PICKLEBALL is described as a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong.
The third Barrington Coast Pickleball Challenge will be held on Saturday at the Iron Arena (Taree Basketball Stadium). This will be the first time the arena has been used for pickleball.
At the time of going to press 22 players have nominated and Sheila Capperauld from Hallidays Point Pickleball Club, the hosts for the challenge, said there's room for two more.
Read more: Pickleball starts in Old Bar
Hallidays Point players will make up the bulk of the field but there'll be others from Tuncurry, Taree and possibly Old Bar, where a club has just started.
Matches start at noon and run until around 2.30.
Work has started on giving the sport a permanent home in Taree at the Taree Tennis Centre in Commerce Street. With the assistance of MidCoast Council some unused courts are being refurbished for pickleball.
Rain has delayed the project, but Sheila hopes the courts will be in play soon.
There's already some interest in the sport here, with matches played at the Taree PCYC. However, Sheila is confident when the new facility is complete more players will become involved.
"We'll be more visible and we have a banner to put up. People will see us playing and hopefully want to join in,'' she said.
Sheila introduced the sport to the area a touch over three years ago.
"I was holidaying in Florida and saw it played there,'' she said.
Pickleball is huge in the US, there's something like 5 million players. They say pickleball is the word's fastest growing sport that nobody has heard of.
"Pickleball is huge in the US, there's something like 5 million players. They say pickleball is the word's fastest growing sport that nobody has heard of.''
Sheila was keen to get the game going here and purchased some equipment. However, after arriving home she was surprised find that other than Sydney and Newcastle, the game had little profile in the State.
So she founded the Hallidays Point club.
"We started with 14 players, now we're up to 55,'' Sheila said.
Matches usually run for about 10 minutes, with the winner the first to 11 points.
"We're an older group - our average age is 66, so we prefer doubles,'' Shiela explained.
"But there are singles games.''
The club had a few homes at Hallidays Point, but matches are now played on Saturdays on the Diamond Beach netball courts. Clubs have since started at Forster-Tuncurry and Old Bar, with Taree expected to be the next in line.
While it's generally a social outing, Sheila said some of the Hallidays Point players are preparing for the State championships to be held in Sydney next month.
Iron Arena was chosen as the venue for Saturday's challenge with an eye to the future. When the stadium redevelopment is completed that will include the addition of two more basketball courts, Sheila said it will be a perfect venue for a regional pickleball championship.
No decision has been made as to what night games will be played when the Taree facility is ready, although Sheila expects it would be on a weekend.
"There are also lights there, so when they're hooked up, we'll be able to play in the evening,'' she added,.
"That'll be wonderful.''
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