Pickleball closes out Senior Games

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO/KJCT)-- 63-year-old Mike Fortner has been a competitor his whole life. But he just took up pickleball.

"You're friends until you're on the court, and friends when you come off the court," Fortner said.

He says he loves the competition.

"The best way to describe pickleball would be, it is a tennis net, played on a badminton court, with a ping pong paddle. And a wiffleball," Fortner said.

He wasted no time honing his skills.

"I'm doing real well this year I've taken two golds and a silver," Fortner said.

The sport accounts for over half of the athletes in the Senior Games.

"In pickleball, we had 110 athletes register, and we have 210 overall for all the other activities," said Grand Junction Recreation Coordinator, Lorie Gregor.

"Where we are doing real well is getting people in here, a lot of out-of-towners are coming in," Fortner said.

Bottom line, it's a popular sport.

"There's a lot less running, so there's more hitting, more volleying, more fast action," Gregor said.

And its great for senior athletes.

"As people age, they need to stay active, and this is a really fun, healthy way to do that," Gregor said.

And as for Mike, he's not counting the hours or the years.

"Last week, warming up for the game I put in about seventeen hours on the courts," Fortner said.

He just can't get enough.

"I thought I would stay off the courts tomorrow because I'd be worn out, and I….probably not. I'll be back," Fortner said.

And officials with Grand Junction Parks and Rec say the pickleball courts will be open throughout the rest of the fall, and in the winter courts will be available seven days a week over at the Lincoln Park Barn off 12th Street behind Stocker Stadium.

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