Serving up smiles

Ryan Cooke
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New sport making waves in Colchester County

TRURO – At the ripe age of 84, Frank and Hazel Locke are not in the business of slowing down.

Frank Locke returns a serve as his wife, Hazel, looks on during a pickleball match on Wednesday. The 84-year-old duo was playing pickleball at the Douglas Street Recreation Centre as part of a pilot program in Colchester County.

 

The pair could be found on Wednesday afternoon at the Douglas Street Recreation Centre rallying with another duo several years their junior. Frank, a stickler on the rules and a sniper on the serve, manned the backcourt while Hazel guarded the front.

While both are avid enthusiasts of tennis and table tennis, today they were playing a new game – one that has been catching on around town lately.

The sport is pickleball, a racket and ball sport that may resemble tennis, but has the intricacies of table tennis.

“We play ping pong nearly every night on our table at home and we play tennis as well,” said Frank. “So this is a good cross between.”

Wednesday marked the fourth and final pilot run of the pickleball program in Colchester County. The recreation departments of Bible Hill, Truro and Stewiacke, as well as the county, have run the venture jointly.

The idea was developed in part by Larry Bridges after he saw the sport being played in Florida.

“For the seniors down south, it’s grown like crazy down there,” he said. “It’s a big way for them to stay active.”

The game presents ideal conditions for seniors to stay in shape. A light ball and racket, as well as a short court make it easy to handle.

“Compared to tennis, it’s not as strenuous,” Bridges said. “Doesn’t matter how old you are, you can carry a good game.”

And carry a good game, they do. Despite many new faces adjusting to the rules of the game, the competition level picked up quickly. Hazel rallied back and forth in tight to the net with a newcomer opponent until one of them eventually hit wide. It was all smiles as Hazel walked back to the line to continue her serve.

“We really enjoy it,” she said. “We like to stay as active as we can.”

Hazel, a tennis player – and a good one, her husband adds – heard about the game through her nephew, and decided to give it a try for herself. Frank, a former hockey player, isn’t slowing down anytime soon, either.

“We’re athletic people,” he said. “We always have been, and this is a great way for us to keep it up.”

With more than 80 participants during the four sessions, the organizing committee is now looking into a permanent location for the games, said Cathy von Kintzel, of Truro Parks, Recreation and Culture.

The group became interested in pickleball after it was a part of the 55-plus Games in September of last year. Proceeds from the games were used to purchase three sets of paddles and nets.

“We want to get the venue locked down as soon as possible so we can keep up with the momentum we’ve gathered,” said von Kintzel. “People seem really enthusiastic about it.”

The organizing group is looking for anyone interested to be involved to contact their local recreation representatives, particularly if they are interested in taking on a leadership role.

Organizations: Douglas Street Recreation Centre, Colchester Recreation Services

Geographic location: Colchester County, Stewiacke, Florida

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