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Pickleball in a pickle

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Donna Landfair and her husband Jim Landfair at the Cahoon Park tennis courts playing pickleball. The group of pickleball enthusiasts meet here once a week, depending on availability of the tennis courts. If it rains the group plays at the Roswell Adult & Recreation Center. (Submitted Photo)

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Ginny Makowski is a devoted pickleball player. When she talks about her favorite game you can tell how passionate she is about it. She has been recruiting friends to give the game a try.

“I get sore, but it is so much fun playing,” Makowski said after a game at the Elk’s Lodge. “Everybody can play, old or young, and we need more players.”

Asked what the game is about, Makowski said, “It’s like tennis and ping-pong combined.”

Pickleball has a unique background. According to the United States of America Pickleball Association, the game was invented during the summer of 1965. Congressman Joel Pritchard from Washington state and businessman Bill Bell returned to Pritchard’s home on Bainbridge Island, Washington, after a game of golf to find their families sitting around with nothing to do.

The property had an old badminton court, but nobody could find the equipment. They improvised and started playing with ping-pong paddles and a perforated plastic ball. The following weekend, another friend, Barney McCallum, was introduced to the game at Pritchard’s home. Soon, the three men created rules, relying heavily on badminton. They kept in mind the original purpose, which was to provide a game that the whole family could play together.

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The game took off and in 1972 the three inventors formed a corporation for the new sport.

According to McCallum, a year or two after the game was invented, the Pritchard family purchased a cocker spaniel and named it Pickles. The dog’s favorite pastime was to chase after the ball during the matches. As the game progressed, an official name was needed and pickleball was it.

Currently, the sport of pickleball is exploding in popularity. The number of places to play has more than doubled since 2010. There are now nearly 4,000 locations on the USAPA’s Places to Play map. The spread of the sport is attributed to its popularity within community centers, physical education classes, Young Men’s Christian Association facilities and retirement communities. The sport continues to grow worldwide as well with many new international clubs forming and national governing bodies now established in Canada and India.

The pickleball group in Roswell is still small. They play at the tennis courts at Cahoon Park when they are available.

“Chad Mann organized and taught this class through the Roswell Adult & Recreation Center,” Makowski said. “Our group definitely wants to keep pickleball active in Roswell. We just need a dedicated court or two.”

For more information, email ginnycpa@gmail.com or call her at 505-350-9716, or Donna and Jim Landfair at 575-626-4789.

Christina Stock may be contacted at 622-7710, ext. 309, or at vision@rdrnews.com.