Pickleball gaining popularity in Warren

They call it pickleball: “a good all-around sport and workout for everyone of all ages and genders,” according to a newcomer to the game, Betsy Foley.

Fitting with its newfound popularity, the Warren County YMCA held its first pickleball tournament on Sunday, open to all ages regardless of experience – in men’s, women’s and mixed doubles competitions as they played their way through the ranks.

But just what is pickleball?

Pickleball is a racquet sport which combines elements of badminton, tennis, and table tennis.

Pickleball is often described as “miniature tennis,” and it plays roughly similar to tennis only on a badminton-sized court.

Two teams of singles or doubles compete on a court, but of a smaller scale than that of a tennis court. The serving team must connect the ball with their side of the court and then the opponents’ side before the ball is returned.

There are other official rules to the game, such as how the player must remain within boundaries of the court – there is a “stay out of the kitchen” zone, and that each game is played until a score of 11 is reached. Pickleball is a game of skill and hand-eye coordination that just about anyone can pick up and have fun with.

Pickleball was apparently invented in the mid-1960s as a children’s backyard pastime, but quickly became popular among adults as a game fun for players of all skill levels.

Welcome to Warren, Pa.

Participants of Sunday’s tourney – a memorial tournament for an advocate of the game, Billy Paul – included from high school students to senior citizens. Both men and women shared the court.

Marlene Sandberg has put on clinics at the YMCA to teach the sport, and another will be happening soon.

“It was good exercise,” said Pat Fincher of the sport that gained popularity thanks to Mary Conarro.

Here are results from Sunday’s Billy Paul Memorial Pickleball Tournament, which raised over $700 for the LiveStrong program at the Warren County YMCA: