SPA helps new Pickleball players

SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association players

SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association players

Andrea Molberg and Don Guillette

Just as the sport of Pickleball has taken off across the country, our SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association (SPA) has rapidly grown to more than 700 members. Over six years ago, when the club’s membership was around 200, Membership Chair Judy Cummings and Don Guillette created Demo Day, Introductory Lessons and the Assisted Play program to help SaddleBrookers learn this fun game with the funny name. The program was successful beyond all expectations. SPA members rated as recreational or 2.0 players (typically newer members) now comprise 270 players, which translates to 1/3 of the club’s total membership.

Learning a new sport requires guidance and practice; however, once new SaddleBrooke pickleball players progressed through three hours of introductory and three hours of assisted play lessons, they were on their own without a structured program. To address this abandoned “newbie” situation, last October SPA Board members Leigh Beaty and Tom Kruse asked Don Guillette to chair a program for advanced beginners and Don enlisted the assistance of Bob “Kosmo” Kramer, current demo and intro lessons chair.

Guillette and Kramer developed the Advanced Assisted Play Lesson Program for rec/2.0 players. The first week 16 enthusiastic players attended their clinic. The word quickly spread and now an average of over 30 participate weekly. Thankfully, the SPA board responded by dedicating all six courts at Ridgeview on Wednesdays from 1:00 to 2:30 p.m. for the program, even though court availability is currently at such a premium.

Advanced Assisted Play Lessons give the participants the opportunity to meet new friends and increase their skills. APPL helps rec/2.0 players improve their serve, dink, volley, forehand, backhand and court positioning. To increase confidence and fun, Kosmo and Don streamlined the evaluation criteria.

No program could be successful without a dedicated group of members, including board members, who unselfishly volunteer their time for the benefit of others. Thanks to Guillette and Kramer plus Jean Labovitch, Shawne Cryderman, Larry Gray, Leigh Beaty, Deb Westwater, Lois Violanti, Joe Rink and Gordon Odell.