An unusual hybrid of tennis, badminton, and ping pong is the way players will describe the sport of pickleball. To the uninitiated, the game looks deceptively simple. Once the action gets going on the court though, it’s a whole different story.

Apparently, pickleball is a rage in the area. Many communities have off-hour pick-up sessions in their school gyms. Relatively little equipment is required. The specialized paddles and nets are readily available as are the whiffle balls used to play the sport. Afternoon sessions take place in the Jubilee Hall at the Uniplex while Sunday sessions are in HCI’s gym.

Two fans and participants, Glen and Janice Dobmeier, explain the intricacies of the game. The kitchen is an out of bounds zone on either side of the net. The serve line is behind the field of play. The game is played with singles or doubles, and there is even a variation that allows six people to play on a court in a rapid-fire rotation. Best of all, they claim that the game is enjoyed by people of all ages.

The Dobmeiers explained that while Jubilee hall was empty during the day, it offered a great place for an impromptu game. One of the other appeals is that the game is fairly easy to learn and is playable by people of all ages. While it may be easy to learn, it looks tough to master.

The sport has evidently gained massive popularity since its inception in a Washington state backyard. On a summer afternoon, after a failed attempt to find a badminton bird, a Washington state representative improvised the game for his family. There’s a wonderful but often disputed story about how the game was named after the family dog, Pickles.

In spite of its humble beginnings, pickleball is widely claimed to be an engaging and enjoyable sport that keeps area residents active throughout the winter months. It has a massive following and its own national organizations. Just remember to stay out of ‘the kitchen’. is Westman's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

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