FARMINGTON — It’s fun, addictive and a sport that Wilton dentist Dr. Milad Bozorgnia is passionate about.

He thinks about it, even dreams about it … pickleball, a cross between tennis, badminton and ping pong, according to the USA Pickleball Association’s website.

The thought of playing helps get him through the stress of the day, he said.

Bozorgnia is the association’s appointed ambassador for southern Franklin County. Terry Jordan of Kingfield is the ambassador for the northern part of the county, he said as the two practiced this week for an upcoming meet.

“It’s become my mission,” Bozorgnia said of a sport he believes can help with obesity, reduce stress and improve mood. “It’s fun, and happiness plays in to improving health, overcoming obesity and the potential diseases associated with it.”

As an ambassador, his role is to promote the game and introduce and teach it to others.

Since Farmington Parks and Recreation made three indoor pickleball courts available at the Community Center, it’s become a huge hit, Matthew Foster, assistant director said. 

The inside court is available from November to May.  It ranks as one of the best in the country, one of the best in Maine, Bozorgnia said of the association’s website list of places to play at www.usapickleball.org. Three inside courts and strong local players at a cost of $2 to play, it says of the Farmington center.

With the help of Steve Shible, department director, an outdoor court was recently  added to the tennis courts at Hippach Field, Bozorgnia said.

Orange lines painted within the tennis court provide the smaller space needed for pickleball. Belly bands temporarily lower the net for the second sport.

The cost was about $100 compared to $20,000 for a new court, Foster said.

“It’s a good move to help a group of people trying to pursue the type of recreation they love,” Foster said.  “We get more use (from the court). We’re always trying to stretch to get as much use as we can.”  

People do love it, Bozorgnia said of the sport created in 1965 near Seattle, Wash. 

“I’ve never met the person who picks up a paddle and then puts it down,” he said.  

Per capita, Maine has the second largest number of USA pickleball members in the whole country. In terms of gross membership, Maine ranks number 11 in the country, he said.

“It’s fun and a good way to get exercise,” Jordan said.

While in Florida, she plays pickleball with an 85-year-old.

Bozorgnia mentions a 100-year-old in the south noted for playing.

“That my goal,” he said. “I really want to grow old and play pickleball.” 

But he also sees it as a way to bridge the gap of the old and young. The energy of the young and the wisdom of the old compliment each other, he said.

The benefits outweigh a very minimal investment.

People can learn and pick it up quickly and it’s good for people even those who are not in great shape, he said. Tennis would be harder to play for those who struggle with fitness.

“Pickleball is a good way to get in shape,” he said.

Played in singles and doubles, the smaller court provides for more active volley. You’re having fun and don’t realize the workout you get, he said.

It is also easier on joints with less injuries than tennis.

A small racket costs between $25 and $60 and is a one-time investment, he said.  Small plastic balls are used.

Bozorgnia was a tennis player who found that November brought the gloom of the season ending. A friend referred him to pickleball, he played once, ordered a paddle and has not looked back, he said.

It requires little instruction to learn. With the help of Kyes Insurance and a grant from the Pickleball Association, Bozorgnia plans to offer instruction through RSU 73, Spruce Mountain Adult Education. The funding used to buy equipment.

If health and happiness weren’t reason enough to play, pickleball players have a great camaraderie. They are just a nice group of people, he said.

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