It takes two to tango, but only one to play pickleball – at least for Villager Stan Reich.
The Coronavirus has stopped many sports in The Villages but Reich found a way to play the game and keep social distance – all at the same time.
Reich built the portable wall in two pieces of plywood in his garage. Like a teenager playing concrete street hoops, he found a way to put another ball in the wall. When he’s done playing, Reich takes the wall down and the garage is back to normal. He said at least five other pickleball players have contacted him about building a wall for them.
“It came to me in a dream,” said Reich, who moved to The Villages about a year ago. He is in top physical condition and an avid athlete who enjoys sailing, rowing and bicycle riding.
Reich discovered pickleball after moving here and has become a regular player. He was able to play a few times a week until the COVID-19 virus hit.
After giving up the game for a few weeks, he came up with the concept of his wall. The top half is bright yellow. A white, plastic lattice fence resembles the pickleball net, while the bottom border is a grass-colored green.
Put it all together and you have solo pickleball heaven. When his game is over, Reich can close the white sliding cover to his garage and it looks like any other on the street.
So far, the wall has helped his game.
“It’s at the right height,” Reich said on a stifling hot afternoon, as he went through a sweaty workout on his driveway. “This really helps your timing. It helps with your arm and eye (coordination).”
As in a real pickleball game, Reich can vary the speed and movement.
“You can change the speed and move to keep up with it,” he said.
Life has changed for Villagers during the past few weeks. Many have given up their favorite activities and sports passions. But sometimes the human spirit finds a way to do what keeps Villagers active – and maybe even young.
“It’s just a lot of fun playing pickleball,” Reich said.
It will take more than a virus to stop his game.