092921-cr-pickleball

Gold medalists in a recent pickleball tournament, second and third from left, Veronica Sarmiento and Barb Parnell. Bronze medalists were Sheri Basey, second from right, and Jan Kelley, far right.

Four Teller County residents won gold and bronze medals in a regional pickleball tournament recently in Colorado Springs. Players for Pickleball Above the Clouds, Veronica Sarmiento and Barb Parnell took the gold at the intermediate level.

Sheri Basey and Jan Kelley were named bronze winners.

In the Under 60 category, Basey and her partner Sarah Fischer walked away with gold medals. “We are both previous tennis players and know how important it is to move together on the court and to talk,” said Fischer in an email. “Any time we made a mistake, we shook it off, moved on and took each point one at a time. We stayed positive, played our best and supported each other throughout the day.”

The players have all picked up the pickleball sports craze that, in the beginning, attracted the older crowd. However, more younger people have picked up rackets across the nation.

Mostly it’s about having fun, said Gene Mertlick, who is the city’s pickleball guru who got things rolling locally nearly a decade ago. Today, the players meet regularly, three times a week at least, at Meadow Wood Park or indoors at Woodland Life Church during the cold months.

Jim Remmler got hooked when his wife, Nancy, talked him into taking the free lessons taught by an experienced player. “I was skeptical, didn’t know anything about pickleball,” he said. Snapping his fingers, Remmler added. “It was like instant love. It’s a game that can be played at any age. And we make it fun.”

It’s fun, but the players can be competitive, said Jim Rumsey who, with his wife, Cindy, has been playing for two years.

With homes in two states Mertlick packs his racket whenever he hits the road. “I winter in Arizona, and they have more pickleball courts than the entire state of Colorado because it’s so popular there,” he said.

Along with the exercise factor, the group considers the social aspect of the game as key to its popularity. “Also, you have a feeling of accomplishment,” Rumsey said.

With the explosion of pickleball over the past 10 years, Pickleball Above the Clouds players are often frustrated by the lack of access at times. “We are desperately short of courts in Woodland Park,” Remmler said.

But the Pickleball Above the Clouds players are dedicated and play as often as they can. For information, go to pickleballwp.wixsite.com/abovetheclouds.

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