Due to high user demand, residents of Sun City Oro Valley will see the development of three new pickleball courts, estimated to be completed in late summer. 

The project will supplement two existing courts that were constructed in 2009 near the Sun City Social Hall. The courts are expected to cost $290,000, the funding of which is derived from Sun City’s capital contribution fees, paid by the buyer or seller anytime a property is sold in the community. 

The new courts will be located where the current bocce ball courts exist. Prior to removing the current bocce ball courts to make room for the new pickleball courts, four new bocce ball courts will be built in another area on the same lot. 

“This approach will allow uninterrupted bocce ball and pickleball play,” said Bob Mariani, general manager of the Sun City Oro Valley (SCOV) Community Association. 

Mariani said the structure of pickleball has made it difficult to accommodate all those who wish to play.

“A large percentage of pickleball is played in groups,” he said. “As a result, there is considerable demand at times. Now that we have so many residents and guests playing, it’s difficult to get on the courts during the demand times.”

The new courts, which will be located adjacent to the current ones, will not only look to alleviate some of that demand, but also allow for tournaments to be held, Mariani added. 

The game has grown in popularity in Sun City, where there are well over 200 members in the pickleball club. A number of residents and guests also play on a casual basis. 

While Sun City’s restaurant and golf course are open to the general public, the pickleball courts remain available only to community residents, their guests, and renters who have been issued activity cards. 


How to play

Invented in 1965 in Bainbridge Island, Wash., pickleball is considered a combination of three sports: tennis, badminton, and ping pong. The courts, at 20x44 feet, are smaller than a tennis court. Using a racquet with a short-handled paddle constructed of graphite or composite material, the ball – similar to a plastic whiffle ball – is served underhand from the right-hand service square – the paddle below the waist and foot behind a designated line – to the diagonal opponent. The ball must not bounce on the serving team’s side, and the serve must clear the seven-foot non-volley-zone in front of the net and land in the diagonal service court.

The returning opponent must then let the ball bounce before hitting it back over the net. At that point, the serving team must too let the ball bounce before returning. Following that, though allowable, there is no requirement to let the ball bounce before hitting across the net. 

Faults occur if the ball is hit out of bounds, the ball doesn’t clear the net or is volleyed from the non-volley zone, or the ball is volleyed before a bounce occurs on each side. 

pickleball can be played in singles or doubles. 

It’s known as an addicting game.

“Some people complain about the noise of the sport, but once you get hooked on it, it’s music to your ears,” said Lyn Mason, treasurer of the SCOV pickleball Club. 

The game is usually played to 11 points, though sometimes sanctioned medal matches are played to 15 points. The first side scoring 11 points and winning by two is the victor in the match. Points can only be scored by the serving team, and games usually complete within 15 minutes. 

“I think that’s one of the reasons it is so popular,” said Mason. “I mean, how long does it take to play a round of golf? I think another reason it’s popular is that you are closer in proximity to your teammate. It’s more social.” 

The 6th annual Nationals pickleball competition is being held in Buckeye, Ariz. Nov. 2-9. Further information about game play and competitions can be found at www.usapa.org and   www.usapa.org/events.

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