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Taught by Donna Stone, players get the chance to exercise and have fun at local courts.

COURTESY PHOTO: DONNA STONE - Lee Stone is one of several Woodburn area locals who have started playing pickleball.

According to USA Pickleball's website, Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum created an unlikely phenomenon 56 years ago. Today we call it pickleball and it is more than a goofy name judging by its popularity.

Pickleball fever is sweeping the nation with over 3.3 million players HYPERLINK "https://cdn.ymaws.com/sportsbuilders.org/resource/resmgr/tm_presentations/2019/1d_-_pickleball_current_and_.pdf" according to the American Sports Builders Association. This backyard game created with ping pong paddles and a badminton net has taken over the 55 crowd like wildfire, spreading from that backyard in Seattle, down the West Coast, over to Florida and back up the East Coast. By 1990 Pickleball HYPERLINK "https://usapickleball.org/what-is-pickleball/history-of-the-game/" was played in all 50 states with over 3 million players in the U.S.

As of 2019 there were nearly 30,000 indoor and outdoor courts. Coed teams are very popular. The game is easy to learn, and skills advance quickly, which accounts for the popularity of the sport. It is especially good for seniors who want to keep active as they age.

"It's a fun game for any age and skill level, plus good exercise and camaraderie" said Woodburn Estates & Golf resident Carol Bettendorf. Bettendorf lives in the largest 55+ community in the state, but they have no pickleball courts where she can play.

"In 2019 before the pandemic, 50 people signed up as advocates of pickleball. I gave free lessons the summer of 2020 — seven people showed up for the first lesson and more each week," said WEG resident advocate Donna Stone. "All this year we play regularly at the city tennis courts adjacent to the aquatic center. The city parks manager cooperated with us by adding pickleball boundary lines to the existing tennis courts."

"Pickleball is a great opportunity for exercise and to bring people together," said Mike Hachquet, a resident who plays at City Courts and at Tukwila.

Real estate agents confirm that senior buyers ask for communities that offer pickleball. "The reason former tennis players replace their former game with pickleball is because they still get good exercise, the court is smaller than tennis and they use a lighter weight racquet," said Woodburn agent Carol Wellington.

But it is not all about fun — the game is good for exercise, hand-eye coordination and memory training. Call Donna Stone at 760-851-5902 for more information and play schedule.


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