New Pickleball and Bocce Ball Complex in East Cape

BY: CINDY RAY

Construction has been completed on the brand new Pickleball and Bocce Ball complex in the East Cape!

The complex is located at Castillo de Arena South; and welcomes all players to come on out for a day of spectacular coastal views and fun.   The complex is offering free play; so grab your tribe and bring your tennis shoes, sweats and competitive attitude!

There are currently two fenced Pickleball courts; a small social area; and two (working) washrooms (banos). There are some paddles and balls for the novices and first timers to try out the sport. On the Facebook page "Castillo de Arena Pickleball" you may view the courts and current amenities. The facility includes a beautiful Bocce Ball court with balls and instructions on site as well. The Sea of Cortez can be seen from the courts, which are also aesthetically surrounded by the thriving desert flora.

The complex has space allocated for three additional courts; participation and popularity will determine if it blooms to the 5 court complex. Depending on the growth, there is a long term plan for concessions; perhaps a juice or coffee bar. The property will be fenced and secure. 

Castillo de Arena South is approximately 6 miles north of Vinorama CrossRoads restaurant and 8 miles south of Cabo Pulmo on the scenic coast road. The center is Paul Clark’s creation of East Cape Homes with the vision it will blossom into community area for recreating and socializing. The Baja winter travelers (snow birds) have already been filling the courts; and challenging each other. Currently, the closest Pickleball courts are in Las Barrilles; so this is a welcome addition for the East Cape community.

If you are in for some new invigorating exercise; and in for a challenging road trip; head on out to the new Sport Complex in Castillo de Arena at the East Cape. You won’t regret it!

The Beauty of Pickleball. Perhaps you have never heard of Pickleball; or perhaps you have heard of it but not seen it played. The game is played by over 2.5 million people in the U.S. and has its own association created in 1984. Until last week, I had never seen or played the sport (game). So for those of you who have lived under a rock (as I apparently have) for decades, I will give you a little tour of Pickleball and why it has gained such popularity.

Unlike most sports, its roots are 20th century in Bainbridge Island, WA.  In 1965, its creator Joel Prichard had a badminton court; some table tennis paddles; some whiffle balls; and a group of bored kids on their summer vacation. As the story goes Prichard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum proceeded to create a game to entertain the families; something that old and young alike could play and enjoy.  The name “Pickleball” has a couple of fables associated with it. The first is that Prichard’s dog was named Pickle and had a habit of chasing the balls and running off with them. The second is that it was named after a rowing term for the pickleball crew; meaning a mismatched crew of the leftover rowers. As Pickleball is a homogenization of Badminton, Tennis and Table Tennis (ping pong) it was the “Pickleball” of a game. Neither one is documented as the actual reason for the name.

The actual Association was created in 1984 as the USA Pickleball Association (USAPA) complete with rules and regulations. The court is compact but much like a tennis court; with zones including a non-volley zone for the front 7 feet. The balls are filled with holes and light; and the paddles have evolved to a honeycomb filled polymer material. The first paddles were created by McCallum with a band saw out of plywood materials in his shop. As the sport gained popularity; and players; McCallum started making kits out of his shop for $29.50 each and shipping them to all over the U.S. As it began gaining followers and widespread popularity, the trio founders formed an organization to protect and regulate the parameters of the sport in 1972. In 1976 the first known Pickleball tournament in the world was held in Tukwila, WA.

It is estimated that 75 percent of the Pickleball players are over the age of 55. The courts are 20x44 and four of them will fit into one tennis court.  The net sits 3 feet high; and as previously stated, there is a 7 foot no-volley zone on either side of the net. 

The rackets (paddles) are light; the balls are light; and the volley area is abbreviated. All of these things make it a perfect exercise sport for seniors. I watched my first Pickleball game being played in Los Barrilles last week. Though most players were seniors, there appeared to be a man with his teenage son team and several younger players as well. The game seems suited to everyone that can volley a ball with a paddle.

Usually played as doubles; however, it can be played as one on one as well for the more athletic and energetic players.

One thing is for certain, Pickleball is here to stay and is growing at an amazing rate. As I watched the flurry of players young and old alike for a while, it occurred to me that there are not many sports an entire family can enjoy. I played for my first time and was hooked. I cannot wait for a court to be built on the East Cape; and can’t wait for some good old-fashioned activities that a family can share; work off some energy; and get some exercise at the same time!