• Fri. Jul 1st, 2022

Long Beach Resort Leads Pickle Blast on North Coast | Coast weekend

Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort has six pickleball courts.

On Thursday evenings, dozens of people lace up their shoes, grab their gym bag, and walk to a resort in a heavily wooded area on the Long Beach Peninsula.

The rural facility remains under the radar, but attracts more people than it can handle in a single night. Lately his name is slightly misleading. Despite being labeled the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort’s Tennis Center, it has become the epicenter of a booming pickleball movement on the North Coast.

“It’s my strong league tonight, there are people from all over the place,” said Roman Sada, racquet sports director, as players of all ages entered the facility to warm up.

Sada takes her position at the resort very seriously. The longtime coach has been completely immersed in the world of tennis since he started playing at the age of 5 in Prague. He rose through the ranks to the Czech national junior team and toured professionally.

When he arrived in Washington as a tennis coach four years ago, he decided to include pickleball lessons in his schedule, a choice that has now taken precedence over his usual job as a tennis pro. .

“When I first started I had maybe six or eight pickle balls here,” Sada said. “Years later, I have 20 to 30 regularly. It’s just skyrocketed here.

Romain Sada

Roman Sada, director of racquet sports at Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort, chats with a group of pickleball players before starting their championship games on Thursday night.

The trend is not unique to the North Coast. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the country. According to a report released this year by the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, from 2019 to 2020, the number of pickleball participants increased by 21.3%.

Pickleball can best be described as a hybrid of tennis, badminton and table tennis. Players use paddles that look a lot like something from a ping pong game, but are larger and made of different materials. The ball is plastic and looks like a whistling ball. The game is played on a badminton court with a slightly modified tennis net.

Sada thinks it’s obvious why pickleball is taking off. He noticed that the sport is much easier to learn than tennis and requires less physical endurance.

“Usually you have fun when you know something,” Sada said. “If you don’t know it, or if you’re not very good at it, you don’t feel comfortable and you don’t play. This is why tennis is so difficult because you have to run a lot, it takes a lot of conditioning and eye coordination. You really have to be on top. “


The Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort offers leagues, clinics and hours of free pickleball play.

Witnessing the eclipse of this new sport, his true passion has been bittersweet for the coach, who admits he is “sad that tennis is dying”, but he is ready to meet the demand. of pickleball. He started running tournaments, clinics, leagues, and open play hours at the Lighthouse Oceanfront Resort.

Tournaments fill up quickly, Sada says.

“Unfortunately I have to reduce it to 120 people,” he said, filling the tournament according to the amount of space available on the pitch. “I have a lot of people on the waiting list.

The resort’s indoor facility has six pickleball courts, which are open to the public from noon to 2 p.m. daily for a fee of $ 5. Evening leagues are also popular, with demand so high that not everyone can enter. Sada approves the members and associates them according to their skills.

“I try to keep it at the highest level of competition because it’s good when people play at their own level,” said Sada.

The installation was a game-changer for players like Steve Mcphil. He quietly created a pickleball field on his property 17 years ago and is happy to have more direction from a professional trainer like Sada.

“We played without any knowledge of the pickleball world, we were just locked in my barn playing, we played every Tuesday night for the past 15 years,” he said. “I played the wrong way for 15 years. So over the past couple of years I have unlearn and relearn here, to figure it out. “

As the courts quickly filled up at the complex, Sada hopes to see more young players in the mix. The coach has a staunch anti-video game philosophy and is dedicated to getting people off the couch and bringing them into the game.

In the past, he has received local grants to create sponsored programs that allow children to play for free, but he says it has been more difficult to get funding because of the pandemic.

“My dream is to have a junior program on a regular basis,” said Sada. “Maybe Tuesdays and Thursdays with a group of kids. It’s a tough community here in terms of money. It’s hard, but I try to do it for free or charge a minimum of money, like $ 5 an hour or something like that.

While it’s hard to see tennis participation declining, Sada said he enjoys a lot of things in the pickleball crowd.

“No fights, no problems,” he said. “I have to say the pickleballers are really nice people. Tennis players are a bit more snobby I would say, more ego. The pickle balls are really nice.

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