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Ping-Pong on Steroids: Or maybe it's tennis-lite; whatever you call it, pickleball is picking up steam as an Inland Northwest favorite 

click to enlarge National champion and Spokane resident Tyson McGuffin at North Park Athletic Club: "I highly recommend his game." - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • National champion and Spokane resident Tyson McGuffin at North Park Athletic Club: "I highly recommend his game."

While the name may get a giggle or two, the rising popularity of pickleball is no joke. The sport, a combination of ping-pong, badminton and tennis, was invented on Bainbridge Island back in 1965. The paddle-and-wiffle-ball activity has since grown in popularity across the country — especially with tennis players. Many rec centers and country clubs across the Inland Northwest have started to convert their existing courts into spaces to play pickleball, offering indoor space for the winter months. There are lots of courts in outdoor parks, too, for when the weather improves in the springtime.

The Inland Northwest is also home to Tyson McGuffin, the 2017 and 2018 Men's Singles national champion in pickleball. McGuffin originally started out in the world of tennis, but like many other players, switched gears and dove head first into what he describes as "the fastest growing sport in America."

The reason for that, McGuffin explains, is the wide appeal of the sport; pickleball is a lot easier to pick up and play compared to other games like tennis. What takes nine months to learn in tennis only takes two weeks in pickleball, McGuffin says. The game is less physically demanding than tennis, as well.

"I've heard so many good things about people trying pickleball, playing pickleball," says McGuffin. "I highly recommend this game."

The other big appeal for the game, McGuffin says, is the flexibility it offers players. Athletes who play games, like racquetball, badminton, ping-pong, tennis or squash, each add their own style and technique to the game, as there's no one dominant winning strategy.

"I think the beauty of it is we have so much variety in pickleball because we have all these different people coming in who played another racket sport," McGuffin says. "They all kind of play their own way."

CLUBS AND COURTS

Numerous private clubs, such as the YMCA, Kroc Center, Peak, Rathdrum Fitness Center, Hayden Lake Country Club and the Spokane Club also offer indoor pickleball courts and organized play for their paid members. Spokane Parks stores nets in a locked bin; you can check out a key for the season by emailing the city at jpapich@spokanecity.org.

Cherry Hill Park

1718 N. 15th St., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300

Comstock Park

600 W. 29th Ave., Spokane • 625-6200

The Hub Sports Center (indoor)

19619 E. Cataldo Ave., Liberty Lake • 927-0602

The Inland Northwest Pickleball Club (indoor)

inwpc.com

McEuen Park

420 E. Front Ave., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300

Memorial Field

501 Fort Ground Dr., Coeur d'Alene • 208-769-2300

North Park Athletic Club (indoor)

8121 N. Division St., Spokane • 467-5124

Prairie Sky Park

8501 N. Nettleton Ct., Spokane • 625-6200

Prairie View Park

Mon-Sun, dawn to dusk • 3724 E. 61st Ave., Spokane • 477-4730

Redband Park

1002 W. Main Ave., Spokane • 625-6200

Spokane Street Sportsman Park

Between 19th and 21st avenues on Spokane Street, Post Falls • 208-773-0539

National champion and Spokane resident Tyson McGuffin at North Park Athletic Club: "I highly recommend this game." YOUNG KWAK PHOTO

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