two games with eight players, and can be played with singles, or doubles.

The game is only similar to tennis in the sense that it involves hitting a ball back and forth. For example, pickleball has its own rules, scoring conventions, and gear. Rackets are paddles, and are more akin to those used for table tennis, and the whiffle ball that is bounced between the players is made of hollow plastic with holes in it.

Overall, the gear is lighter than that for tennis, and there is less running involved in pursuit of the ball. Because the game is more concentrated, it offers the added benefit of being less time consuming.

If one is competitive, expect the match to last 20 to 30 minutes. Novices and people playing just for fun may find themselves completing the game in just 15 minutes.

Marcia and Dan Bliss are facilitators for Scotts Valley pickleball. The Blisses used to play tennis, but now opt for pickleball because it has a lower impact on the body.

“I played tennis for 25 years, and my knees started giving out on me,” said Dan Bliss, who claims that pickleball saved his spirits.

“I found this and it’s a complete replacement,” he said. “I can play still.”

Yet, despite pickleball being easier on the body, it’s still a workout. Expect to get the heart rate up and break a sweat, for real.

Marcia Bliss said that Scotts Valley Parks & Recreation added pickleball to its array of activities, after the city council encouraged them to do so.

“Pickleball is a fun and easy game for all ages,” she said. “It can also be quite challenging and competitive.”

Options for Scotts Valley pickleball include drop-in, leagues, and tournaments. The drop in time at Skypark is on Saturdays, from 9 a.m. to noon.

The Blisses emphasized that all ages and skill levels are welcome to play. They expect a lot of beginners in Scotts Valley for now, as the word has only begun to spread about the sport.

Beth Black and Terry Long are pickleball players from the Santa Cruz Pickleball Club — a collective that’s been around for approximately four years. They said that in Santa Cruz, there are more than 100 people that play routinely, and are confident that pickleball will take off in Scotts Valley as well.

“We haven’t found anybody that doesn’t like it,” Black said, after a match with the Blisses.

Long has been playing pickleball for approximately 20 years. Originally from Seattle, he learned about pickleball because that’s where the game originated.

“Everybody feels like pickleball is part of this bourgeoning community,” he said.

According to Long, his whole family engages in the sport, with both kids growing up with it. He loves the social aspect of the game and has previously held charity events at his home that were centered around pickleball.

“It’s a fun sport for kids because of the learning curve,” Long explained. “In tennis, it could take you years to learn how to rally. In pickle ball, it’s a matter of days. Tennis can be frustrating to learn, especially for children.”

The game’s history dates back to 1965, when Washington State Representative Joel Pritchard — who was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1970 — made it popular.

To keep things simple, the group in Scotts Valley will provide paddles and balls for people who come out to try it. If one is inclined to buy their own gear, a pickleball racket can be purchased for about $50.

It’s only $4 to drop in and try pickleball, so contact Marcia Bliss mabliss6@comcast.net for more information and give that paddle a swing.

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