About pickleball at 3M Park, Wausau:
Cost is $1 per session or $15 for the season ($25 for couples).
Games are played on Mondays and Saturdays at 8 a.m. and Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m.
No outlets in the Wausau area sell pickleball gear, but equipment can be purchased at pickleballcentral.com.
WAUSAU — I've tried just about every sport that involves a net. That includes basketball, tennis, fishing and ping pong. And soccer has a net in the goal.
On Monday, June 9 I was invited down to 3M Park in Wausau to give pickleball a try. The organizers of the Badger State Games added pickleball to the this summer's Games. Wisconsinoutdoorfun.com is a sponsor of the Games again this year and the organizers put me in touch with pickleball player Rollie Corsten.
Rollie invited me to the park to try the game and interview some of the players that enjoy the sport each Monday morning.
The game can best be described as a combination of tennis and ping pong. Played with a paddle, larger than a ping pong paddle, and a plastic wiffle ball, the game is fast paced, like ping pong, but offers more exercise as it is played on a mini tennis court.
Read more about pickleball in the Northwoods.
My wife and I enjoy hitting the tennis ball around and I've played a bunch of racquetball and ping pong over the years, so I was excited to give pickleball a shot.
I met Rollie at 3M Park. A group of about a dozen players meets at the park on Mondays at 8 a.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 8 a.m. The group sets up portable nets to allow as many as four games at once at 3M Park. According to Ralph Zagrzebski, every set of public tennis courts in Wausau has the markings for pickleball on at least one court, but 3M Park has been home to this group of players the last two years (moving outdoors from the Greenheck Field House in Weston).
Ralph and his wife Rita split their time between Mesa, Arizona (a pickleball haven) and Wausau. Ralph served as the ambassador for pickleball in the Badger State Games this year and has worked, along with his daughter Kelly, to organize the sport in the Wausau area.
Pickleball isn't limited to Wausau, though. According to Ralph, it's popular in Florida and Arizona, originated in Washington and is popular in Wisconsin in places like Antigo, Eagle River and Minocqua.
Ralph taught me the rules and quickly pulled me into a game of doubles. There were a few nuances of serving that I struggled with, but the volleying was fast and the hole-filled ball moved at just the right pace. We played our game in about 10 minutes and I was hooked.
After a week of my rants about how much fun my pickleball experience was, I was able to show my wife and kids the game in action. On a trip to Elkhart Lake earlier this month, my family glimpsed the game from our vehicle as a group of adults and kids played pickleball in the street. The players of mixed ages used a portable net with lines chalked on the street in a subdivision near our resort.
My wife said, "Hmm, that looks like fun."
The next time I drop in for some pickleball with the 3M Park group, she'll join me.
Read more posts from Brian Otten.
Brian Otten blogs about his experiences in the outdoors. Brian is the content manager of www.wisconsinoutdoorfun.com. If you have questions about the site, you can reach Brian at email@example.com or (715) 845-0702.