First Serve

Never Played Pickleball Before? 2020 is the Year to Start

Grab your paddles, Carbondale. This spring, the best new tournament-quality pickleball courts in the region are coming to North Face Park.

“With access to the old dual-purpose courts plus these six new courts, Carbondale will be the largest pickleball venue between Grand Junction and Arvada,” says Roaring Fork Pickleball Association (RFPA) board member Jim Noyes. “Pickleball is a uniquely social, community-building sport. We are growing, and we have needed these permanent, dedicated courts for a long time.”

According to the USA Pickleball Association, the game—a hybrid of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong—has seen a 650 percent increase in participation numbers in recent years. So why is pickleball the fastest-growing sport in the nation? Contributing factors include its potential for great exercise, opportunities for social interaction, and accessibility for beginners, but the game’s ambassadors (read: pickleball evangelists) seem to be largely responsible for its explosive growth. Mention the game to any valley player and they’ll proclaim its greatness.

“Pickleball is the one enjoyable exercise that combines sport and friendship to new heights,” says instructor Wayne Walden. 

“It’s super fun and easy to learn—all ages and abilities can play,” notes competitive player Josh Goldman. 

“Camaraderie and friendly competition: The fountain of youth is pickleball,” raves septuagenarian Joe Markham.

When the weather warms, it will be easier than ever for locals to see what all the fuss is about. Land for the new courts was donated by Carbondale Parks & Recreation and concrete has been poured. The 115-plus members of the RFPA are ready to play. Are you? Find updates at and join the craze.

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Paddle On

Not sure which paddle is best for beginners? Jim Noyes says, “Think light-medium weight and standard grip size unless you have very big or very small hands. Hard to go wrong with Paddletek or Unix. Get great advice and deals from Or, you can always borrow ‘loaners’ at RFPA gatherings.”

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