Established in 1892, the West Side Tennis Club (WSTC) is synonymous with tennis and music history. You may soon be adding the growing sport of pickleball to that legacy.
A new beginner and advanced pickleball camp, customized based on skill level, will take place at WSTC on August 12-13.
“It is amazing that a tennis club with the prestige and history is looking to open its doors to a newer sport like pickleball,” said Frank Milillo, a pickleball enthusiast from Rockville Centre. “This is a great chance to bring more attention to the sport and provide support to the players who want to improve.
“This is the first private tennis club in New York that’s ready to provide pickleball memberships to prospective members,” he added.
Pickleball combines elements of tennis, ping-pong and badminton, and is played with a paddle and a plastic ball with holes.
“Most tennis players become very good and competitive very quickly,” said Milillo. “Pickleball is a very social sport.”
Pickleball was invented in a backyard on Bainbridge Island in Washington by former congressmen Joel Pritchard, William Bell, and Barney McCallum after they returned from a golf outing to children complaining about being bored.
“Everyone who is playing it for the first time is amazed when I tell them this sport is over 50 years old,” Milillo said.
Milillo plays on average five times a week.
“A short court and the quick points makes this sport exciting,” he said. “With lots of movement in short bursts, pickleball is an extremely healthy sport. You burn as many calories playing pickleball as you do playing tennis.”
Camp attendees will begin with the essentials, such as learning dink shots, footwork and ball striking, as well as serve, return, and drop shots. The training will be followed by games and matches with expert analysis by pros and an emphasis on strategy and shot selection.
Participants will also have an opportunity to work with WSTC director of Racquet Sports Jason Weir-Smith and Ken Henderson, founder and director of Traveling Pickleball Pros and an IPTPA Level II certified pickleball teaching professional and national medalist.
“I ran a few clinics and we kept the dialog going,” said Milillo. “Then I mentioned the camp and Jason was right on board.
Milillo is confident pickleball has a bright future at WSTC.
“WSTC is the perfect venue for clinics, camps, and tournaments, the options are limitless,” he said. “Ken and Jason have the foresight to embrace the new players, new game, and its popularity.”
Milillo played tennis for most of my life, but took up pickleball after a shoulder injury made tennis a bit of a challenge.
His website at longislandnypickleballpros.com promotes clinics, leagues, and open play opportunities.
“I have over 200 people playing pickleball in Rockville Centre and it’s growing,” he said. “I had over 15 leagues each season.”
Fees for the camp are $395, or $350 if you sign up by July 31. For WSTC members, the cost is $200. For more information, call (718) 268-2300.