The sport of pickleball made its bow Sunday as a new event of Coon Rapids Snowflake Days, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.
Sixteen, two-person teams (doubles) battled for prizes in a double-elimination tournament on three courts in a gymnasium at Coon Rapids Middle School.
Nets were set up and the dimensions of the pickleball court were laid out in tape on the gymnasium floor.
“This popular sport is a cross between badminton, tennis and ping pong and is played with a hard white ball, similar to a whiffle ball, and a hard paddle,” said Bruce Sanders, who was the tournament organizer.
The paddle surface can be made out of different materials; Sanders’ paddle is made from graphite.
The ball typically moves at one-third of the average speed of a tennis ball and the court is one-third of the total area of a tennis court, according to Sanders, who is a member of the Coon Rapids City Council and finance officer and past commander of the Coon Rapids American Legion.
Scoring in pickleball is different than tennis; only the serving team can score points and the server gets two chances in the event of a default before service reverts to the other team, Sanders said.
The first team to 11 points wins the game and match, but there has to be a two-point difference, otherwise play continues until that two-point margin is reached, he said.
For the tournament, it was the first team to 11 points that won, irrespective if there was a one-point difference, in the interest of time, Sanders said.
“Participants in the tournament came from all over the Twin Cities,” he said.
First place was captured by the team of Shirley Nolden and Terry Allen from Brooklyn Park, second place went to Steve and Linda Kloeckner of Eden Prairie and third place was won by Jean O’Reilly of Rogers and Dan Grose of Ramsey.
There are no permanent indoor pickleball facilities in Coon Rapids at this time, but community centers in Andover, Brooklyn Park and Maple Grove have indoor courts available, Sanders said.
However, the Coon Rapids Snowflake Days event was one of the first, if not the first, indoor tournament in the Twin Cities, according to Sanders.
Outdoor facilities in Coon Rapids include two courts at Moor Park and use of the outdoor refrigerated ice rink at the Coon Rapids Ice Center in the spring, summer and fall, Sanders said.
Pickleball is becoming more and more popular in the Twin Cities, especially among retired people, but for the past 12 years, the sport has been huge in retirement communities in Arizona and Florida, according to Sanders.
Peter Bodley is at [email protected]