Jay Smithley, a former Marion High School tennis great, hits a return shot with partner Phil Brown during a pickleball fundraiser at Matter Park on April 23. Pickleball is one of the fastest growing sports in the United States and 48 people took part in the fundraising efforts.

The benefits of playing pickleball are many and a group of local players hopes to make the game an even more enjoyable experience for people who might wander into Marion’s Matter Park looking for a game.

Pickleball is a hybrid of tennis, badminton and ping pong and has been around for more than half a century, yet its seen an explosive growth spurt locally and at various locales throughout the world over the past few years.

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