Pickleball is a sport enjoyed by millions of people worldwide, and in 2019 the Mercury Bay Pickleball Club was established right here in Whitianga by some keen locals. The club has not looked back since and over summer this fun paddle sport has been attracting record attention from new players throughout the Mercury Bay and beyond. In this article read about Pickleball and how you can get involved with this popular sport.
First up, what is Pickleball?
Pickleball is a fun, social and friendly sport. The rules are simple and the game is easy for beginners to learn, but it can also develop into a quick, fast-paced, competitive game for experienced players.
It's a cross between tennis, badminton, and table tennis. It's played on a badminton doubles-sized court using paddles and a light hollow plastic ball with holes. It can be played indoors or outside on a modified tennis court. The net is slightly lower than a standard tennis net. Play is with two (singles) or four (doubles) players. Doubles are most often played.
Summer growth of Pickleball in Whitianga
The recent summer months saw a keen interest from visitors who were members of Pickleball clubs throughout New Zealand looking for facilities and games in Whitianga while they were on holiday. This demand for Pickleball playing time resulted in three sessions scheduled a week at the Mercury Bay Area School gym over parts of the summer period.
The Mercury Bay Pickleball Club
The beginnings of the Mercury Bay Pickleball Club started off-shore. In April 2019 local couple Rachel & Brook Johnstone visited the small seaside town of San Pancho, Mexico on holiday and were introduced to the sport by American friends. It didn’t take long for the couple to become “hooked” to this unusually named sport. It turned out to be a lot of fun and they started playing every day for the following week! Returning home to Mercury Bay, Rachel found other interested locals and formed the club.
The sporting code of Pickleball reaches across the age divide. Youngsters are able to play against their parents and even grandparents, retirees getting or staying active, youth and everyone in between are able to easily learn and play. With close to 100 full time members of our club Pickleball is here to stay in Whitianga!
Rachel Johnstone, President Mercury Bay Pickleball Club.
The committee have worked promoting Pickleball and also raised funds to purchase equipment and line marking for the courts at the Mercury Bay Multi Sports Park. The Club's next big idea is to work on getting this facility covered and protected from the wind. This would benefit not only Pickleball users, but others sport such as Hockey and Tennis.
Pickleball Club partnering with Mercury Bay Area School
Over 2020, the Club spent 4 days introducing and coaching Pickleball to year 7-10 students. This has seen an increase in new members aged 10-15 years. The hand/eye coordination skills learnt and the fun all-inclusive aspect to the sport is a positive outcome for the students. Sports Coordinator Leisa McCleery and teachers have been enthusiastic and supportive in the open days and use of the school's gymnasium. The school now has enough equipment to teach Pickleball to 16 children at a time.
Would you like to try Pickleball?
Join the Pickleball members and come along to a Club night on a Sunday, Tuesdays (Terms 4 & 1) from 4-6pm and 3-5pm (Easter to Term 3 approx.) at the Mercury Bay Area School gym. Fridays are as demand dictates at the same times. Check the Pickleball Club Facebook page for Friday games. Outdoors games on the six court facility at the Mercury Bay Multi Sport park are also promoted via the Facebook page as they are weather dependant.
If you would like to get more information, to try a game of Pickleball or get involved by helping with fundraising or sponsorship visit during a game time or contact the club directly via the related link below.
Is Pickleball coming to your village soon?
The Pickleball club are working with Cooks Beach locals to get get four Pickleball courts marked up at the Tennis Club. Further down the track, the goal is for Matarangi to also have some outdoor Pickleball courts. Both Matarangi and Cooks Beach would be part of the Mercury Bay Pickleball Club.