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Pickleball remains the cure-all for those looking for some activity in Millbrook

Guertin Gym offers great options

MILLBROOK — Pickleball has been popular for a while now, but many in this area only started to hear about it a couple of years ago, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit — that’s when the Town of Washington Recreation Department first proposed setting up a Pickleball court for adult play, and who would have guessed — it caught on.

It might have taken some time to pull all of the pieces together, but when it did finally coalesce it surprisingly seemed to become a favorite for all ages.

Now, year two into the coronavirus pandemic and the oddly-named sport is a staple at the Guertin Gym at Millbrook Village Hall on Sundays and a much-needed break during the days of the health crisis that is wearing on some people’s nerves.

Pickleball can be played as a singles game or as doubles; it is a delightful mixture of tennis, badminton and ping pong. It is fast, furious and fun, and allows families, friends and casual acquaintances to come together with their paddles.

Using a complicated set of rules, players typically put in an hour or so of whacking at a hard little ball to get out all of their frustrations.

Unlike many court games, Pickleball is American and fairly modern, first played on Bainbridge Island, Wash.

It started out as a means to engage the families of three men: Joel Pritchard, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, in an attempt to free them from an afternoon of boredom.

According to (modern day) legend, what was intended to be a badminton game became something else when the threesome realized they couldn’t find the shuttlecock. They used a Whiffleball instead, made the net a little lower and made paddles out of some available plywood. Someone said it reminded her of a “Pickle Boat,” where crew members were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.

From there, McCallum reportedly made the original paddles for the game on his band saw, and in 1972 he officially incorporated “Pickleball.”

His son David now runs the company, although there are many other companies now producing the paddles, balls and nets for the game.

Since then the game has become quite popular. In fact, Pickleball has become so popular that there are lessons, rules, locations and tournaments widely available, although it is not an official sport as of now. It is also not seasonal, and can be played indoors or outdoors.

Games are currently being sponsored by the Town of Washington Recreation Department and held at Guertin Gym, located at Village Hall. They are for adults only. Court time costs $20 an hour for the full court, and can be reserved online at recdirector@washingtonny.org; for more information, call 845-677-8278.

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