Ball game for all

Published 5:05 pm Friday, June 25, 2021

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Pickleball continues to draw fans to the sport


The court is small enough for any capable athlete to cover, but it takes some time to master the sport of pickleball, which has taken Austin by storm in recent summers.

Groups of locals have been playing the sport throughout town to pass the time and find some competition. One of the big draws of pickleball is that athletes of any age or ability can find a way to catch on and keep up if they put in the time.

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Stu Reimann is part of a small group of guys who usually play twice a week. The group was started by Bob Silbaugh.

“When I first started playing, I was playing against guys 75 years old and they danced me all over the course,” Reimann said. “You can mix young guys with the older generation and you can have a good game. There’s finesse, there’s hard hitting and you’ve got to be a little bit of everything to play this game.”

Reimann is now a veteran on the pickleball court, but new players are still welcome to give it a try. Josh McRae recently joined in the outings and he has learned quickly to watch for the drop serves and never hit a ball that is above the head.

“It’s a really welcoming community. People will teach you and they’ll take it easy on you for about the first game and then they’ll smack it at you. You figure out what not to do,” McRae said. “I’ve seen people play all over town. It would be fun to get the word out and maybe we could get a casual league going at some point.”

Adam Asornge has been playing pickleball for quite some time and he has seen the sport grow by leaps and bounds at IJ Holton Intermediate School and Ellis Middle School.

While most games are being played on tennis courts instead of regulation pickleball nets, the fun has grown throughout town.

“It’s kind of like miniature tennis, with smaller courts, hard paddles and hard balls. I would say it’s more accessible to a wider range of abilities. People who are new can pick it up fairly quickly and people who are good can play with people who are average players and have a decent time,”Asornge said. “Mobility isn’t usually an issue, so you can have a lot of older people playing. It’s a broad sport.They use it in schools and it goes all the way up to elderly people. It’s a very social sport and it’s growing fast.”

If anyone is interested in playing pickleball in Austin, they can check out the group’s Facebook page and request to be put on an invite list. Usually games are set for Wednesdays and Saturdays.