What do dink, poach, and volley llama have in common? They’re all terms used in the growing game of pickleball, which is flourishing on the Wasatch Back thanks in part to the Heber Valley Pickleball Club. Started in December 2014, HVPC has turned into a thriving club and social scene for more than 100 members from both Heber and Park City. “I think people are drawn to the game because it’s so easy to learn, yet difficult to play well,” says Kris Beer, who helped spearhead the club. “That’s what makes it fun.”
Pickleball is a mix of badminton, tennis, and table tennis. Two or four players use paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated three-inch polymer ball, similar to a Wiffle ball, over a 36-inch-tall net. Former Washington State Congressman Joel Pritchard created pickleball at his home on Bainbridge Island while attempting to improvise a backyard game with a badminton net and ping pong paddles in 1965. The name of the game refers to a pickle boat—or practice boat—in rowing.
Club cofounder Carol Lee notes the game is good for singles and couples alike, and, through the USA Pickleball Association, it’s easy to find both courts and other players at destinations across the country. HVPC membership is $15 a year ($10 for social members) and includes daily court access at Heber’s Wasatch County Recreation Center (access fees apply) in winter or at Southfield Park and Ball Fields in summer as well as a full calendar of clinics, tournaments, and social gatherings.
Oh, in case you’re wondering: a dink is a soft shot where the ball barely clears the net; to poach is to cross over into your partner’s area to play a ball in a doubles game; and the dreaded volley llama is when a player attacks a ball in the no-volley zone.