Now Experiencing: Pickleball - The Bend Magazine

Now Experiencing: Pickleball

Locals and neighbors from across the region are having a ball with a sport rapidly captivating our community, pickleball

Photography by Rachel Benavides

Locals and neighbors from across the region are having a ball with a sport rapidly captivating our community. Pickleball is a paddleboard activity combining elements of tennis, table tennis and badminton, and is essentially ping pong on steroids. Two to four people play pickleball in matches that last about 20 minutes per game, on average. Interested in picking up the sport but aren’t quite sure where to start? We sent two of our team members out to take pickleball lessons and report back on their experience for our readers. 

“Pickleball really is a sport all ages and skills can play and enjoy. If you haven’t tried it, get ready for a mix of tennis and ping-pong, with the hilarity of learning the “dink” game with a neon wiffle ball. A lot of laughs, movement and a low impact sport make this a great option for fun exercise. 

 Corpus Christi has several locations to pick up a paddle and play, with a Pickleball Headquarters at Al Kruse Tennis Center near downtown. The site boasts 10 outdoor, lighted, newly resurfaced courts with a full Pickleball shop, lessons, tournaments and an incredible Pickleball community. I was able to meet and take a lesson with Ronald Elizondo, who’s passionate about bringing this trending sport to our area. 

Unique to Al Kruse is the low cost to play ($3 court, $6 paddle) and the ability to learn and improve as a player, with the center being open seven days a week. It offers men’s and women’s leagues, private lessons and lots of clinics for beginners and advanced players. A free online scheduler allows participants to sign up to play along with their skill level, to grow and foster the community aspect of the sport. If you’re looking for a first-timer lesson, Al Kruse hosts beginner clinics every Thursday from 6:30 to 7:30 PM.”

Suzette James, Contributor

“You know how you sneak vegetables into your kid’s food because they don’t understand the importance of health? I do that with my exercise. I know it’s good for me, I just don’t want to know I’m doing it. Enter pickleball. 

If tennis and ping pong had a baby, it would be pickleball. The Corpus Christi Athletic Club offers members introduction/beginner classes with Coach Rebecca Pina. No special clothing was specified – I showed up in basic workout wear – and the paddle and wiffle balls were provided. Coach Rebecca started with the basics of hitting the ball and getting it over the net. She quickly separated two women and two men into doubles teams and had them play in the court behind us. They had already taken the class before and were a bit more experienced in the sport. 

The ‘more you play, the better you get’ rule really does apply. I remained with the coach and two other women to practice serving and getting comfortable with the volley. Pure fun ensued! Forget tennis and ping pong rules, pickleball has its own. Don’t question them, just follow them. The smaller court size meant I wasn’t sweating too much, but my heart rate was definitely up, so I was able to sneak in that exercise, have fun and learn something new all at the same time. I’d call that a win-win-win!”

Terrie Moore, Contributor