Linda Kidd of Norlina and Stanley Brothers of Lake Gaston found success in pickleball competition at the recent State Senior Games, bringing home gold and bronze medals, respectively.
Both have been playing pickleball regularly at courts in Warren County since local pickleball began almost four years ago. The sport combines tennis, ping-pong and badminton and is played with a wiffle ball slightly larger than a baseball.
At the regional level, Kidd won gold in women's singles for the 70-74 age group, and Brothers won silver in men's singles and bronze in men's doubles in the 70-74 age group.
Kidd, who won gold in women's singles at the State Senior Games, said that 217 people competed at the state level this year.
"What impressed me the most was how friendly everybody was, how helpful everybody was," she said. "They would go out of their way to be nice to you, even your competitors."
Kidd especially enjoyed watching people in the 80 and above age group compete.
"They are good, they are serious, and they have fun," she said.
Brothers described them as "active seniors."
Brothers had a long day of competition in men's doubles. He and his partner, longtime friend Dr. Jerod Kratzer, began competition at noon, and the medal match began after 4 p.m.
"There was a lot of playing and waiting for the next match," he said.
Brothers and Kratzer ultimately lost to the silver-medal winning duo from Pinehurst.
With their medals, Kidd and Brothers - along with Kratzer - qualified for nationals in Minneapolis, Minn., but do not know if they will be able to go.
In the meantime, Sylvia Fletcher, pickleball ambassador for the Two Lakes Area, which includes Warren County, hopes that Brothers and Kidd's success and the Regional and State Senior Games will inspire more people of all ages to become involved with pickleball.
She said that local pickleball play is open to people age 10 and up at John Graham gym beginning at 10 a.m. on Wednesdays and 9 a.m. on Fridays. This summer, two outside paved courts opened at the Warren County Recreation Complex on Hwy. 158 bypass north of Warrenton.
Fletcher said that local play averages between four and 12 participants.
"I like it when eight or more come," she said. "We can use both courts (at the gym) and rotate players."
During the summer, several young adults came to the gym to play basketball, but Fletcher and the pickleball players wound up teaching them the sport that they love. Fletcher said that several of the young people became skilled players.
In the future, Fletcher hopes that the gym can open several nights a week so that students and people who work during the day can learn pickleball in the evenings. The Two Lakes group hopes to host the Region K Senior Games next year.
For more information about pickleball, contact Sylvia Fletcher at 252-257-2520 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.