Madisonville, Indiana’s Pickleball star

By Jose Juan Ruiz Sports Writer

Madisonville has its very own pickleball standout.

Last week, Hopkins County resident Cheryl Tucker stole the show at the 2019 Indiana State Games Fit and 50 tournament in Evansville, taking the women’s title and being part of the pickleball mixed doubles runners-up team.

“It was a great feeling,” said Tucker. “It just felt really good and it pushes me now to keep going. Keep improving.”

Tucker picked up the sport just four years ago, quickly falling in love with it and has continued to work on her craft ever since.

“I grew up playing badminton and table tennis so it was something easy to pick it up,” said Tucker. “But it took some time to become good.”

Tucker, at 51 years of age, practices several times a week along with a big group in the community that hops around the different courts in Madisonville. What started for her as a hobby became something she was exceeding at.

“I was just learning how to play,” said Tucker. “Slowly picking up the strategy, getting experience and just having fun.”

Tucker never started playing with the idea of winning tournaments, but when she stumbled upon news of a tournament in 2017, she decided to give it a try.

“I just wanted to try it out, see how I compared with other people,” said Tucker. “I did well, and just wanted to keep going and I have been gaining experience ever since.”

Now she is playing any time she can in singles or doubles. Last week she teamed up with fellow Madisonville resident Ted Seabrooke for a mixed doubles match and after only a few months of practicing together they finished second place in the tournament.

“The thing that makes it work is Cheryl is a real competitor,” said Seabrooke. “We also understand the importance of practicing and not being afraid to try new shots.”

The practice and playing has had a huge role in their success.

“In about three months time we went from being just happy to get the ball over the net and ripping shots like you do in tennis to being a good team,” said Seabrooke. “We had to learn the finesse game, how to attack the net.”

Tucker hopes her win goes as an example to working women in the town.

“This hopefully shows people that you can have fun and be active despite working,” said Tucker. “There are so many obese people in this town and this is an easy way to have fun and be active being 50 and older.”

Tucker works at the Joseph “Eddie” Ballard Western Kentucky Veterans Center but still makes time to practice.

“The job is really hard and after eight hours you are exhausted,” said Tucker. “But I push myself every day to squeeze some exercise in.”

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