Duane St. Clair started playing pickleball about four years ago when he was looking for an activity during the winter months. “The first time I played it I said ‘This is a game I really want to play’,” says the retired Columbia resident, who now plays the game four to five times a week.
When he goes on vacation, St. Clair and his wife, Janis St. Clair, choose destinations based on pickleball courts. “If we can’t play pickleball, chances are we won’t go there,” he says. Four years ago, he and Janis rarely found a court, he says. “Now any major town in the country has pickleball.”
Since founding the Howard County Pickleball Association (HCPA) two years ago, St. Clair continues to see growing interest in the sport—which is similar to tennis but is played on a smaller court with paddles instead of rackets that whack a ball resembling a whiffle ball. The association currently has more than 150 members with three to four people joining each week, says St. Clair.
The sport is particularly popular among older adults. It is not unusual to see pickleball at retirement communities, he points out.
Locally, the Dancel YMCA and the Howard County Department of Recreation & Park’s Meadowbrook Athletic Complex, both in Ellicott City, offer pickleball. Over the winter, the Columbia Association hosted a pickleball league and is looking into turning two tennis courts at the Owen Brown Tennis Club into six pickleball courts.
Pickleball, St. Clair says, often beats the gym when it comes to fun. Mainly, he says, “because you are with your friends.”
For more information, go to How¬ardcountypickleball.org or email St. Clair at Duanestclair@gmail.com.