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New Pickleball League a hit in Tea

Fourteen teams kicked off the inaugural Tea pickleball league March 8.

The teams of two pickleballers wrapped up their last week of regular season play March 29 before going into tournament play April 5 and April 12.

The experience level of players ranged from first-timers to experienced players. First-time players Katie Smith and Tara Krell, The Fickle Pickles, have never played before.

“(We) heard it’s fun and just thought it sounded like it something new and exciting to try and we’re loving it,” Smith said.

Smith joked that they had watched “film,” better known as some YouTube videos. They played the Pickle Addicts the first week and learned a lot from them.

The Pickle Addicts, Christopher Wong and Patrick Duffy, from Sioux Falls have been playing for at least the last eight years. They play from one to three times a week.

While Wong used to travel to tournaments, he has cut back some and just enjoys playing the game.

“It’s just a fun game I like to play as more of a hobby and less so competitively,” Wong said.

The pair found out about the Tea league when a friend tagged him on Facebook where the flier was. Wong has played in a lot of locations, but the gym at Venture Elementary works as a great facility for pickleball.

“That facility is really great. The surface is nice and the lighting is really great,” he said.

Wong said a lot of people compare pickleball to ping pong or tennis. Games are played to 11 points. In the Tea league, they play best two out of three.

“A lot of people compare it to a miniaturized tennis combined with chess because you’re dictating how they hit the ball as well and you’re planning a step ahead trying to win the point,” Wong said.

They play with a ball that’s like a whiffle ball. At Venture, they have four courts set up and teams played at 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. on Wednesday nights. Each team brings their own paddles.

If Wong and Duffy have extra time after they complete their games, they like to continue playing with their opponent, but split up and each partner with the other players.

“We like to try to give back a little bit because a lot of these players here are brand new to the game and so we’re trying to introduce tactics and help them become more interested in pickleball,” Wong said.

When he first heard about pickleball, he thought it was something for old people. However, he was hooked when finally gave it a try.

While the Tea league is for adults, pickleball works for children to older people.

“You don’t have to be super young. You’ll see a bunch of young elementary age kids playing against their grandparents and it can be a competitive game for both of them,” Wong said.

Both Wong and Smith recommend the game for anyone.

“Everybody should get out and try it. We should have some outdoor pickleball courts in Tea,” Smith said.

Wong also recommends checking out the Sioux Falls Area Pickleball page on Facebook to find out about more opportunities to play pickleball in the area.


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