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Ann Kattreh, the parks and recreation director in Edina, heard about pickleball four years ago. It was popular on both coasts for decades before it made its way to the Midwest. Now, she says, communities around the state are playing pickleball — today there are 115 places to play in Minnesota, up from 65 in 2014.

The sport is a variation on ping-pong, played like miniature tennis — two games can be played on one tennis court. New courts are being specially built throughout Minnesota. It is played with a light paddle about the size used in a racquetball game, but with a solid face.

Like tennis, points are scored only when serving. Singles or doubles play — co-ed or not. The score goes up to 11 points.

Kattreh has seen the sport's popularity rise dramatically in just a few years. Video instruction is available online. It is now being taught in many schools. “It is fast paced, making it appealing to kids,” says Kattreh.

Pickleball is also easier to play than tennis, she says, which is one reason she encourages it. It is less jarring on the older body because the court is smaller and less running is required. Injuries to shoulders and elbows are not as common.

“I think pickleball can significantly improve quality of life for people of all ages,” she says. “For older adults who have been active or in competitive sports, pickleball really revives the competitive nature.”

Kattreh plays the sport herself. Every Sunday night, March through December, she gathers with a group of up to 20 women to enjoy the health and wellness benefits and laugh with friends.