Winter Sports Spectacular: Pickleball

By Erica Quednau |

Published 02/06 2014 01:52PM

Updated 02/07 2014 12:33PM

CHAMPAIGN -- Here in Central Illinois, people are getting into a sport not in the winter games, but the competition involved is just as skilled. WCIA-3's Erica Quednau checks out a local pickleball club.

It may be unknown, but I'm told it won't be that way for long. The sport is quickly getting more popular in Central Illinois.

"It's a good exercise. It's a lot of fun. You meet a lot of new people. It's a game anybody can play, whether, you know, I've got two artificial knees, but I can play and move and compete and It's really a lot of fun for all ages, genders, you name it."

No matter who's on the court, the competition can get heated.

"It's a high-energy net game with a lot of strategy involved."

This winter, Don Block, Richard Mahan and many others have gotten together every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to play at the Douglass Community Center.

"We have a group of about 14, 15, 16. So, it just depends on the day, who shows up, who's injured, who's not, you know?"

"It's been a struggle to get it going and now, we've finally got a group together."

While we stopped by this week, they gave me a lesson on how to play. The game is a combination of racquet sports.

"It's on a badminton-size court with a tennis net, a kind of paddle between paddle of racquetball and tennis. You normally play doubles, so you don't have to do a lot of running for those of us who can't."

The goal is to get to 11 first and you have to win by at least two. For new-comers, they set aside a court just for recreational play, because in the middle of all the competition, these pickleballers are mostly about having fun.

"The game was designed to make it equal for everybody, so anybody who wants to ply can, and it gets you out, gets a place to play in the winter, gets us off the couch so something great to do."

"There's a demand out there and it's kind of, this is just the beginning of it."

Danville and Decatur are also in the beginning stages of bringing pickleball to the area. For more information, click here.

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