SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Pickleball fever is taking over the country, and one man is attempting to set a world record by playing a game in all 48 states in the continental U.S. in the fastest time. He hit South Dakota earlier this week.
Dean Matt is touring the country one serve, volley and spike at a time. The Floridian made his way to Sioux Falls Monday afternoon, to check off South Dakota. The journey began May 1 and is set to be completed on the 26th. In addition to hitting the court, Matt is piloting the journey himself, which entails about 80 hours of flying and almost 9,000 miles in the air. The challenge took six months to plan.
“Two weeks ago Monday, when I turned the key on the plane, I felt a big relief because now I was in control,” pickleball player and pilot Dean Matt said. “I could fly. Other than weather, everything’s good to go.”
Matt plans on hitting as many as three states in one day as he makes his way down the east coast back home to the Sunshine State. But to him, the adventure is more than just playing a game at these stops.
“It’s really not about this world record attempt. It’s really about telling 48 stories in all the cities that I’m going to,” Matt said.
For a portion of his tour, he is playing alongside his friend and Sioux Falls resident, Rod Anderson. After South Dakota, the two are playing alongside each other for five more stops during the Midwest portion of the tour. They met in Florida not too long ago and have bonded over the game of pickleball.
“When I went down there, I knew a handful of people,” pickleball player Rod Anderson said. “Now I know dozens and dozens of people. It’s really a good social sport. You meet people from, down there during the winter, there are a lot of snowbirds. So they’re all from somewhere. And it’s fun visiting with them and playing pickleball with them.”
“The pickleball community is very welcoming,” Matt said. “And we’ve had nothing but just great, great turnout, great crowds and just great fun.”
Matt says he is playing against people of all ages, including a 97-year-old woman in Michigan.
Follow along on Matt’s journey.