When one inches closer to the 40-age-mark, sports like tennis, badminton and table tennis becomes tough to play. Rakesh Mahla, 40, cardiologist and a tennis lover from Bikaner is no different. His body cannot keep pace while playing these games.
But thanks to Pickleball, Mahla can now play a sport that is the mix of racquet sports. With a few slight adjustments. So much so that Mahla’s participating in the sport’s first national tournament under the All India Pickleball Association (AIPA) at the Andheri Sports Complex in Mumbai.
The sport is a combination of lawn tennis, badminton and table tennis. This innovativeness in modern day sport to create a new one has allowed the elder generation to take to the game with open arms. So much so that the Rajasthan team has a team of six doctors, the youngest amongst this group is 34-year-old.
For Bharat Sharma, 42, a leproscopic surgeon from Jaipur, Pickleball is more than a sport.
“People of the elder generation have taken to this sport more than the youth. We know the exertion in lawn tennis, we couldn’t have asked for a more innovative way to be connected to the sport.”
“Talking purely from the medical and fitness side, Pickleball is a great exercise. So much so that we spend every morning and evening playing before and after work. One needs to be more agile and fit in other sports, pickleball being played on a smaller court solves most of the problems.” says Mahla.
The event at the Andheri Sports Complex was played at their indoor badminton court. “This is what makes the sport so unique, you can play it anywhere. The cost of the paddle and ball is cheaper compared to the other three sports.” said Avinash Mainak, member of the organizing committee.
Pickleball is played on a hard court (20x44 feet) with the net lowered down to three feet height above the ground. It can be played indoor or outdoor. The sport originated in the United States and is now played in Canada, Spain and Singapore being the main countries. The racquet is replaced by a larger version of it’s table tennis counterpart called a ‘paddle’, the ball is made of plastic and the game is played like tennis with the serve being under arm.