A cool morning in Surprise, Arizona, you can hear paddles striking balls several streets away from the Happy Trails pickle ball courts.
“There are 15,000 pickle ball players in this area,” a woman educates me as she sells new pickle ball paddles and takes names for her E-mail list at her vendor stand by the entrance to the courts.
This morning, while much of the park sleeps, men over 50 warm up, talk strategy, stretch, get their game faces right. Once individual games start there are paddles slammed into the ground, curses, and strained expressions. All the results of the pairings are written down on a bracket board by the scorers table. This is a tournament to crown the Happy Trails Pickle ball Champions in doubles, men over 50, 2015.
Pickle ball goes down on a small court with lots of stretching and reaction, strategy and competition. Even old guys don’t lose their desire to crush other old guys, even if they all have beers after the tournament and talk about good shots whenever and whomever they came from.
Having your name engraved on a silver cup becomes for some, at some point in their life, a great prize. Bragging rights can be some of the best.
After watching the tournament, I still don’t know where the name pickle ball comes from?
Nobody here looks like a cucumber.