About 30 curious men and women gathered Wednesday morning to learn about the fastest-growing sport in America — pickleball.
The Kenosha Senior Center partnered with the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha to offer a hands-on opportunity to learn how to play the sport.
Considered ideal for players of all ages, it has become immensely popular with older men and women who want either a recreational activity or a competitive sport. The Boys and Girls Club has hosted several competitions.
The sport, which originated in the Seattle area, is almost a hybrid between tennis and pingpong. The court is shorter than a tennis court, and players use a hard paddle. It's played at ground level with a net slightly shorter than traditional tennis.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-size court, with a perforated plastic ball, slightly sturdier than a whiffle ball. Paddles are made of wood or composite.
Leading Wednesday’s introduction session was Mark Montemurro, who said he learned of the sport several years ago while visiting friends in California.
“It's the fastest-growing sport in the country,” said Montemurro. “It's booming in the South.”
He said snowbirds have been bringing their love of the game back in the summer, but there were no courts in the Kenosha area just a few years ago. Now there are 18 courts in the the Kenosha and Pleasant Prairie area, Montemurro said.
Mike Moore of Kenosha came to learn if the game was for him.
“I play a lot of pingpong at the Senior Center,” he said. “I think this will give me a little more movement.”
A group that plays regularly at the Boys and Girls Club keeps the courts busy Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.
A short-term membership in the pickleball club can be purchased, said Montemurro. He and others are usually on hand to help new players become familiar with the sport.
The offering is part of the facility's aim to rebrand itself and its programs.
“We want to keep the gym filled with activities during the day,” said Steve Milkie, athletic director for the Boys and Girls Club. “So many people in town have never been in the Boys and Girls Club building.”
Working with the pickleball players club and others is a way to extend the reach of the organization to everyone in Kenosha, Milkie said.
For more information on playing pickleball at the Boys and Girls Club, call 262-654-6200. For more information on programs at the Kenosha Senior Center call 262-359-6117.
Another pickleball introduction program will be 9 to 11 a.m. Feb. 22.