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Pickleball coming to Owatonna

pickleball, tennis, Owatonna
Johnnie Phillips, Sports Editor

Organized pickleball will be coming to town in the near future.

While there is not yet an official launch date for the pickleball program, current Owatonna Tennis Association Head Tennis Pro Matt Hokanson expects pickleball to be up and running in September.

“In a survey asking residents for their recreation preferences earlier this year, we heard that people in Owatonna want more indoor recreation options so they can stay active all year ‘round. We see our outdoor pickleball courts being used frequently as this activity is becoming popular for all ages,” said Jenna Tuma, Director of Parks, Recreation and Facilities.

According to the press release, tennis courts five and six at the West Hills Tennis and Fitness Center will be detailed to become dual-purpose courts where members can play both pickleball and tennis.

Current players and those interested in trying the sport out are in luck as the Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department has a plan for integrating the sport into the community.

According to the press release, “lessons, events, programs and competitive pickleball match opportunities will be available. Pickleball lines will be dark blue. Pickleball nets will be rollable so the courts can also be used for tennis. The courts will meet USA Pickleball standards. Pickleball paddles, balls and other accessories will be available for purchase at the West Hills Pro Shop.”

Despite being invented in Bainbridge Island, Wash. in 1965, pickleball has seen a massive surge in popularity nationwide after the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a survey by the Sport and Fitness Industry Association, there was a “21.3% increase in the number of American respondents who started playing pickleball in 2020.”

Those looking for a more casual, social game or even a less strenuous game similar to tennis can find just what they’re looking for with pickleball.

“In recent years, pickleball has developed a passionate following due to its friendly, social nature and its short learning curve. Pickleball can be played by all ages and as singles or doubles. New players can learn the basic rules quickly in a single session. No special apparel is needed. Equipment is relatively inexpensive and easily portable,” said the Owatonna Parks, Recreation and Facilities Department in its press release.

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