OGDEN -- Pickleball is becoming a big deal around here, with a growing Ogden Pickleball Association, dedicated courts and the area's first pickleball tournament held last weekend.
Judi Morris, vice president of the OPA, said that, since October, membership has more than doubled to more than 150, and the OPA hosted a tournament to test the members' skills, have fun and share their love of pickleball.
"Some of us have been to tournaments in other places, and pickleball is part of the Huntsman Senior Games in St. George, and we decided we would have one up here," she said.
"We didn't know what kind of turnout we would get. We had 90 people started at 8 in the morning on 10 courts, going until about 5:30 in the afternoon!"
Tim Morris, Judi's husband and the OPA president, said pickleball, a kind of short-court tennis played with a perforated plastic ball and pingpong-like paddles, is a game anyone can play and is growing fast, especially in active senior communities and among families.
"Everyone who plays it becomes infected with it. We want to see our friends having as much fun as we have. You don't have to move around a lot, and the learning curve just goes straight up. When they start, people might miss the first couple balls, and then they're on it, playing and having fun in a real short time."
The tournament attracted not only local pickleball players but also a handful of out-of-towners, some from as far away as Missouri.
It also attracted all ages and skill levels with Chloe Perkins, 13, placing in the women's doubles and Kent Nichols, 80, playing in the tournament.
OPA is planning to make the tournament an annual event to attract more tourism to the Ogden area and share pickleball with even more people.
"We see so many people having fun," Tim said. "We're kind of like missionaries -- we know how neat it is and want to get this message out. It's a very social game. It's good exercise -- low impact, but you still get a good workout."
The Morrises say that, with membership numbers growing and interest in pickleball increasing, they are planning to introduce league play and expand the annual tournament into a two-day event to accommodate the growing number of players.
"Next year, we're planning on having a national tournament here," said Judi, who teaches at Roy Junior High School as a librarian and shares her love of pickleball with students.
"We'll post that on the national pickleball website, usapa.org, and that will draw people from all across the country. It's going to be a big benefit to downtown Ogden."
People interested in playing pickleball can rent paddles and a ball at the Mount Ogden Pro Shop, and those interested in joining the OPA can find more information on the website at www.ogdenpickleball.com.