Apr 10, 2024 | By: Miles Walker

Northwoods Experience: Pickleball Tournament Brings Crosslake Community Together

Last weekend, the Crosslake Pickleball Association held its third annual April Foolish Day Charity Pickleball Tournament at the Crosslake Community Center.

Sponsored through the Crosslake Ideal Lions Club, 12 teams were divided up into three separate brackets based on skill, with each representing a different local charity at random.

Pickleball, whether you see it as oversized ping pong or undersized tennis, is a fairly simple game.

“Typically, you play it with a partner,” explained Peter Graves, former president of the Crosslake Pickleball Association. “You can play singles, but two people play against another pair of opponents. The games are to 11 points, and [you] just hit the little ball across the net and paddle it back and forth.”

Although the premise is straightforward, the competitive spirit emanates from all the players.

“I’m a former athlete. I was surrounded by sports growing up and was a part of the college athletics community as a manager, so it’s just always been a part of my life,” said Minnesota resident David Kramer, who was playing in the tournament. “It’s a nice outlet to stay active, stay involved, stay a part of a budding competitive and on-the-rise sport.”

And pickleball being on the rise has attracted people from all walks of life.

“It’s a sport that anybody can play,” Graves emphasized. “It doesn’t discriminate in terms of age. We have it from very, very young players all the way up into their eighties are playing. It doesn’t care what your skill level is. We’ll find a level that you fit in and can play, and your socioeconomic level doesn’t matter at all in this game. You just need a paddle and a ball, and get out and court some plays.

Although originally created for 14-year-olds, you can find people of all ages and backgrounds enjoying pickleball, which makes it a great way to create new bonds within communities.

“There’s always bonding going on. Part of this sport is also razzing the other team, razzing yourself when you make a silly mistake and the ball goes out of balance,” said Graves. “So there’s always laughter that you’ll hear in the background going on whenever there’s pickleball involved.”

And now, Crosslake has become known for its pickleball.

“We built these six courts here about five years ago, and already we’re hoping to expand and add another four courts because it’s become so popular that people are coming from all other areas of the state and out of the state,” added Graves. “And they know about Crosslake because of our pickleball courts.”

Roughly $3,000 was raised from Saturday’s tournament, with a thousand dollars each going to the Crosslake Food Shelf, Crosslake Community School, and Christmas For Kids.

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