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Seniors compete in fastest-growing sport: Pickleball

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Teri Williamson plays pickleball during the Pitt County Senior Games at Wintergreen School Thursday, April 20, 2017.

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Beth Velliquette

Friday, April 21, 2017

On Thursday, seniors from five counties continued competing in the Pitt County Senior Games.

The games are being held this week and next week as people 50 and older compete for a spot in the N.C. State Games next fall.

On Thursday, the table tennis event was held at Alice Keene Park, and the mixed doubles in pickleball was held at the gym at the Wintergreen Primary and Intermediate Schools.

Today, track and field events will be held at J.H. Rose High School, and doubles and singles pickleball will be held at the Wintergreen Gym.

Pickleball, which was named after the inventor’s dog, is a bit like tennis, only it is played on a smaller court with a lower net, a plastic ball with holes in it and paddles. It is said to be the fastest-growing sport in the nation.

On Thursday, The Daily Reflector talked with a woman who was playing mixed doubles with her husband. 

Name: Teri Williamson

Age: 61

Hometown: Tarboro

When did you first become interested in pickleball? We went to the national senior games in Cleveland because my husband Kenny was playing basketball. We saw it being played there, and we were like, “What is that game?” We watched for a few minutes, came home and checked it online, and it was something we could play together.

When did you first start playing? Last January.

How did you learn to play? We pulled it up online and watched videos on the web and then practiced.

Where did you start playing? We started out in Rocky Mount but after another player criticized my husband for hitting the ball too hard, we found out they were playing over here and they’ve been very nice. Why play if you can’t play to your highest level?

Have you ever been injured? Last year, I was playing in the games, and I pulled a muscle playing singles. That was it. The doctor said it would take two weeks to heal, but it took five weeks. We have players here who play with pacemakers and defibrillators. 

Why do you like pickleball? I just love it and it can be very competitive, and it’s a sport my husband and I can play together. We just enjoy it. It’s a whole lot of fun.

Would you encourage others to try to learn pickleball? I tell people about it all the time. We started it at our church in Tarboro, and we play every Sunday afternoon.

Did you win today? No, we didn’t win so I’m playing for third.

Anyone who would like to learn to play pickleball can contact Robin Morris, the pickleball ambassador in Greenville, through her email at robin.rylee@gmail.com or go to USAPA.org to learn more about the sport. On Thursdays from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at the Greenville Aquatic and Fitness Center at 921 Staton Road, beginners can learn how to play. Balls and paddles will be provided. People also can stop by Evans Park across from J.H. Rose High School on Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to noon for drop-in play. 

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.

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