A Carp pickleball party

CARP – The fastest growing sport in North America is fast becoming a weekend tradition in Carp.

This summer the sport of pickleball was introduced on the asphalt pad of the Carp outdoor rink. Every Friday (9 to 11 a.m.) and Sunday morning (10 a.m. to 12 p.m.) since May 31 the two new pickleball courts are open for business and free to participate. The unofficial club provides everything players need except running shoes and comfortable clothing.

The program was launched and organized by Carp residents and pickleball fans Ken Perkins and Sue Wynter with Coun. Eli El-Chantiry providing some funding.

West Carleton Online dropped by last Sunday (Aug. 4) to take in some pickleball action.

Unfortunately, it was the one time Perkins and Wynter were not at the court this summer. But luckily, games were still going on.

It turns out, El-Chantiry is not only a pickleball program sponsor – he’s also a new player. Carp’s Connie Atherfold was also there and running the operations in the organizers’ absence.

Connie Atherfold 'dinks' the ball whil her partner Coun. Eli El-Chantiry looks on in Saturday morning pickleball action. Photo by Jake Davies
Connie Atherfold ‘dinks’ the ball whil her partner Coun. Eli El-Chantiry looks on in Saturday morning pickleball action. Photo by Jake Davies

“I started playing in California about four years ago,” Atherfold told West Carleton Online. “It’s good exercise and it’s low impact.”

Pickleball is a paddleball sport similar to other racquet sports that combines elements of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Like those sports it can be played as singles or doubles.

Players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, similar to a wiffle ball, over a net.

The game was invented in the mid-1960s but has really gained momentum the last few years due to the wide variety of skills and ages the sport attracts.

Nearby Nepean club Valley Stream got rid of all its tennis courts a few years ago and replaced them with pickleball courts. The club had 190 members last year and grew to more than 350 this year.

“We started here because we thought it could grow,” El-Chantiry said during a short break in the action.

Last Sunday was El-Chantiry and his wife Maha’s second time on the court.

“After we started the program earlier in spring, one of my councilmates asked me if I enjoyed it,” El-Chantiry said. “I didn’t have an answer. So now I’m out giving it a try.”

El-Chantiry said the city spent roughly $2,800 to have lines painted, buy two nets and some equipment and a safety box to keep the equipment on site.

Atherfold says the great thing about the sport is new players can develop their “dinking” skills very quickly.

“I’m trying to teach my husband to play because if he wants to spend more time with me, he’ll have to learn how to play pickleball,” she said.

Pickleball will continue in Carp at the outdoor rink as long as weather permits. Drop-ins are encouraged.