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Pickleball establishing itself as part of Senior Games
Gold — Doris Albert and Karen Butler
Silver — Fran Read
and Linda McAdam
Bronze — Gayle Lear and Marion King
Gold — Judy Weinert
and Lynda Bowden
Silver — Dee Dee Matherly
and Della Staite
Bronze — Elaine Griffiths
and Susan Clarke
Gold — Madeleine St. Cyr
and Carole Lee
Silver — Gail Bennett and Nola Meinert
Gold — Arlene Aucoin
and Freda Robertson
Silver — Joan Spongberg
and Julia Risser
Bronze — Phyllis Brabec
and Ruth Widmark
Long after most of the dinks and doinks were done echoing throughout the gym, Judy Weinert and Lynda Bowden were trying to keep their streak alive.
Playing in the final pickleball match in the 2013 Senior Games at the Yuma Readiness and Community Center on Tuesday, Weinert and Bowden survived Dee Dee Matherly and Della Staite to win the gold medal in the 60+ age group — and secure a first-place finish in all four years of the competition.
“This year was the toughest, by far, to get the gold,” said Bowden, who's from British Columbia and began playing when the sport came to Yuma. “(Pickleball here) has progressed extremely quickly, and the quality of play has just skyrocketed.”
“It was weird,” said Weinert, who's from Wisconsin, about being the last match of the tournament while many of the other participants stayed to watch. “You could hear a pin drop.”
Twelve teams in four age brackets played on four courts throughout the day in the women's doubles pickleball tournament — with a much more laid-back environment than the men's doubles on Saturday and mixed doubles on Sunday.
“It's active and it's fun. It's not so serious,” said 71-year-old Madeleine St. Cyr, who won the gold in the 65+ age group with Carole Lee. “When we play, we have a lot of fun together. It was really competitive when we played mixed on Sunday.”
Three years ago, a friend introduced the game to Karen Butler, who — like many people who start playing the sport — instantly got hooked.
“The fast pace, the fact that it's so fun, when you mess up all you can do is laugh,” Butler said of pickleball, which is a mix of tennis, table tennis and badminton. “That's why so many people pick it up. I see tennis players who say their knees have gone bad and their shoulder, they can't do that big swinging motion.”
Butler and Doris Albert won the gold medal in the 55+ division, and Arlene Aucoin and Freda Robertson took first place in the 70+ division.
“It's competitive. People want to win,” said Albert, who's from British Columbia. “I started out because I had a sore shoulder and I really like to play tennis.”
Organizers call pickleball the fastest-growing sport in Arizona and is spreading throughout Yuma. There are some courts popping up around town, and the Yuma Readiness and Community Center hosts an open gym Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. — with a focus on beginners on Tuesday and Thursday from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
“I used to play table tennis here and they were playing pickleball one day and (Yuma Parks and Rec recreation assistant) Lynnae (Ericson) said ‘Why don't you try it?'” said St. Cyr, who's from Kelowna, British Columbia. “You really get hooked once you start.”
Jesse Severson can be reached at email@example.com or at 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson.