Jewish Community Center hosts tournament for fast-growing sport with funny name

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Pickleball is a game that combines tennis, ping pong and badminton

LIBERTY TWP., Ohio (WKBN) – Have you ever heard of pickleball? The sport is still fairly new but it’s making quick strides across the country and here in the Valley.

The Youngstown Jewish Community Center is having its two-day pickleball tournament this weekend.

Pickleball. No, it’s not a food you find at your local fair or festival.

It’s a game that combines tennis, ping pong and badminton. You play with wooden paddles and a Wiffle ball.

“It’s the fastest-growing sport in America,” said Kathy Demetri, who lives in Pittsburgh.

The Jewish Community Center just added four new pickleball courts.

“There are four of them with permanent posts, permanent netting — all just for pickleball,” said JCC Pickleball Coordinator Wesley Depoy. “They are state-of-the-art, top-of-the-line courts. Ready to go.”

It can take a while to learn how many other sports are played. But you can pick up a paddle and learn how to play pickleball quickly.

“It’s so easy to learn, you can get on the court and start playing pickleball the day you learn it,” Demetri said. “Where, with tennis and some of the other paddle sports, you have to have years of skill-building.”

Plus, you can play with your son, daughter, father, mother, grandfather or grandmother.

Rich Goodell, of Bedford Heights, Ohio, is in his 70s. He loves beating players significantly younger than him.

“We play 20-year-olds, teenage,” said Rich Goodell, of Bedford Heights, Ohio. “We play against them all.”

Now that the Jewish Community Center has pickleball courts, some players don’t have to travel as far.

Normally, Youngstown’s Celeste Bittner has to go 20, 30, 40 minutes out to play pickleball with a group of people.

“I’m really excited we have something local,” she said.

On Saturday, there were players from Bedford, Indiana who traveled seven hours to participate in JCC’s tournament.

“We started a little group in our community but we really don’t have any really good tournaments close,” Logan Gore said. “So we were bored this weekend and needed something to do.”

Another man said he once took a vacation to California by himself — to play pickleball. He called his retirement the best anybody could have.

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