Backyard pasttime “Pickleball” is now an organized sport

MEQUON — “Pickleball” was invented as a backyard pasttime in 1965. Now, it’s an organized sport represented by national and international governing bodies that can be played by the young and old alike.

“Pickleball” is a racquet sport that combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. Players use a hard paddle and a Wiffle ball.

The folks who play at Range Line School in Mequon twice a week swear by it!

“This is just great! You meet so many new people – so many nice folks! You don’t need a partner to come out and play this game, so whoever hears about it and wants to check it out comes in and they meet all of us people having so much fun, and they decide they are gonna come back,” Ginny Courtis said.

“This is the best four hours of the week for me. I play at least four hours a week – two here, and two at the Y. There is just nothing I’d rather do than be out here with this game,” John Treffert said.

So how did this unique sport get its name?

“One of the families had a dog named ‘Pickles,” and when the ball would get away from the people on the court, Pickles would grab it and hide it under a bush, so they started calling it Pickles’ ball, and then from that, it became pickleball,” Treffert said.

“First, you have to spend 15 minutes explaining to somebody what it is, but then if you talk about how it’s a combination of ping pong, badminton, tennis – it starts to come around. People say ‘hey I’d like to try that.’ That’s one way we’ve gotten new people to do it,” Stan Smith said.

For these competitors, pickleball is good on more than one level.

“Comraderie – just a great group of people. There’s very few turkeys, and if there are, that are arguing line shots, we suggest they maybe go somewhere else. It is just fun and great exercise,” Smith said.

“It’s wonderful, and you meet all new people here. Everybody is kind of local, but you just didn’t know them all these years. Just a bunch of people that enjoy the same thing you do, and we are glad we can still be moving!” Courtis said.

Just ask Bill, who has had two hip replacements and is still going strong! The last time he went to a doctor, he was told his hip replacements are good and tight.

So maybe you’d like to give pickleball a try – no matter what your age or skill level – but you’re a wee bit hesitant…

“This is an easy group to come and join and just watch it. We’ll take you under our wings, and we’ll give you personal instruction, so before you know it, at the end of two hours, you’ll be on the court playing pickleball!” Courtis said.

If you do decide that pickleball is for you, have at it, but come prepared to give it your best shot!

“Even though you forget the score of the game once the game is over, it’s nice to win once in awhile!” Courtis said.

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