With temperatures finally leveling off at manageable levels, some Ahwatukee Foothills residents are proclaiming that it is the perfect time to get outside and play ... pickleball?

You heard it right, pickleball.

The game, which shares some rules and play structure with tennis, and although relatively unheard of, does have a dedicated following with members of the Ahwatukee Recreation Center and other centers around the Phoenix-metro area.

On Oct. 24, members of the ARC celebrated the grand opening of two pickleball courts at 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive. With more than 50 people in attendance, emcee Mary Littlewood talked briefly about the game and the development of the courts before an exhibition match took place.

Like tennis, pickleball is played as singles or doubles but with a Wiffle ball and larger, and solid paddles. Pickleball requires the same amount of hand-eye coordination but with less running.

"It's a game for older and younger people, there's a lot of action," said Jan Chrisner, president of the ARC Pickleball Club. "It's fast-paced and the games don't last as long as in tennis."

Before the new courts opened club members played on the asphalt of the ARC parking lot. For the new courts, a section was repaved and painted, designated just for pickleball.

"(The old courts) were rough, the balls would bounce different directions and if you fell, it would definitely hurt," Chrisner said. "So this is a big upgrade."

Littlejohn and fellow member Sandy Stultz spearheaded the inception of the club in March.

Stultz's sister, Jacquie, who passed away in August after a battle with liver cancer, was honored at the opening. Jacquie was not so much a pickleball player herself, her husband Tom said, but she helped out wherever she could and made sure everyone was having a good time.

"Jacquie was our cheerleader," Tom Stultz said. "She had the best advice. She said, ‘You know, if there was someone, your brother or sister, you've been meaning to call or to stop by and said hi, don't wait, do it. Because life is short.'"

The ARC Pickleball Club will be hosting a yard sale this weekend, Oct. 29 and 30, from 6:30 to 11:30 a.m. The ARC is also accepting social members for those who want to get started in pickleball. Contact the ARC at (480) 893-2549, for more information.

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