By Kevin Kirkpatrick
SOUTH FORK— The South Fork Pickleball Club held their fourth annual Pickleball Tournament at the Community Building Aug. 3 and 4. Forty eight players representing South Fork, Creede and Alamosa, as well as Albuquerque and Sante Fe participated.
Pickleball is a game played on a shortened version of a tennis court and utilizes a paddle and a wiffle type plastic ball with holes in it. The game originated in 1965 in Washington State when friends Congressman Joel Pritchard, Barney McCallum and Bill Bell became bored one afternoon and began knocking an old wiffle ball around with a ping pong paddle.
The game was modified from there, rules were established and a new craze was born.
Last year 2.8 million players in the USA alone participated in this sport. Geared to every age group and ability, it provides both social interaction and exercise.
Due to the weather, play in South Fork is limited primarily to summer months. Creede and Alamosa, however offer indoor courts for year-round play.
In retirement meccas like Phoenix, the game is extremely popular. Local tournaments will draw in 600 or more participants. Most of the pickleball organizations use these events to raise funds for charitable causes, and one recent tournament raised $17,000 for a worthy cause.
At the South Fork tournament, many entrants from out of town came and stayed the weekend to participate. They booked accommodations and ate out and shopped locally which contributed to the local economy which is always welcome in any town.
There were women and men’s doubles, plus mixed doubles with both recreational and competitive flights. Many local players placed in the standings and their skills were noticeable all day as they played. The days of the tournament were especially beautiful and the rains held off each day until play had ceased which was a welcome change from some years in the past.
The money raised will go toward resurfacing the courts and hopefully, the South Fork Pickleball Club will be able to increase the courts from three to four thereby also increasing room for more tournaments and more participants in the future.
Tournament director Dr. Bobby Howard remarked that “the tournament was a huge success and we appreciate all those who attended.” He went on to state that, “we look forward to next year and increased entries and competition.”
Open play is offered on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings at 9 a.m. on the courts east of the community center.
For more information, contact any of the current members or players at the courts; they are always more than willing to help with any questions you may have.