Harlingen, Texas (ValleyCentral) – Grab your paddles, get your feet moving, and most importantly have fun.

Combining elements of tennis, badminton, and ping-pong, pickleball is the latest sport gaining new heights. Created in 1965, pickleball has seen a recent rise in popularity throughout the years, according to the USA Pickleball website. Sometimes called a least intense version of tennis, many participate because of how fun and easy it is.

A pickleball player begins to serve the ball. (KVEO Photographer Sal Castro)

Played as singles or doubles, the game has players use a paddle to hit the ball until somebody scores. Unlike some sports, a game can be played inside or outside and is usually done on a badminton-sized court with a modified tennis net.

Players are able to put their balls and paddles on the rack when they prepare to take a break. (KVEO Photographer Sal Castro)

For six years, the city of Harlingen Parks and Recreation has hosted the game at the Harlingen Community Center. Groups of all ages are encouraged to play the game and socialize with one another.

The sport attracts so many people almost 10 to 20 with a large number coming from Winter Texans, said Bethsalee Flores, Recreation Supervisor for the city of Harlingen.

“It’s a service for the community mostly, mental health, physical health it’s all a positive approach to the city and positive opportunity for them to be healthy and socially active,” said Flores.

Members of the community play a game of pickleball at the Harlingen Community Center. (KVEO Photographer Sal Castro)

Having shut down for a year due to the pandemic, no games were played and nobody could use the facility. Having everybody come back together and being able to play again is a happy feeling for pickleball player Lori Haggerty.

“It means a lot to us, it gives us that extra something to do, it’s getting that exercise without really feeling like it’s exercise,” said Haggerty.

Originally trying to find a place to play ping pong, Haggerty was hooked into pickleball instead.

The attraction comes from how easy it is to learn. From the beginner to the advanced, anybody can pick up a paddle. Every week the center is open for people to play the game.

“Come out and give pickleball a try it’s a wonderful sport,” said Haggerty. “It’s for everyone at any age at any level, I don’t think you’ll be sorry.”

In a game of doubles, players get ready to hit the ball as it approaches. (KVEO Photographer Sal Castro)

For more information on the sport click here, or visit Harlingen Parks and Recreation‘s Facebook page.