A new sport has hit Geneseo and has gained the interest of many community members.

A new sport has hit Geneseo and has gained the interest of many community members.

Pickleball started in Geneseo in November 2013 with an exhibition at the Geneseo Community Center and it took off from there.

Pickleball is a paddle sport for all ages and skill level. It combines elements of tennis, badminton and ping pong.

“Pickleball is a combo of other sports,” said USA Pickleball Association Quad City ambassador Dave Stover. “You take a badminton court, lower the tennis net by two inches, use ping pong paddles, but make them bigger and take whiffle ball, but modify it. It is like tennis with a whiffle ball, and the courts are smaller, which makes it easier to get to the ball. It is smaller version of tennis.”

Stover said the game is played like tennis with points being won on the serve and is played to 11 points.

“It is fun and you also notice later it is exercise,” said Stover, who got started playing the game while in Arizona in 2008.

Jan Andersen is one of the newer players to pickleball. She learned about it while in Florida and joined the pickleball group in Geneseo when she returned.

“I love it,” said Andersen. “I am not an exercise person, but the people are so fun and the camaraderie. My husband can’t believe I am doing it.”

The pickleball group in Geneseo plays Tuesdays and Thursdays year round from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. During warm weather, the group plays on the tennis courts at the Athletic Field, and will play in the gym at the community center during the cold weather or when it rains.

Players of all skill levels are welcome to join and participants can play at their own speed. Pickleball paddles are free to use.

“We try to offer a variety of activities included in the membership and there was a huge interest and it was something new in Geneseo,” said Geneseo Park District superintendent of recreation Andy Thurman. “We want to work with the community, and if someone wants to play at a different time we can always set the nets up in the gym.”

“Right now is a really excellent time start,” said Stover, who made his own chalking machine for the courts. “People can just go to the Athletic Field and try it out. It is a very enjoyable activity to get exercise and it is very social.”

“I decided to try it, and it wasn’t hard to play,” said Andersen. “I really got some exercise. It is really easy to learn. Dave explained the scoring to me and everyone is good about helping you out.”

On average, the pickleball group has four to 10 people participate each day, but there also have been as many as 18 playing.

Pickleball players are not required to participate every week and are free to show when they can. Stover said there is a list of 30-40 players who could show up at anytime.

“Don’t be concerned about playing every time. Just make it when you can. We are very flexible,” said Thurman.

“I will continue to play until I can’t anymore,” said Andersen. “I knew a few years back I was not an exercise person and this was a godsend. I really look forward to it. It is something I really enjoy.”

“It is a chance to exercise without knowing you are exercising,” said Stover.

For more information participating in pickleball, call the Geneseo Community Center at 944-5695 or for more information on the sport visit www.usapa.org.