For the past month at Pecos Community Center, a handful of retirees have taken to a growing sport in the area: Pickleball.

After other facilities like the Ahwatukee Recreation Center and the Ahwatukee Swim and Tennis Club have set up pickleball courts, basically a shorter tennis net, the popularity of the sport has continued to increase.

“It’s fun to have a different sport, it’s quicker,” said Susan Manolis, 64.

Pickleball is similar to tennis, ping-pong and badminton, according to Manolis. Also being “easier on the knees” as less running is involved, it makes for an interesting alternative for seniors.

Three sets of games were played one afternoon at Pecos’ indoor basketball courts. Players are two to a team and use a paddle similar to ping-pong.

“You don’t have to be a total athlete for this,” said Marilynn Smith, 68. “Almost anyone can play.”

Smith added that since playing pickleball, she’s lost weight and thinks it is a good form of moderate exercise. Also practicing hand-eye coordination has also been a help to Smith.

“As seniors, we’re also working our brains with the coordination and skill,” Smith said.

Currently Manolis, Smith and many more folks are meeting twice a week to play. With an indoor space to play, Pecos serves as a good summertime alternative, and the cost is about $10 a year to sign up with the community center.

The group, though not an official league or club, uses the space on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to noon and on Thursdays from 1 to 4 p.m.

“The idea is to get the community involved,” said another pickleball player, Sue Elwood, 66.

Manolis said that if more people come out to play or show interest, the current players would love to form a league.

“This is going to keep us young,” Smith said after playing a few rounds of the game.

Pecos Community Center is located at 17010 S. 48th St. in Ahwatukee. For more information on how to sign up for a recreation pass, call the community center at (602) 495-5500.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or

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