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New Sport – Pickleball – Makes 2017 Debut

State Games of Mississippi Adds Pickelball to Sport Lineup

BILOXI, MS — In a first for the State Games of Mississippi, pickleball — a sport that combines elemnts of badminton, tennis and table tennis — will make its debut May 5-6 in Biloxi at the A.J. Holloway Sports Complex.

Now in its 26th year, the State Games of Mississippi is a statewide sports fest featuring 40 sports for amateur athletes throughout the months of May and June. Pickleball, for two, three or four players, uses solid paddles to hit a ball similar to a whiffle ball over a net, with rules similar to those in tennis.

“We are excited to offer this sport to the State Games of Mississippi,” said Carolyn Smith, Executive Director. “We have a very enthusiastic pickelball comissioner, Ron Eaton, who persuaded us to add this very popular sport.”

Pickleball was invented in 1965 by Joel Pritchard, a congressman from Washington State, and his friend Bill Bell. When faced one night with families who had “nothing to do,” the pair went to play badminton, but could not find rackets. With great improvising, they used ping-pong paddles, lowered the badminton net and used a whiffle ball. By 1967, the first pickleball court was built and by 1976, the sport was recognized in Tennis magazine as “America’s newest racquet sport.”

In the May competition this year, pickleball will feature divisions for all ages, including juniors, and will award gold, silver and bronze medals in each division. Singles, doubles and mixed doubles events will be offered. Registration is open now at www.stategamesofms.org and the entry fee of $30 includes a t-shirt and lunch.

The State Games of Mississippi celebrates each year with an Olympic-style Opening Ceremonies in Meridian. The Opening Ceremonies will be held Friday, June 16, complete with a parade of athletes, the lighting of the State Games torch and fireworks.

The State Games keeps its entry fees low primarily through the generous donations of sponsors, including Founding Gold Sponsor: Meridian Coca-Cola Bottling Company and Rush Hospital; and Gold Sponsors: AT&T, the City of Meridian, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Pearl River Resort, Visit Meridian/Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors, Structural Steel Services Inc., The Meridian Star, WTOK-TV and WMDN/WGBC-TV. For more information on the Games, call 800-482-0205 or visit the State Games of Mississippi website at www.stategamesofms.org.