Assumption pickleball program grows

By: April Lehmbeck | Grosse Pointe Times | Published March 27, 2015

 Local residents play pickleball at Assumption Cultural Center.

Local residents play pickleball at Assumption Cultural Center.

Photo provided by Assumption Cultural Center

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WOODS — Local residents are getting a bit of exercise on the courts in a game they describe as addictive.

That addictive game is pickleball — a tennis-like game played on a smaller-scale court with paddles and plastic balls.

Assumption Cultural Center’s pickleball program is in its second year and is continuing to attract new and experienced players.

“It has just grown,” Assumption Administrator Joan De Ronne said of the center’s pickleball program.

“It is honest to goodness the fastest-growing sport in America,” coach Ken Gutow said. “We’re the only facility in the neighborhood.”

Gutow, who formerly taught and coached tennis at Grosse Pointe North before retiring, said he enjoys working with the pickleball program at Assumption.

“I still love helping people out,” he said. “My real joy is helping out the beginners.

“I still run drills like I ran drills with the tennis team, and I just have a lot of fun,” he said. 

While pickleball gives a good workout, according to its players, it doesn’t take as much court space as tennis, so there isn’t as much room to cover during play.

“It’s for people who like active sports, but it’s not as hard on your body,” said Mike Patton, Assumption building engineer and assistant coach for the pickleball program. “It’s fun for all ages.”

Assumption pickleball player Bill Kuypers, of Grosse Pointe Shores, said that he played tennis years ago and decided to try out pickleball.

“I want to have fun,” he said, adding that while he’s still learning the game, he really loves it.

The program includes open playtime and court rentals for parties. Coaches will teach new players the game, so it doesn’t matter if someone has experience playing or not.

“I look forward to the time when I can come and play,” said player Maggie Mazzara, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

Players like the exercise they can get from just a short time on the court.

“You’re getting some cardiovascular (exercise),” said player Carolyn Caldwell, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

“And it’s fun exercise,” said Pat Donahue, of Grosse Pointe Woods.

“It’s good for eye-hand coordination, too,” Donahue said. “It’s something that people can do as they get older.”

“I think everybody can play this game,” Caldwell said.

“Absolutely, from little kids on up,” Mazzara added.

One player said it’s “fun being a part of a team.”

“Everybody’s just really friendly,” Donahue said.

Grosse Pointe City resident Colleen Huntsman agreed that it’s a fun time.

“It’s addictive — that’s the word everyone uses,” she said.

For more information on the pickleball program, call (586) 779-6111, ext. 3.

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