Pickleball anyone?

Although that may not be a trending catch phrase quite yet, the game of Pickleball is certainly catching on as a big-time sport both locally and on the national stage.

Pickleball is lower-impact racket sport that combines many elements of tennis, badminton and ping-pong. Played both indoors or outdoors on a badminton-sized court, and with a slightly modified tennis net, paddle and a plastic ball with holes, it can be played as doubles or singles.

According to the USA Pickleball Association, it is one of the fastest growing sports in the nation, with the number of places to play doubling since 2010 to about 4,000 nationwide.

Washington has several organized and unorganized groups currently playing on the tennis courts near Washington High School, and one of the leading organizers is Tom Danehy, director of the Daviess County Family YMCA. Although the "Y" is not a part of the outdoor program, they do promote and sponsor indoor Pickleball in the winter and Tom has become big supporter of the game.

"People have been coming up to me for the last couple of years and have been talking about this sport. They have played it in other places and wanted to see it here in Washington," said Danehy.

"It is like low-impact tennis because you don't have to move laterally as much, and it is a much smaller court. However, it is a very quick and competitive sport," Danehy added.

Danehy said that they have had people of all ages participate, but he added that it is a great sport for retired people.

"A lot of our people are ex-tennis players, but really it can be a 'lifetime' sport. We would love to see some younger people get involved and start picking it up. It is great sport for both men and women," he said.

According to the official Pickleball website, the sport was invented in 1965 on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington. Three dads – Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell,and Barney McCallum — whose kids were bored with their usual summertime activities — are credited for creating the game for them to play.

However, part of the beauty of the game is its simplicity. Paddles and balls are still only about $20, and the smaller nets are generally easy to assemble, or a tennis court can be marked and used at no cost.

Danehy sites Bill Dobson as one of the local people who has been promoting the game from the very start.

"Bill called about a year ago and wanted to start a volleyball league, but the more we talked about this, it just seemed like a really good fit. Since then he has been playing in tournaments and traveling around. In fact, Bill got a group together on Monday night, and we spent four hours powerwashing the court. It just seems so much more safer and the ball even bounces better now."

Dobson said he became familiar with it down in Mexico and when he came home he started researching it.

"I started watching things on YouTube and then I talked to Roy Wachter, and he said he was trying to get it started, so we went from there," said Dobson. "We have discovered some other players, Greg (Thompson) and I have played in some tournaments and played in Vincennes. The more we have talked about it, the more people have tried and enjoyed it."

Dobson said that they have been working to get some permanent facilities and said that they hope to find a way to partner with the city.

He added that this is the type of sport that people look for when they are moving or bringing business to a new community.

"We want our community to grow and we want people to live here. These are the things people want when they are looking for a place to live," said Dobson.

Thompson echoed the praise so many others have heaped on Pickleball.

"I was a tennis player for years, and I fell in love with it the first time I played it. Bill invited me out to play in November, and I have been hooked ever since," Thompson said.

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