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Names: Margaret Hickman and Janet Hirst

Ages: 63 (Hickman) and 66 (Hirst)

Occupations: Hickman is a retired secretary/bookkeeper for BLDD Architects and Decatur Bluepring Co. and Hirst is a retired quality assurance manager for Meda Pharmaceuticals 

City of residency: Decatur

You both serve as ambassadors for the United States of America Pickleball Association. What are some of your duties in that role?

MH: Janet and I became co-ambassadors for the Decatur area in 2016. We work closely with all things related to pickleball and try and stay in communication with our players, aged 20 to 70 and up, through our Decatur, IL Area Pickleball page on Facebook. 

We also keep the "Places to Play" section of the USAPA website updated for our local area. The sport has grown tremendously since its beginnings in 1965, and in the last few years, it has attracted many younger players. 

Do you prefer to play pickleball indoors or outdoors? 

JH: Personally, I prefer indoor play. Primarily because the game is not dictated by weather conditions. That being said, outdoor play is more challenging and the number of courts and availability are greater.

MH: I enjoy playing both indoors and outdoors. Here in Central Illinois, we play outdoors in the spring, summer and early fall. We play indoors in the late fall and winter months when it is too cold, windy or damp to play outside.

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How would you describe your playing style?

MH: I enjoy recreational pickleball three to four days a week, sometimes more — it's addicting! I have also played in several tournaments, so I guess you could say may competitive side comes out occasionally. 

JH: I'm not able to definitely say I have a certain style. I enjoy playing both recreational and tournament play. I look forward to making new friends and meeting new people. That's probably the most rewarding aspect of pickleball: so many nice people. 

Is there another sport you'd be interested in learning how to play sometime?

JH: At this year's Senior Olympics in Springfield, where my partner Jim Deremiah and I received the silver medal in pickleball for our age group, badminton was an event. I'm seriously thinking about taking this up and giving it a try at next year's Senior Olympics. 

MH: I recently watched a badminton competition on YouTube, and was amazed at the competitiveness of the game! I'd be interested in finding a place to play once in a while.

What would you both consider to be the best game of pickleball that you've played?

MH: I would have to say that my very first tournament in 2015 at Danville's Boys and Girls Club was the most exciting for me. Katrina Smalley, my double's partner at the time, and I won a gold medal in the 3.0 skill level!

JH: The Scheel's tournament in Springfield, where my partner Jeff Pritts and I took the silver medal in our age division, and the Senior Olympics that I mentioned before. Still no gold medal, but that's a goal right? Nice to have goals at 66!

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jcook@herald-review.com | (217) 421-7980

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