Lenny Friedman, United States of America Pickleball Association (USAPA) ambassador from Sahuarita/Green Valley, AZ, and Thom Sharples of the Quail Creek Pickleball Association, in September introduced Pickleball to 43 third- and fourth-grade students from Safford Elementary School in Tucson. Under Friedman and Sharples' guidance, and with support and enthusiasm from PE teacher Nancy Belleci and Safford Elementary Principal Kendra Tate, the youngsters learned how to hold the Pickleball paddle, serve and return, and they practiced hitting the ball against a wall. The kids were intrigued to discover the game got its name from a cocker spaniel named “Pickles” who would chase the ball when the game was invented in 1965 in Bainbridge, WA. The students showed a keen interest in learning to play Pickleball, and many expressed interest in playing the game with their parents.

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