Up North: Tournament Aims to Raise Funds for Dedicated Pickleball Courts in Duluth Area

Chelsie Brown
Updated: October 17, 2019 12:44 AM

Although it’s heavily popular among seniors, players among the community say pickleball is the perfect family game.


"Pickleball is really a sports where you can have a 20-year-old, 40-year-old, 60-year-old, and 80-year-old playing together on the same court," said participant Ryan Thiel.

Sometimes it even takes family members to get others to join.

I’ve been playing off and on throughout my life. I married into the game," explained Auralee Strege. "My husband played and he introduced me to it," she added.

To win, players must play to 15 points and win by two. As far as the game, the sport is described best as a mix of tennis and ping pong played on a badminton size court.

"We like to describe it as table tennis, but you get to stand on the table," said Tournament Director Ben Strege.

Over the weekend nearly 150 participants competed in the 2nd Annual Gitchee Gummi Pickleball Tournament hosted at the Duluth Indoor Sport Center.

"The competition has been stiff," explained Jessica Thiel. "We have people in from all over the region. We have people from Canada. A lot of people are from Wisconsin too."

Each player was guaranteed to play four games, but could play up to 8 meaning; nearly 600 games of pickleball were played in one day. Strege said the sport is growing exponentially, that includes in Duluth.

"So a lot of people play it for the social aspect. We laugh a lot, we talk a lot, but you can also get that competitive nature in there," he added.

The Duluth Area Pickleball Association plans to use funds raised from the tournament to help create dedicated pickleball courts in the Duluth area.

To learn more about the organization, click here.


Chelsie Brown

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