There is little doubt who won the “Outstanding Pickleball Community” award this week. Like in the days of Medieval Europe, when cold winds and snow whipped down from the north and lashed at the residents and church officials opened the massive doors of cathedrals for their relief, “Cardinal” Thomas Johnston, director of tennis at Sea Colony — a cathedral for tennis — announced that on Sunday afternoons, there will be four indoor pickleball courts opened at the Sea Colony Tennis Indoor Center from 2 to 5 p.m.
The cost will be $10 per session to the public, $5 for those enrolled in the Winter Tennis Program, and free for Sea Colony owners.
A maiden voyage was held for Sea Colony residents last weekend. After Pickleball Chairperson Beth Kravetz and several “laypersons from the congregation” laid the lines, a great evening was enjoyed by all. The program will officially begin on Sunday, Dec. 9, for the public and continue until spring
The three-hour sessions are limited to 24 players. The phone number to call to book courts is (302) 539-4488, and you can also book in person at the indoor tennis center. Courts are to be prepaid at booking, and Sea Colony can take credit cards.
Johnston also told me that bookings for his weekly pickleball clinic at the Sea Colony’s Freeman Fitness Center have been picking up. Those clinics are conducted on Mondays from 1 to 2 p.m.
Previously, I wrote about the United States Professional Tennis Association training their membership how to teach pickleball. Chris Riportella, who certifies pickleball professionals for the International Pickleball Teaching Professional Association (IPTPA) said that it was a logical partnership between those two organizations with similar values in their respective sports.
USPTA is a leader in providing quality education to their tennis members. They realize that pickleball is here to stay and, as a rapidly growing sport, they must partner with someone that truly understands how to teach the sport. Chris went on to say, “As a result, they want to partner with IPTPA, as we are dedicated to our players and also strive to provide the best possible instruction.”
The Professional Tennis Registry (PTR), which is the other top international association for tennis instructors, has already started the pickleball certification process. They have been conducting 36 localized clinics for their tennis professionals across the country on how to teach pickleball. It is informally estimated that they might have as many as a thousand instructors certified by year’s end.
They chose a slightly different process by creating their own Professional Pickleball Registry and contracted professional pickleball players including Sarah Ansboury to work with their tennis professionals in the certification process. Sarah was a tennis professional before venturing into pickleball. You might remember Ansboury was here in Delaware several times in the past two years.
I spoke with several PTR members, and they are excited about the prospect of teaching pickleball. The PTR membership is particularly strong outside of the United States, which means the pickleball introduction into those markets will enjoy a quantum jump over the next few years.
However, that might present a group of new problems. Will they call it Cornichonball in France, or Dillgurkenball in Germany, Pepinilloballet in Spain? Don’t even pretend to try and understand how it will be spelled or pronounced in Russian, Japanese or Chinese. Or maybe not! For those who like to make fun of the name pickleball, suddenly now it doesn’t sound too bad, does it?
Back on the home front, I discussed these developments with Rick Bell, our county’s only certified IPTPA professional, because we both have been concerned about the quality of instruction. Rick felt if there is more quality instruction, more people will benefit from pickleball and likely enjoy better health because of it.
Now that it has gotten cooler, there is heightened demand for our few indoor courts, and it is more important than ever to be civil to your fellow pickleballers.
I gave a copy of George Washington’s “Rules of Civility” to my grandchildren when they were younger. It is a small booklet that Washington wrote as he was entering manhood, featuring 110 points about community civility.
As an example, Rule 1 is “Every Action done in Company, ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.” Rule 49 states “Use no Reproachful Language against any one, neither Curse nor Revile.”
For those pickleballers who might have missed the civility lesson, I will be glad to loan my used and dog-eared copy for the benefit of the entire pickleball community.
Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.
By Vaughn Baker
Special to the Coastal Point