When Don Peterson tried pickleball for the first time, he felt right at home.

“I used to play ping-pong in Vietnam – for recreation in the evenings,” Peterson explained.  “As soon as I grabbed the [pickleball] paddle … I knew the game was for me.”

Pickleball has been described as a combination between badminton, ping pong and tennis. The paddles are solid and about twice the side of a ping pong paddle. The ball is about the size of a baseball, hollow, and made of a flexible plastic with whiffleball-type holes in it.

Most importantly, the net is only 34 inches high in the middle, and it is played on a small court about a quarter the size of a tennis court. Since the game is usually played with doubles, each player stays within a space just a few feet wide.  This makes the game active, but not as physically demanding as tennis.

“You don’t have the real estate to cover,” Peterson said.

After he discovered the sport, Peterson brought it back to Pine City and got his friends and neighbors involved.

“We started here at the elementary school multipurpose room in 2010,” he said. “Now we have 50 people registered … so it has grown quite a bit. And actually, in the whole area it has grown. Mora has it now, Cambridge has it, North Branch, Harris, Stacy…”

Peterson said there is a lot to enjoy about the sport.

“I enjoy chasing the ball around and sweating, getting good exercise,” he said. “I enjoy the socializing between games and I enjoy laughing at some of the silly things that happen on the court. It’s all fun, and we’re looking for new members all the time.”

Pickleball is currently played Tuesdays and Thursdays at the Pine City Armory  from 9 a.m. to noon and Friday night from 7-10 p.m. at the multipurpose room at Pine City Elementary School. And for beginners to the sport, organizers are adding an 8-10 p.m. session on Wednesday nights at the Pine City Elementary School multipurpose room.

“It’s not like the hula-hoop,” Peterson said. “It’s not a craze that’s going to go away. It’s here to stay. It’s made for people over 50. I played people in Phoenix who are 85 who are playing the game. And they’re in better shape than you think. It keeps you moving.”

For more information on pickleball in Pine City, contact Don Peterson at 320-629-6969 or Joe Zeleny at 320-390-0786.

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