2014-07-03 / Sports

Women organizing pickleball meeting in Suttons Bay

By Mike Spencer
Of The Enterprise staff


SUTTONS BAY Township women, from left, Nancy Anderson, Lisa Wehr, Kathy Dinkel and Dawn Benson are organizing a meeting Tuesday to discuss building pickleball courts at Herman Park. SUTTONS BAY Township women, from left, Nancy Anderson, Lisa Wehr, Kathy Dinkel and Dawn Benson are organizing a meeting Tuesday to discuss building pickleball courts at Herman Park. Four Suttons Bay Township women love picklelball so much that they want to build a couple of courts in their own backyard.

Kathy Dinkel, Nancy Anderson, Lisa Wehr and Dawn Benson, who play on the only public courts at Northport, are organizing efforts to build two of them at Herman Park.

They’ve scheduled a meeting Tuesday at 6 p.m. under the covered picnic pavilion at the North Park boat launch in Suttons Bay.

Dinkel, Anderson, Wehr and Benson don’t mind the trip to Northport, but they say they have found it difficult to find adequate playing time in Northport.

“We play there three times a week,” Dinkel said. “We try to go when there isn’t a big group there.”

“The courts in Northport have proven the popularity of the sport,” Wehr said. “They’re a very busy place these days and we’d love to emulate the success they’ve achieved.”

The women say picklelball is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation and Leelanau County is starting to get into the swing of things. Glen Arbor Township is in the planning stages for outdoor public picklelball courts and indoor action goes on each Saturday at The Leelanau School and Glen Arbor Town Hall.

Northport opened its public courts off Seventh and Ransom streets in the fall 2012.

The Suttons Bay women say courts at Herman Park would help alleviate court congestion in the county. Building two courts would cost between $38,000 to $43,000.

“All we need is 40 people with $1,000 and we’d be set,” Dinkel said.

Herman Park had four tennis courts constructed last year and there are plans to build a pavilion. There are also soccer fields at the complex.

Pickleball is a mix between several different racket sports. Players use ping pong-like paddles to hit a whiffle ball over a 34-inch net. The court is the size of a badminton court, and can be played with either singles or doubles.

“Most of your picklelball players are ex-tennis players and can’t manage the full court anymore,” Anderson noted.

“It’s easy to learn and you can learn in the first five minutes,” Dinkel said. “And if you have played any tennis at all, or any racquet sport, you can learn the very first day you are there.

“The scoring is a little tricky, but that’s the fun part of it.”

The smaller court size makes pickleball a low-impact sport with highimpact health benefits.

The smaller courts means less running around and more laughs, the women said.

“There’s a lot of laughs,” Anderson said. “ People do silly things with the ball.

“The ball gets a spin and goes up and over your head or the wind can catch and take it the other way.”

“Pickleball is most popular among the over 50 age group,” Wehr said. “Because many Suttons Bay and Leelanau County residents are active retirees, this sport gives them another way to stay fit, healthy, socialize and have fun.”

According to Spectrum Health, pickleball improves mental health, balance and agility. Players also reap the benefi ts of regular exercise, which includes reduced risk of heart attack, chronic disease and increased energy.

The USA Pickleball Association reported only 803 registered courts in May 2010. That number tripled to 2,386 courts by May 2014.

“The scoring is a little tricky, but that’s the fun part of it.”

The women are encouraging anyone interested in learning about picklelball or raising funds to build two courts to attend next week’s meeting.

Wehr said township officials said there have been picklelball inquiries so there should be a lot of interest.

“We don’t know who all of the people are so hopefully the meeting will draw them together,” she said.

For more information, call Dinkel at 944-8511 or email Lisa Wehr lisa@sodoit.com.

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