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Pickleball, often described as playing pingpong on a huge table, bounces in for its second appearance in the 22nd annual Iowa Winter Games.
The amateur sports festival returns to Dubuque on Saturday and Sunday with something for nearly everyone.
Pickleball is played on a badminton-sized court with the net lowered to 34 inches at the center. It is played with a perforated plastic ball similar to a Wiffle Ball, and wood or composite paddles, about the size of table tennis paddles. It can be played as singles or doubles.
Last year's turnout for pickleball surprised and pleased the games staff, with more than 55 registered participants, a record for a new event, according to Steve Stone, the event's commissioner. This year, there are 75 registered participants.
"It's a game filled with more patience, finesse and control rather than power or aggressive play," he said. "The game is somewhat of a combination of pingpong, badminton, racquetball and tennis, all rolled into one. However, without near as much stress, discomfort or aggravation to the body."
Last year's festival drew a record 4,222 athletes, despite an ice storm that struck the area that weekend. With no such weather in the forecast, that record could be broken.
"We're excited, and we're looking at blowing that number away this year," said Clarence Hudson, executive director of the Iowa Sports Foundation.
According to Tyler Daugherty, sports and events manager for Dubuque Convention and Visitors Bureau, the winter games' economic impact on the city is a little less than $1.5 million.
"It's a very big event for Dubuque," he said.