SPA interviews new members

Andrea Molberg

Pickleball keeps growing – and fast. SPA (SaddleBrooke Pickleball Association) now has over 700 members, 20 of whom participated at the USAPA Nationals VII tournament in Casa Grande this November, where there were 895 participants (including players and clinics attendees) and 2,038 matches.

What is it with Pickleball? I interviewed some of SPA’s newest members, because I wondered what makes this sport so popular that Minnesotans play the game on converted ice rinks, Facebook fans have almost reached 4,500, and places to play pop up in Finland, the West Indies and New Zealand.

Here’s what I learned:

SPA member No. 699 Glen Petersen played tennis for 50 years and got fascinated when he watched Pickleball being played at a Sun City Grand tournament. He began playing himself at an Edmonds, Washington, fitness center and moved in March to SaddleBrooke where he can play in the sun. As he explained, “You can spend half a day playing golf and maybe have one or two good shots. You get a lot of action and satisfaction in an hour and a half playing Pickleball.” Glen is eager to take advantage of the advanced assisted play instruction for Rec and 2.0 players offered by SPA.

Errol Watson, member No. 697, who moved here from Treasure Island, Florida, learned about Pickleball from a SaddleBrooke newspaper and took a couple of lessons a year and a half ago. He enjoys the competition and being able to do something well.

Tina, wife of member No. 698 Chad Wolfe, told me that after renting here last winter and finding out how friendly the SaddleBrooke community is, they built a home in Unit 49. Their neighbor, Frank Mucklo, an excellent 3.5 player, introduced them to the sport. Tina admits she plays almost every day, loves Pickleball’s fast pace, and finds the people “so welcoming, generous, and nice.”

Phil Johnson, SPA member No. 700, played tennis forever and turned to Pickleball when suffering from a shoulder injury. His sister plays the game a lot in Surprise, Arizona, and Phil and his wife, who also plays both play Pickleball and tennis, have had fun with the grandkids up at the Preserve courts. This hiker, prospector, and off-roader moved here in 2004 from the Seattle area. Phil “likes sports” and is a regular gym member. He says, “When I can’t play tennis, I’ll play even more Pickleball.”