pickleball group at Friedman JCC

Pickleball at Friedman JCC

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America! Pickleball is a paddle sport with combined elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong, and played on a doubles badminton court. The net is similar to a tennis net, but is two inches lower. The game is played with a hard paddle that is similar to table tennis and usually made up of graphite or composite. The ball is comparable to a Wiffle ball.

The game can be played in either singles’ or doubles’ matches.

Pickleball Schedule:

Mondays –        Intermediate/ Advanced Pickleball Play – 8am to 1pm

Tuesdays –      Beginners Pickleball Lessons – 9am to 10am

     Recreational Pickleball Play – 10am to 1pm

Wednesdays –  Intermediate/ Advanced Pickleball Play – 8am to 1pm

Thursdays –      Recreational Pickleball Play – 10am to 2:30pm

Fridays –            Intermediate/ Advanced Pickleball Play – 8:30am to 1pm

Pickleball knows no age…. The fight for fourth place

The spotlight at the Friedman JCC Spring Slam Jam Pickle Ball tournament recently was on the medal winners. And rightly so since they all played great and deserved to reach the podium.

When 77 year old Joe Czarnecki asked me to be his partner in the 3.5 division, I agreed but figured we might be the oldest team in that field and perhaps outgunned. “We held our own,” he said after our seven games, pointing out that we only lost 11-9 to the gold medal team. That team featured a 26-year-old and a veteran player 15 years younger than Joe.

Czarnecki, who is also the Pickle ball Ambassador in the area, taught me a valuable lesson. He suggested that we try just getting the ball over the net to start and see if the other team was nervous so we could let them make the mistakes.

Normally I like to play full speed ahead unless an obvious dinking opportunity arises, but he must have been a good influence because for the most part we embraced accuracy and angles over power. We married playing under control with targeting any weakness Joe pointed out. And before we knew it we had three wins and two losses prior to the silver and bronze medal teams winning over us.

Playing with Joe was like having a playing coach on the court with me. Watch the ball come off the paddle and don’t take your eye off it until your paddle hits it, he advised. It is a common mistake to look where you are going to hit the ball instead of keeping your eye on the ball.

Or he would identify the weaker player on teams we did not know and suggest we hit it to that side. That worked when we came back from a big deficit to tie an out of state team at 8-8. It did not matter that they eventually won to claim fourth place because we were the happiest first place team in the second division of the eight-team field. At least that is one way to look at it. And best of all, we got to play Bob Thomas whom I have long admired as a tournament hardened veteran and his fun-loving partner James Donnelly. They were widely considered the best 3.5 men’s team out of the Wilkes Barre Y. When I saw they were the next challengers, I smiled from ear to ear and said: “This is going to be fun.” End result thanks to Joe’s advice on how to attack any weaknesses was a rare victory over that duo.

So what is the point? No matter what age you are, if you enjoy exercise and need a ball for motivation, pickleball is good cardiovascular and a barrel of fun and laughs. And JCC is one of the finest venues in the region. You don’t have to enter a tournament to have fun. But if you do, find a partner you feel compatible with and it is bound to be a celebration no matter who wins the battle for fourth place.

(It is also infinitely important not to be critical of a partner if they make a mistake. Just play on. Even if you don’t verbalize criticism, just feeling unhappy about a partner’s shots sends out bad vibes and changes the energy of the experience. Fortunately, the players at JCC are filled with good vibes.) – Rege