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In A Pickle: It was about this time last year when I was introduced to a new game - pickleball. The sport has been around since 1965, so it was actually only new to me. Its popularity has swelled recently. It's all the rage. Everybody's doing it.

Tallassee has its own group of pickleballers who play regularly at the rec center. It's become a thing for me too. I play almost every week.

Well, I felt pretty good about my abilities. I think I could say the same for Mark Baynes. He and I have held our own in the local league, so we decided to venture out and compete elsewhere.

That took the two of us to Gardendale this past weekend for the Alabama State Games. We got a good look at the competition before our scheduled matches. They didn't look like much.

Boy, appearances can be deceiving.

I don't like to make light of my weaker moments in life, but I need to write at least a couple more paragraphs.

I also don't like to make excuses, but I still have a few more paragraphs.

It was our first tournament. Our opponents were well seasoned.

The wind was blowing, and we're used to playing inside.

The ball was a different ball than the one we normally use.

We are bangers! These guys play a finesse game.

Okay, I've exceeded the few paragraphs. Maybe we should've started at the entry level not at the top.

Yes, you guessed it - we were winless and got a taste of humble pie.

So much for the police escort for the state champs coming back into town. So much for the Facebook posts proudly displaying the medals.

Instead, it's back to work. We've got to make some changes to our game to avoid the embarrassment in the future.

I do love playing, but the getting whipped part - not so much. Kudos to Gardendale. They've got a fine facility as do many other towns now.

Maybe that new rec center thing is truly in the offing and we'll see these type of facilities here in the near future. We can get the opposition on our home turf. Then we'll show them.