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Pickleball may come to Massena

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MASSENA - Lyle Dumers is a state and national pickleball champion, and would like to intrdouce the sport he loves to his hometown of Massena.

Mr. Dumers, 80, was unfamiliar with pickleball when a Florida friend introduced it to him several years ago. Soon after, he placed first in a Lee County, Fla. senior pickleball tournament.

“It doesn’t take very long to learn the game,” Mr. Dumers said. “You get very good very quick if you have any ability at all.”

Mr. Dumers, an Alcoa retiree, recently approached Recreation Commission Chairman David MacLennan about using one of the village’s parks to provide lessons and games next year.

Mr. Dumers took first place in pickleball at the National Senior Games Championship near Rochester last year in the 75 and over division. He has also medaled in the sport at the Empire State Games and in state competitions in Florida, where he winters each year.

“He’s an avid pickleball player,” Mr. MacLennan said. “He’s probably one of the best athletes to ever come out of the north country.”

Pickleball is typically played on a badminton court. Players use a solid paddle with a short handle to hit a perforated hard plastic ball back-and-forth over a net. Players serve underhand, and the ball must bounce twice before a volley, Mr. Dumers said.

Mr. Dumers had previously played badminton for decades in Massena, but transitioned to pickleball as he aged.

“Anybody that’s played racket ball or tennis or badminton or even ping pong would pick it up real easy,” Mr. Dumers said.

Recreation officials may adapt one of the tennis courts at Alcoa Field into a pickleball court next year. The activity would be open to all Massena residents, but would be especially geared toward senior citizens.

“You don’t have to cover as much ground,” Mr. MacLennan said. “It’s better for the older people.”

Mr. Dumers would draw out the pickleball boundary lines on the tennis court with chalk, so recreation staff wouldn’t have to paint them, officials said. The commission may examine whether to house winter games at the Massena Arena floor or ask the Massena Central School District for indoor space.

Pickleball is already played at courts in Cornwall and Canton, officials said. Mr. Dumers travels twice a week to play in the Cornwall league, but that group is nearing capacity. He doesn’t expect to start a Massena league right away, but looks forward to introducing it, providing lessons and scheduling regular games.

Commission member and retired Massena Central High School physical education teacher Martha Slack said the sport is also played by students.

“We were late in introducing it in Massena,” she said. “It isn’t new.”

For more information about the rules of the game, visit the USA Pickleball Association website, http://www.usapa.org/.

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