Jul 15, 2015 6:25 PM

Pickleball is keeping some Seacoasters spry


DOVER - Ben Bennett loves pickleball.

The 77-year-old resident of South Berwick, ME, got involved in the sport over a decade ago while in Florida.

"My wife and I, Beth, we first experienced the game at a retirement village," Bennett said Tuesday. "After observing it, I got hooked and started to play."

Ben and Beth play on a regular basis during the summer months at Dover's senior center. He says it helps keep him young.

"I mean, I'm pushing 80 here in a few years, and my wife is right behind me. I don't think I would be as mobile as I am now if it wasn't for the last 10 years," Bennett said. "At one point, we were playing five or six days a week, three hours a day."

Bennett teaches the sport to interested seniors. So far, up to 50 people participate in Dover's pickleball program.

"It's great for your eye-hand coordination, for your reflexes," Bennett said. "I can see people playing this game in the Olympics eventually, down the road, because it's such an interesting sport."

Assistant Recreation Director Krista Trefethen said the interesting name has gotten people's attention. And word of mouth has caused the program to grow.

"People want to play more days. People want to play longer," Trefethen said. "They are here half an hour early. They will move all of the chairs and set everything up. They do whatever needs to be done just so they can play the game."

Trefethen said pickleball is so popular that the city is creating some outdoor courts.

She added that participants get a variety of things from the program, besides physical exercise.

"We have a lot of folks that came to try it out. They have met so many new people and are now participating in other activities. So it's the physical benefits as well as the social benefits," Trefethen said.

More information about the program can be found on the recreation department's website.

Follow Kimberley Haas on Twitter @KHaasNH1.


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