Submitted by: Fort Wayne Pickleballer Josh Grubbs
When I was a kid growing up in the small town of Brookville Indiana, we had a group of kids that lived in our neighborhood that would get together every day during the summer and play some type of sport. It didn’t matter if it was baseball, football, soccer, or basketball. We just loved to play sports!
My parents had a small fenced in backyard which we made into our sporting arena. We would adjust the rules to accommodate each sport. For example for baseball, if you hit the ball over the fence on the fly it was an automatic out. This was to keep the games going so we weren’t constantly running through the gate to get homerun balls. What I am saying is that we made do with what we had.
The same can be said for pickleball. I have been playing pickleball now for five years and have played on all types of courts. “I don’t have a place to play” should never come out of anyone’s mouth. The different types of courts I have seen range from true regulation outdoor pickleball courts to a smaller version taped off in my garage.
If you have a descent sized flat area you can make a pickleball court. We have taped off courts in gyms; we have used tennis service boxes with the kitchen chalked off. In Terre Haute, Indiana they have transformed a couple tennis courts into six beautiful pickleball courts. Complete with plastic fencing around each court to keep the balls from rolling on to the next court. My favorite one of all though is taping off a mini court in my garage so we could work on our dinking before our next tournament. Anything to get a little more practice in!
Finding a spot to play can sometimes be the toughest part. But what if you don’t have all the equipment?
When my family started playing pickleball, the first nets we used were attached to two five gallon buckets filled with cement. We would roll them out onto the court and attach the net to some poles and off we would go. Now we have upgraded to the USAPA portable nets. (They are well worth the investment!) The easiest place to set up a court is on a tennis court and use the services boxes as your court. It is a little shorter and wider than a regulation pickleball court but it is better then nothing. Just lay a piece of string down for a kitchen (non-volley) line and get playing. A piece of chalk can provide that quick kitchen line too. A good way to adjust the nets since pickleball nets are 34 inches in the center and tennis are 36, is to fill up a couple gallon milk jugs and hang them on the tennis net to weigh it down with bungee straps.
No matter if you have professionally made pickleball courts or have to make your own, there shouldn’t be any excuses for not playing. Just use your imagination like you did when you were a kid! Pickleball Rocks!
From the viewpoint of Josh Grubbs:
The whole Grubbs family traveled down to Terre Haute to participate in the 5th annual Vlasic Classic pickleball tournament.
My family includes myself (Rockets son!), my wife Abby (6 months pregnant), and my two year old son Brandon.
The weekend started out meeting Grandpa and GG in Indianapolis where we left a car to car pool the rest of the way to Terre Haute.
We had to get to Terre Haute for the start of the 5.0 singles tournament late Friday afternoon. We got to the courts to set up our chairs under a shade tree and get Brandon familiar with the park. There is a playground and a basketball court perfect for Brandon to ride his four wheeler on. After warming up with the Rocket we wandered over to the scorer’s tent to check out the draw. I was in the opposite bracket as Dad and had to play three matches in the round robin format. I was glad for that, because with the heat being over 90 degrees, his wicked angles make you run…a lot.
The singles tournament went on until sunset making it hard to see the ball. Play was suspended till the next morning at which I had to make a decision. Wake up at the crack of dawn and play some more singles or sleep in and concentrate on doubles? Having GG at the tournament who would get up with my son if he woke up early made the decision easy. SLEEP IN!
The next morning, after a good nights rest, we head back to the courts to get ready for the start of the doubles tournament. My partner, Terre Haute resident Brad Bilyeu, warmed up and got ready for what would turn out to be a long day.
We started out in pool play and got off to a hot start both on and off the courts. The temperature that day was in the 90’s and felt even hotter on the court. Try telling a two year old to stay in the shade! We swept through the pool play without dropping a game. We even took two games off eventual champions Deli and Alvin Stinnett. After sweeping the pool play we received the number one overall seed.
We played well enough to get to the final four but ran out of steam. We weren’t prepared for the dink fest that took place against Lynn Carlson and Al Hager.
Now it was time to concentrate on the mixed doubles!
Time for the fun to begin! My wife is six months pregnant and one of the most competitive people you will ever meet. You don’t score 2,000 points in basketball and have your jersey retired at Bethel College without being a little competitive.
After warming up Sunday morning the tournament director yells out the first matches, “Grubbs and Grubbs!” We all just sit there and laugh since I am playing with Abby, my brother is playing with his wife Amy, and my dad is playing with my mom. All Grubbs and Grubbs teams! The Grubbs’ are taking over!
We finish pool play and received the third seed. Not bad for Abby having to carry a kid around in her belly and me on her back!
When the brackets were posted we found out we would be playing the Rocket and GG.
Now who is going to watch Brandon? Lucky for us there were about fifteen sets of grandparents who were missing their grandkids and jumped at the opportunity to watch Brandon even if it was only for twenty minutes. We played an episode of Mickey Mouse on the Ipad and headed out to the courts.
It was a long hard fought battle but after a long weekend, youth eventually prevailed. GG wasn’t to upset because now she could just watch Brandon the rest of the time.
We eventually lost in the final four after a great day of pickleball with my wife. Abby was definitely the talk of the tournament with how well she played being six months pregnant.
We had another great time playing in Terre Haute and spending time with family. Hopefully next time the Grubbs’ will bring home a little more hardware.
Can’t wait till next year. As Dad always says, “Pickleball Rocks!“