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Featured Pickler: Pickleball without a sound

Hearing is not imperative for success on the court. Just ask members of the Deaf Tampa Bay Pickleball Club.

A Facebook page started about two years ago by Michael Pouliot, an avid deaf pickleball player, has resulted in an ever-growing club. It has grown from about 30 players initially to more than 200 players.

“It is really amazing to see how deaf players communicate while playing on the court,” said Steve Turcsany, a group member. “We use ASL (American Sign Language) to explain how to play. We communicate the score for each serve using our number signs.”

Photo courtesy of the Deaf Tampa Bay Pickleball Club
A group of deaf players often compete at Tampa Bay Pickleball in Oldsmar.

The group primarily plays at Tampa Bay Pickleball in Oldsmar. Other locations for their games, which currently are two to three times per week, include Bicentennial Park in Oldsmar, Northlakes Sports Complex in Tampa and occasionally in Trinity.

Eric Klaus, Tampa Bay Pickleball’s founder, welcomed the deaf players since opening his indoor facility at the Oldsmar Flea Market last spring.

“They are an incredibly tight-knit, friendly, good-natured group of people,” he said. “They mix in with our other groups too.”

“Hearing and deaf players do play well together,” Turcsany said, adding that everyone “is very supportive. It requires patience.”

As of yet, there is no deaf pickleball league to speak of, but Turcsany noted that there have been tournaments in Tampa, Daytona Beach and St. Augustine so far.

“Deaf players have expressed their interest to play league (games), but it has not happened yet,” he said.

Photo courtesy of the Deaf Tampa Bay Pickleball Club

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