IOWA CITY– Some people enjoy getting themselves in a pickle.
At least, North Liberty residents Bob and Diana Hardy do. The retired couple has been instrumental in introducing Pickle Ball, a popular recreational sport for all ages, to other seniors in the area. The Hardys are looking for more people to join in.
“Pickle Ball is similar to tennis, but on a smaller court,” said Diana. “It is actually easier than tennis, because it doesn’t require the running or skill level that tennis does.”
Pickle Ball is always played as doubles on a surface the size of a badminton court. Players use wood or graphite paddles to volley a whiffle ball back and forth over a 3-ft. net, and games are played to 11 points. Pickle Ball can be played outdoors or indoors, wherever court dimensions can be marked and a net can be set up.
The Hardys learned the game while wintering in Florida. They became interested in setting up regular games, and approached Michelle Buhman of the Iowa City/Johnson County Senior Center, who helped them launch a little Pickle Ball pilot project.
Now, the Hardys meet a small group each Monday and Thursday at Mercer Park at 1 p.m. for a few friendly games of Pickle Ball.
But like most games, more people make it more fun.
“We enjoy introducing the game to others,” Diana said. “And unlike tennis, it really doesn’t take long to become a good Pickle Ball player. I’ve seen people learn the game, and from their first game to their third, I can’t believe the improvement.”
Regardless of skill level, Diana wants to encourage anyone to try out the sport. The Hardys and the small group already playing Pickle Ball in Mercer Park invite others to call for more information, or to join them at Mercer Park on Monday and Thursday afternoons at the northwest tennis courts. Contact Diana Hardy at (319) 367-4067.