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Monday, June 20, 2011

Pickleball, anyone?

Mentor is adding pickleball to its wide range of recreational options. At the request of Council President Bob Shiner, the Recreation Dept. has added lines to an existing tennis court at Civic Center Park to accommodate players.

If the game proves to be popular, recreation officials say they plan to add lines to other courts. Shiner brought up the suggestion at the request of some city residents, who will be consulted about scheduling some introductory classes to help the sport grow here. Thus far, Ohio only has organized pickleball clubs in Middleton and Toledo, according to a listing on the USA Pickleball Association website.

Pickleball is played on a badminton court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center, the website says. It is played with a perforated plastic baseball, similar to a whiffle ball, and wood or composite paddles.

"It's like tennis, but you don’t work as hard," said Shiner, who has friends in Florida who play. "It’s huge in all the retirement communities down south. ... It’s a fun little game. I think it will catch on."

He noted that Mentor has a lot of senior citizens and that the Senior Center is heavily used.

The nonprofit USAPA was organized to promote the growth and development of the sport across the globe and has provided players with official rules, tournaments, rankings and promotional materials since 1984. Pickleball is North America's fastest-growing sport, the website says.

The game apparently was named after a family's cocker spaniel, who would chase stray balls and then hide in the bushes. The dog's owner is one of the co-inventors, the USAPA site says.

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-- Betsy Scott,


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