Pickleball players play a match on outdoor courts on Pegasus Street in Brunswick on Dec.30. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

BRUNSWICK — When the state last updated its community sports guidelines, Brunswick native John Coray knew his pickleball group would need to get creative in order to continue to play.

With indoor play suspended, Coray and his peers decided to take the game outside and into the elements.

“It was a setback for us when the new modifications came out, but we knew we had these courts at our disposal to use,” said Coray, 60. “Everyone involved has been into it and enjoys the fresh air, even if it’s a little cold.”

The group has been playing on outdoor courts on Pegasus Street at the Old Brunswick Landing. Two outdoor tennis courts were converted into six pickleball courts.

And people have come out to play, ignoring the frigid temperatures.  

“We had been rehabbing these courts all summer and then were able to utilize them into the fall,” Coray said. “When the new regulations came out, we thought we’d get back out here and use these courts again.”

The updated guidelines released in November called for stricter rules and regulations regarding social distancing. The rules prevented doubles play for indoor racquet sports  While singles play can be held indoors, this Midcoast pickleball group strictly plays doubles.

In early fall, when doubles play was allowed indoors, the group would play at Maine Pines Racquet & Fitness in Brunswick. But things then changed. 

Pickleball players compete on outdoor courts on Pegasus Street in Brunswick on Dec.30. Eli Canfield/The Times Record

“It wasn’t going to work for us, we play doubles,” Coray said. “I knew that the group would have no problem playing outside, we all live in Maine and know how to deal with the cold weather.”

The pickleball players say they do their best to adhere to COVID-19 safety guidelines. They wear masks and try to remain socially distanced while not playing. In matches, players switch out balls when serving to limit the amount of hands touching each ball. 

“It’s a sense of relief to be able to get out here and play,” said Beth Muldoon of Harpswell. “I’ve been playing with this group for about six years, so we felt a need to keep it going.”

The players try to get out to the courts everyday, but most say they come about three or four times a week.

The group competes in round-robin mini tournaments against each other. You can only score a point when your team is serving. Each match is played to 11, and the winning team has to win by at least two points. Once a match is finished, players rotate to a different court, and play with a different partner to switch things up on the fly.

“It keeps everything fresh and helps you learn how to play the game with different styles of playing partners,” Coray said.

The players say outside pickleball gets people out of the house and helps them stay fit.  

“It’s just amazing that we are still out here playing during this time of the year, it’s a very addicting activity to participate in” said Lynn Frank, 68, of Brunswick. “I would go nuts if I had to stay cooped all in the house all day.”

Rick Powell, 66, of Brunswick tries to come as much as he can, sometimes up to seven days in a week.

“It’s no different than being outside snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, as long as there’s no ice on the courts then I’m ready to go,” said Powell. “I’ve been out here in single digit temperatures, as long as you’re dressed for it it’s no big deal.”

Added Coray: “We’re going to keep playing until we physically can’t because of the weather. Hopefully we can keep on going until the spring, then we’ll only have to worry about the rain instead of the snow.”

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