Pickleball ping is music to Manhattan Beach players’ ears

Lois Tuey, who introduced pickleball to Manhattan Beach in 2014, is introduced at the MBMS pickleball court ribbon cutting by Mayor Steve Napolitano. Photo by Kevin Cody
by Kevin Cody

When Manhattan Beach School Board Member Sally Peel disclosed at the Friday evening, November 1, ribbon cutting for the new Manhattan Beach Middle School pickleball courts, that she lived in the blue house across the street, the crowd of pickleball supporters quieted.

When she said, “I hear the ping, ping, ping of pickleballs all weekend long,” the crowd gasped. 

NIMBY neighbors had forced Hermosa Beach pickleball courts to temporarily close because of the balls’ high pitch, 70 decibel pings at 100 feet. That’s as loud as a freeway at 50 feet.

Then Peel said, “I love the sound. I can’t wait to learn to play.”

The crowd cheered.

Manhattan beach has been the epicenter of pickleball in the Beach Cities since 2014, when Lois Tuey, a former college tennis player, began teaching the sports at the Manhattan Heights tennis courts for the Older Adults Parks and Recreation program.

Tuey, who still plays, at 82, was invited by Mayor Steve Napolitano to cut the ribbon Friday evening. 

A recent New Yorker magazine article attributed pickleball’s popularity to it being “easy to learn, hard to master… social, and inexpensive.”

It is also easier on the body than other racquet sports because the courts are small. Four pickleball courts fit on a single tennis court, allowing eight to 16 players to play, where previously only two, or four played 

The sport’s popularity exploded during COVID, creating a nationwide court shortage.

In Manhattan Beach, Manhattan Beach School Board Member Cathey Graves noted, this meant, “To reserve a court, players have had to sign on to the city’s website at 5:59 a.m. to be ready when reservations open at 6 a.m.” Prior to the MBMS ribbon cutting, Manhattan Beach had just seven courts, all at Manhattan Heights Park.

MBMS has six new courts, available to residents from dawn to dusk on Saturdays and Sundays. Weekdays are reserved for MBMS students.

“Some day, we may send Manhattan Beach pickleball players to the Olympics, as we have volleyball players and swimmers,” local player Cathleen Ching said. She then presented MBMS principal Jennifer Huhyn with a donation of 40 Selkirk pickleball paddles, courtesy of Rob Barnes of Selkirk Paddles.

In addition, USA Pickleball Ambassador Mary Chieffe presented Principal Huhyn with 100 Selkirk pickleballs, on behalf of Manhattan Heights players

Chin and Chieffe presented the idea for the MBMS courts to Parks and Rec supervisor Michael Hudak, and Parks and Rec director Mark Leyman during COVID. From them, the proposal went to the City Council and School Board Sub Committee. The sub committee reached an agreement for the school to make available two tennis courts, and for the city to convert the courts to pickleball courts.  

Councilman Joe Franklin, a member of the sub committee, credited Manhattan Public Works Director Erick Lee and his crew with getting the work done on schedule,  in partnership with their subcontractor.

The white haired Franklin is an avid tennis player, and bikes to keep his legs in shape. But he acknowledged he has played pickleball, and anticipates playing more pickleball in the future. ER


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