GAINING IN POPULARITY

GAINING IN POPULARITY – Pickleball is played on outside courts at the East Tawas Community Center, pictured above, and at the Tawas City Park. In the Tawases, the Tawas Area Pickleball Association now has more than 65 members.

EAST TAWAS – Tawas Area Pickleball Association (TAPA) is hosting two beginner pickleball lessons next week for those who would like to learn the game.

The lessons will be held on the outdoor pickleball courts at the East Tawas Community Center, 760 Newman St., from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 12 and from 9 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 13.

TAPA was established in 2016 and has more than 65 members. Officers include Lois Gartland as president and secretary, Pam Jacques as vice-president and Mike Whyte as treasurer.  

Gartland said the goal of TAPA is to provide a fun, healthy, recreational activity for all Tawas area residents and guests, to promote the growth and development of pickleball in the Tawas area, to have a structure/people designated to speak on behalf of the club, as well as having a forum/officers to review ideas, concerns and suggestions. 

Dues are $10 per year and help cover expenses for balls, nets and other equipment that is needed. 

“TAPA is a positive group of people who enjoy welcoming new players, and visitors as well as supporting our friends, local schools and businesses in our area,” Gartland said. “We have sponsored and supported several local area pickleball tournaments, training sessions and opportunities to learn and play pickleball.  

“Several players represent the TAPA as they compete in a variety of pickleball tournaments around the state, in Indiana, Arizona and in Florida.” 

Gartland said a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping-pong, pickleball is a fun paddleball sport that can be played as singles or doubles, and at any age. It can be played indoors or outdoors. 

“It’s easy to start but hard to stop,” she said.

According to Gartland, pickleball was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, a short ferry ride from Seattle, Wash. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities are credited for creating the game. She said pickleball has evolved from original handmade equipment and simple rules into a very popular sport in the USA, Canada as well as many European and Asian countries.

Gartland said pickleball came to the Tawas area back in 2010 when Tawas Area High School teacher Jolene Grusecki and friends visited LeeAnn and Paul Becker, who were also teachers, in Arizona and learned to play there. Upon their return to East Tawas, they bought paddles, put chalk lines on the tennis courts at Dewey Durant Park began pickleball play in Tawas.

She said at that time, physical education teachers Julie Decker and Drew Decker incorporated pickleball in their classes. A couple years later, when the fall months came along, a couple of the local players including Cliff Senter and Milt Kelsey approached the East Tawas Park Board to play inside at the East Tawas Community Center. 

“The park board approved this pickleball play and the rest is history,” said Gartland. “Although with the current COVID-19 restrictions, our beautiful East Tawas Community Center gymnasium is temporarily closed.”

However, she said pickleball is played outdoors on Monday, Wednesday and Friday mornings from 9 to 11 a.m. and Thursday evenings from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Outdoor courts are currently available at the East Tawas Community Center and Tawas City Park.   

Gartland said players from East Tawas, Tawas City, AuGres, Oscoda, Hale and Sterling as well as those visiting from all areas are playing pickleball on the East Tawas courts.

For more information or to register for the beginner lessons,  contact Gartland at mlgartland@charter.net, or by calling 362-6088.