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Demo teaches the fun of pickleball

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Albuquerque pickleball enthusiasts want to show everyone why the game is one of the fastest growing sports in the country.

“It’s fun, it’s fast and it is easy to learn,” says Gary Rutherford, a pickleball enthusiast who is a member of ABQ Pickleballers.

The club will be hosting an open house on the weekend of Sept. 13-14 to give people a chance to find out more about the sport.

Pickleball combines elements of badminton, tennis and table tennis. The court looks like a tennis court but has the dimensions of a badminton court. A paddle similar to those in racquetball is used along with a plastic Wiffle ball.

According to the USA Pickleball Association’s website, the game started during the summer of 1965 in Washington at the home of then state representative Joel Pritchard. He and two friends returned from golf and found their families bored. When they couldn’t find a shuttlecock for badminton, they improvised with a Wiffle ball, lowered the net and fabricated paddles from plywood.

Rutherford says the game is very popular at retirement communities in warmer climates. But it’s really a fun sport for all ages.

A long-time tennis player, Rutherford said he started playing because tennis was irritating a shoulder injury. He got hooked on pickleball and is now on a mission to encourage the City of Albuquerque to include pickleball striping on more tennis courts around town.

Ray Padilla, another enthusiast, says pickleball is a great sport because it is so adaptive. Padilla organizes pickleball training , school programs and veterans’ programs.

“We are an equal-opportunity sport … all ages … people play it in wheelchairs,” he said.

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