The game takes up a quarter of a tennis court, the net is shorter and players whack a sturdy cousin of a wiffle ball with an oversized ping pong-like paddle.
Call it Pickleball. And look for it at St. Clair Tennis in O'Fallon.
"It's very quick and fast-moving," said Naomi Brunner. She and her husband Mark, have owned the tennis club since 2007.
Now a Pickeball league is forming and open play is also available three times a week.
"It's a lot of fun," said tennis player Mike Loftus, 60, of Fairview Heights, as he ended a match.
Wondering about the name of the game? Naomi says the story is that it was "named after someone's dog."
How did Pickleball come to be played at St. Clair Tennis? "I had people approach me about it who had played it in Florida and Arizona," said Mark, who calls himself a novice at the game.
"They'd go to Florida for the winter and play it and then come back and want to continue to play," added Naomi.
Mark said he saw it as a good business opportunity.
After some research, he invested in portable nets, paddles and balls.
What is appealing about Pickleball? The pace can vary according to skill, said Naomi.
"It's played on a smaller court, so it's helpful for people who can't move around as well or don't want to run around," but still get exercise, she said. Four courts will fit on one tennis court.
It also can be very fast-paced and competitive, depending on who's playing.
Chloe McIsaac, 11, of Fairview Heights, found the game fun, but had to tone down her long tennis moves as she bounded around the smaller court. "You have to not hit the ball so hard and not as high," she saId.
Because a hard paddle is used, much like ping pong, the ball can be finessed with the right flick or roll of a wrist and take some odd hops and turns an opponent might not expect.
What are the basic rules of the game? Rules allow for a bounce before hitting, like tennis, but a player must be behind a mid-court line to hit the ball on the fly.
Scoring is more like volleyball than tennis, with a side earning a point (up to 11) only off its serve. Serving is done underhanded.
Who can play Pickleball? Anyone, say the Brunners, as was evident during a recent free lesson they offered where youngsters and seniors learned the game. Tennis players pick it up quickly, Mark said, but anyone is welcome to sign up to play and get free use of a paddle and instruction during December. Wear comfortable clothes and tennis shoes.
When is Pickleball played? Open play is 1 to 2:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and 7:30 to 9 a.m. Saturdays. Free paddle rental. Cost is $6 for a Pickleball member; $8 for non-members. Annual Pickleball membership is $50 for an individual; $80 for a family. If you are a tennis member of the club, memberships are $40/$65. To register or for more information, call 632-1400.