Add pickleball to your Hawaii itinerary

Playing Pickleball in Hawaii is just what you'd think: Pleasant weather, tropical breezes, and usually a wonderful, welcoming group of people to play with. It can also be a place where you take the time to practice on your skills at a pickleball camp. Although, with COVID, camps are not as plentiful in Hawaii, there are still places that offer in-house clinics and coaching.

On the Big Island of Hawaii, one place is at the Holua Tennis Club south of Kona, where you can schedule a class with a pro. On Oahu, you can sign up for classes at

And in Kona, the very loosely organized Kona Pickleball Hui (club), located near the city's outdoor swimming pool, offers a chance to play informally with a range of players, from beginners to advanced. Here, paddle racks are used to separate the recreational players from the "challenge court" players, who are more accomplished.

I took a three-day camp in January of 2020 and it culminated at the end of the week with the start of the Hawaiian Open Championships. I got to play against and then watch the top pros in the game play in the championships. Players like Ben Johns, Irina Tereschenko and Kyle Yates were there to teach and play.

At one point my partner and I played against Tereschenko and Yates. I used some new skills learned that week and tried to get Tereschenko moved off the center of the court. She hit a back-hand around-the-post winner. I thought, "bet she can't do that a second time". I tried the same move. She hit another winner. (See photo.)

I do recommend taking a class or two so that basic strategy can be explained. The game really is different from tennis, or ping pong, because of the non-volley zone (NVZ), or "kitchen". The other way to learn, of course, is to find a place where the game is played locally, and just show up. Ask if they are amenable to playing with newcomers, if there are designated times or courts for newbies, and ask for coaching. It's as simple as that. Typically, there's someone who is accomplished and willing to spend some time teaching the basics.

In Anchorage, for example, the Anchorage Pickleball Club has an "Intro to Pickleball" class on Sunday, March 6, at the Spenard Recreation Center, 12:15 to 1:45 p.m. Cost is $5. Here's their info: "Come learn the fastest growing sport in the world. You will learn how to keep score, the basic rules, how to serve and play a little. Limited to 12 players. To register visit"

And there's more clinics with the club in the following months. Check their website for more info on classes, events and places to play in Anchorage and around the state.

My wife Ruth and I are here for another month at the South Point of the Big Island of Hawaii. At the private clubhouse in our subdivision we bought an annual subscription for a social membership for $100 and get to play as much pickleball as we want weekly.

It's a varied group, with very new players ranging in age from 45 to 75 years old, and there's three really solid players I get together with for some rousing play. I get my fill of pickleball and the exercise keeps my blood pressure in check.

Even though there's no formal clinics in Hawaii this year, I still work on the skills I learned at the last one two years ago. And that shouldn't stop you from finding your own opportunities to learn to play and work on your own skills.

Next time: Common pickleball injuries and how to avoid them.

Jim Lavrakas has lived in Alaska for almost a half century. The self-proclaimed "squirrel man" has found a lively outlet in the pursuit of pickleball. You can reach him at

Rendered 07/16/2024 20:38