Pickleball courts open for anyone; lessons offered for beginners | News, Sports, Jobs

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Pickleball enthusiasts have several places to play in Lock Haven. The sport is growing in popularity among athletes of all ages.

LOCK HAVEN – There are many more activities at Hanna Park and local residents want you to be a part of them.

Thanks to the efforts of a local group of pickleball enthusiasts – with support from the City of Lock Haven – there are four freshly made pickleball courts in the park along State Route 120 for everyone to enjoy.

Pickleball, founded in 1965, combines elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton into one sport. Two or four players use solid wood or composite bats to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a wiffle ball, with 26-40 round holes over a net. The sport shares features of other racquet sports: the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis, with a few modifications.

Never played? don’t worry dr Paul Ballat, a former Lock Haven University professor who chaired the Department of Health and Physical Education, is here to help you learn about this popular sport.

“It can be played at any age and the learning curve to get where you need to play is not great.” Said Ballat.

Ballat said he plans to hold classes in court in the evenings as well, around between 6pm and 7pm. However, he is open to finding other times to meet if needed.

Ballat encourages those interested in participating to visit www.playtimescheduler.com or download the Play Time Scheduler app. Simply enter your location and you will be shown available pickleball courts in the area and information about possible lessons or games.

“We have four locations in the county where we can play pickleball,” Ron Haffley, who has helped increase the sport’s popularity in the county, said. “It was the locations of McElhattan, Mill Hall, the YMCA and Hanna Park.”

Ballat is offering lessons for beginners from this Wednesday, June 29th.

“What we are looking for are people who want to learn to play”, Said Ballat. “We will set up additional times in the game scheduler as needed.”

Haffley said he hoped the lessons Ballat teaches would help bring more people together. So far, about 70 to 80 residents attend the weekly pickleball games on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Haffley and Ballat would like to see that number grow or see more activity at other times of the day.

“We’re trying to introduce people to the game so they can get together with friends and family and maybe even get involved.” he said.

Ballat provides the racquets and balls for the lessons, but those who wish can also buy their own.

Anyone who might be discouraged because of their athletic ability shouldn’t pass up a chance to learn pickleball, Ballat said.

“One of the nice things about this sport is that you can play with people of different abilities.” he said. “I always tell people pickleball is like playing ping-pong, but you stand on the table.”

Haffley noted that pickleball is also a nice social sport.

“You get to know people from the area and other cities”, he said. Haffley noted that they had a visitor from fly-in during last Wednesday’s games.

“She just used the planner and realized we were playing,” he continued.

The journey to these lessons began in the fall of 2021. Haffley approached the city council to use the underused tennis courts at Hanna Park for pickleball. A large group of players had already played in the Y but they wanted a different room.

With the council’s blessing, the unofficial group raised $20,000 while the city brought the courts back to life. Haffley said the $20,000 could have covered all previous expenses, including line painting, buying nets and a storage shed.

“We would like to thank the City Council, Mayor Joel Long, City Manager Greg Wilson, Public Works Director Tony Stopp, City Planner Abbey Roberts, Community Life Director Kasey Campbell.” said Haffley. “And a big thank you to all our volunteers who helped prepare the pitches for the game.”

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